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The Social Competition Hypothesis of Depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

John Price*
Odintune Place, Plumpton, E. Sussex, BN7 3AN
Leon Sloman
Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Toronto, Canada
Russell Gardner Jr
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA
Paul Gilbert
Derby University
Peter Rohde
53 Harley Street, London W1N 1DD
Department of Psychiatry, Wellington School of Medicine, Wellington, New Zealand


Depressive personality and depressive illness are examined from an evolutionary adaptationist standpoint. It is postulated that the depressive state evolved in relation to social competition, as an unconscious, involuntary losing strategy, enabling the individual to accept defeat in ritual agonistic encounters and to accommodate to what would otherwise be unacceptably low social rank.

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Copyright © 1994 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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