An Evolutionary Life History Framework for Psychopathology
Marco Del Giudice
Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
In this article, I outline a general framework for the evolutionary analysis of mental disorders based on the concepts of life history theory. I synthesize and extend a large body of work showing that individual differences in life history strategy set the stage for the development of psychopathology. My analysis centers on the novel distinction between fast spectrum and slow spectrum disorders. I describe four main causal pathways from life history strategies to psychopathology, argue that psychopathology can arise at both ends of the fast–slow continuum of life history variation, and provide heuristic criteria for classifying disorders as fast or slow spectrum pathologies. I then apply the fast–slow distinction to a diverse sample of common mental disorders: externalizing disorders, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders, and depression. The framework integrates previously disconnected models of psychopathology within a common frame of reference and has far-reaching implications for the classification of mental disorders.