Sunday, January 9, 2011

Evolutionary Psychiatry - the Key Posts

What with the very recent post link from PaNu, and Chris Kresser tweeting and facebooking (eesh is that a word?) my last post (thanks Chris!), it looks like I have some new readers.  Hi!  I can understand you not wanting to go back through 130 some-odd posts to catch up, but a lot of my posts build on previous ones, which have built on previous ones... well, I wouldn't want anyone to miss out.  And one of my goals of this blog is to break down these topics so that the layperson can understand it (sometimes I am more successful at that than other times), but I don't want to keep repeating myself, either.

So here we are, an Evolutionary Psychiatry primer, if you will.

Basic Premise (includes monetary disclaimer, for giggles)

One of the key factors in studying obesity and metabolism is the idea that inflammation is the root of all evil.  Well, it turns out the same is true of depression and other mental illness.  Here are a couple starter posts for that:  Depression 2 - Inflammation Boogaloo, and Depression Crashed Your Party.  Here's one related to Autism.

Another theme of my blog is how mental illness is changing over time.  As an example, back in the age of large asylums, a great many folks with schizophrenia were of the hebrephrenic type.  Meaning they were disorganized and silly, and generally obstinate.  In recent times the hebrephrenic type has essentially disappeared - I've seen only one in my career.  No one knows why (as far as I know) - perhaps it is particularly responsive to medication, perhaps it was due to some sort of severe vitamin deficiency issue that general vitamin repletion has fixed in society at large - all total speculation.  Changes like that in mental illness interest me, especially changes that have escalated with the escalation of obesity and metabolic syndrome, because that says "diet" to me.  Here's a post on the history of depression: Depression 3 - Not Quite What It Used to Be.  Here's one about Eating Disorders.

Here's some important stuff about the links between metabolic syndrome and depression: Chronic Stress is Chronic Illness and Stress is Metabolic Syndrome

If you want the basics on how neurons work, look at Ketogenic Diets and Bipolar Disorder 2.

Here's my most popular post (by a lot) and requires no explanation:  Your Brain on Ketones.

One of my themes is that a single nutrient on its own is rarely the answer - we need an anti-inflammatory diet rich with nutrients (and do the best we can to control sleep and stressful lifestyle factors as well).  Alzheimer's Pathology and the Dementia-Free Kitavans is a bit heavy, but makes the point.

Here's another self-explanatory one: Your Brain on Omega 3s.

So I think that pretty much covers the bare bones basics.  However, if you have a particular interest, I encourage you to check out my post map, which (more or less) has everything broken down by condition or nutrient.

And, last but not least, a few of my favorite posts (though I'm narcissistic enough to like quite a lot of them, perhaps I'd be better off writing less and thinking/revising/consolidating more!)

The Evolution of Serotonin
That Tapeworm Ate Your Depression
The Case for Evolution

Genius and Madness


  1. Thank you very much for the catch-up post for us newbies!

  2. Thank you! Very helpful for this new reader :)

  3. Thanks for putting this together, Emily. I'm a fan of your work... I've just been lurking in the background for a while. Not finding as much time as I'd like to participate on other forums. I think Evolutionary Psychiatry is where it's at! Looking forward to reading more.

  4. i'd say you easily could put a "donate" (paypal?) or "buy me a book from my wish list" button on here if money is a concern. a lot of bloggers do this.

  5. Qualia - I've briefly considered a donate button but... I'm mostly making fun of a law that means I as a, er, "professional" blogger I have to make financial disclosures to avoid bias, yet weight watchers (tm) can sell weird processed food and a diet plan that works for 5% of participants with skinny people in the ads. I'm not suggesting that we regulate weight watchers (tm) more but me less :)

  6. Would it be worth the effort to set up a tax exempt non-profit?

  7. I don't know, js290 - how much $$ would you donate?

    Seriously though, I'm in Massachusetts, and we have a $500 yearly business fee just to have an LLC - not sure if that is waived for nonprofits but it would likely cost me $1000 in lawyer fees to get a straight answer... it's hopeless here.

  8. It wouldn't be just me contributing. Plus, I could pay the non-profit out of my HDHP account. :-)

    Didn't realize it's such a hassle to set up a non-profit in MA. Some states, you can incorporate online for like $25. Getting tax exempt status was a whole other deal.


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