Mental disorders are prevalent. But. Data are sketchy. Research funds small. Causes mostly misunderstood. Diagnostics limited to checklists. And treatments unchanged for the past 50 years. Yes, this is depressing. To help, Randolph Nesse’s “Good reasons for bad feelings” revisits the theoretical foundation of psychiatry and calls for an evolutionary underpinning. Nesse is one of the founders of evolutionary medicine. In this book, he expands his evolutionary framework from the study of the body to that of the mind. Traditional medicine and psychiatry look at how things work. Evolutionary medicine and psychiatry look at why they are here. The question explored in the book is why natural selection left us so vulnerable to so many mental disorders. The thesis laid out is that answering this question will improve the understanding of mental disorders and the effectiveness of their treatments. From an evolutionary perspective, we are not shaped for health, happiness and longevity. We are shaped for reproduction. Natural selection maximizes the transmission of our genes, not our health. Using illustrative cases, Nesse demonstrates how emotions serve that purpose. Anxiety helps escape life threatening situations. So panic attacks are false alarms in our fight-or-flight system. Low mood saves energy when faced with unachievable goals. So depressions keep us away from important things we can’t succeed at and can’t give up…etc… As our world complexifies faster than our natural selection needs to which our brains are wired, mental disorders grow. This book introduces evolutionary psychiatry and will lead to new advances in the field. It will stretch your thinking about what are “normal” moods and behaviors. It’s a great read.
In NPR’s “WHO points to wildlife farms in southern China as likely source of pandemic”, WHO China expedition member Peter Daszak says that SARS-CoV-2 came from wildlife farms breeding porcupines, pangolins, raccoon dogs, and bamboo rats in captivity. The farming of wild animals has been promoted as a way to close the rural-urban poverty gap in China. An objectif it successfully achieved by providing employment to 14 million people and growing into a $70 billion industry in 2016.
I stole [with his blessing] “Evolution of exits for US venture capital, 1980-2019” from INSEAD Prof Henning Piezunka’s Venture Capital, Business Angels and Start-ups free online workshop which I attended this week and strongly recommend. It shows a clear change of pattern over the past 40 years in the venture capital exit strategies away from initial public offerings towards mergers and acquisitions. This illustrates, in particular, the growing concentration and power of big techs acquiring successful start-ups to kill competition.
My podcast is out next week! I was tired of hearing about problems, theoretical solutions, and abstract companies progress. So I decided to find humans driving positive change in business to understand their journeys. The teaser is uploading right now and already on Spotify and Anchor. Check it out, subscribe and let me know what you think!