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Psychoanalyzing the dead: Now it’s Neanderthal man’s turn on the couch


In “Into the mind of a Neanderthal” (New Scientist, 18 January 2012 ),we
encounter a speculative account of the Neanderthal mind:

But while Neanderthals would have had a variety of personality types, just as we do, their way of life would have selected for an average profile quite different from ours. Jo or Joe Neanderthal would have been pragmatic, capable of leaving group members behind if necessary, and stoical, to deal with frequent injuries and lengthy convalescence. He or she had to be risk tolerant for hunting large beasts close up; they needed sympathy and empathy in their care of the injured and dead; and yet were neophobic, dogmatic and xenophobic.

So we could have recognised and interacted with Neanderthals, but we would have noticed these significant cognitive differences. They would have been better at well-learned, expert cognition than modern humans, but not as good at the development of novel solutions. They were adept at intimate, small-scale social cognition, but lacked the cognitive tools to interact with acquaintances and strangers, including the extensive use of symbols.

Why the urge to retitle the piece, “Into the mind of an evolutionary psychologist focusing on his ideas about Neanderthals”?

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He's failed to mention that they were very gullible and believed in UFOs and a conspiracy by Homo sapiens to rule the world. Jon Garvey

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