Herd Instinct in Humans: The Source of Anxiety and Depression?

Jeffrey Kahn has written a fascinating book (Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression in Oxford Press) suggesting an evolutionary source for much of human psychopathology. He gave a Grand Rounds presentation at UCLA in February of 2015 that outlined some of his theories and that presentation has been the subject of a vigorous discussion online.

In essence, Jeffrey argues that many of the problems that we wrestle with, social anxiety, panic disorder, atypical depression, melancholic depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others, are the consequences of our need to be social and to be part of a “herd.”

In other words, anxiety and depression attempt to align our behavior with what might be best for the herd even though that might not be what is best for us.

It’s fascinating stuff and reminds us of the interview with Julio Ozores on very similar topics published in our “Conversations” section.

If you’re interested in reviewing the slides from that presentation here is a link –