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Book details
  • SubGenre:General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:382
  • Paperback ISBN:9781543919370

Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind

Emotional Fossils and the Evolution of the Human Spirit

by John Wylie, M.D.

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Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind  is a story of discovery about the minds of our ancestral species told by a psychiatrist who believes that severe mental illnesses disable the ordinary social emotions that have knit primate, early hominin and our own societies together. The book shows us where to look within ourselves for deeply ancient fears and feelings of intimacy.  As the author walks us beyond the science in his journey of exploration of the mind, the "inside" story of human evolution emerges as an epic struggle for a just society.

HUMAN NATURE DESCENDS FROM THE STRUGGLE FOR FITNESS. This view of man was born in October 1838, when Charles Darwin read Thomas Malthus's treatise on the perils of overpopulation upon which he framed his theory of natural selection as the "survival of the fittest." When Darwin turned his attention to the evolution of humans in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, he introduced the crucial role of sexual selection. Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind: Emotional Fossils and the Evolution of the Human Spirit reinterprets the known facts about human evolution in light of Darwin's other evolutionary mechanism. The remarkable aspect of Darwin's evolution by sexual selection is that it is driven merely by the desire for a trait—in this case, the desire for justice. What gave sexual selection the creative power to launch and then sustain our hominin tribe was, and still is, the additive effect of both the desire for justice and the desire to be just, both passed down together tightly engaged in the pioneering of rightness and wrongness. Author John Wylie, M.D. focuses on the role of natural selection in the conversion from submission and dominance in apes to obedience and authority in humans. Under the protective shield of justice, groups of mated pair-bonds could evolve the productive benefits of coordinating and dividing the labor of child care and food gathering. At the end of the day, those groupings of relationships that "believed" in the rules of this organic social structure would be naturally selected. The procreative benefits to individuals within a given group immersed in this obedience-authority system would exceed any benefits of pursuing their own dominance. The will to dominate in the ape mind transformed into the authority of justice in the early human (old) mind by migrating from individuals to dwelling within the thin ether of relationships between individuals; no one could see it, but all could feel it. This invisible but biologically based will could be said to possesses intentions, i.e.: a spirit . . . the human spirit. Human bonds animated by this still evolving spirit ultimately would become more powerful than those of blood, tribe or country.
About the author
Dr. John Wylie has a BA in history from Yale and an MD from Columbia. After two years of surgical training, he was inspired by the writings of Carl Jung to switch to psychiatry and completed his psychiatric residency at Georgetown University. He began his career at Patuxent Institution, a maximum-security prison in Maryland with a treatment program, then spent 35 years in private practice in Washington, DC, where he served as the chair of the department of psychiatry at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He retired in 2007 and wrote "Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients, and Their Families," published in 2010 (second edition, 2012). Dr. Wylie was a founding member of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

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