Re: John Conway, "Free Will Theorem"

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 12:46:35 +1000

Here are some interesting symptoms from sufferers of schizophrenia, which
may be seen as disorders of free will:

1. Command auditory hallucinations. The patient hears voices commanding him
to do sometimes horrific things, which he feels he *must* obey, and often
does obey, even though he does not want to. It is not that there is a fear
of consequences if he disobeys, like Nazi subordinates following orders.
Rather, the perceived command seems to directly impinge on the
decision-making centres of the brain, bypassing the frantic efforts of the
judgement centres to counteract it:

"I heard a voice telling me to strangle my mother... I was terrified, I
didn't want to do this, but I couldn't resist, I *had* to do it."

2. Passivity phenomena. This is generally even harder to resist, and hence
more dangerous, than command auditory hallucinations. The patient
experiences his body being controlled like a puppet by an external force:

"I was walking down the street when all of a sudden, I felt the satellites
beaming a force field at me, which took control of my body and made me throw
myself in front of the oncoming traffic. I tried to resist, but it was

3. Catatonia. The patient appears as if paralysed and unresponsive. Asked
about the experience afterwards, he sometimes explains that he was actually
aware of his surroundings, that he felt able to move and speak if he wanted
to at any point, but that he did not want to do so, for reasons he cannot
explain - just a whim. The fact is, catatonic patients are *not* able to
move, even though they think they are, and could die if not given urgent
medical care (IV hydration, ECT).

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Sun Apr 10 2005 - 22:48:16 PDT

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