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Evolutionary Psychiatry: A New Beginning Hardcover – 5 Sep 1996


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (5 Sept. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415138396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415138390
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,367,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. D. Saunders on 4 July 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an easy to read book which I used to access key areas, namely the sections on 'disorders of attachment' covering eating disorders and anxiety. The chapters are relatively short and provide good introductions to the areas covered. In terms of usefulness this book was a key tool in my recovery from anorexia. It showed me my behaviour was a biological adaptation to the situation I was in. I would thoroughly recommend this book.
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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark Montgomery on 11 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
Both evolutionary psychology and evolutionary psychiatry have been gaining ground in recent years, not because they tell us anything new, but because they give nice neat 'stories' about why we are the way we are. Unfortunately, and this book is a prime example of it, research and the corresponding evidence-base is very shaky. Research on modern primates tells us very little, if anything, about the behaviour of our own evolutionary ancestors. Modern primates are MODERN, not replicas of our own evolutionary ancestors. To then graft on to modern psychiatry silly notions that we 'behave like this because when we were monkeys the world was like this and we haven't got out of the habit yet' is ridiculous, without any clear evidence and is nothing more than (non-)scientific fairy tales. The only reason i've given this two stars is because it is a funny book and a great example of how science can be 'bent' to fit when scientists want it to. Occam's Razor appears to have been ignored entirely in this text. A pity so much time and effort is being wasted in many universities for a topic that, in the end, is really a matter of faith (for those with an investment in it) and is essentially untestable. Untestable = unscientific.
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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Good book to read if you are interested in evolutionary psychiatry 3 Feb. 2006
By Arkadiy Dubovoy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Evolutionary Psychiatry: A New Beginning is a thoughtful and systematic discussion of main psychiatric concepts approached from evolutionary perspective. The book is written by two psychiatrists and Oxford graduates with a life-long interest in evolutionary psychiatry.

In order to understand this book you must be familiar fairly well with the psychiatric terms and concepts. The second requirement is being familiar with the modern theory of evolution. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that this book does not contain any meaningful discussion of modern evolutionary concepts.

Evolutionary Psychiatry: A New Beginning is a fairly advanced scientific text, which is structured as a psychiatric textbook. This book, however, is not a textbook of evolutionary psychiatry. The theories described in this book are either developed or supported by Drs. Stevens and Price. Other ideas are, at best, mentioned in passing. The book is, therefore, necessarily biased.

The authors mentioned that they were criticized for trying to jump ahead of the main pack of researchers. Although the contributions of Drs. Stevens and Price to the field are substantial, there may be some truth in those allegations.

Writing a textbook requires a certain critical mass of knowledge on the subject to become commonly accepted, if not indisputable. Evolutionary psychology and psychiatry have not amassed the necessary amount of accepted facts and theories yet. The other reason why evolutionary psychiatry remains largely speculative is that the very scientific basis of it - the modern evolutionary theory - is far from having certain answers to too many questions (for example, T. J. Crow's theory of schizophrenia and language development is based on the controversial evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibria). Also, the reader must keep in mind that evolutionary theory (especially the ideas of group selection) as related to medical science has been developing very rapidly in the last several years.

One of the main original contributions claimed by the authors is their group-splitting theory of schizophrenia. Readers should be aware that there are several other equally interesting and convincing, in my opinion, theories of schizophrenia development: there are individual selection theories which explain the origin of schizophrenia as an unfortunate by-product of the development of human cognition, creativity, and language; there is even a theory which explains schizophrenia-related personality traits as valuable not for group-splitting, but for group-sustaining function (shamanism) - quite the opposite conclusion!

Unfortunately, the appearance of this book is very misleading. A stylized portrait of Charles Darwin and pictures of a gorilla and a Rolex watch on the book's canary-yellow cover do not convey the seriousness of the text. I can understand why some people, deceived by its frivolous appearance, mistake this book for a pop-psychology manual and are disappointed by the content.

Having expressed my criticisms, I think that the evolutionary based classification of psychiatric illnesses offered by the authors deserves careful consideration and analysis. The book is written in the lucid and understandable style characteristic of all Dr. Stevens' books. I enjoyed this book very much, and I recommend it to health care professionals interested in psychology and psychiatry. Evolutionary approach in psychology and psychiatry is becoming widely accepted, and it is worth your time and effort to explore. If nothing else, this book is worth reading and enjoying as a good example of an elegant scientific discussion.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A useful re-visioning of Jungian psychology 29 Dec. 2003
By Stephen P. Manning - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stevens has long been an almost lone champion of the biological aspect of Jungian thought. While Jung himself spent most of his energy on the products of the psyche --dreams and mythology-- he was very clear that at base he was talking about the common biological and genetic inheritance and structures of the human species. The archetypal theory is rooted in an observation of the instinctual patterns of the species. Beginning a dialogue with the emerging work of evolutionary psychology helps to anchor some of Jung's basic theories in a more contemporarily scientific frame (something he himself always insisted was crucial to his self-understanding as an empiricist). Stevens' contribution can help to balance the sometimes lopsided captivity of Jungian thought to such disparate enterprises as psychoanalysis and Goddess ecofeminism.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good primer 28 Nov. 2007
By Rosanna Tarsiero - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The topic of this book is a very interesting one, and the book itself does delivery what promised.

However, while some chapters contain pristine accounts of how disorders concerning mood and anxiety are linked to the evolution of rank and affiliation traits, others (schizophrenia and borderline disorder) fail to explain symptoms from an evolutionary perspective. Furthermore, Stevens grounds his work more in psychoanalytical psychology (Jung, Bowlby) than in psychiatry.

Overall, this is a good primer, and some chapters might also be included in undergraduate syllabi in an evolutionary psychiatry classes.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Exceptional and very rare scholarly work 31 Dec. 2001
By Mike - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It is an exceptional and very rare scholarly work of incredible science that tries to avoid human biases that can easily creep into the evaluation of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and other therapies. As other good reviewers have said this book is very
comprehensive and written for the advanced reader but it is a MUST for ALL and should be mandatory reading for any
progressive school or person. The book discusses several human brain conditions from anxiety all to way to schizophrenia and
discusses their definition, diagnosis, origins, prevalence, reasons for existing, etc.... What I specifically noted about this book, apart from all the good that has been written, is its attempt to remove, as much as possible, human biases in the science of psychology and psychiatry and to just state "Just the facts mam". They even admit to the pitfalls of the traditional fields of psychology and psychiatry (e.g. psychoanalysis). A MUST for those wanting to move on beyond the traditional psychobable
and self-help; towards real science.
An extremely interesting book detailing evolutionary human behavior. Covers a very wide range from the history of evolutionary
thinking to the latest views. Includes: kin selection, friendship, family, group, and tribal behavioral dynamics as viewed from an
evolutionary point of view.
For further reading:
The Moral Animal : The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright
Charles Darwin by John Bowlby
Darwinian Psychiatry by Michael T. McGuire, Alfonso Troisi
Do youself a favour and read it. 27 Nov. 2007
By Dr. Michael C. F. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For any psychiatrist seeking ultimate explainations you need to read this.

Finially I read a book that offers something more than dry biology or wolly social theory. This theory offers a robust framework for organising thoughts. I really connected with the idea of a triune brain which seems to mirror Freud's ideas.

Some parts seem more solid than others but it demonstrates connections between various areas of psychiatry and has a unifying quality, i.e it adds rather than replace.

If you turn up at the office each day just to earn money and prestige then don't waste your time or money otherwise buy and read it
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