During the 1960s and 70s, ethologist John B. Calhoun conducted a number of infamous social experiments on rats and mice. These experiments attempted to determine how the rodents would behave in crowded, but resource abundant environments. In one particular experiment, dubbed "Universe 25", he allowed it to last 600 days, out of morbid curiosity perhaps... Despite having all they need material-wise for survival, the rodent population nose-dived towards extinction following a collapse of the family unit that had previously enabled successful mating, breeding, and the nurturing of the young. The rise and fall of Universe 25's population is eerily similar to current human population growth projections, which are estimated to level off at around 11 billion according to a news report by the United Nations due to declining birth rates.
Near the end of the experiment, mothers abandoned and frequently cannibalized their babies, roaming gangs of males indiscriminately mated with each other, and last, but not least, a segment of the population opted-out of socialization altogether (the "Beautiful Ones"). All of this despite utopian environmental conditions, designed to maximize the longevity of the rodent population inside.
If you're like me, the announcement of Half-Life: Alyx came out of seemingly nowhere, and as far as the direction of the Half-Life series was concerned, I did not expect it to go in that direction. If you're not familiar with the Half-Life series, here's the gist of it... Half-Life is a series of video games that are set in a science fiction setting revolving around the invasion of Earth by interdimensional aliens. The gameplay is mostly about solving physics-based puzzles combined with conventional first-person shooter mechanics. What made Half-Life stand out is its focus on allowing the player to use the environment as a tool itself to solve problems, or kill enemies.
The release of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 during its times were seen as benchmarks of innovation in video games, particularly in storytelling, lifelike characters, and object-based physics. The introduction of Half-Life 2 in a dystopian European city occupied by ominous mysterious alien imperialists was jaw-dropping to first experience when I was younger.
My sleeping imagination provides a bizarre contrast to my waking one. In effort to cope with my condition, I frequently daydream of a world where suffering has been minimized to a point of being acute and temporary, and ultimately remedied upon detection. To make this fantasy believable, almost tantamount to a humanist religion, I envisage this alternate reality to be one where the world has been united under a single polity where science and effective altruistic morality pragmatically work in unison to achieve this utopia.
I have been clinically diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder (SPD) since becoming an adult. A common misconception others have about this personality disorder is that it is psychotic or just a synonym for schizophrenia. It is neither. People with SPD from my knowledge and personal experience (I am not a medical professional) do not usually experience symptoms of psychosis. The DSM-5 considers SPD as a "pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings".
While I do regularly experience vivid and horrifying nightmares — name pun intended — I have no memory of any hallucinations, save for minor auditory ones heard during a single episode of acute sleep deprivation during one really hot summer. If you're curious... I simply thought I heard my name being called among background noise. This occurred many years ago and I have never experienced any hallucinations again — and I question if that moment was actually a brief lapse in consciousness rather than an actual waking hallucination.
Anyway, suffice it to say... Equating the term "schizoid" with "schizophrenia" is inappropriate, albeit forgivable. Had I never been diagnosed or heard of SPD in the first place, I would probably hold that same misconception.