Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


Making sense of behavioral irregularities of great apes

Horacio Fabrega, Jr., Making sense of behavioral irregularities of great apes, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, In Press, Corrected Proof, , Available online 31 October 2006, .

Abstract: Psychopathology, mental illness, and psychiatric treatment are concepts relevant to modern medicine and medical psychology and replete with cumbersome intellectual and literary baggage. They bear the imprint of suppositions, world views, and general beliefs and values exemplified in the science, history, and general culture of Anglo European societies. The study in higher apes of phenomena addressed by such concepts raises conceptual dilemmas, usually termed speciesism and anthropomorphism, not unlike those encountered in comparative human studies of similar phenomena across cultures and historical periods, namely, ethnocentrism and anachronism. The authors' synthesis of literature and their analysis of the implications of higher ape psychopathology represent an epistemically compelling account that broadens the scope of the comparative study of behavioral irregularities, a topic that provides a different slant for examining challenging questions in evolutionary biology and primatology, such as cognition, self awareness, intentional behavior, culture and behavioral traditions, social intelligence, sickness and healing, and altruism. Theoretical and empirical study of this topic expands formulation and can help provide informative answers about human evolution as well as essential features of human psychiatric syndromes, with potential practical implications. The study of psychopathology of higher apes and other non human primates represents an appropriate focus for neuroscience and bio-behavioral sciences.