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Why did humans evolve to be traumatizable, instead of being more resilient and treating trauma in a detached manner? Don't symptoms of trauma reduce a person's biological fitness? Is PTSD an adaptation, and if so, what is it an adaptation for? After all, the stress reaction and emotional imprinting appears to be designed rather than an accident.

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  • $\begingroup$ You may want to look at this video titled "What's the point of Depression?" : youtube.com/watch?v=2X4qySqsYP8 I watched it a couple years back and don't remember all the details, but it may answer your exact question. The video is not someone's opinion but rather a summarization of multiple research theses on the same. $\endgroup$
    – shivams
    Jul 6 '20 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ There are a lot of questions in one here. Can you please narrow your question to one question. Plus, can you give us an idea what you have read on the subject and what you mean by treating the trauma in a detached manner? Detachment is a known phenomenon within trauma which in itself causes problems. Have you read anything on trauma and detachment? You are free to separate your questions in separate ones. It's just that to cover all these adequately would need a huge answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 12 '20 at 13:13
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  • There are a lot of assumptions you are making here. "Being traumatizable" isn't really a trait. We evolved a brain in a certain way, with an amygdala and hippocampus that work a certain way. Those components have been critical in our ability to form knowledge + interact socially with one another. Instances of malfunction in the face of trauma/PTSD are a side-effect of an imperfect biological system, BUT that doesn't render the whole system useless/detrimental in the evolutionary sense.
  • Secondly, you're assuming it does reduce biological fitness. I'm sure it makes it harder in indirect ways, but ultimately, PTSD symptoms actively mess with very few people's ability to have sex and pass on genes. PTSD does seem to have a strong, albeit complex genetic component. For as long as people with PTSD are reproducing (and most of them are) then there will be a genetic predisposition for developing PTSD in the gene pool.
  • Third, how is it designed? I am confused by this one. People have a tendency to wrongly assume that almost every trait is an adaptive trait. Maybe in this case it is and we just haven't found what the beneficial feature is BUT, it is highly more likely and logical that a) as stated above, it's just a by-product of another highly adaptive trait aka, our particular brain structure and function. They come in a 2-for-1 deal and as much as PTSD sucks or might reduce biological fitness, those are completely offset by the benefits and increase in fitness due to our brain circuitry.
  • OR b) it's a neutral variation that doesn't significantly increase or decrease our fitness, therefore is maintained in the population because it has no reason to be selected out. Another reminder that our own negative human experience of suffering through PTSD doesn't inherently mean much in the eyes of evolution, as long as we can reproduce.
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. Please visit our site tour. There are a lot of bold claims in your answer without corroborated evidence. We work differently to many SE sites, where we have a strict policy that all answers should be backed up with reliable references so that the answer can be independently verified, regardless of the reader's/answerer's background. If you still have trouble with this, feel free to visit the help center or Psychology & Neuroscience Meta. Unreferenced claims can be challenged and lead to deletion of your answer. $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ Examples, "Being traumatizable isn't really a trait." Can you cite some reputable sources on this? "PTSD symptoms actively mess with very few people's ability to have sex and pass on genes" Rape victims (male or female) suffering from PTSD often do not want to have sex. "PTSD does seem to have a strong, albeit complex genetic component." Can you please cite some papers on this? $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 16:45

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