> Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2010 16:10:23 -0700
> Subject: RE: Civilization-level quantum suicide
> From: her...@acm.org
> To: email@example.com
> > Mark, if you're not kidding here I honestly think you may be experiencing
> > some kind of mental disorder, perhaps a manic state (good description of
> > these kinds of states by Oliver Sacks at
> > http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/sep/25/a-summer-of-madness/?pagination=false
> > ) or even the onset of schizophrenia...please consider seeing a
> > psychiatrist, just to check!
> I'm not kidding. I understand your concern. If you were to interact with
> me in real time I'd probably seem fairly normal (assuming I wanted to seem
> normal, of course).
> But I'm fairly certain now that not only am I not experiencing a mental
> disorder, but that many so-called "mental disorders" are in fact, um,
> well, I'm not sure how to explain it yet. That's why I want people who
> know about this stuff to talk to me. I can explain schizophrenia. I can
> explain depression. I can explain visions, dreams, hallucinations, and all
> of that stuff. I have figure out the relationship betweeen all the
> disparate fields. I'm a jack of all trades, master of none.
Well, it's impossible to know what's going on with you based on a few email
messages but it definitely sounds like it could be a manic state to me--this
sort of grandiosity and boundless confidence in one's own abilities and powers
is common in mania. I definitely recommend checking out that Oliver Sacks
article about mania I linked to above as you might recognize aspects of
yourself in some of the descriptions (often self-descriptions from people in a
manic state themselves). And having interacted with a friend in a manic state I
would definitely say they can seem "fairly normal" if they choose to talk about
subjects other than the grandiose and cosmic.
Have you been feeling particularly energetic or happy or "alive" lately? Any
changes in your sensory experience, like colors and sounds seeming more vivid
and beautiful? Do your body movements feel more coordinated, graceful, fluid?
>From Sacks' article, here's a short description of the onset of mania from a
"I was a senior in high school when I had my first attack of
manic-depressive illness; once the siege began, I lost my mind rather
rapidly. At first, everything seemed so easy. I raced about like a
crazed weasel, bubbling with plans and enthusiasms, immersed in sports,
and staying up all night, night after night, out with friends, reading
everything that wasn’t nailed down, filling manuscript books with poems
and fragments of plays, and making expansive, completely unrealistic,
plans for my future. The world was filled with pleasure and promise; I
felt great. Not just great, I felt really great. I felt I could
do anything, that no task was too difficult. My mind seemed clear,
fabulously focused, and able to make intuitive mathematical leaps that
had up to that point entirely eluded me. Indeed, they elude me still.
"At that time, however, not only did everything make perfect sense,
but it all began to fit into a marvelous kind of cosmic relatedness. My
sense of enchantment with the laws of the natural world caused me to
fizz over, and I found myself buttonholing my friends to tell them how
beautiful it all was. They were less than transfixed by my insights into
the webbings and beauties of the universe, although considerably
impressed by how exhausting it was to be around my enthusiastic
ramblings…. Slow down, Kay…. For God’s sake, Kay, slow down."
> > Of course it could be that you are psychologically "normal" but have
> > just fallen under the sway of some very weird ideas...the fact that
> > you can't actually explain these ideas but expect some weird
> > synchronicity to occur in the physical presence of others that will
> > allow you to convince them of the validity of these ideas is
> > suspicious though, it seems like a form of magical thinking.
> But it's a testable and falsifiable hypothesis, no?
Sure. Would you consider the possibility that it is some kind of mental
disorder if you tried to explain your ideas to some people in person and they
didn't find your ideas coherent? Have you tried explaining them to anyone you
know already? And on this list Kevin Fischer offered to talk to you on Skype
for half an hour, I don't know if that would qualify as sufficiently "in
person" (if not, can you say what part of the world you live?)
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