Evolution and Psychiatry Special Interest Group

Chair: Professor Henry O’Connell                                                                                             Vice-Chair: Dr Mara Petrut


This SIG aims to raise awareness of the evolutionary basis to psychiatric illness and to explore the potential for the clinical and research applications of this newly emerging field of study.

The SIG will work to complement the College objectives.

  1. The SIG will meet every three months to present and discuss ideas for research and writing in the area of evolutionary science applied to psychiatry.
  2. The SIG will aim to optimise communication between members via three monthly meetings and emails.
  3. The SIG will have a Chair and Vice Chair.
  4. The SIG will aim to submit contributions for the CPsychI Spring and Winter meetings every year, and other relevant specific meetings in Ireland and worldwide.
  5. The SIG will aim to collaborate with other relevant national and international professional organisations, such as the Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
  6. In the longer term, the SIG will aim to produce statement papers on various mental disorders and on healthcare strategy.
  7. In the longer term, the SIG will aim to develop research proposals and projects.

SIG Presentations

  • Inaugural meeting on Darwin Day, 12th February 2021, Presentation on “Health Care: Do we really know who we are treating” by Prof Mike Watts – https://youtu.be/DJ_7C9N9Mak
  • Second Special Interest Group Meeting, 21st May 2021, Presentation on “The Evolutionary Psychology of Eating Disorders: The Sexual Competition Hypothesis” by Dr Riadh Abed – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-X-qnpK_h8
  • Third Special Interest Group Meeting, 15th October 2021, Presentation on “Evolutionary Perspectives on autism and ADHD” by Dr Annie Swanepoel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBbftpM-CoA
  • Fourth Special Interest Group Meeting, 4th February 2022, Presentation on “Why hasn’t natural selection eliminated mental disorders?  Knowing the five reasons improves clinical care as well as research” by Dr Randolph Nesse – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvpKLpwCEC8
  • Fifth Special Interest Group Meeting, 6th May 2022, Presentation on “Extending adaptive explanations of personality to the Evolution of Psychopathology” by Adam Hunt –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx_pnEUpNmY
  • Sixth Special Interest Group Meeting, 14th October 2022, Presentation on “The ‘whys’ of psychiatric illness” by Professor Kevin J Mitchell – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As8TMUC8zPg

Dates of upcoming meetings in 2023

  • Friday, 10th February @10am

College Faculty/SIG and committee meetings can garner 1 internal or external CPD credit per meeting up to a maximum of 10 credits per PCS year.

To contact the group

To contact the group or if you would like to join, please email Helen Murray, hmurray@irishpsychiatry.ie or call (01) 6618450.

Links to external videos and articles.

Other Evolution Groups/Societies

Research/writing themes

Suggestions are welcome in relation to research/writing themes by emailing Prof O’Connell/Ms Murray.

List of recommended books

  • On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin
  • The Autobiography of Charles Darwin is an autobiography by Charles Darwin
  • Evolution and Psychiatry: Clinical Cases by Henry O’Connell 
  • Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry by Randolph M. Nesse
  • Evolutionary Psychiatry, second edition: A New Beginning by Anthony Stevens
  • Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine by Randolph M. Nesse
  • The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions by Jaak Panksepp and Lucy Biven
  • Genes on the Couch. Explorations in Evolutionary Psychotherapy by Paul Gilbert, Kent G. Bailey
  • Textbook of Evolutionary Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine by Martin Brune
  • The Maladapted Mind: Classic Readings in Evolutionary Psychopathology by Simon Baron-Cohen
  • Maladapting Minds: Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Evolutionary Theory by Pieter R. Adriaens and Andreas De Block
  • The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Medicine (Oxford Handbooks) by Martin Brüne and Wulf Schiefenhövel
  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
  • The Reluctant Mr. Darwin. An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen.
  • The Loss of Sadness by Allan V Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield
  • Evolutionary Psychology. The New Science of the Mind By David M Buss
  • The New CBT: Clinical Evolutionary Psychology by Mike Abrams
  • Darwinian psychiatry by Michael T. McGuire
  • Sociobiological Psychiatry: Normal Behavior and Psychopathology by Brant Wenegrat
  • Evolution of Mind, Brain, and Culture by Gary Hatfield
  • The Evolution of Mind by Joseph McCabe
  • Man and his Symbols by Carl G. Jung
  • The Oxford handbook of philosophy and psychiatry