In this chapter, evolutionary theories of personality disorders strive to provide ultimate explanations for personality disorders and they view the behavior of personality disordered individuals as having persisted from adaptations to the ancestral environments. These behaviors, which may have had adaptive value in the ancestral environment, have become maladaptive in the current environment. We have also seen that aging and senescence are viewed as the price humans have paid for their evolutionary success. Evolutionary psychologists' primary theoretical concerns focus on reproductive success and various acts of altruism. Although there are evolutionary theories of aging, evolutionary theorists have yet to address specifically how aging and personality disorders may relate in an evolutionary perspective.
From a neurobiological perspective, there is a strong contribution of genetic factors in the creation and maintenance of most personality disorders. Unique environmental factors may play an important but apparently secondary role in the proximal origins of personality disorders. The gloomy hypothesis suggested that these unique environmental factors may be too unsystematic, as of yet, to assess in their relationship to personality disorders. Perhaps, surprisingly, the least influential factor in personality disorders is that of shared environmental influence—that is, the effects of being raised in the same family as our siblings. This is not to suggest that family influences, family values, and early childhood experiences do not play any role in the creation of personality disorders; however, the current research suggests that our genetic predispositions and unique experiences play greater roles. Much more work, both theoretical and empirical, needs to be done in this area. Replication of twin studies with larger samples assessed with comprehensive structured interviews for personality disorders is one important avenue.
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