Serotonin and the Grandiose

Something about mania that had long seemed bizarre to me now, I think, makes sense.
A common element, when a person is experiencing a manic episode, is grandiose thinking. Depending on the degree of the episode, a person may come to believe they are God or Jesus or something relevant to their experience and culture that is at the pinnacle of that particular field.

It didn't seem that their was any obvious connection between someone feeling euphoric, and believing they occupied the highest possible position in their social group.

However, as I have learned more about the role of serotonin, it seems to make perfect sense.

Serotonin is probably one of the most well known neurotransmitters. Most anti-depressants on the market today work by affecting serotonin in the brain. Like most neurotransmitters, serotonin has a variety of functions, not all of which are entirely clear, but one of it's primary functions relates to a person's status within a social group.

When a monkey, (or a person or an ape or a gorilla and other non-primates even lobsters ), has high social status relative to those around them, their serotonin levels increase. Dominate primates, with high levels of serotonin exhibit certain behaviors that allow them to be recognized as the leader of the group such as confidence and calm. Subordinate primates with low serotonin levels also exhibit characteristic subordinate behavior and demeanor. A study was done at the University California by Michael McGuire which showed that Human beings, even children who observe a group of captive monkeys can quickly recognize who is the Dominate individual.

It is not simply that those with high Serotonin levels tend to become the dominate individual(though this may play a role as well.) When the group hierarchy is artificially altered so that the subordinate monkey becomes dominate, the once dominate monkey's serotonin levels decrease, while the currently dominate monkey's serotonin levels increase. And similarly, if certain animals are injected with serotonin they then exhibit behavior characteristic dominance. The same effect has been shown in humans as well. An individual's serotonin levels has a direct correlation to their perceived status relative to those around them. I think a little bit of introspection on our lives experience also shows this to frequently be true.

Considering this, it seems clear why, when a person is experiencing a manic episode, and their serotonin levels are extremely high, they would then perceive themselves as having as much status as a person could possibly have, ie. feel like Jesus.

I have a lot more thoughts on this, but I don't want this entry to be too long.

While I was writing this I was reading about different dominate animal behavior, one interesting thing I read "Chimpanzees show deference to the alpha of the community by ritualised gestures such as bowing, allowing the alpha to walk first in a procession, or standing aside when the alpha challenges." This stood out to me because it sounded so much like L Tom Perry said in reference to the functioning of the Quorum of the Twelve:
"We are certain to follow the order of the Church in our meetings and in all we do. This has been clearly established. For example, I would never think of going through a door before Elder Packer. He is the President of our Council."

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