A sexual selection model of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder marked by an evolutionarily puzzling combination of high heritability, reduced reproductive success, and a remarkably stable prevalence. Recently, it has been proposed that sexual selection may be crucially involved in the evolution of schizophrenia. In the sexual selection model (SSM) of schizophrenia and schizotypy, schizophrenia represents the negative extreme of a sexually selected indicator of genetic fitness and condition. Schizotypal personality traits are hypothesized to increase the sensitivity of the fitness indicator, thus conferring mating advantages on high-fitness individuals but increasing the risk of schizophrenia in low-fitness individuals; the advantages of successful schzotypy would be mediated by enhanced courtship-related traits such as verbal creativity. Thus, schizotypy-increasing alleles would be maintained by sexual selection, and could be selectively neutral or even beneficial, at least in some populations. However, most empirical studies find that the reduction in fertility experienced by schizophrenic patients is not compensated for by increased fertility in their unaffected relatives. This finding has been interpreted as indicating strong negative selection on schizotypy-increasing alleles, and providing evidence against sexual selection on schizotypy.

That is from Marco Del Giudice and for the pointer I thank Harpersnotes.


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