I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A detailed and humanizing book takes readers on an emotional journey through the stigma of mental illness in author John V. Wylie’s book “Emotional Fossils: Mental Illness and Human Evolution.”
This essay is the culmination of forty-five years as a psychiatrist investigating the relationship between severe mental illnesses and human evolution. I have concluded that the most important changes leading to our evolutionary success occurred inside the mind. Upright posture, large molar teeth, opposable thumbs, large brains, and the onset of culture were additive responses to the evolution of what MOTIVATED early humans.
The inner experiences of major depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are shown to derive from the breakdown of normal emotions we all know intimately. These everyday feelings are ancient, have played a central role in our evolution, and thus can be viewed as “emotional fossils.” Stigmatized for centuries, mental illnesses are revealed to be the price we pay as a species for the extraordinary mental capacities that make us human.
Short and explicitly written to be accessible, this essay interprets the scientific findings of human evolution in accordance with an evolving mind.
At it’s core, this nonfiction, medical read takes readers into the heart of the painful stigma those who suffer from mental illness have to endure from those who don’t understand the illness itself. The book delves into how human evolution and the emotions we experience on a daily basis are closely involved with the development of these ailments, and the stigma has only increased the progression of these illnesses.
This book is greatly detailed and creates a steady read for those who are interested in medicine, medical books and mental health awareness overall. The best way to review a book like this however is by relaying how it impacts readers, including myself.
As a mental health advocate, this book truly spoke to me in a personal way. While detail oriented, the book creates a personal understanding in those involved in or even currently engaged in the mental health field. With two very close relatives having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, the stigma of what that illness does to a person is everywhere, especially in pop culture, and this book does a great job of breaking down those stigmas and getting to the heart of the illness overall.
This is a brilliant read that fans of nonfiction medical reads will thoroughly enjoy. The author speaks with an authority and expertise that will make readers feel more knowledgeable of the subject after reading this book, and in an age where mental health awareness is more important than ever before, this is the perfect read going into the new decade. Be sure to grab your copy of “Emotional Fossils” by John v. Wylie today!
About the Author
John Wylie holds a BA in history from Yale, an MD from Columbia, and completed a psychiatric residency at Georgetown University. He began his career at a maximum-security prison in Maryland, followed by 35 years in the private practice of psychiatry in Washington, DC, where he served as chair of the department of psychiatry at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Dr. Wylie was a founding member of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, has had a longstanding interest in the relationship of mental illness and human evolution, and has given multiple lectures on the topic. He wrote Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients, and Their Families,published in 2010 (second edition, 2012), and Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind in 2018, which is a memoir of the development of his ideas. Dr. Wylie lives in Olney, Maryland with his wife Ann and their German shepherd Tulip.