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Unread November 3rd, 2006, 07:20 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia area
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Default Re: Evolutionary Psychology and Mental Dysfunction

My apologies: my computer went to sleep ten days ago but now lives again. Apologies for the delay!

In regard to evolution and diagnoses...

1) You can imagine the mind as an emergent network of adaptations, each of which is one of a family of parallel developmental cascades weakly linked to the others (See Rudy Raff, Structure of Life, 1996). You might expect an 80:20 arrangement: 20% of the units take in 80% of the resources. And relative prominence day-to-day predicts degree of impairment if one of them breaks. eg: sex can be a bigger problem than eating. Also, basic stuff for survival is unnoticed unless damaged: sleep, eating, appetite, social dominance, getting laid. (Barabasi calls these things "strategic attacks"

2) Pretend that a domain-general psychopathology exists. Such reflects common language and maybe instinctive good sense.

How could this be if we are modular? Simply pretend that modules are particles and can be described as if a gas or liquid. Conclude that "YOU are crazy" rather than "your mating program needs adjustment."

3) A signal detection model fits either case.

SDM revolutionized much of psychophysics (Swets, Tanner, & Birdsall, about 1963, Psych Review). They distinguished "detection" from "decision-to-report." (Typical Fechner arrangement: graduate students had high thresholds because Fechner enraged if they reported "present" when signal absent. The opposite error, "absent" when present was punished far less. And punishment was far more relevant for Fechner's grad students than for the average camper looking for meteors!

Import: There are two outcomes.

1) There are, for all practical purposes, no absolute thresholds for vision or hearing. Tiny signals get lost in spontaneous or elicited "noise" but observers still do better than chance even when dealing with 1-3 photons or with vibrations the diameter of a hydrogen atom.

In a similar manner, we can find zanyness in anyone!

2) The probability of a "decision to report" depends on consequences for "true" and "false" positives and negatives. Given lots of health insurance, hospitals keep clients longer and treat smaller symptoms. Cut money and also cut durations while raising chances taken with medication or outpatient care. (This arrangement leads to an arms race between malpractice lawyers and health insurance companies.)

There are cultural variations and each culture views itself as doing the "correct" thing. For example, I caught some indignation when suggesting that WD Hamilton had bipolar moments. The preferred outlook of one writer is that science leads to mood swings. Suggesting a diagnosis might extend a life but it also may upset its recipient or a family.

Another example: ADHD is traditionally reserved in the UK for kids who exhibit conduct disorder. Ordinary day dreaming or impulsiveness is managed by paddling as it once was in the USA. American practice is to prefer the stimulant to punishments. The UK is moving to American practices. I think driven by competitions that mothers have for the success of their sons. (Lines up with cross-species research.)

Long term solution: snippets of hair or drops of spit may eventually reveal not only which medications might help or poison you but also the conditions in which you will benefit from them. And we will probably find that derivatives from vasopressin or oxytocin will be very useful for separation anxiety, borderline personality, and the sweet purple dysphoria that follows being dumped.

You should find six papers in the above drivel...

I apologize for my telegraphic style: my DELL went to sleep while I watched. I saw what was happening and backed up my current work with no more than two minutes to spare. My Compaq, however, is not only old but also has no firewall or virus protection. And it's amazing how many important things I had to tell once I had only limited means to tell them! Now the DELL is back and I will again take forever to put stuff up because of my sense of having forever to do it.

Eaagh!

With love and squalor...

JimB

Copyright, 2006, James Brody, all rights reserved.
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