Evolution and Psychiatry Special Interest Group

Chair: Professor Henry O’Connell

Vice-Chair: Dr Gurjot Brar

Contact the Group

To contact the group or if you would like to join, please email Helen Murray at hmurray@irishpsychiatry.ie or call (01) 6618450, email SIG Chair Prof Henry O’Connell at hpoconnell@yahoo.ie, or email SIG Vice-Chair Dr Gurjot Brar at gurjotbrarmd@proton.me.


This SIG aims to raise awareness of the evolutionary basis to psychiatric illness and to explore the potential for the clinical and research applications of this newly emerging field of study.

The SIG will work to complement the College objectives.


  1. The SIG will meet three times yearly in February, May and October to present and discuss ideas for research and writing in the area of evolutionary science applied to psychiatry.
  2. The SIG will have a Chair and Vice Chair.
  3. The SIG will aim to submit contributions for the CPsychI Spring and Winter meetings every year.
  4. The SIG will aim to collaborate with other relevant national and international professional organisations, such as the Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the World Psychiatric Association Section on Evolutionary Psychiatry.
  5. In the longer term, the SIG will aim to produce statement papers on various mental disorders and on healthcare strategy.
  6. In the longer term, the SIG will aim to develop research proposals and projects.

Evolution & Psychiatry SIG Chair Professor Henry O’Connell discusses the aims and accomplishments of the Special Interest Group to date (published 24 March 2023).

View the full playlist of presentations from the Evolution and Psychiatry Special Interest Group here.


Full list of presentations:

  • Inaugural meeting on Darwin Day, 12th February 2021, Presentation on “Health Care: Do we really know who we are treating” by Prof Mike Watts – https://youtu.be/DJ_7C9N9Mak
  • Second Special Interest Group Meeting, 21st May 2021, Presentation on “The Evolutionary Psychology of Eating Disorders: The Sexual Competition Hypothesis” by Dr Riadh Abed – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-X-qnpK_h8
  • Third Special Interest Group Meeting, 15th October 2021, Presentation on “Evolutionary Perspectives on autism and ADHD” by Dr Annie Swanepoel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBbftpM-CoA
  • Fourth Special Interest Group Meeting, 4th February 2022, Presentation on “Why hasn’t natural selection eliminated mental disorders?  Knowing the five reasons improves clinical care as well as research” by Dr Randolph Nesse – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvpKLpwCEC8
  • Fifth Special Interest Group Meeting, 6th May 2022, Presentation on “Extending adaptive explanations of personality to the Evolution of Psychopathology” by Adam Hunt –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx_pnEUpNmY
  • Sixth Special Interest Group Meeting, 14th October 2022, Presentation on “The ‘whys’ of psychiatric illness” by Professor Kevin J Mitchell – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As8TMUC8zPg
  • Seventh Special Interest Group Meeting, 10th February 2023, Presentation on “Some Evolutionary Perspectives on Drug Misuse and Addictions” by Dr Paul St John-Smith – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwrrHg0k4U8
  • Eighth Special Interest Group Meeting, 5th May 2023, Presentations by Essay Prize Winners Dr Silva Vartukapteine and Dr Gurjot Brar on the title “Evolution and Psychiatry: A New Paradigm or a False Dawn?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANbJyiJGETo
  • Ninth Special Interest Group Meeting, 23 February 2023, Discussion with Rick Coste https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpU_ZU13FdA

– Friday 23rd February at 3pm


College Faculty/SIG and committee meetings can garner 1 internal or external CPD credit per meeting up to a maximum of 10 credits per PCS year.

Email Helen Murray, Faculty and Special Interest Group Manager at hmurray@irishpsychiatry.ie for free registration to upcoming meetings.


An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Emotions

Dr Laith Al-Shawaf


Evolution and Compassion Focussed Therapy

Professor Paul Gilbert

THURSDAY, 28 MARCH 2024 | 6:00PM GMT

Title TBC

Professor Jerome Wakefield

THURSDAY, 20 MAY 2024 | 7:00PM BMT

Evolutionary Perspectives on Paranoia and Suspiciousness

Professor Nicholas Raihani

New to Evolution and Psychiatry? Start here:


Further Articles from this Group


*College members can access the IJPM by logging in to their MyCollege accounts and clicking the access link on the IJPM tab.

Suggestions are welcome in relation to research/writing themes by emailing Professor O’Connell, hpoconnell@yahoo.ie, Dr Gurjot Brar, gurjotbrarmd@proton.me, or Ms Murray, hmurray@irishpsychiatry.ie.

Subscribe to the EPSIG substack here.

Further Reading