Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Med Hypotheses. 2009 Jul;73(1):106-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.01.030. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Can the concept of discords help us find the causes of mental diseases?

Author information

  • 1Norwegian Institute of Public Health, P.O. Box 4404, Nydalen, N-0403 Oslo, Norway.


The high prevalence of mental disorders has become a primary concern for health authorities. This paper asks whether the concept of discords, as based on an evolutionary perspective to medicine, can play a role in the discovery of possible environmental factors contributing to mental problems. Briefly, the term mismatches has been used to describe the differences between the environment humans are genetically adapted to and the present living conditions. Although, most mismatches may be beneficial, some have a potential negative impact on human health. The latter can be referred to as discords. The brain appears to be more susceptible to discords than other organs, and certain modules of the brain are particularly vulnerable, including the fear response and circuits involved in generating mood. Discords affecting these modules may contribute considerably to the pervasiveness of mental problems. If so, concomitant changes in the environment, including changes in present cultural practices, should improve mental health. However, the relevant discords may not be discovered without utilizing the suggested evolutionary perspective.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk