chapter  3
10 Pages

The evolved mind and Compassion Focused Therapy

The Buddha and early Greek philosophers understood well that our minds are chaotic, subject to con¯icts and being taken over by powerful emotions, which can throw us into problems of anxiety, depression, paranoia and violence. What they could not know is why. The beginnings of an answer came with the publication in 1859 of Darwin's Origin of Species, which revealed that our minds and brains are the result of natural selection. Slow changes occur as species adapt to changing environments; environments are therefore challenges that favour some individual variations within a population over others. Importantly, evolution cannot go back to the drawing board but rather builds on previous designs. This is why all animals have the same basic blueprint of four limbs, a cardiovascular system, a digestive system, sense organs, etc. Brains, too, have basic functions, which are shared across species. This has huge implications for understanding how our minds are designed and came to be the way they are (Buss, 2003, 2009; Gilbert, 1989, 2002, 2009a; Panksepp, 1998).