Genetic Explanations

What makes women happy? An evolutionary perspective.

Young women are suffering record levels of depression, post-traumatic stress and self-harm and are now three times more likely to have a mental health problem than men.

According to a recent NHS survey, conducted every seven years, 26% women aged aged 16 to 24 have a clinically recognised mental health condition. The compares to 9% of men.

So what will make women happy?

The last 3,500,000,000 of evolution is not about survival of a species but solely about the survival of our genes. Women have a much lower reproductive capacity than men and must carefully nurture the few children they can have to get their genes into future generations.

So we are reminded that all living things are effectively transient life support machines for our genes. A disposable container that passes our genes into future generations. Genes control the physical characteristics and inherent behaviours in all living things. There is overwhelming evidence that genes control human intelligence, personality and behaviour, much of which is hard wired.

Over the last 3,500,000,000 years our genes have finely tuned their life support machines to act in their best interest. When they need food they make us hungry, when they need water they make us thirsty. When they need to reproduce they make us impassioned. When they need to maintain copies of themselves in future generations they make us altruistic and nurturing for our children and grandchildren.

We are rewarded psychologically for good behaviour. The satisfaction of a good meal, the pleasure of slaking a fierce thirst, the warm afterglow of sex. The radiance of a young woman with a new baby.  The pleasure a mother gets seeing her children happy, fed, clean and healthy. All are incentives to help our genes survive.

We are also punished psychologically for bad behaviour.  The misery of following a life-course or career for which we are not suited or does not increase our reproductive capability.  The guilt of perceived poor parenting.  The desperation of a childless woman towards the end of her fertile years.  All are disincentives to act against the interests of our genes.

In the modern, gender neutral, politically correct world we sometimes forget what makes us happy.  And very often it is the simple things in life. The things the last 3,500,000,000 years has evolved us to do.

Perhaps in order to feel happy and fulfilled we should play the game.  We only get one shot at life.  Perhaps we should listen more to our bodies and less to politically correct ideology?


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