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Painted Brain | A Schizophrenic’s Search For Logic
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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  • January 21, 2015

A Schizophrenic’s Search for Logic

Aaron Samuel Wallman, a 57-year-old author from Los Angeles who spent his youth in Yucca Valley, heard voices and was diagnosed with schizophrenia while living in Japan in 1989. It was a car accident he had back in 1983, he says, that first led to irrational and delusional thinking.

“I moved my fingers back and forth, saying to myself, ‘I’m smart,'” Aaron said, “repeating it over and over again, making it a repetition of experiences. Believing that I made a difference was the first symptom of schizophrenia.”

When he began to hear voices in 1989, he sought help, but the problems with logic that a person with schizophrenia faces on a daily basis fascinated him for many reasons.

Over the course of many years, he took these thoughts and wove them into a book entitled A Schizophrenic’s Search for Logic. A meditation on logic – what it is, its origins and its theoretical basis – are viewed through his lens, and the thoughts of philosophers and clinical workers. Wallman interviews and quotes social workers, historical figures, psychologists, and psychiatrists. He also quotes philosophers and non-public health workers including David Hume and Albert Einstein, both of whom appear on the cover of his book.

“There’s a normal way of experiencing and an abnormal way of experiencing, according to David Hume,” Aaron says, “(and) Einstein read his theories as an experience of non-true logic, he thought abnormally.”

Aaron identified heavily with that abnormal thinking.

“I use David Hume to understand myself,” he said, “and I use Einstein to understand true logic. It’s not based on mental association, it’s based on reason. True logic is recognizing a sun ray is both part of the sun and something in and of itself.”

Throughout the book, Aaron uses himself as an example. At one point, he identified the numbers on license plates as relevant to years in his life and letters for meaningful events, i.e. the letter D standing for his divorce, and 83 representing the year of his car crash. He began questioning these thoughts and recognizing them as irrational, and by doing so, took away their power.

“I use true logic and false logic,” Aaron said. “True logic is logic that stems from rational thought. False logic is the opposite.”

Seth Amitin is a social work intern at The Painted Brain.

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