Psychology 188A: Evolution, Genetics, and Mental Disorders:
Mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, are both disabling and common, posing a paradox to evolutionary theory. Why do mental disorders exist, given that they appear to be evolutionarily disadvantageous? This course grapples with this question, weaving together advances from many different fields to try to shed some light on a question that (as yet) has no answer.
We begin with a quick refresher on evolutionary theory, and then review how evolutionary principles are applied to human behavior (evolutionary psychology) and recent findings from psychiatric genetics. We also try to gauge the fitness consequences and the cross-cultural prevalence of mental disorders, using schizophrenia as a test case. The readings for the final part of the course cover evolutionary explanations for genetic variation.
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