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Chapter 10 - Evolutionary Perspectives on Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2022

Riadh Abed
Affiliation:
Mental Health Tribunals, Ministry of Justice, UK
Paul St John-Smith
Affiliation:
Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, UK
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Summary

The term ‘schizophrenia’ refers to a group of disorders that seem to occur worldwide, with clinical pictures being strikingly similar across cultures. Evolutionary explanations of these disorders are warranted for at least two reasons: the first concerns their prevalence in all known ethnicities; the second relates to the need to explain the paradox as to why the conditions are maintained despite the greatly decreased fecundity of the affected individuals. Accordingly, a plethora of heterogeneous hypotheses – unparalleled among other psychiatric disorders – have been put forth, some of which deal with genetic considerations, others with environmental risk factors, and a few consider the adaptive advantages associated with the genes that predispose to schizophrenia. None of the evolutionary scenarios has the potential to account for the diversity of the symptomatology or to cover all of the biological and non-biological aspects of schizophrenia or schizophrenia spectrum disorders. This chapter aims at discussing the most relevant evolutionary hypotheses of schizophrenia, arguing that a symptom-based approach to psychotic disorders from an evolutionary perspective may improve upon the existing models of schizophrenia.

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Evolutionary Psychiatry
Current Perspectives on Evolution and Mental Health
, pp. 153 - 168
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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