The concepts of biological function and dysfunction: Toward a conceptual foundation for evolutionary psychopathology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

Jerome Wakefield provides in this chapter a penetrating analysis of the concepts of function and dysfunction, which should form the foundation for the field of evolutionary clinical psychology. He argues that clinical psychology historically has lacked a coherent definition of disorder. Instead, the field has relied on intuitive, conflicting, and usually fuzzy notions of disorder and dysfunction. Evolutionary psychology provides clarification. Wakefield cogently argues that the only sensible definition of disorder requires the failure of a designed function. It follows that we need to know the designed function of psychological mechanisms as a prerequisite to understanding when they fail to function as designed. Wakefield also exposes several fallacies in arguments that mental disorders are naturally selected conditions and draws implications for the DSM classification system of disorders. It's somewhat astonishing to realize that clinical psychology has proceeded for decades without a clear definition of mental disorder.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe handbook of evolutionary psychology
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Pages878-902
Number of pages84
Volume2
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameHandbook of evolutionary psychology

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    Wakefield, J. C. (2016). The concepts of biological function and dysfunction: Toward a conceptual foundation for evolutionary psychopathology. In The handbook of evolutionary psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 878-902). (Handbook of evolutionary psychology). John Wiley & Sons, Inc..