Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Status and Depression

Arnold Kling at EconLog posted this article recently written by two evolutionary psychologists.  Many years ago I was really excited by evolutionary psychology, but I've slowly soured on it.  Nonetheless, the article is really interesting.  A snippet:

depression is an adaptive response to losing rank and conceiving of oneself as a loser. The adaptive function of the depression, according to rank theory, is to facilitate losing and to promote accommodation to the fact that one has lost. In other words, the depressive state evolved to promote the acceptance of the subordinate role...


an internal inhibitory process comes into operation which causes the individual to cease competing and reduce his level of aspiration. This inhibitory process is involuntary and results in the loss of energy, depressed mood, sleep disturbance, poor appetite, retarded movements, and loss of confidence which are typical characteristics of depression.

This linkage between low status and depression got me thinking about some of the Christian ethos of humility.  Are Christians susceptible to depression by avoiding status symbols, personal glory and power?  Or is there some other route that supplants these losses with something more?  (The last sentence not just being a rhetoric statement, it really is a question in my mind.)  When I read Paul, he seems to be overflowing with passion, which clearly does not fit under "loss of energy...loss of confidence".  There is something he has tapped in to, but explicitly grasping and defining that is eluding me at the moment

1 comment:

Braidwood said...

Thank you for posting the link to that article.

...Paul did have very high status in his social group- even though he could have been considered an outcast in his larger society.