Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Darwinian psychiatry

Williams and Nesse famously called for Darwinian medicine. However we also need Darwinian psychiatry. It is pretty clear that many psychological difficulties are caused by over-reproduction of ideas and memes. Obsessions, paranoia, schizophrenia, stress and depression, all often feature prominent meme overgrowths as either symptoms or causes. Memetic adaptations for reproducing inside minds combine in some individuals with a weak memetic immune system to produce pathological behaviour.

Darwinian medicine has adapted the exorcisms and casting out of evil spirits of primitive peoples into practical techniques that actually evict the invisible invaders responsible for pathology.

However, true Darwinian psychiatry is still in an embryonic state. There are psychological equivalents of antibiotics, vaccines and bleach - but these are often poorly studied and inexpertly deployed.

There has been pioneering work by Hoyle Leigh, but still much remains to be done.

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