Evolution and Depression: one for Peter F's linguistic playpen

John H. johnh at faraway.xxx
Thu May 1 07:09:44 EST 2003


An Evolutionary Theory of Unipolar Depression
as an Adaptation for Overcoming Constraints of the Social Niche
http://biology.unm.edu/Biology/pwatson/public_html/dp1.htm

We outline a new theoretical model of the evolutionary adaptiveness of minor
and major unipolar depression. According to our social navigation / social
niche change model, the evolved function of depression is the analysis and
eradication of a severe socially imposed mismatch between the depressive's
capacities and opportunities for fitness-enhancing activity, where the
constraints responsible for the mismatch have a broad or even pervasive
basis in the individual's social network. Minor depression, which we
operationally define as a level of depression that can be intentionally
hidden from social partners (and often is), optimizes the mind in several
ways for (1) identifying possible mismatch-reducing revisions of the
individual's socioeconomic niche and (2) planning active negotiating tactics
to achieve their implementation. Major depression may ensue in cases where
active tactics of negotiation or coercion consistently fail to yield the
investments and concessions from social partners required for substantive
niche revision.

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