By Gwendolyn Kansen
A Swedish study about mental illness tells us a lot about humans. It tells us how likely us “crazies” are to have kids. It says how crazy both men and women are allowed to be. And more importantly, what kind of crazy. And it tells us why mental illness might still be in the genepool to begin with.
*From Jama Psychiatry
Us spergs were the least likely to reproduce. (Shocking, I know.)
However, they found that women with autism were more likely to have kids than the males. An awkward girl who’s eager to please can do damn well with unscrupulous men. We can’t say the same about guys.
There are some autistic guys who’ve broken my heart though, so you have hope. Also, keep in mind that men in general are less likely to have kids than women. Eggs=expensive, sperm=cheap and whatnot.
Sisters of autistic people were about as likely to have kids as average. But their brothers were less likely. Autistic traits run in families. Chances are the brothers had poor social skills too.
Schizophrenics aren’t having many kids either. But the women had more than the men. Interestingly, sisters of schizophrenics were slightly more likely to have kids (while their brothers were less likely to.) But the benefit to the sisters didn’t override the low fertility of the schizophrenics themselves.
Schizophrenia can also give people poor social skills. It’s not a given though. There are more high-functioning schizophrenics out there than people think. But many aren’t in a position to do anything, let alone reproduce.
Some researchers believe there are sex-specific genes that protect women from getting autism or schizophrenia. These disorders might still be around because some sex-specific genes actually benefit women and hurt men. Or it could be because older parents are more likely to pass on genetic mutations, especially dads.
This one was interesting. Here we have a disorder that, while crippling, could also give you some charisma. (I had a guy show up in a Renaissance costume outside my dorm telling me he was the next Michelangelo. That guy got more ass than…well, you know.)
Bipolar people were only slightly less likely to have kids and their siblings were more likely to reproduce. It’s been suggested that bipolar disorder hasn’t been taken out by Darwinism because it confers so much intelligence and creativity. I’ve read that about autism too.
Depressed women were actually more likely to have kids. Depressed men were as likely to knock someone up as anybody else. Which doesn’t surprise me. How many of us have fallen for a depressed dude having an existential crisis? How many of us haven’t?
This study also didn’t take postnatal depression into account. Which could explain some of the depressed chicks. Also, women with low self-esteem. Especially in places like Appalachia, where I grew up where they’re less likely to have an abortion.
Depressed people’s siblings were more likely to have kids than other people. There must be something life-affirming about taking care of us.
Anorexics of both sexes were less likely to have kids. An anorexic person’s body can’t support a child. When women get too skinny we don’t have our periods anymore. Also, anorexics are the most likely of all mentally ill people to die.
Siblings weren’t affected at all.
Both men and women were less likely to have kids. No one wants to get with a drunk. Not even men.
Substance abusers’ siblings were more likely to have kids. Again, maybe taking care of crazies makes you feel more vital and alive. But the study also suggests that the risk-taking genes that lead to substance abuse also lead to getting laid a lot.
Note: The Swedes did this study using longitudinal data from both the Multi-Generational Register and the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register. They didn’t interview anybody. What I’d really like to see are interviews from people with mental illness about whether or not they’re deciding to have kids.
And y’all know we’re having sex with each other. If you’ve ever been hit with the crazy or been to rehab, you get it. That’s the most obvious reason we’re still around.