On Human Evolution, Personality Disorders, and the Environment

Some idle thoughts on the evolution of humanity’s relationship with its environment as sparked by this article, which states:

Individuals who scored in the top 10% of manic features had a childhood IQ almost 10 points higher than those who scored in the lowest 10%. This correlation appeared strongest for those with high verbal IQ.

“Our study offers a possible explanation for how bipolar disorder may have been selected through generations,” said Daniel Smith of the University of Glasgow , who led the study.

“There is something about the genetics underlying the disorder that are advantageous. One possibility is that serious disorders of mood – such as bipolar disorder – are the price that human beings have had to pay for more adaptive traits such as intelligence, creativity and verbal proficiency.”

As I see it, there are two end states:

  1. We dominate our environment, expanding the definition from the first caves to the depths of Mars and beyond. Distance, climate, the stuff of life, are rendered inert by our ability to forge the artificial in their place.
  2. We are buffeted by it, the Hobbesian state overcoming our superficial attempts (electron nets to acid rain) to shape it. Humanity continues to adapt because the universe is vast and shit happens that we’ll just never be able to control but we keep trying and we keep fucking it up (global, galactic warming) until it, the environment, makes us its collective bitch.

And, at some deep evolutionary subconscious level, I think humanity gets that, and the brain is retooling, with two development tracks in parallel.

  1. The first is for control. The autism spectrum. See all, in some detail, detect the pattern, organize it so it fits within the design envelope, react if it’s outside. The artificial (code, logic, etc) is abstracted and is comfortable. Block out what is not the work, the chaos, and do the fucking work.
  2. The second is for adaptation. Bipolarity. The universe controls, ends, what patterns it sees, the expected. Chaos is survival. Randomness in large numbers means some of us will survive the bad decisions. Higher IQs encourage the chances of novelty paying off. High risk, survival is the reward.


Sign up for my newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *