Dissociation : Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 015-021 : The Evolution of Post-Traumatic Behavior: Three Hypotheses

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Title: Dissociation : Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 015-021 : The Evolution of Post-Traumatic Behavior: Three Hypotheses
Author: Beahrs, John O., 1940-
Abstract: Catastrophic stressors regularly lead to the often-disabling symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). With resulting impairment in both personal survival skills (heightened vulnerability, self-destructive behavior) and reproductive capacity (disturbed relationships, sexual dysfunction), PTSD symptoms should be strongly selected against by natural evolution. Their wide prevalence thus presents an anomaly for the evolving paradigms of evolutionary biology. Three hypotheses may help to resolve this anomaly: (1) The same psychodynamic features that are maladaptive in a rapidly changing milieu like today's technological societies (dissociation, blurred interpersonal boundaries, cognitive distortion, rigidification, and affect-driven behavior), may ensure personal survival and family bonding in a comparatively stable milieu where threats are catastrophic but infrequent and stereotyped; e.g., that within which homo sapiens probably evolved. (2) Spontaneous hypnotic dissociation often accompanies the experience of trauma, which may (a) promote immediate survival; (b) permit later growth and development, at cost of perpetuating some impairment; and (c) facilitate deception of others by deception of self. (3) Traumatic affect may provide a driving force for ongoing cultural evolution.
Description: p. 015-021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/1479
Date: 1990-03


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