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evolutionary perspective of mental disorders

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Outline and evaluate the explanation of two or more mental disorders from an evolutionary perspective (24 marks) The evolutionary explanation suggests that depression and anxiety are adaptive responses. This is due to our coping strategies back in the time of the environment of evolutionary adaptation (EEA). Since we have experienced genome lag, our bodies have not caught up to adapt to our modern living. Unipolar and bipolar depression are two different types of depression, Unipolar is where a person experiences a complete low mood throughout their depression stages, whereas bipolar is where a person experiences a complete low mood, followed by episodes of mania. Back in the time of the EEA, we experienced depression when we suffered a loss, for example, loss of status. The stages of depression help to overcome the loss and to bring the person back to their usual state. This behaviour has become adaptive and we still experience it, however, it is now not essential. There is a possibility that bipolar genes in small doses provide increased fitness, and that only large doses will decrease reproductive success due to behaviours being too extreme. ...read more.


Therefore when clothes and use of fire were introduced, there was so need for the pyknic physique, therefore gives reasoning why the bipolar genes died out quite early in ancestral history. Sherman (2001) states that mania was an adaptive response when faced with emergencies and physical challenges. When there was a lack of food and sleep, having the strength produce from the manic behaviour would have been an advantage. We have developed the experience of loss of status back in the EEA to for example an ending of a relationship. However become depressed over such reasons is not likely to be effective like the way it was intended. A genome lag has occurred meaning that our brains are still adaptive to the EEA, rather than our modern society. There is a distinction between general anxiety, which has evolved as an emotional response to situations in which the threat could not be identified, and specific anxiety which has evolved to protect individuals against specifics dangers. ...read more.


Fear is said to be negatively correlated with animals' appearance. The animals that look least like humans elicit a stronger phobic response, Bennett-Levy & Marteau (1984). This supports the evolutionary theory as it states we are programmed to imprint on own our species and avoid unrelated species, which accepts the view that phobias are due to innate predispositions. We do also fear dangers in our modern society such as public transport and driving, 50% of the individuals who experience this phobia had been involved in a traffic accident, Barlow & Durand (1995). Mowrer (1947) stated that the two-process theory of phobias suggests they are acquired through classical conditioning and maintained through negative reinforcement. This contradicts evolutionary explanations as it shows that phobias are learned. There is a lack of research to support the evolutionary theory during to it being post hoc. It is said that mental disorders are pathological exaggerations of normal adaptive responses. However, this may be the wrong approach as there may be a genetic basis and a defective gene may be the cause of this. ?? ?? ?? ?? Michelle Moody ...read more.

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