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TagGrief

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Black Womans Burden

Why Does “Evolution Theory” Trivialize Everything It Touches?

A pair of evolutionary anthropologists try their hand at dealing with existential grief, anxiety, and depression

A couple of evolutionary anthropologists tried their hand recently at illuminating the depths of human anxiety. They started by getting one thing clear right away: Researchers in our field are trained to think about humans in the same way that we think about chimpanzees, macaques and any other animal on the planet. We recognise that humans, like all other species, evolved in environments that posed many challenges, such as predation, starvation and disease. As such, human psychology is well-adapted to meet these challenges. Kristen Syme and Edward H. Hagen, “Most anguish isn’t an illness but an evolved response to adversity” at Psyche (September 29, 2020) So humans are just like other animals. Syme and Hagen oppose treating “the common mental…

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brown monkey macro photography

Do Animals Truly Grieve When Other Animals Die?

Yes, but “death” is, in some ways, an abstraction so there are only some things they understand about it

Anthropologist Barbara J. King, author of How Animals Grieve (2014), has written a thought-provoking essay on the difficulties that COVID-19 has created for people coping with the death of a loved one because they are not allowed conventional grieving methods. Although it is titled “Animal Grief Shows We Aren’t Meant to Die Alone,” King’s essay turns out to be appropriately skeptical of ambitious claims about animal grief. She writes, There is a popular perception that some animals, particularly elephants and crows, participate in their own kinds of funerals. But there’s little solid evidence—at least, so far—for this kind of community ritual. Elephants may occasionally cover a dead companion’s body with leaves or branches, but the meaning and intent of this…