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In general, psychiatric conditions have been difficult to model in animals. Nonetheless, such modeling offers much in attempting to understand the conditions and stimuli that can give rise to the symptoms seen in psychiatric illnesses. Although it is unlikely that a complex human psychiatric illness can be fully reproduced in animals, it is by using animals that one can selectively study the behavioral effects caused by manipulating a single environmental variable. This can give us valuable clues in studying the etiological factors suggested by our different theoretical hypotheses concerning the origin of a disease such as depression. In fact, in the case of depression, two of the major theoretical positions have been extensively tested in animals. First, the idea that loss or separation plays a critical role in the development of depressive illness has been examined in primates in considerable detail. Second, the idea that depression has cognitive origins—that it represents a learned behavior—has been extensively studied in animals.
KeywordsMaternal Separation Learned Helplessness Inescapable Shock Separation Model Behavioral Despair
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