March 2014
Evolutionary Psychiatry

Our Section, recently formed, is growing in numbers – at the time of writing (January 2014) we are about 50. We are collating a pertinent bibliography, and our archive, in addition to papers, already has two excellent films (one about the relation of shamanism to schizophrenia, the other about the development of Jungian ideas about the collective unconscious into modern evolutionary psychiatry: both about one hour of viewing). We have a vigorous email dialogue which is currently taking the form of a Yahoo forum and we have applied for a symposium at the forthcoming WPA World Congress in Madrid.

Evolutionary psychiatry is concerned with function and poses the question, why did this apparently maladaptive behaviour evolve? For instance, take the case of depression and submission. Submission is a vital social act, often preventing violence and group disruption, so it is not unlikely that more than one form of submission has evolved. If we suggest that depressed mood evolved as an unconscious form of submission, we can infer that conscious submission may prevent or terminate depression. Without an evolutionary view, this simple substitution of a conscious for an unconscious strategy may not have been envisaged. Of course, such a suggestion from evolutionary considerations needs to be tested in the usual way.

There are many unanswered questions, and we hope that the evolutionary approach may illuminate the proximal studies of why some people get ill, and why others do not.

Daniel R. Wilson, Chair
John Scott Price, Co-chair
WPA Section on Evolutionary Psychiatry




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