Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Wed, 2 Nov 1994 11:22:07 -0800
those of you who've never heard of him, he is often considered the world's
"greatest" mountaineer. As an introduction he was the first to climb
Mt. Everest solo and without supplemental oxygen, and was the first
to climb all of the world's peaks over 8,000 meters usually alone and
always without oxygen. He never uses bolts, either.
Anyway, he describes himself as a schizophrenic and considers the condition
as helpful in what he does. I'm curious about what anthropologists, ]
particularly those of you experienced with shamanistic cultures think about
Here is a section of the article:
"After his brother was killed on Nanga Parbat, Messner still felt his
presence to the point that he could smell him. On Nanga Parbat the second
time, he walked behind his father and talked with his brother. During a
storm on Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world, he thought
a group of Japanese were securing the tent with stones. In Antartica, he
walked beside himself.
Suffice it to say he suffers severe hallucinations, though he would
almost certainly take issue with the word `suffer'.
`It was often like this,' Messner said. `[On Nanga Parbat after Gunther
disappeared], and totally at the end of possibilities, I would see from time
to time a horse with a rider and I was sure now that I could get help. But
there was always only a stone or a tree. One moment I would realize I was
trapped by a hallucination, in the next I would again decide it was reality.
`But this is not a disease,' he said. `Schizophrenia can be a great help.
`I believe that thousands and thousands of years ago, humans living in a
dangerous world with dangerous animals could go into schizophrenic states
in difficult situations. If you do something alone, and difficult, you can
speak with a second one, and discuss your problems. A saint in the
Himalayas or alone in the desert has this ability to become schizophrenic".
I realize this topic may be another old chestnut but I think this is the
first time I've come across what appears to be a first-hand account of the
practical benefits of schizophrenia.
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