Chapter

On the role of ethology in clinical psychiatry: what do ontogenetic and causal factors tell us about ultimate explanations of depression?

Erwin Geerts and Martin Brüne

in Maladapting Minds

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199558667
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754647 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199558667.003.0005

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

On the role of ethology in clinical psychiatry: what do ontogenetic and causal factors tell us about ultimate explanations of depression?

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In this chapter, we argue that there are good reasons to reintroduce traditional ethological research in evolutionary approaches to mental disorders. By focussing on the relationship between early attachment relationships and non-verbal behaviour in depressive patients, we show that answering proximate questions about mental disorders has important implications for ultimate explanations in psychiatry. For example, ethological observations demonstrate that high levels of support-seeking behavior in depressive patients are associated with an unfavourable diagnosis, thus disproving certain adaptationist theories of depression. Contrary to earlier dramatic statements about ethology being swallowed by sociobiology or behavioural ecology, we show that reports of ethology's death have been greatly exaggerated, and that it rightly deserves its place in psychiatry.

Chapter.  9579 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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