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What happens when a pair of evolutionary anthropologists try their hand at dealing with existential grief, anxiety, and depression?

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Platitudes drop like bricks from a clear blue sky:

In the same vein, Syme and Hagen go on to inform us, “… what the disease perspective has done is distract us from talking about the source of most mental anguish: adversity, often caused by conflicts with powerful or valuable others, such as employers, mates and kin.”

What? Are they really saying that no counselor has ever paid close attention to the effects of work and relationship issues in triggering serious depression?

The actual difference between typical mental health counsellors and evolutionary anthropologists is that the former do not treat mental health issues as if everyone involved were an animal, lacking reason and moral choice. But the evolutionary anthropologist, at least in Syme and Hagen’s account of their discipline, is obliged to do so. Evolutionary anthropology seems to mean never having to say that reason and moral choice matter.

Here’s a giveaway line: “Our ancestral lineage has grappled with adversity since before the dawn of Homo sapiens.” Yes, and doubtless the trilobite grappled with adversity too. But it wasn’t until the “dawn of Homo sapiens” that self-awareness made unhappiness a philosophical issue (As in, “Why are things the way they are?”)

Denyse O’Leary, “Why does “evolution theory” trivialize everything it touches?” at Mind Matters News

Probably, any perspective that sees humans as merely evolved animals will offer platitudes and prescriptions for suffering, rather than insight or inspiration.

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The real reason why only human beings speak. Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly.

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Does brain stimulation research challenge free will? If we can be forced to want something, is the will still free?

6 Replies to “What happens when a pair of evolutionary anthropologists try their hand at dealing with existential grief, anxiety, and depression?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Well, give them credit for stating that depression and anxiety are NOT diseases. These authors are breaking away from the pill-pushers who have dominated therapy for 100 years. Their description of the process is accurate, even though they tack on “evolution” as an automatic branding.

    It’s true that some people have stronger TENDENCIES toward anxiety and depression than others, but all TENDENCIES can be controlled and partly conquered by adjusting expectations and actions appropriately.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Darwinian evolution is the source of “Psychological pain”. But it is certainly not the source of “Psychological pain” in the manner they envision it to be, (i.e. per the author, “strong negative emotional responses to forms of adversity that were common during our evolutionary history,,,”)

    No, the source of “Psychological pain” that comes from Darwinian evolution stems from claim that we are the result of purely mindless processes and therefore its implicit denial of the reality of God as our creator.

    First off, the narrative of human evolution is a scientifically false claim:

    Sept. 2020 – Refutation of Human Evolution
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/debunking-another-claim-that-an-alleged-pillar-of-human-exceptionalism-has-fallen/#comment-713398
    Fossil Record and Genetics

    Secondly, the denial of the reality of God, (and the implicit nihilism that the denial of God entails, Nietzsche, etc) is what is, in and of itself, the main source of “Psychological pain” in the lives of humans.

    In fact, numerous studies have now also shown that faith in God has a tremendous beneficial effect on both our mental and physical health:
    As Professor Andrew Sims, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, states, “The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally.”,,, “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life;,,”

    “I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – preface

    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100

    In fact, Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.

    Of snakebites and suicide – February 18, 2014
    RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....d-suicide/

    “Concerning suicide rates, this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations. According to the 2003 World Health Organization’s report on international male suicides rates (which compared 100 countries), of the top ten nations with the highest male suicide rates, all but one (Sri Lanka) are strongly irreligious nations with high levels of atheism. It is interesting to note, however, that of the top remaining nine nations leading the world in male suicide rates, all are former Soviet/Communist nations, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Latvia. Of the bottom ten nations with the lowest male suicide rates, all are highly religious nations with statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism.”[3]
    https://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_suicide

    In the interest of relieving depression, it is found that learning and reading about the afterlife and/or about Near Death Experiences is ‘generally quite successful not only in reducing suicidal thoughts but also in preventing the deed altogether.,,,’

    Knowledge of the afterlife deters suicide. Lessons From the Light by Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser p.257-258:
    As far as I know, the first clinician to make use of NDE material in this context was a New York psychologist named John McDonagh. In 1979, he presented a paper at a psychological convention that described his success with several suicidal patients using a device he called “NDE bibliotherapy.” His “technique” was actually little more than having his patients read some relevant passages from Raymond Moody’s book, Reflections on Life after Life, after which the therapist and his patient would discuss its implications for the latter’s own situation. McDonagh reports that such an approach was generally quite successful not only in reducing suicidal thoughts but also in preventing the deed altogether.,,,
    Since McDonagh’s pioneering efforts, other clinicians knowledgeable about the NDE who have had the opportunity to counsel suicidal patients have also reported similar success. Perhaps the most notable of these therapists is Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist now at the University of Virginia, whose specialty as a clinician has been suicidology. He is also the author of a classic paper on NDEs and suicide which the specialist may wish to consult for its therapeutic implications. (14)
    Quite apart from the clinicians who have developed this form of what we might call “NDE-assisted therapy,” I can draw upon my own personal experience here to provide additional evidence of how the NDE has helped to deter suicide. The following case,,,
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/201.....lains.html

    Moreover, in the following study it was found that, “those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%.”

    Can attending church really help you live longer? This study says yes – June 1, 2017
    Excerpt: Specifically, the study says those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%. The Plos One journal published the “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” study May 16.
    “For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.
    – per USA Today

    And the following study found that Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”

    Study: Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”
    July 1, 2018
    Excerpt: Self-reported religious service attendance has been linked with longevity. However, previous work has largely relied on self-report data and volunteer samples. Here, mention of a religious affiliation in obituaries was analyzed as an alternative measure of religiosity. In two samples (N = 505 from Des Moines, IA, and N = 1,096 from 42 U.S. cities), the religiously affiliated lived 9.45 and 5.64 years longer, respectively, than the nonreligiously affiliated. Additionally, social integration and volunteerism partially mediated the religion–longevity relation.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/study-religiously-affiliated-people-lived-religiously-affiliated-lived-9-45-and-5-64-years-longer/

    Some atheists have tried to claim that volunteering, or just socializing in general, could produce the same effect, yet this following study found volunteering to be of limited benefit compared to actually being religiously affiliated.

    Can Religion Extend Your Life? – By Chuck Dinerstein — June 16, 2018
    Excerpt: The researcher’s regression analysis suggested that the effect of volunteering and participation accounted for 20% or 1 year of the impact, while religious affiliation accounted for the remaining four years or 80%.
    https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/06/16/can-religion-extend-your-life-13092

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, on top of the tremendous negative psychological impact that Atheist’s suffer because of their denial of the reality of God, it is also, ironically, impossible for atheists to actually live their lives consistently as their atheism were true. Or more specifically, it is impossible for atheists to live their lives as if the reductive materialism of Darwinian evolution were actually true.

    As the following article states: Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Richard Dawkins himself admitted that it would be quote unquote ‘intolerable’ for him to live his life as if atheistic materialism were actually true

    Who wrote Richard Dawkins’s new book? – October 28, 2006
    Excerpt:
    Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,,
    Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
    Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02783.html

    And in the following article subtitled “When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails”, Nancy Pearcey quotes many more leading atheists who honestly admit that it would be impossible for them to actually live their life as if their atheistic materialism were actually true.

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”,,,
    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”
    One section in his book is even titled “We Are Robots Designed Not to Believe That We Are Robots.”,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    As should be needless to say, the impossibility for Atheists to actually live their lives as if atheism were actually true directly undermines any claim they may make that Atheism is true

    Specifically, as the following article points out, if it is impossible for you to live your life consistently as if atheistic materialism were actually true, then atheistic materialism cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but atheistic materialism must instead be based on a delusion.

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    Thus in conclusion, the source of “Psychological pain” in Darwinian evolution does not come from any ‘just-so story’ for human evolution that Darwinists may imagine to be true, but the source of pain instead comes from the implicit denial of God that Darwinian evolution entails..

    In short, Darwinists, in their denial of God, have, In their ignorance, cut themselves off from the true source of all true joy and happiness in their lives.

    “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,”
    1 Chronicles 16:11-12.

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    @1
    Literally said the same thing
    Couldn’t careless for explaining the obvious and acting like evolution provided some magic new insight
    I’d wish they’d apply their awesome way of thought to themselves, that might explain them away to

  5. 5
    Truthfreedom says:

    Darwinism certainly leads to mental issues. We’re speaking of people who say their lives are pointless and that there’s no free will while they engage in the most violent and absurd apologetics to try to convert the whole world to their irrational doctrine.
    Insane they are.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    The essay reads like it is evolutionary anthropologists venturing into the somewhat speculative field of evolutionary psychology. That said, the approach is more descriptive than prescriptive. They are offering an adaptationist account of human emotional responses to challenging life events not trying to offer treatment options for them

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