Fears of specific and real dangers are adaptations. Hypophobia, a lack of adaptive aversive emotions in dangerous situations, is often maladaptive. Anxiety disorders also appear maladaptive, and many ethological suggestions about adaptive function are unconvincing from a clinical perspective. Modern and effective treatment (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is based on changing disorder specific cognitive and metacognitive processes. Earlier thinking on the adaptive function of different types of anxiety and the downplaying of the specificity of different anxiety disorders is challenged. A combination of the cognitive sciences Evolutionary Psychology and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy might be fruitful. Evolutionary Psychology may provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with a better understanding of the function of the mental mechanisms involved, while Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may provide Evolutionary Psychology with a better understanding of the proximate mechanisms of specific mental disorders.
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