Fecundity and Mental Illness


Research published in Archives of General Psychiatry finds that people with diagnoses such as schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorders have lower reproductive rates, raising questions about how genes for these disorders could be inherited and survive through generations.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]


  1. Confusing the non-physical of mental illness with the physical world of (good) DNA. “schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar” were just invented, relative to the time mankind has been on earth.

    If there is any defect in the DNA children are born without fingers or something similar you can photograph and physically document.

    You can not photograph a human mind.

    Mental illness is as a result of the city environment. Artificial light , artificial food and not obeying orders.

    People are in a foreign world of machines. A cog in the machine. Don’t you want to work for the machine? Don’t you want to live and work in the noisy polluted dangerous concrete city?

    Mental illness IS the rational response to living in a city.

      • All I know is that a pen is no use when the police/kidnap squad turn up to drag you away.

        The pen is no good when the carers/frustrated martial artist on the ward decide to put you in seclusion.

        The pen is no good when the psychiatrist decides a community treatment order will be good for you.

        Talking is fine but you cant use reason and logic to talk someone out of a position they never used reason or logic to arrive at.

        btw we are on the same side. I was being flippant…

        • Well – I’ve been forcibly treated in psychiatric ‘care’ so know something of what you’re talking about. And I did think you were being flippant and as we say here in Scotland, a “bit of a wind up merchant”. It’s OK I’m used to it, I’ve got 3 sons now grown up and the youngest hasn’t got hitched yet so is still winding me up.

          And by the by I wouldn’t have said you were an inarticulate poet. So your words are probably now being put to good use, in other places and not just here.

          I do quite a bit of writing now – by Email, blog, twitter etc. And think it is having some influence as is my speaking about stuff, and keeping on speaking, and doing it again. Being persistent. Which I’m sure you’re good at.

          It’s the chipping away and the constant flow, of words and meaning, personal stories and saying it how it, that I think will make the folk in power come around. If only to get us off their backs. If you know what I mean.

  2. I think the lower birth is mostly likely explained by the fact that existential crisis, which is what most often gets labeled at mental illness, happens during peak reproductive years. Also, society’s views of those labels tend to limit reproductive options.

    I think this article does show how stupid these authors are, but is it relevant for a few reasons. Maybe when our site hosts post this stuff they can point out what they think is interesting and how it supports our views?

    I have noticed that when I go to Alternatives type conferences that there will be like 3 kids in a room full of 1000 people. I feel like it’a post apocalyptic sci fi novel and like maybe those 3 kids are our only hope to keep civilization alive.