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Evolutionary Psychiatry

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The aims of the Section on Evolutionary Psychiatry (EP) include raising awareness of the importance of evolutionary biology to psychiatry and encouraging research into domains that can be meaningfully understood if viewed from an evolutionary perspective. These include gene-environment interactions, ecological aspects, social inter-actions and nonverbal behaviour, and the interactions between the immune system, the microbiome, and the central nervous system.


The section fosters cross-disciplinary networking with evolutionary scientists across a range of academic specialities as well as collaboration with national EP associations around the world. Our section advocates for the inclusion of evolutionary biology as a basic science into both undergraduate medical education and psychiatric training curricula around the world. The evolutionary approach seeks to extend the concept of causation to incorporate phylogenetic as well as adaptational (functional) causes of mental disorders (referred to as ultimate causes) alongside the proximate causes familiar to current mainstream psychiatry.

Section Officers



Riadh Abed

Retired Consultant Psychiatrist,
Medical Member of the Mental Health Tribunals,
Ministry of Justice, UK 



Annie Swanepoel .jpeg

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, England


Annie Swanepoel


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Henry O’Connell

Consultant Psychiatrist and Associate Clinical Professor (UL), 

Triogue Community Mental Health Centre,

Bridge Street, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, Ireland

Twitter @henrypoconnell

>> Please click here. to see the Section Member list.

Section News and Activities

Upcoming Free Webinar Programme for the Evolutionary Psychiatry Section (dates and times may vary slightly)

The Section of Evolutionary Psychiatry is pleased to announce its forthcoming second bimonthly evolutionary webinar series starting in November 2022. Registration is free of charge by clicking on the hyperlinks.  All interested colleagues from all disciplines are welcome.


​Thursday 30 November 2023, 6pm GMT: Dr Laith Al-Shawaf, An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Emotions


Thursday 25 January 2024, 6pm GMT: Prof Paul Gilbert, Evolution and Compassion Focused Therapy


Thursday 28 March 2024, 6pm GMT: Prof Jerome Wakefield, The Loss of Sadness and the Pathologizing of Grief:  Are We Medicalizing Normal Human Emotions?


Thursday 30 May 2024, 7pm BST: Prof Nichola Raihani, Evolutionary Perspectives on Paranoia and Suspiciousness

Cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances

Other Activities

5-6th August 2024: 2 day Evolutionary Psychiatry conference at Durham University

Registration is now open for a 2 day Evolutionary Psychiatry conference at Durham University on 5-6th August 2024 with an eminent line-up of international speakers. This is a collaborative event between the EP Section of the WPA, the Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group at the RCPsych (UK) and the International Society for the Evolution, Medicine and Public Health. More information can be fond here: 

Recommended Reading

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Royal College of Psychiatrists

Evolutionary Psychiatry - Current Perspectives on Evolution and Mental Health

Edited by: Riadh Abed and Paul St. John Smith

Evolutionary Psychiatry Resources

Image by Johannes Plenio
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