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Evolutionary aspects of anxiety disorders

By John S. Price


Danger and harm are avoided by strategic decisions made at all three levels of the triune forebrain: rational (neomammalian), emotional (paleomammalian), and instinctive (reptilian). This applies also to potential harm from conspecifics, which leads to a choice between escalating and de-escalating strategies. Anxiety is a component of de-escalating strategies mediated by the paleomammalian and reptilian forebrains. When the neomammalian (rational) brain fails to deal with the threat of conspecific danger, these more primitive de-escalating strategies may be activated and may present as anxiety disorders. The capacity for concealment of anxiety and other forms of negative affect has also evolved, and excessive concealment may lead to psychopaihology by breaking the negative feedback loop of excessive motivation, leading to impaired performance, leading to signals of distress, and leading to reduced exhortation to succeed on the part of parents and teachers; this situation is illustrated by a model based on the Yerkes-Dodson law

Topics: Basic Research
Publisher: Les Laboratoires Servier
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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