The 20th century psychologist, Julian Jaynes, may have had more insight into psychosis than we thought.
Julian Jaynes was an American psychologist who was most famous for his book ‘The Origin Of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’. His theory in essence proposed that our modern day concept of consciousness has developed evolutionarily, and in previous cultures (mainly citing Greek and Roman culture), a different phenomenological experience was the norm, which was far more automatic and under the influence of what we would consider ‘psychotic experiences’. So, in times where a decision needed to be made in ancient cultures, it is hypothesised that the stress produced from such an encounter would produce ‘voices’ which would instruct the individual on what to do next (and not necessarily what was in the persons interest!).
This theory was mainly constructed and inspired from epics such as ‘The Iliad’, where the poem talks about characters experiencing ‘Gods’ on the daily, who instructed them to do certain tasks, and even tried to sabotage them. Gods were very much presented as entities which had their own agenda.
This may represent a period of time where our ‘self’ wasn’t as integrated as our general modern day experience. Hence, as our minds evolved, we pulled together the various aspects of ‘me’ into an integrated ‘I’. This is under the assumption of brain and mind as two separate entities, meaning one may develop faster than the other.
So – this might start to sound familiar to some readers who are aware of the type of content and experience of auditory hallucination in accounts of those with psychosis (or even perhaps first hand). While current research in neuropsychology and genetics are certainly uncovering a wide variation in neuronal alterations which could lead to experiencing such phenomena, it is entirely plausible that the phenomenology of psychosis may echo back to when consciousness was experienced in an entirely different way.
So, what comes next?