Randolph M. Nesse, MD

My fields: Evolutionary medicine and evolutionary psychiatry
My question: Why did
evolution leave us so vulnerable to disease?
My new book on evolutionary psychiatry Order a copy

Research Professor of Life Sciences, and Founding Director (2014-2019), The Center for Evolution and Medicine, Arizona State University; Professor Emeritus, Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, and Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan; Founding President: The International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health

What is evolutionary medicine?
Darwinian medicine IS Evolutionary medicine.
Core Principles for Evolutionary Medicine, 2019
Why do mental disorders persist? 2022
How to frame and test evolutionary hypotheses about a disease 2 p. version
Tacit Creationism
Diseases do not have direct evolutionary explanations, but traits that make a species vulnerable to disease need evolutionary explanations, and several may be needed.

New Resources

Can Evolution Explain Human Emotions? YouTube video of a Modern Wisdom Podcast with Chris Williamson

A 2022 article by Raghavendra Gadagkar that provides a wonderful overview of evolutionary medicine in historical context.

A six minute YouTube video about the Smoke Detector Principle

Nature Nurture Video Podcast 2022 on Good (Evolutionary) Reasons for Bad Feelings

Why do mental disorders persist? Evolutionary foundations for psychiatry. 2022 Chapter in Evolutionary Psychiatry

Anxiety disorders in evolutionary perspective. 2022 Chapter in Evolutionary Psychiatry

Why do mental disorders persist? Evolving Psychiatry 2022 video podcast (17 min.)

The Evolution of Anxiety Evolving Psychiatry 2022 video podcast (16 min.)

Why Relationships Exist: Evolutionary Foundations for Psychotherapy
Video of a 2022 talk for the World Psychiatry Association

Baba Brinkman's rap video on emotions. And his 2022 rap on control systems and medicine.

Evolutionary Psychiatry A narrated slideshow on HSTalks (not open access)

Nesse (2022) Social Situations Shape Social Emotions that Benefit Genes

Why hasn't natural selection eliminated mental disorders: a talk for The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland

Intrinsically vulnerable control systems and disease heritability, 13 minute video for 2022 ClubEvMed

Nesse, RM (1984) An evolutionary perspective on psychiatry. (a new posting of my first article about evolutionary psychiatry)

Book Review: Problems of Living: Perspectives from Philosophy, Psychiatry and Cognitive Affective Science by Dan Stein 2022.

Evolutionary Psychiatry 40 minute 2021 talk for Abertay University (talk starts at 3 minutes).

Evolutionary Medicine Needs Engineering Expertise a 2021 article for NAE Perspectives about control theory & disease.

Tacit Creationism articles

Why is group selection still such a problem? BBS, 1994 and sadly still relevant.

Why Bad feelings are usually normal but useless. Video of a 12 min talk for HBES 2021.

Podcast on evolutionary psychiatry with Renee Garfinkel for the 2021 Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Twitter threads on evolution and psychiatry

Video of 52 Living Ideas MeetUp discussion about Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, 2021

Video of Grand Rounds, Tufts University Department of Psychiatry, 2021

Podcast Varför mår vi så dåligt? (in English) with the Stockholm psychiatrist/author/podcaster Åsa Nilsonne about evolution and desire.

Psychology Today adaptation of book chapter on psychiatric genetics.

Lecture on Evolutionary Psychiatry for a 2021 class at Oxford University

Article on Tacit Creationism in Emotions Research Video now posted.

Podcast from the Jordan Harbinger show

Podcast by Thoughts on Record about how evolutionary thinking can help psychotherapists

Video from 2020 Grand Rounds at the U Arizona Department of Psychiatry

Podcast on The Smoke Detector Principle for Big Biology

Buy on Amazon Full Book Information Here

  • The Economist "Books of the Year"

  • This book will surely change the face of medicine -- and deservedly so. —Robin Dunbar

  • This is a wise, accessible, highly readable exploration of an issue that goes to the heart of human existence. —Robert Sapolsky

  • A bold book that would have made Darwin proud. Cutting-edge and compassionate at the same time —Lee Dugatkin

  • It is no exaggeration to say that he opens the door to a new paradigm in thinking about human beings and their conflicted lives. —Michael Ruse

  • A provocative book full of intriguing explanations about human nature in all its strengths and weaknesses. —Carl Zimmer

  • Someday nearly all psychiatry will be identified as evolutionary psychiatry. If so, Randolph Nesse’s book should be seen as the field’s founding document. David Barash in The Wall Street Journal


A list of articles organized by topic

A link to most articles in a web folder

Highly Cited

Click here for a list of articles by topic

Here is a link to most articles in a web folder

Book: Why We Get Sick
Book: Evolution and Commitment