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Mental health and biological evolution: implications for psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine

Martin Brüne

Martin Brüne was born in Dortmund, Germany, in 1962. He graduated in medicine at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster in 1988. He completed his neurology training in 1993, and his psychiatry training in 1995. His subsequent training included a Visiting Research Scientist fellowship at the Centre for the Mind, a joint venture of the Australian National University and University of Sydney. He is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Division of Social Neuropsychiatry and Evolutionary Medicine at the LWL University Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

Dr. Brüne has authored more than 250 articles and book chapters. He has also authored the Textbook of Evolutionary Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine: The Origins of Psychopathology (2nd edn. Oxford University Press, 2016). Recently, he edited (together with Prof. Wulf Schiefenhövel) The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2019).

His current clinically oriented research projects include the analysis of social cognition in psychosis and in personality disorders, the association of social cognition with social functioning and non-verbal behaviour, the behavioural performance of psychiatric populations in evolutionary game-theoretical scenarios, the effect of oxytocin on social perception and cognition in psychiatric disorders and social cognitive training in patients with psychosis, as well as non-verbal interaction in therapeutic settings.

His research approach is grounded in evolutionary theory, that is, how and why cognition, emotion and behaviour in psychiatric conditions relate to adaptive function of psychological traits. His interests also include cross-species comparison and psychopathological conditions in non-human primates.

He is a member of several psychiatric and neuroscientific societies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde (DGPPN), International Society for Human Ethology (ISHE), Gesellschaft für Anthropologie (GfA), and the International Graduate School of Neuroscience (IGSN), Ruhr University Bochum. He also acted as a Co-PI in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Belief Formation Program at the Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

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From the journal Neuroforum

Abstract

Psychiatric disorders are common and seem to increase in prevalence worldwide. Most scientific approaches for this phenomenon fail to explain why the majority of mental disorders, unlike most somatic diseases, manifest in early adulthood, why individuals are not more resilient, and why some genes increasing the risk for mental disorders have not been selected against. In this article, an evolutionary perspective on mental health and disorder is taken. This perspective suggests that mismatches between ancestral and contemporary environments contribute to the risk for mental disorders. In addition, predictions from attachment theory and life history theory can explain individual differences with regard to the risk of developing a psychiatric or psychosomatic disorder. Insights from evolutionary approaches to psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders may contribute to improve the prevention and treatment of mental disorders.

Zusammenfassung

Psychische Störungen sind häufig und scheinen in der Prävalenz weltweit zuzunehmen. Die meisten wissenschaftlichen Ansätze können nicht schlüssig erklären, warum viele psychische Erkrankungen, anders als die meisten körperlichen Erkrankungen, im frühen Erwachsenenalter auftreten, warum Individu-en nicht resilienter sind, und warum manche Gene, die für das Auftreten psychischer Störungen disponieren, nicht negativ selektiert worden sind. In diesem Beitrag wird eine evolutionsbiologische Perspektive vertreten, die argumentiert, dass das Risiko für psychische Störungen zum Teil mit der Verschiedenheit anzestraler Lebensbedingungen von heutigen erklärt werden kann. Darüber hinaus lassen sich individuelle Unterschiede im Hinblick auf das Risiko, eine psychische oder psychosomatische Erkrankung zu entwickeln, auf der Basis bin-dungstheoretischer Ansätze und der „life history theory“ vorhersagen. Diese Einsichten aus dem Blickwinkel der Evolution können dazu beitragen, die Prävention und Therapie psychischer Störungen zu verbessern.


Corresponding author: Martin Brüne, LWL University Hospital Bochum, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Preventive Medicine, Division of Social Neuropsychiatry and Evolutionary Medicine, Ruhr University Bochum, Alexandrinenstraße 1, D-44791Bochum, Germany, E-mail:

Über den Autor / die Autorin

Martin Brüne

Martin Brüne was born in Dortmund, Germany, in 1962. He graduated in medicine at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster in 1988. He completed his neurology training in 1993, and his psychiatry training in 1995. His subsequent training included a Visiting Research Scientist fellowship at the Centre for the Mind, a joint venture of the Australian National University and University of Sydney. He is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Division of Social Neuropsychiatry and Evolutionary Medicine at the LWL University Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

Dr. Brüne has authored more than 250 articles and book chapters. He has also authored the Textbook of Evolutionary Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine: The Origins of Psychopathology (2nd edn. Oxford University Press, 2016). Recently, he edited (together with Prof. Wulf Schiefenhövel) The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2019).

His current clinically oriented research projects include the analysis of social cognition in psychosis and in personality disorders, the association of social cognition with social functioning and non-verbal behaviour, the behavioural performance of psychiatric populations in evolutionary game-theoretical scenarios, the effect of oxytocin on social perception and cognition in psychiatric disorders and social cognitive training in patients with psychosis, as well as non-verbal interaction in therapeutic settings.

His research approach is grounded in evolutionary theory, that is, how and why cognition, emotion and behaviour in psychiatric conditions relate to adaptive function of psychological traits. His interests also include cross-species comparison and psychopathological conditions in non-human primates.

He is a member of several psychiatric and neuroscientific societies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde (DGPPN), International Society for Human Ethology (ISHE), Gesellschaft für Anthropologie (GfA), and the International Graduate School of Neuroscience (IGSN), Ruhr University Bochum. He also acted as a Co-PI in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Belief Formation Program at the Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

  1. Author contributions: The author has accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The author declares no conflicts of interest regarding this article.

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Online erschienen: 2021-03-23
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