Objectives: (1) Describe the concept, mechanisms and outcome of evolution; (2) review the current topics in research and clinical psychiatry where evolutionary concepts are explicitly applied. Methods: The authors reviewed relevant textbooks of evolution, evolutionary psychiatry/psychology and articles in scientific journals, and discussed these topics in a college course at McGill University School of Medicine, Montreal, Canada. Results: (1) Most natural scientists agree that evolution has occurred in all living beings. However, the mechanisms and outcomes of evolution are controversial. (2) In the first three quarters of the 20th century, several authors provided theories about human psychology based on ethological concepts. The so-called evolutionary psychology/psychiatry developed more recently, and it explores the adaptive/nonadaptive features of psychopathology and mental disorders. In the 1990s a concept of mental disorder (as a harmful dysfunction) based on evolutionary theory has been developed. Conclusions: Evolution is a pivotal concept in biology with relevant applications in psychiatry. We suggest encouraging the interaction between psychiatric educators and researchers in evolutionary psychiatry and biology in order to improve the education of psychiatric residents in this subject.

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