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Discuss Evolutionary Explanations of Two Mental Disorders

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Discuss Evolutionary Explanations of Two Mental Disorders The Genome lag explanation of Unipolar depression suggests that during the EEA, depression was an adaptive response to the environmental conditions of the time. In other words, depression was a useful survival aid - lower mood was an appropriate response to certain situations. Evidence for this explanation can be seen in research by Buss, Nesse and Williams and kin support/decline. Buss claimed that because of today's society technological advances we are constantly exposed to images of unattainable physical perfection, which can lead to loss of self-esteem and depression. In the EEA humans would have been exposed to very few extremely attractive people. Nesse and Williams suggest that development societies are highly competitive and so create greater stress and opportunities for loss. We are exposed to images of ideal lives and material possessions that can result in feelings of inferiority, dissatisfaction and consequently depression. ...read more.


For example, the impulse to hide under the bed covers may stem from our evolutionary ancestors hiding in caves, which could increase survival in times of bad weather. A similar theory that depression is adaptive has been proposed by Allen. Human social groups are hierarchical and so conflicts arise over position and authority. According to Allen's rank theory of depression this emotional response is adaptive when the individual has lost because accepting loss and the consequent withdrawal ends the conflict. The loser retreats and so is protected from further injury and the winner has a clear sense of victory. For an evolutionary explanation of depression to have any validity there must be evidence of a genetic base to the disorder and the illness must exist across al cultures. There is evidence of a genetic basis to unipolar depression as shown by twin studies where concordance rates of between 40% and 59% have been found, and adoptive studies which show that depression is common to biological relatives but not adoptive relatives. ...read more.


There is also evidence that a relationship seems to exist between bipolar depression and creativity and/or leadership. Creativity and leadership would be adaptive traits to have in the past as the creative person would be able to find novel solutions to problems and leadership quality may create a harmonious group. Evaluation of evolutionary theories of mental disorders would start with conjecture. Deciding what was dangerous in our evolutionary past is highly speculative. Such explanations are post hoc and do have little scientific basis. This theory is also deterministic and reductionist, as they suggest that the genes control behaviour, which ignores the free will of the individual and also because they focus on one factor only, the gene, when other factors such as emotion, society and behaviour are highly relevant to the aetiology of mental disorders. Evolutionary explanations need to be considered in combination with other explanations. Both biological and psychological factors interact in the aetiology of mental disorders as the compromise position of the diathesis-stress model suggest. ...read more.

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