Advance Praise

“To quote a renowned geneticist, 'Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.' A quarter century ago, Randolph Nesse bravely helped apply this dictum to medicine. Now, in Good Reasons For Bad Feelings, he tackles the deeper evolutionary question of why we, our minds, and our brains are so vulnerable to mental illness. He navigates the dangers of either too much or too little adaptationism, deftly handles the false dichotomy between psychological and biological perspectives, and bridges abstract intellectualizing with pressing clinical need. This is a wise, accessible, highly readable exploration of an issue that goes to the heart of human existence." —Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Biology, Stanford University, author of Behave

“Randolph Nesse is one of the key architects of evolutionary medicine. He’s been an inspiration to a generation of scientists who explore evolution to understand why we get sick from diseases ranging from cancer to obesity to infectious diseases. Now Nesse has turned his attention from the body to the mind, in a provocative book full of intriguing explanations about human nature in all its strengths and weaknesses.” —Carl Zimmer, author of She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

“A book as wise and illuminating as it is relevant to our daily lives.” —Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, UC Davis, author of The Woman that Never Evolved and Mother Nature

“Randolph Nesse, who trained psychiatrists for many years, has for a quarter century been a key leader of evolutionary medicine. Good Reasons for Bad Feelings integrates these two strands of his life and thought in a readable, insightful book, as much a philosophy of emotions as it is a new window on mental illness. All who want to know themselves should read it.” —Melvin Konner, Dobbs Professor of Anthropology, Emory University, author of The Tangled Wing

“Clear and engaging, and the narrative reflects a masterful blend of history, novel ideas, and clinical experience in an insightful and coherent manner. I hope it is widely read and discussed.” —Eric Charnov, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Ecology, University of Utah, MacArthur Fellow

“This will become a treasured classic; not just for clinicians but for all those interested in how to facilitate well-being and create more moral communities and societies.” —Professor Paul Gilbert OBE, Professor of Clinical Psychology, author of Compassionate Mind, and Living Like Crazy

“ 'Why am I feeling bad?' This is the first burning question of everyone who suffers. This accessible new book will be an essential tool to help patients, their loved ones, and treating professionals arrive at more satisfying answers.” —Jonathan Rottenberg, Professor of Psychology, University of South Florida, author of The Depths

This engagingly accessible, pioneering book provides a wide range of answers for how something as maladaptive as bipolar disorders could have evolved. It provides a wide range of answers for why natural selection has left us vulnerable to so many mental disorders. —Christopher Boehm, Professor of Biological Sciences, USC Dornsife, author of Moral Origins.

“A bold book that would have made Darwin proud. Cutting-edge and compassionate at the same time” —Lee Dugatkin, Professor of Biology, University of Louisville, co-author of How to Tame a Fox and Build a Dog

“Those powerful feelings that fill our day, that give us the oomph to act one way or another are the guardrails to living and this wonderful books explains all of them. Randolph Nesse has done it again.” —Michael S. Gazzaniga, Director, Sage Center, UC Santa Barbara, author of Tales from Both Sides of the Brain

“Two sets of ideas inform this fine book: one, the cold-hearted logic of natural selection; the other, the practical wisdom of a compassionate psychiatrist. The tension is palpable. The result is riveting.” —Nicholas Humphrey, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, London School of Economics, author of Soul Dust

“What is the nature of suffering, its origin and its adaptive significance? Good Reasons for Bad Feelings may well become a legend, as it is a book about psychology, psychiatry, biology and philosophy that is also a good read, and it opens the door to deep questions in a manner that is tender, quizzical, and industrious.”— Judith Eve Lipton, MD, co-author of Strength Through Peace

“This book sets out to show how evolution underpins (or should underpin) psychiatry. In doing so, it will surely change the face of medicine -- and deservedly so.” —Robin Dunbar, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, University of Oxford author of Human Evolution

“Randolph Nesse explains, in this highly readable book, how 'symptoms' in psychiatry should be seen in their evolutionary context, and that anxiety and depression for example have functions, just as do inflammation, blood clotting, or a cough. Nesse is a pioneer of evolutionary psychiatry, which has the potential to revolutionize mental health care.” —Simon Baron Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Cambridge University, author of The Maladapted Mind

“A masterful, groundbreaking book that persuasively challenges standard clinical wisdom and provides a roadmap for the transformation of our conceptually confused psychiatric nosology. If joy is indeed a biologically programmed emotional response motivating us to take advantage of unexpected bounty and opportunity, then every reader will experience joy in reading Randy Nesse’s beautifully written, profound book.” —Jerome C. Wakefield, Professor of Psychiatry, New York University, co-author of The Loss of Sadness

“Good Reasons for Bad Feelings by Randy Nesse is a delightful book. It is insightful about the human condition, sanguine and not over-stated. And it is written in a straight-forward and delightful manner, personal and professional, and with humor”. —Jay Schulkin, Research Professor of Neuroscience, Georgetown University, author of The CRF Signal

“It is testament to Professor Nesse’s command of the field of evolution and medicine as well as his extra-ordinary ability to explain enormously complex ideas in plain English with minimal use of jargon that the book is just as relevant to psychiatrists, psychologists of all levels as well as to academics interested in evolutionary science.” —Riadh Abed, MD, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatry Special Interest Group on Evolutionary Psychiatry

“Very engagingly written for the general reader, Nesse's book is hugely important for the future of mental health care. It draws on an impressive range of knowledge, from not only psychiatry, including extensive case descriptions, but also psychology, biology, philosophy, and humanistic literature. Many readers will find it hard to put the book down.” —Eric Klinger, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota, author of Meaning and Void

“In Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, leading evolutionary theorist, psychiatrist Randolph Nesse, begs us to ask the right question: Why did natural selection make us so prone to mental disorders of so many kinds and intensities? 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, Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University, author of On Purpose