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Darwinian Psychiatry Hardcover – April 16, 1998

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195116731 ISBN-10: 0195116739 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"The authors are psychiatrists who have done distinguished experimental work in primatology. They summarize evolutionary influences on everyday behavior, and argue convincingly for this area as a science basic to psychiatry."--The Quarterly Review of Biology

"Darwinian Psychiatry represents a encyclopedic, ambitious and well-argued attempt to convince its readers that the field of psychiatry would benefit from the explicit incorporation of evolutionary theory, and offers nothing short of a complete reconceptualization of mental disorders. McGuire and Troisi are writers of considerable distinction in the psychiatry literature...their scholarship is unmistakable and their shared knowledge startlingly comprehensive. The overall tone of the work is relatively conversational, a style that well befits the obvious familiarity of the authors with the tenets of evolutionary theory and their knowledge of mental conditions. Well thought out, well-structured, and well written...the application of their ideas is both comparatively straightforward and appropriately provocative." -- Metapsychology (Mental Help Net's Bookstore)

About the Author

Michael McGuire is at University of California, Los Angeles. Alfredo Troisi is at University of Rome.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195116739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195116731
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,036,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on July 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors complain that psychiatry is sort of all over the map without a controlling paradigm by which to measure behavior and provide correlated treatments. They state psychiatry is in disarray, with numerous theories and postulates, but no guiding theory upon which to form a model grounded in science. To rescue psychiatry from this abyss, they recommend that Darwinism be used as the new model that not only grounds theory in fact, but provides a clearer correlate between functional diagnosis (signs and symptoms) and suitable treatment (e.g., psychotropics and/or counseling). Does their new paradigm succeed? I'm convinced.

The book is short, a mere 270 pages. It's not intended as an introduction to psychiatry; in fact it presumes a significant acquaintance with most psychiatric concepts. The book intends that these given concepts be reexamined in light of Darwin's theory. Such concepts discussed in this context are: natural selection, adaptation, function, ultimate causation, individual fitness, self-interest, reciprocal altruism, proximate mechanisms, development, traits, learning, culture, and history strategies. The authors' approach is centered in a functional analysis of behavior that gives causal hypotheses and provides from assumptions that conditions will be more meaningfully classified and their contributing factors more rapidly identified (p. 81). Outward behavior gives events that are usually terms of separate genetic, physiological, and psychological mechanisms turn out to be subparts of infrastructures that contribute to specific functions (p. 92).

They state categorically: "Evolutionary models of mental conditions differ from psychiatry's model in a number of ways.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The authors are accomplished psychiatrists who here bring together the wealth of information from contemporary biology, studies of animal behavior, and evolutionary theory, to consider their impact on the practice of psychiatry. Darwinian Psychiatry is an amazing book for its scholarship, erudition, and comprehensiveness. It shows decisively how the mind/body and nature/culture dichotomies are not only pointlessly wrong but scientifically and medically dangerous. It is by no means a simple book to read because of the density of technical information. But it is relatively jargon-free and designed to be helpful to medics interested in treating sick people as well as scientists pursuing fundamental studies. It is a work of quite bewilderingly impressive skill.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nader on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The title and the table of contents of this book were very interesting and exciting to me. The early pages kept my attention focused as well. But soon the writings became laborious to read. I have a good knowledge of psychiatry and evolution and my problem was not with the content of the book. The sentences were not flowing. I had to strain my mind not to lose tract. Also, the ideas and hypotheses were not lucid and sequential. I often wondered why something is discussed after something else. The logic and connection of concepts were rough and at times not clear. But I enjoyed the book anyway and learned some points from it.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mike on December 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
It is an exceptional, and very rare scholarly work of incredible science that tries to avoid human biases that can easily creep into
the evaluation of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and other therapies. As other good reviewers have said this book is very
comprehensive and written for the advanced reader but it is a MUST for ALL and should be mandatory reading for any
progressive school or person. The book discusses several human brain conditions from anxiety all to way to schizophrenia, and
discusses their definition, diagnosis, origins, prevalence, reasons for existing, etc.... What I specifically noted about this book,
apart from all the good that has been written, is its attempt to remove, as much as possible, human biases in the science of
psychology, and psychiatry and to just state "Just the facts mam". They even admit to the pitfalls of the traditional fields of
psychology, and psychiatry (e.g. psychoanalysis). A MUST for those wanting to move on beyond the traditional psychobable
and self-help; towards real science.
An extremely interesting book detailing evolutionary human behavior. Covers a very wide range from the history of evolutionary
thinking to the latest views. Includes: kin selection, friendship, family, group, and tribal behavioral dynamics as viewed from an
evolutionary point of view.
For further reading:
The Moral Animal : The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright
Charles Darwin by John Bowlby
Evolutionary Psychiatry : A New Beginning by Anthony Stevens, John Price
Darwinian Psychiatry by Michael T. McGuire, Alfonso Troisi
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