by Theodore Dalrymple (October 2014)
It always intrigued me when I practised as a doctor to observe how Man is always but a slight injury or biochemical disturbance away from paranoia. It is almost as if paranoia were always bubbling away under the smooth surface of normal social relations, like lava below the earth’s crust, waiting just some slight crack or fissure for the opportunity to emerge and cover everything. The list of possible physiological causes of paranoia is legion. more>>>
Jackdaws, like squirrels, bury nuts and seeds in the ground to use as their personal pantry when times are harsh and food less easy to come by in the colder months of the year. Some jackdaws are thieves, they watch others making their little pantries, and when they are gone go and take their food. So as a preventative measure some jackdaws will return to their pantry and then remove and rebury their store, just in case any other jackdaws (potential thieves) were watching when the original pantry was created. But here’s the interesting thing, not all jackdaws relocate their pantries to prevent theft - only the ones who practise the thieving behaviour themselves do this.
Imputing personal characteristics to animals - majestic eagles/chipper chirpy sparrows/proud lizards etc - is, of course, senseless (not the same as pointless). But are we the only animals to assume that others’ thought processes are similar to our own ‘that is to say the thoughts to which we are especially and uniquely privy’? Perhaps not.