Introduction: The Gene Illusion Continues


I am pleased to have the opportunity to be part of the Mad In America website. I plan to provide a critical perspective on genetic theories and research in psychiatry and psychology. I will highlight the numerous problems with widespread claims that studies of families, twins, and adoptees have provided indisputable evidence that psychiatric disorders and psychological traits have an important underlying genetic basis.

I will also examine the implications of genetic theories of mental disorders and how such theories, in addition to being based on very weak evidence, divert society’s attention from the need to change or eliminate social and other environmental conditions that cause human suffering and dysfunction. Since 1998, I have explored these and other issues in numerous book chapters and articles. I have also written two books on genetic research in psychiatry and psychology: The Gene Illusion: Genetic Research in Psychiatry and Psychology Under the Microscope (2004), and The Missing Gene: Psychiatry, Heredity, and the Fruitless Search for Genes (2006). (For an updated list of my publications, see

A critical analysis of genetic research and theories in psychiatry and psychology occurs in the context of the ongoing stunning failure to uncover genes at the molecular level for the major psychiatric disorders, as well as for psychological traits such as I.Q. and personality. In psychiatry the search for genes has been going on for decades, and despite sensational media reports of alleged gene discoveries, most such “discoveries” have not been replicated.

I plan to discuss the paradigm-shattering implications of these failures in the context of larger issues, such as the medicalization of human suffering and abnormal behavior, and the role of the drug companies in promoting biological and genetic theories of mental disorders. I look forward to keeping readers informed about the latest ideas, debates, and alleged discoveries, and to stimulate discussion of these issues in Mad in America and elsewhere. Stay tuned.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


  1. Jay

    Welcome to MIA. I took a quick look at your list of publications and perused a few of your published papers. You have done some great research and writing that will help us all dig the grave for Biological Psychiatry.

    Your participation in this website will be extremely valuable and I can remember a few heated discussions this past year where your input was very much needed to counter some currents of genetic determinism. I think I can speak for some fellow participants at MIA and say we look forward to your future posts.


    • Agree totally. You are so needed here and so nice to see someone is really doing some research to dispell the myths. I remember studying twin studies when I was studying Psychology at uni and at most they only ever found 50% of identical twins with the same condition. Given that they share identical genes it is impossible to say it is gentic. Given that identical twins always share more environmental factors in common it also did not add up for me. When someone started telling me that PTSD was genetic, then I became even more sceptical!!

      There need to find a pill to cure everything is simply beyond me. There is no medical condition I am aware of where one can simply take a pill and be cured. There are always massive lifestyle changes that need to be made.

      I have a friend in her 50’s who was diagnosed with type 1 – insulin dependent diabetes as an infant. Sure she will always require insulin as her body is not capable of producing it. But foods do have very small amounts of insulin in them and so she has to calculate the amount of protein and carbohydrate in every food she eats, as that will determine what amount of insulin she needs. She needs to eat at set times, and have quite a set lifestlye, in terms of exercising at the same times to help control her blood sugars. It allows her to be in control of it. It is not and never will be simply about measuring her insulin level and topping it up via injections. Everything she does impacts on that level, and she needs to ensure it is increasing at a safe rate and not going too low, etc. She could test herself ever 10 minutes and keep giving herself insulin injections. None of that would enable her to live a healthier life, as it is doing nothing to take into account what her body is naturally doing.

      How on earth they can possibly claim that a condition which has no gene attached to it – they know what ALL genes are now if they were going to find it, it would have been found by now, is beyond me. Even if they find a medication that can help, which they clearly do not have at the moment, all they have are agents to sedate, it will not take away the need for a combination of other things to be involved. There will always be huge environmental changes that can be made to assist people with any condition and that is more for these fictional conditions than for anything else, but it does exist for everything else. How can human suffering and emotional distress possibly be caused by faulty genes. If anything it would be faulty not to experience these emotions.

      Sorry for getting so off topic, I look forward to reading more.

  2. Welcome Indeed Mr. Joseph!

    You have my undivided attention.

    We’ve already seen the horrific cost of this specious excuse for science.

    Government becomes too large and too intrusive in its promises to remake society into utopia.

    When Government becomes too large it consumes too much of a nations equity in its pursuit of utopia, and at some point, needs scapegoats to shift the blame onto.

    Enter the genetically inferior.

    Even if there Was any thing to it, would any of us want to know, or have any Right to know, who those genetically inferior people were?

    Instituting those falsified conclusions killed between 60 to 69 Million people 80 years ago in the pursuit of Government created utopia.

  3. I have said so many times that psychiatry is not a branch of medicine. I know psychiatry to be a branch of government.

    Government and Science are married. There will be no divorce, no separation of state and science. The pair are *trying* to make psychiatry a science and / or a “medicine”.