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Madness 

Madness
Chapter:
Madness
Author(s):

Alfonso Troisi

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199393404.003.0011
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date: 05 May 2021

Medicalization of human behavioral diversity is a recurring theme in the history of psychiatry, and the problem of defining what is a genuine mental disorder remains an unresolved question since the origins of clinical psychopathology. This chapter presents an evolutionary view of mental health, placing functional capacities and biological adaptation at the core of attempts to define mental disorder instead of other criteria of morbidity that are commonly used . This theoretical shift depends on the fact that the evolutionary concept of mental disorder is consequence oriented: what makes a condition pathological are its consequences, not its causes or correlates. The chapter then provides, an evolutionary analysis, which reveals that the degree of efficiency of functional capacities is dependent on features of the environment. Optimal functional capacities are sets of coevolved traits that are best suited to increasing adaptation in specific environments. The same trait can be highly adaptive in one environment and minimally adaptive in another.

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