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Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 26/28

ailable at all times. Both the amount of food we eat and the time we spend eating have gotten out of control. In extreme cases a dysfunctional weight-regulation mechanism can result in eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.  
Being able to regulate the things we find pleasurable is also a problem when it comes to drugs – but the big difference here is that we have no internal regulation mechanism for dealing with drugs. 
Pleasure in and of itself is generally not a problem – in fact it helps us to learn and to gain experience. In most cases a pleasurable experience starts with a surge of dopamine which acts as an incentive to repeat and benefit from whatever activity is causing the pleasure. But such experiences are usually accompanied by a feeling that tells us when to stop. If we eat too much candy for instance the pleasure turns into nausea. This is our internal regulation system in action. 
However there is no comparable system for today’s drugs since they simply weren’t be
11/6/2019 11:40:48 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 27/28

ing consumed when our systems were developing. This gets to the real danger of drugs: like other things they provide pleasure but unlike other things they create a limitless desire that can ultimately lead to self-destruction.  
So far there’s no cure for our troubled relationship with food and drugs. But when we bring together the fields of psychiatry and evolutionary biology we can begin to see where the solution to these problems may reside. 
Final summary 
The key message in these blinks: 
Evolutionary biology provides an invaluable perspective on understanding our everyday emotions and behaviors as well as our disorders. By understanding how our internal systems developed we can gain insight into issues like mood and eating disorders and recognize them as the malfunctioning of otherwise useful regulation mechanisms. This approach can also help us to find the real root cause for our dysfunctions rather than seek ways to treat individual symptoms or otherwise attempt to suppress
11/6/2019 11:40:48 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 23/28

making sure our genes are passed down why isn’t it always satisfying for everyone? Well as sad as it may sound natural selection has prioritized effective reproduction over sexual satisfaction. 
The problem is many of us are drawn towards young attractive and healthy partners who will give our offspring the best possible genetic advantage for survival. And if your partner is kind loyal and prosperous it increases the chance that you’ll have more children over time and that these children will have the resources they need to prosper and raise their own families. In other words we want it all.  
With these ideals in our heads consciously or otherwise it’s easy to see why we might become perpetually unsatisfied. And today’s bombardment of media featuring impossibly beautiful models and celebrities doesn’t help a bit. 
Then there’s the fact that the act of sex itself can be unsatisfying – especially for women. According to a 1999 survey 25 percent of American women reported that they could
11/6/2019 11:40:44 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 24/28

n’t reach orgasm compared to just 7 percent of American men. 
This definitely falls under the category of a bad feeling but there’s a reason for this one as well at least as far as heterosexual couples are concerned. In order for the optimal conditions for pregnancy to take place the man’s penis should be in just the right place when ejaculation happens and the act of intercourse should immediately stop. Otherwise the sperm may be forced away from the egg. This is why men experience such extreme sensitivity after ejaculating that it makes further intercourse virtually impossible.  
On the other hand if women were to experience an orgasm that led them to stop intercourse before their partner ejaculated this would greatly limit the likelihood of pregnancy. Naturally this trait wouldn’t be selected and this is one reason why male and female sexual responses differ. And while it may benefit rates of pregnancy it doesn’t do much for sexual satisfaction. 
Our current access to food and dr
11/6/2019 11:40:44 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 20/28

Our capacity for love and caring also comes with feelings of worry and grief. 
Our ability to form deep and caring relationships may seem like a profound and beautiful thing but there’s also a price to pay for these emotional connections. Indeed our capacity to care for one another means we also care deeply about what other people think about us. 
After all we may want to be seen as desirable sexual partners so that our genes will live on after we’re gone. Consequently we might end up doing whatever we can to please other people. In fact a good reason for the bad feeling of low self-esteem is that it can make us aware of when we’re not doing enough to please others. 
But as you probably know pleasing people isn’t always easy. When you make one person happy you can simultaneously make someone else think less of you which can lead to you becoming torn between two individuals. Pleasing people is also often a factor in big life decisions such as whether or not to get married
11/6/2019 11:40:43 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 21/28

 or which job to take. These are high-stakes choices that come with a plethora of opportunities to make some people happy while disappointing others. It’s no wonder that social anxiety is so common. 
Caring about others also comes at the cost of grieving which is one of the most painful and debilitating feelings you can have. When you’re in a state of grief over losing a loved one it can lead to years of being unable to function as you once did.  
So it’s worth asking what if we never had to grieve at all? Is there really a need for all this pain? 
Well once again there’s a good reason. It may be painful to even contemplate such a scenario but imagine being on a boat and having your child fall overboard. Your fear of grieving such a loss would cause you to do everything in your power to save him.  
But if the worst happened and you suffered a loss the grieving process would include replaying the scenario over and over in your head thinking about what you might have done differently to
11/6/2019 11:40:43 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 22/28

prevent the tragedy. So if a similar situation were to arise subsequently you’d be better equipped to ensure that your other children stay safe. Plus those in your community will share in your grief and will be sure to take similar precautions in the future. 
These days we can see the silver lining of grief in advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving which began as a way to prevent further loved ones being lost to drunk driving. 
Reproductive efficiency comes at the cost of sexual satisfaction. 
If anyone’s told you they have a flawless sex life they’re probably in denial. Nearly everyone has problems related to sex. Maybe you’ve never been sexually attracted to your partner. Maybe you’ve never been able to experience an orgasm or feel like anyone will ever understand your desires. Whatever the issue may be unsatisfying sex is all too common even if most people prefer not to discuss it. 
From an evolutionary perspective this may seem unusual. Since sex is at the heart of
11/6/2019 11:40:43 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 19/28

sense since your cousins share one-eighth of your genetic code. As long as this altruistic trait helps more people than it hurts the trait will end up being passed down among the general population. This also explains why drone bees have evolved to die when they sting since this is ultimately for the greater good of protecting the entire hive. 
With this in mind there’s another theory that explains not only why altruism would get passed down but also why you may choose to commit to a single sexual partner for the majority of your lifetime. 
This theory is called social selection and it describes how we may desire partners who provide us with a higher chance of reproducing. So as theoretical biologist Mary Jane West-Eberhard explains altruism generosity and loyalty would all be desirable traits that we might be drawn to in a partner. 
Therefore over generations this type of selection would result in a population with a considerable amount of unselfish people who admire loyalty in their
11/6/2019 11:40:00 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 16/28

is is called a nomothetic approach. The experts look at large swaths of the population to find correlations such as females being twice as likely as males to experience depression early in life. 
But this generalized approach often fails to help the individual since everyone’s story is unique and understanding these differences is crucial to understanding the issue behind a person’s depression. Unique and individualized reasons for a patient’s disorder are called idiographic explanations but even when we focus on these it can be difficult to pinpoint primary reasons. 
Let’s consider two profiles of people with depression. Ms. X has a long history of depression in her family and her husband has become increasingly distant as he feels unable to help his wife. Ms. Y suffers from insomnia due to chronic pain and persistent anxiety. Her husband is often upset and accuses her of failing to do her share of the housework. 
Before you draw your own conclusions you should know that both Ms. X an
11/6/2019 11:39:59 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 17/28

d Ms. Y are the same person. And the problem is we have no method for identifying which idiographic explanation is the primary cause for her depression. 
But that doesn’t mean we can’t come up with a method to determine which factors in people’s lives are causing the most adverse effects on their moods. After all despite the fact that each individual’s circumstances are unique it’s widely agreed that everyone’s emotional state is affected by the same factors. 
These influential factors make up the acronym SOCIAL: 
S stands for Social Resources such as friends and social influence.  
O is for Occupation and the work we can offer others.  
C is for Children and other family members.  
I is for Income and other sources of wealth.  
A is for Abilities health and other personal resources.  
L is for Love and sexual intimacy within a meaningful relationship.  
By attaching a score to each of these factors we’d be applying both an idiographic and a scientific approach to mood disorders. In do
11/6/2019 11:39:59 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 18/28

ing so we’d be in a better position to understand the underlying causes for depression. 
Kin selection and social selection may explain our altruistic and selfless natures. 
Clearly we all have the capacity for experiencing pain and mental anguish. But despite it all we also have a remarkable aptitude for loving and caring for others. In fact sometimes we can be so focused on helping others that we’ll do so even if it puts our own well-being in danger. 
Unselfish behavior like this can be considered a form of altruism and evolutionary scientists have asked how it can be that potentially self-destructive behavior has ended up being passed down. 
One theory is known as kin selection . Proposed in 1964 by British biologist William Hamilton kin selection has to do with our DNA and recognizing on a biological level that other humans share a significant part of our genetic code. 
So even if the trait of sharing food with your cousins means you’ll have fewer nutrients such behavior makes
11/6/2019 11:39:59 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 15/28

 regulation system has long been a useful part of the mental process. But for it to work properly and not get stuck in the extremes of depression or mania we need to look at three important factors: our circumstances in life how we relate to these circumstances and how our brains are functioning. Cognitive therapy is helpful in treating mood disorders because it helps patients gain a new perspective on their lives. 
“Depression symptoms rise like a vapor from invisible gaps between desires and expectations.” 
Psychiatry can be improved by taking a more personal and individualized approach. 
We’ve made great strides in understanding the world thanks to the scientific method which rigorously tests a theory to make sure it’s repeatable and predictable before creating a law that can explain some natural phenomenon. But what works in one field of science doesn’t always work in another. 
When psychologists attempt to find a general rule for something like why people get depressed th
11/6/2019 11:39:58 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 14/28

ychosis can appear and disappear for seemingly no reason at all. 
Since it’s often difficult to track down the sources of depression psychiatrists now sometimes treat the various symptoms of depression as diseases in themselves. The author calls this questionable practice VSAD which stands for Viewing Symptoms As Diseases . 
In the case of bipolar disorder treating the symptoms makes sense since this is an inherited disease that results in a person alternating between mania and depression. But in most other cases the underlying problem is not inherited and treating the symptoms won’t solve the problem. 
Unfortunately many patients also lean toward a VSAD approach by blaming their depression on a chemical imbalance in the brain or some inherited family trait rather than getting into the messy business of acknowledging personal problems. 
But when we look at the evolutionary purpose of our moods we can put ourselves in a better position to truly understand and treat depression. 
Our mood
11/6/2019 11:39:55 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 12/28

eanwhile a low mood may appear in order to let you know that you’re facing an unattainable goal – that it’s time to stop wasting effort and move on to something else. 
In hunter-gatherer times our options and choices were likely simpler than those we face in today’s complex social world. So it can be confusing when your mood is affected by your profession or your relationships. Should you quit your job when every day is an unsatisfying grind? Should you pursue your dream of being an author even though success is rare? Should you stay married even though you and your spouse fight every day? 
Sometimes our plans don’t turn out as we’d hoped and this can lead to us feeling low. But when we can’t bring ourselves to give up or change plans this is when a low mood can deepen into clinical depression. 
An evolutionary perspective can help us treat the real causes of depression not just the symptoms. 
Unfortunately there’s no limit to the number of ways our modern world can sink us into a
11/6/2019 11:39:54 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 13/28

state of depression. It could be due to feeling helpless over a loved one who’s addicted to drugs or to spending years working for a company that continually passes you over for promotion. 
And then there are times when depression is the result of a malfunction in people’s ability to regulate their moods. 
When people have dysthymia it means their baseline mood is chronically low and as a result they can struggle to accomplish anything at all. But people with the opposite disorder known as hypomania have a chronically elevated mood which can result in them becoming workaholics who don’t know when to stop. 
Living in one extreme or the other and being unable to regulate your emotions can result in serious disorders. Extreme and chronic low moods can lead to psychotic depression which is accompanied by delusions and hallucinations. Meanwhile extreme high moods can lead to mania which is also accompanied by psychotic experiences. What’s even more disconcerting is that these symptoms of ps
11/6/2019 11:39:54 AM

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