Chapter

From “evolved interpersonal relatedness” to “costly social alienation:” an evolutionary neurophilosophy of schizophrenia

Jonathan Burns

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/9780199558667.003.0012

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

From “evolved interpersonal relatedness” to “costly social alienation:” an evolutionary neurophilosophy of schizophrenia

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There is evidence that modern humans evolved a brain highly attuned and adapted to complex interpersonal relatedness. This ‘social brain’ is the substrate for an embodied understanding of ‘mind’ – a mind embedded in the physical matter of body, environment and social world. After Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Fromm, this philosophical stance better reflects the social origins of mental life than does the redundant dualism of Descartes. Schizophrenia is conceived as a disorder of social brain evolution in that it is characterised by what Eugene Bleuler termed an ‘affective dementia.’ Individuals with schizophrenia exhibit anatomical, functional and clinical evidence for social brain disorder. In this chapter, I describe this most human of maladies in terms of a ‘phenomenology of social alienation’ and, drawing on contemporary research data, make the case that schizophrenia represents a costly evolutionary trade-off in the emergence of embodied social consciousness.

Chapter.  7800 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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