Introduction: The Gene Illusion Continues

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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, seehttp://www.jayjoseph.net/publications)

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.

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

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15 COMMENTS

  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.

    Richard

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    • 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.

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    • Richard,

      Thanks for the nice welcoming message. I would also like to mention that I am open to suggestions regarding topics readers would like to see me cover in relation to the “genetics of psychiatric disorders” topic. I am thinking of devoting my next posting to the fallacy of twin studies in psychiatry and psychology, and many other topics are possible.

      Jay

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      • Have you met January “Jani” Schofield? She is known as “a born schizophrenic”. Personally, I absolutely agree that the child WAS born as she is. So, what is the cause of her condition?

        My thoughts are that it is a combination of nutritional deficiency or excess, and possibly a virus of some sort which can be found not in the blood, but brain fluid. I know absolutely nothing, they’re just very strong thoughts that I can’t shake. In what I have seen in Jani, via the internet, her wiry hair and reddened eyes indicate *something*. If I can go buy nutritional supplements for hair, skin and nails then being deficient of those vital elements would cause me to have brittle nails, problem skin and less than luxurious hair. What sort of diseases produce wild, wiry hair? It is not poor grooming; her hair is naturally wild and wiry. Could wiry hair be indicative of schizophrenia?

        Considering Jani, she is the perfect “case” to solve the question of a schizophrenic gene. Like I said, I think it is a possible virus and a nutritional problem. Can a virus cause nutritional problems? Malabsorption of a paricle vitamin or mineral?

        Her family introduced her to the world at large. Let the world’s greatest minds answer the family’s call. And just think: god might be involved – planner, designer, creator that god is.

        *smile*

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        • mjk, did you ever reach to read Michael Schofield’s, Jani’s father’s, blog before he deleted the posts where he described how both he and his wife beat up Jani, and starved her as an infant? You may say, well, they did this to her because she was born “different”, difficult, and they were powerless, couldn’t deal with her, and didn’t know what else to do. She, an infant, was driving them crazy, and made them, allegedly grown-up people, do this to her: “You made me do this to you.” The abusers “excuse” par excellence. And indeed, it’s how Michael Schofield back then tried to “excuse” his and his wife’s abuse of Jani. But when we’re talking an infant on the one hand, and two allegedly grown-up, allegedly mature enough to have kids of their own people on the other, there is no excuse.

          Both parents identify as “mentally ill”, “depression” and “bipolar”. I.e. both parents identify as everything else but grown-up and mature enough to have kids of their own people. They should never have had any. Not as long as they kept trying to excuse their profoundly immature and irresponsible behavior with “mental illness”, their own, and their daughter’s.

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          • “we ought to have proof, valid scientific proof, that they really are defective, that this ‚Äúschizophrenia‚ÄĚ thing actually exists”

            Marian, I feel misunderstood by you. I’ll try a final time:

            January Schofield definitely was BORN as she is. I wrote, “Considering Jani, she is the perfect ‚Äúcase‚ÄĚ to solve the question of a schizophrenic gene.” and “I see her as the best potential case to solve the schizophrenia madness once and for all.”

            If schizophrenic gene cannot be identified through January Schofield, either the child does not have it (what does she have, then?) or it does not exist. If a SCH-izophrenic gene DOES exist, it will be found in (of all people) January SCH-ofield.

            She is the BEST example of so-called schizophrenia.

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        • Gudday from an Australian Epigenetics researcher. I subscribe to a theory that the environment moderates or manipulates our genetic expression. However, I am eager and open to new learning opportunities, so will gladly contribute to collegial discussions. I also represent a large Australian population of children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans and information such as this will be highly valued by us. Thank you.

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          • mjk, I think, before we have the right to single out an individual, never mention a child, point fingers at them, label them “defective”, genetically or other, and feed them neuro-toxic substances, we ought to have proof, valid scientific proof, that they really are defective, that this “schizophrenia” thing actually exists the way psychiatry imagines it to exist, and also that the neuro-toxic substances in fact do any good to them. Don’t you?

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    • I do not plan to address the epigenetics topic in the near future, mainly because I do not find any type of genetic approach, even if epigenetic, useful in helping us understand the causes of psychiatric disorders. However, I may decide to move away from this position in the future if it seems appropriate to do so.

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  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.

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  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”.

    TRYING.

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