Why Don’t Animals Get Schizophrenia (and How Come We Do)?


But the science does suggest that numerous non-human species suffer from psychiatric symptoms. Birds obsess; horses on occasion get pathologically compulsive; dolphins and whales—especially those in captivity—self-mutilate. And that thing when your dog woefully watches you pull out of the driveway from the window—that might be DSM-certified separation anxiety…

But there’s at least one mental malady that, while common in humans, seems to have spared all other animals: schizophrenia…

It turns out psychosis may be an unfortunate cost of our big brains—of higher, complex cognition…

They also found that these culprit genes are involved in various essential human neurological functions within the PFC, including the synaptic transmission of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA serves as an inhibitor or regulator of neuronal activity, in part by suppressing dopamine in certain parts of the brain, and it’s impaired transmission is thought to be involved in schizophrenia. If GABA malfunctions, dopamine runs wild, contributing to the hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking common to psychosis. In other words, the schizophrenic brain lacks restraint.

As does the brain of someone suffering from drug addiction.

“It’s been suggested,” Dudley explains, “that the emergence of human speech and language bears a relationship with schizophrenia genetics, and incidentally also autism. Indeed, language dysfunction is a feature of schizophrenia, and GABA is critical to speech, language and many other aspects of higher-order cognition…

Put another way, with complicated, highly social human thought—and the complicated genetics at the root of higher cognition—perhaps there’s just more that can go wrong: complex function begets complex malfunction…

Under comments:

DRHX March 25, 2015, 4:46 PM
Animals don’t get schizophrenia? Have you ever lived with a cat?

4 thoughts on “Why Don’t Animals Get Schizophrenia (and How Come We Do)?

  1. I was sort of thinking along the same lines the other day. I was curious to find out if dogs suffer from Bipolar disorder. The information was fascinating, and there are several schools of thought with regards to the possibility of diagnosis.

    Liked by 1 person

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