Twin Method Assumptions are Indefensible, but are Useful to the Rich and Powerful

Jay Joseph, Psy.D.
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The richest 1% of the world’s population possesses more wealth than the rest of humanity combined, and the richest 62 people in the world possess more wealth than the poorest 3.6 billion people.  The wealthy, and the institutions they finance and promote, look favorably upon research whose authors claim that such disparities are rooted in biology, and are not harmful to humanity as a whole.  The wealthiest people and corporations on earth do not strive for a more equitable distribution of wealth; they want an even bigger slice of it.

There are countless obvious real-world examples showing that political policies, social struggles, and public health programs, including those involving the adjustment of income differences, lead to improved health and well-being.  To cite only one example, life expectancy in France was about 45 years in 1900 (males and females combined), and almost doubled by the end of the century. In 2012, life expectancy in France was about 81 years.

Some researchers, however, argue that their findings suggest a more genetic explanation. In 2016, a group of leading behavioral genetic twin researchers and past defenders of twin research, including Matt McGue, Ian Deary, Nancy Pedersen, and Peter Visscher, published a twin study entitled “The Association between Intelligence and Lifespan is Mostly Genetic.”1  Lead author Rosalind Arden and her colleagues claimed that their twin data pointed to “common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence,” which have “important implications for public health.” They concluded that their “results show that the relationship between lifespan and intelligence (which predicts wealth, even within advantaged families) is mostly genetic,” and called into question the environmentalist argument that policies favoring wealth redistribution and the narrowing of wealth gaps help promote human health and life expectancy.  Behavioral geneticists believe that intelligence (as allegedly measured by IQ tests) is “highly heritable,” and Arden and colleagues concluded that “intelligence may mediate apparent associations between levels of education, income or occupation and morbidity and mortality.”

It is important to note that behavioral genetic researchers do not assess the importance of the environment directly. Instead, they infer the role of the environment through the controversial practice of calculating “heritability estimates,” and estimates of “shared” and “non-shared” environmental influences.  Most often, these estimates are derived from twin data. Such studies are based mainly on twin pairs reared together (the “twin method”), but also on a handful of massively flawed studies of “reared-apart twins.”  (These studies are supplemented by misinterpreted and misleading stories of individual reared-apart pairs reported in the media.) At the same time, behavioral geneticists usually ignore real-world refutations of their claims.  To cite an additional example, which in this case relates to the “genetics of criminal and antisocial behavior” question, Australia has historically low violent crime rates despite the fact that it was founded and settled by British convicted criminals.

Evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin criticized the behavioral genetic approach of attempting to assess the importance of the environment indirectly,

“Hereditarians claim to have the same interest as anti-hereditarians, to determine how much change is possible so that we may act rationally in social programs.  But if that is really the hereditarian agenda, why do they keep studying heritability, which simple logic tells us cannot give the answer to this problem.  Why do they not design studies to ask the questions about changeability directly?  Because the answer would come out in the wrong direction.”2 (Emphasis in original)

Arden and colleagues’ conclusions were based in part on the indirect “variance partitioning” (model fitting) approach, where the influences of shared and non-shared environments are calculated from what is left over from twin-data derived heritability estimates.  This approach is dubious even if its main assumptions are correct, but many of its key assumptions are not correct.3  Arden and colleagues acknowledged the discrepancy between real-world results, versus indirect inferences based on twin studies, when they recognized that “the claim that narrow wealth gaps promote health and life expectancy” may be true “from a broad population-level perspective.”

The researchers’ conclusions were challenged by professors Jay Kaufman and Carles Muntaner on several grounds. They questioned the validity of the twin method’s crucial MZ-DZ equal environment assumption (EEA), which holds that reared-together MZ (monozygotic, identical) and reared-together same-sex DZ (dizygotic, fraternal) pairs grow up experiencing roughly equal environments, and that the only factor distinguishing these twin types is their differing degree of genetic relationship to each other (100% versus 50%).  In fact, the evidence shows overwhelmingly that MZ pairs’ environments are much more similar than DZ pairs’ environments. (For a critique of the EEA in twin studies of behavior, click here.) According to Kaufman and Muntaner,

“The [Arden et al.] paper makes inferences about genetics and environments, but has no direct measures of either set of variables.  Rather, the key assumption on which the inference rests is the ‘equal environment assumption’ (EEA), which is that twins are not exposed to different environments based on their zygosity.  This assumption is stated by the authors as a fact, but is not evaluated in these data.  When evaluated in previous reports it is sometimes reported to hold approximately,and at other times found to be severely violated.”

In their response to Kaufman and Muntaner’s argument that the EEA may be “severely violated,”  Arden and colleagues defended the twin method, the EEA, and accompanying heritability estimates on the basis of three extremely weak arguments:5

  • Arden and colleagues’ first argument: “Concerning the equal environment assumption [EEA] in general, empirical data based on most twin studies ever published point to little or no influence of shared environmental factors on twin similarity.”  In support of this position, the authors cited a 2015 twin method meta-analysis by Tinca Polderman and colleagues, which reported the combined results of 2,748 twin studies. In other words, Arden and colleagues cited a meta-analysis of previous twin studies—most of which assumed the validity of the EEA—in support of the validity of the EEA.  Clearly, this is an illogical argument because the researchers assumed the validity of past twin studies in defense of the validity of current twin studies.
  • Arden and colleagues’ second argument“Monozygotic (MZ) twins are more likely to have more similar environments than dizygotic (DZ) twins, but this is because they create this greater similarity.”  This is the “twins create their own environment” defense of the EEA, which has been used since the 1950s.  It is based on an illogical circular argument, however, because the conclusion that genetic factors explain the greater behavioral resemblance of MZ versus DZ twin pairs is based on a premise stating the very same thing.  Twin researchers invoking this argument cite the genetic premise in support of the genetic conclusion, and then cite the genetic conclusion in support of the genetic premise, in a continuously circular loop of faulty reasoning. In a 2015 review of my book The Trouble with Twin Studies, behavioral geneticist Eric Turkheimer did not dispute my argument that EEA defenses are based on circular reasoning, nor has anyone else to my knowledge.8  (See my response to Turkheimer’s predictably negative review here.)
  • Arden and colleagues’ third argument: “The most comprehensive published evaluation of equal environmental similarity, based on environmental characteristics outside the twins’ control, concluded [in 2013] that the available evidence supported the validity of the assumption.”  Most genetically-oriented researchers who have performed such “EEA-test” studies since the 1960s also concluded that the twin method is valid, and twin researchers’ positive evaluations of these studies have appeared since the 1980s.9  So, nothing new to report here.  Yet critics have shown that this body of research is flawed on several critical dimensions, and much of it is based on the illogical arguments found in 1 and 2 above, in addition to many other faulty arguments and questionable assumptions.10

Since the 1920s, the twin method has been based on the assumption that reared-together MZ and DZ twin pairs grow up experiencing similar environments, even though most people—including most leading twin researchers—now understand that MZ and DZ environments are different.  This has compelled twin researchers to concoct illogical arguments to allow them to continue their work, and authoritative social and behavioral science texts and popular media outlets continue to endorse the original twin researchers’ mistaken interpretations of their results in favor of genetics.  Meanwhile, decades of attempts to uncover “genes for behavior” at the molecular level have failed to bear fruit.  Turkheimer recognized in his review that “to a quite remarkable extent, it has proven impossible to find” DNA variants that influence behavioral variation, and that “scientists have not identified a single gene that would meet any reasonable standard as a ‘gene for’ schizophrenia, intelligence, depression, or extraversion.”

Kaufman and Muntaner’s letter had the virtue of compelling a group of leading genetic/twin researchers to defend the twin method’s long-controversial equal environment assumption.  Like their predecessors, however, these researchers were unable to provide any valid arguments in its defense.  This is an amazing development when we consider that twin method MZ-DZ comparisons provide the most frequently cited evidence in support of important genetic influences on psychiatric disorders, abnormal behavior, and common medical conditions, and twin studies in general are often cited in support social inequality and the false notion that the elites are inherently deserving of their privileged status.

* * * * *

Footnotes:

  1. Arden, R., Luciano, M., Deary, I. J., Reynolds, C. A., Pedersen, N. L., Plassman, B. L., McGue, M., Christensen, K., & Visscher, P. M., (2016), The Association between Intelligence and Lifespan is Mostly Genetic, Genetic Epidemiology, 45, 178-185.
  2. Lewontin, R. C., (1987), The Irrelevance of Heritability, Science for the People, 19, 23, 32, p. 32.
  3. Joseph, J., (2015), The Trouble with Twin Studies: A Reassessment of Twin Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, New York: Routledge.
  4. Kaufman, J. S., & Muntaner, C., (2016), “The Association between Intelligence and Lifespan is Mostly Genetic” [Letter to the Editor], Genetic Epidemiology, published online 3/27/2016, DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyw019.
  5. Arden et al., (2016), Authors’ Response to Kaufman and Muntaner [Letter to the Editor], Genetic Epidemiology, published online 3/27/2016, DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyw020
  6. Polderman et al., (2015), Meta-Analysis of the Heritability of Human Traits Based on Fifty Years of Twin Studies, Nature Genetics, 47, 702-709.
  7. Joseph, 2015. For a list of quotations from leading twin researchers using the illogical “twins create their own environment” argument in defense of the EEA and the twin method, see Appendix C of this book.
  8. Turkheimer, E., (2015), Arsonists at the Cathedral, PsycCRITIQUES, 60 (40), 1-4. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ a0039763. For my response to Turkheimer, see Joseph, J., (2015, November 2), Twin Studies are Still in Trouble: A Reply to Turkheimer, [Web log post, Mad in America “The Gene Illusion in Psychiatry and Psychology”].
  9. An early review of the EEA-test study literature can be found in Kendler, K. S., (1983), Overview: A Current Perspective on Twin Studies of Schizophrenia, American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 1413-1425.
  10. Joseph, J., (2004), The Gene Illusion: Genetic Research in Psychiatry and Psychology under the Microscope, New York: Algora; Joseph, J., (2006), The Missing Gene: Psychiatry, Heredity, and the Fruitless Search for Genes, New York: Algora, Chapter 9; Joseph, 2015.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. These authors have no grasp of the molecular environment. Siamese twins are the only twins with a common environment, because, in effect, they’re sharing the same body in addition to sharing the same experiences- genetically identical litters of animals have differing nutritional requirements.
    Some of you may also notice that, if the Siamese twins are separated, they’re no longer truly sharing the same experiences.

  2. The doppelganger twin often shares everything looks and life but without a genetic parity. Explain this in the context of twins and genetic identity. It would seen the environment’s response to an appearance has a greater role in programming life responses. That might also suggest a homogeneity to our culture which politically and economically-based socio-psychology doesn’t see.

  3. Yes of course, this is all rooted in a resurgence of Social Darwinism and Eugenics. This is only one of the reasons I don’t go along with the Autism Advocates, as they promote “neuro-diversity”, accepting that this so called neurological difference is objective reality.

    And then further, that people are being pushed into psychotherapy, psychiatry, developmental disabilities therapy, or evangelical religion, and these things are designed to render them passive, only adds to the claim that such persons do not really deserve to live.

    So we have to organize and act, following Gandhi’s method of Satyagraha, applying pressure.

    It is The Family. This might not be your family or my family, but most of the time it is. Some people are legitimated, and others are sent to doctors and to seek therapy, recovery, and salvation, and some just to alcohol and street drugs.

    So unless we fight back, or chances in life will be further destroyed, until finally we will likely be put into concentration camps.

    A psychotherapist will try to convince you that it is all in the past and in your head. But this is all lies. It is about the lack of social legitimacy right here and right now.

    Join My Forum, connect, organize, act!
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/survivors-of-the-middle-class-family-t243.html

    And thank you Jay for pursuing this most insightful line of inquiry

    Nomadic

    • This is a good time to catch up on your Hoffer and Osmond, so you can rattle off the good biological features of being schizophrenic; e.g., resistance to shock from injuries, resistance to viruses, partial immunity to cancer with almost total immunity to lung cancer despite being chain smokers, slower aging, resistance to diabetes, etc. If you were diagnosed, you can say things to the eugenically minded to really irritate them (mention such things as I’ve mentioned as qualities to assure them you and fellows are going to rule the world- ” and our women are more fertile than your straight ones as well- go pollute the planet and help us replace you Bwahahaha…”

      • Oh, okay, bcharris, if we’re gonna think that way, then anorexics will take over the planet. This is how. There will be a gigantic famine. Then, the only ones capable of surviving starvation will be the skinnies. As for the normals. well, tough poop. What a heavy topic. Eugenics outweighs all.

        • No- the formerly obese will rule, being able to sustain fasts the longest. Back in the days when lunch was either stalked, chased or found, being able to accumulate the pounds in plentiful times, helped our ancestors survive periods of scarcity.

      • bcharris, I’ve not read your posts before, so I’m not sure if your being completely straight in you post or not. Being thrown into the system as a schizophrenic is no joking matter. As far as I can see, they are always the designated family scapegoat. So it is always some variation on Munchausen’s By Proxy.

        Very hard to ever offer anything which would amount to justice to a person treated so. But we must try to. We must start holding parents accountable, and stop offering the further abuses of healing, recovery, therapy, and salvation to the victims.

        Nomadic

        • It’s no joking matter, but that doesn’t mean the qualities that benefit your survival don’t exist. Your first order relatives will also inherit some of them as well- to their benefit, because they don’t have the liability of being periodically daft, the way we do (and probably are less likely to be chain smokers).

          Maybe a dark sense of humor goes along with this- a dysperceptive artist friend of mine once mentioned how we both had this, which is why some thought us strange.

          • bcharris, I’ve not interacted with you before. And I’m still not really sure where you are coming from.

            I am not daft and I don’t smoke.

            But I do know that every day the victims of childhood familial abuses get thrown into psychotherapy, psychiatry, recovery, evangelical religion, and get put on psych meds. In fact, I am not sure if there is any other way to end up in such hell.

            So it will stop when we the survivors connect, organize, and make it stop.

            Join My Forum
            http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/survivors-of-the-middle-class-family-t243.html

            Nomadic

  4. Thanks for this article Jay; I support everything you are saying.

    It is in one sense amazing to see the degree of distortion in these researchers’ empty responses to the criticism, but at the same time not surprising, since they are motivated by the fear of losing their job and status if the hollowness of their research is exposed.

    Reading behavioral genetics, to me, is similar to reading astrological predictions, alchemy textbooks, or similarly ridiculous unscientific scams. I guess the difference is at least those disciplines don’t pretend to be a real science; whereas behavioral geneticists try to and do fool many people.

  5. These genetic arguments have been going strong for more than a century to, in the end, bad effect. Okay, we’ve gotten beyond blatant racial stereotyping, but not beyond psychiatric stereotyping. Pointing out how it has served the wealthy at the expense of everyone else is important. I have no doubt, but that psychiatry is being used in a spurious manner to excuse social disparities of all sorts. Were we to recede, in relation to France, back towards the middle ages, you think anybody would start to notice? I hear our average length of life is starting to retract. Maybe some people are starting to notice. Life for some of us, after all, would be immensely improved by the right, as opposed to the wrong, pair of jeans. Anyway, thank you for this post, you make many good points within it. The idea that the powers that be, as anybody can ascertain who peruses the news media, arrived at the point that they are at through genetic superiority is ludicrous from the outset.

  6. For whatever reason, this seems obvious to me. Of the sets of identical twins I recall from my past, either some I recall out of my childhood or later from my adulthood, some did, in fact, look exactly alike, while others were vastly different in many ways, though they assured me they were identical and raised side by side. I cannot comment on personalities as I was never well-acquainted with a person who was a twin. More often than not, I have heard the most touching stories of how twins grow apart, how their lives take vastly different twists and turns, perhaps one dies or grows sickly, or takes to the bottle, or dies in the gutter, and the other prospers. Can we ever say why? I don’t think psychiatry or any of its so-called “science” is equipped to delve into such a question that cannot be answered by a test tube, but is sacred, because such love is shared as one, begun in the womb between the closest of siblings.

  7. Dear bcharris, Many people starve and lose immense amounts of weight after obesity. For some, that’s how they ended up anorexic in the first place, due to weight-related bullying, either real overweight or perceived. In fact, many people who are overweight are right now, are silently starving in terms of how little they eat. Most providers do not even bother to ask, nor think of asking, nor are willing to believe them even if they say outright they are struggling to get themselves to eat. Conversely, many very thin people struggle with binge eating, which may in fact be huge amounts of food eaten rather rapidly. Anyone who suffers from this can tell you it is a lonely and physically painful existence since it’s ridiculous trying to get anyone to believe you, so you just give up. I found that providers usually stared at me, at any weight, gave me that stupid look, almost as if they were on drugs, and said, “That’s not possible. You’d be dead if you did that.” Then they’d tell me the litany of psych disorders they assumed I had. But didn’t.

    So around 2012 or so I dug up a photo of a 19 year of anonymous girl who had died of stomach rupture. She died alone in her bathroom. Apparently they had the brains to do an autopsy, not normally done, but that was the only reason they happened to find out the real reason she died. I asked myself how many times people died of this, since usually these deaths can so easily be wrongly attributed to “heart attack” without an autopsy. I went to several doc appointments and showed them the photo, saying, “Hey, I’ve been telling this to docs for decades, why do you not listen?” Each one of them shoved me and the entire article aside, not caring.

    Still, no one’s listening. Even now. I cannot believe the fake activists are now swallowing the test-tube genetic bullshit like Kool-Aid. Honestly, this is so scary, thousands following like lambs….No one is answering my emails…….You guys should see the uproar over this and so few have taken notice here on MIA. The test-tube pushers tried to shut me up, too, but I didn’t bite the bait.

  8. Nomadic, I’d love to join your forum, but not really. I love finding new discussion groups especially since no one will speak with me anymore. I still spend all day alone, devoid of any human companionship. I would like to have someone I can hang with now and then. Or at least not spend all my holidays and birthdays alone. For that reason, I’ll join a forum just out of desperation, but I can’t join one if I don’t agree with the basic premise.

    My own “middle class” parents didn’t send me to therapy. They were excellent parents, much better than most. They never believed I had a mental illness, either. I had to convince them. Therapy was my choice and I went voluntarily. Then, the therapists stole this opportunity to milk my parents’ money despite the fact that they really didn’t see much wrong with me. Oh, except the size of my parents’ estate. What was my determined diagnosis? At first, of course, they blamed my mom. Then they said I had a brain disease. They changed their minds often.

    It was necessary to change my psych diagnosis according to which side effects looked like which mental disease. This meant I changed my mask about once every five to ten years or so.

    No way do I see my ending up in therapy or the System as a whole as having any relation to my coming out of the “middle class.” The majority of people in my geographical area where I grew up are among the “middle class.” Very few are among the richest and the middle class currently outnumber those that are outright homeless (or however one wishes to define the poorest). How is “middle class” a disease? It’s simply a default. If you aren’t rolling in dough, and you have a job, you are somewhere in the middle. I don’t think all middle class people are sick or wrong or immoral, and I don’t think all middle class families raise their kids wrong. In fact, most parents out there are decent because they love their kids and have a conscience. They want to do the right thing, they want to raise good kids, and instill confidence in their kids. All this regardless of “class.”

  9. Julie Greene, Your story is interesting. And I do hope you might be willing to share more.

    As far as who is ‘middle-class’, I’ve never taken that as meaning middle-income range. Rather, it is a way of thinking which emerged with industrialization and the collapse of Aristocracies. Being middle-class is a self identity.

    Yale’s John Merriman
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEk1JAkyvj4

    The middle-class invented childhood, and this means that it uses children. And it is the middle-class which has choice in life, but doesn’t want to admit this. So the middle-class lives in Bad Faith.

    Bad Faith – A lie, especially to the self. Self-deception, the paradox of lying to the self, usually in an attempt to escape the responsibility of being an individual. The extreme example cited by existentialists is, “I was only following orders.” Any denial of free will is an example of bad faith. Sartre believed all moments of Bad Faith (Mauvaise Foi) were self-evident, contradicting many psychologists.
    http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist/ex_lexicon.html

    So we can glean from this that it is also the middle-class which uses the concept of parenthood to advance itself.

    In the US and the Western Industrialized Nations, there really is no other class other than the middle-class.

    In saying this I am following Deleuze and Guattari, division four of Anti-Oedipus.

    To have a working class they would need to have class consciousness. This is long gone.

    You have people who have been ejected from the middle-class, and are now underclass or untouchable caste. But neither of these are actually a different class.

    The middle-class uses children, it preys on them. Nothing likes this has ever before existed in all human history. And if you want to know how strong it is, just go to the Barnes and Nobles and look at the huge section of baby books. These are almost a form of p***ography. Certainly they promote parenthood and child exploitation.

    Now there are some who support the interests of the middle-class, and there are some who oppose such interests.

    So now you understand where I am coming from.

    But I for one am very surprised to find someone who as a child believed that they had a mental illness, when not being told that by parents or a therapist. I am very surprised to find someone who then got wound into an ever deepening web of the psychiatric system, when this was not being caused by parents or psychotherapists.

    Obviously people are going to have to find their own way and come to their own understandings. But as I see it, very rarely would someone treated with dignity and respect and given the chance to develop and apply their abilities, want to send themselves into the psychiatric system. I find this very hard to understand. So much of life being lost and seemingly for no reason. Might you be willing to share more?

    Join My Forum, Connect, Organize, Act
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/

    Nomadic

    • Naw, not quite, Nomadic, that’s not what I said. I did voluntarily go to therapy. However, I went to them because my former employer said therapy was cool. I thought it was a selfish thing to do. Why waste time talking about yourself for an hour! I only wanted to think about music. But he kept saying it was great and everyone should do it. I thought it was wrong. Two years later I went to therapy voluntarily, but not because I felt I had a mental illness. I did not know what “mental illness” was. I had “eating problems.” I didn’t know what an “eating disorder” was nor had heard the term before. The therapists much later on told me about “mental illness” and crammed those nonsense beliefs into me. So then, I told my parents what the therapists said. Bit by bit, they all forgot what I came for. Except me, of course. But who was I? They forgot!

  10. Julie, So then if I am understanding you correctly, you must have been employed, presumably an adult, and probably still rather young. You had an employer who, “said therapy was cool”. But you thought it was a selfish thing to do.

    Just to comment, many people who think therapy is wrong are coming from a religious fundamentalist background. I don’t know if this is true for you. I think therapy is wrong, but wrong on the part of the therapist, because they are taking advantage of their clients and profiting from them without offering them anything whatsoever. So I think therapy is wrong, not because I support fundamentalist religious views, but I think it is wrong because it is so much like religion.

    Based on what you have posted, it is not clear to me whether this employer really thought therapy was cool and told everyone this, or whether he was trying to do something which is very cruel and improper, tell you that you needed therapy.

    But then a couple years later you did go because you were having “eating problems”, but you weren’t even familiar with the concept of “eating disorder”. I look at some of your earlier posts and I see that you are familiar with some of the most severe sorts of eating problems, ones which can be life threatening.

    Then therapists told you about “eating disorders’, and about “mental illness”. And then it sounds like your parents eventually went along with it too, though none of the ideas had originally started with them.

    I am presuming then that there was no contact with any therapist until you were at least 18yo. I see this as important. And as you have said, your parents never sent you to any therapists.

    You might have been living with your parents as this unfolded, though I would not see this as of particular importance.

    So what then ensued, based on what I see you have posted earlier, included medication and hospitalization. But also of great importance in this narrative is that the doctors tried to convince you that you had a mental illness, and they blamed your mother for causing this, and then they said that you had a brain disease. And they seemed to always be expanding your diagnosis until it matched the amount of money they saw that they could extract from your parents. I glean from this that your parents probably were rather well off.

    So I want to tread lightly in responding to any of this, as I know it gets to your own struggle to form an adult identity. I’ve always said that people need to find their own identity, and that they are going to do this different ways.

    So if I say anything which you don’t like, please just brush it off. I do after all have only a very limited view of the situation.

    I’m not really concerned with drawing distinctions between psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and psychiatrists. I know there are different schools of thought, but to me what they do is always the same. They convince people that there is something wrong with them. And this is their greatest evil.

    So they get people to take medication, they get people to give up on trying to find the truth. They make people afraid to feel their own feelings.

    And then likewise, in my view, you have these developmental disorder therapists who go after children. I feel that what they do is the same.

    So one might ask who is at fault? Are the therapists primary culprits? Is it the parents? Is it out entire society? And then more importantly, what should we do about it?

    You’ve talked about some eating issues in other posts. Issues of that magnitude are going to land someone in medical care. If it is not therapist, it will just be the hospital emergency room. And then even it if does not go that far, people are going to suggest therapy just because they see a negative situation and they don’t know what else to say.

    Where I live there was a prominent and well educated couple who wrote a newspaper column. Turned out that their high school age daughter developed a serious eating problem and she almost ended up in a convalescent home. She would have been the youngest person there, but they would have still wanted to keep her in a wheel chair. Sounds like she is doing much better now. What really caused this? Hard to say. We don’t know that much about it. But I mention this just to let you know that such things happen.

    So do parents cause mental illness, or eating disorders? Well, for them to cause mental illness, there would have to be such a thing as mental illness. And likewise for eating disorders.

    I don’t know if you have ever read Thomas Szass. I plan to. I am attracted to his view that mental illness is a myth.

    But what I take this to mean is that though the behaviors certainly exist, there is not an intrinsic ontological condition which causes this. And then the same should be said for eating disorders too.

    But then, what causes the behaviors?

    My own views are influenced by people like Foucault, R. D. Laing, D. G. Cooper, Deleuze and Guattari, and Sami Timimi

    And I am also very taken by:
    http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Social-Family-Michele-Barrett/dp/086091545X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1464896581&sr=8-1&keywords=anti-social+family

    I mention these people, not because I am trying to cite them as authorities. I mention them simply because I want you to know what my influences are. You may or may not agree with them.

    There are many outside factors which influence families. Some of them are constructive and some of them are destructive. Probably the greatest destructive factor is the high degree of isolation which modern life is built on. This is sexual, economic, and social. And this is something which never was anything like it is today, before the rise of the middle-class. And this is why I say that people have children in order to use them to gain for themselves an adult identity. While I don’t think you can legislate to stop this, I think we could do a great deal more to compensate for the effects.

    If someone called me on the telephone now and said that a sibling of mine was hospitalized because she has a mental illness, I would tell them that they are full of it, and run to my sibling’s bed side and get them out. I would not be receptive to the idea that she had a mental illness, or that anyone else could either.

    I tell you this now. But the whole truth is, that for this to happen, my sibling and I would already need to be forced apart. And regrettably this has indeed already happened.

    I’m going to start a new thread about the arrest of a local homeless man who is widely perceived to be “crazy”.
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/free-expression-f2.html

    This is a man who has been abandoned, by each of his parents, and by all of his siblings. But each of these estranged family members has very likely also been abandoned.

    So “eating disorder” is a polite way of saying that someone has a particular strain of mental illness. I see developmental disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder the same way. They are saying that the person has something wrong with them.

    This only works when family members have already given up on them. And that is only going to be the case when our whole society has taken the view that anyone who does not measure up to expectations, is to be given up on.

    Okay, so now if I am understanding your correctly, your parents never said you had a mental illness or an eating disorder. And you didn’t think you had a mental illness or an eating disorder either. But you went to a therapist over eating issues, and then it was down hill from there. And the doctors and your parents basically gave up on you, because they accepted these interpretations.

    I am glad that you did not give up and that you are still committed to finding the truth. This is what is most encouraging about your posts.

    What I have said is that the middle-class family often scapegoats one or more children. This could be Medical Munchausen’s. But it could also by psychiatric or developmental disorder Munchausen’s. Or it could be just plain old fashioned delinquency and salvation status Munchausen’s.

    And then there are going to be families where it is not explained in any of these ways, but there is still some difficulty between a child and one or more of their parents. Then sometimes doctors will come in and supply the label.

    I think now of this Autism Advocate Nick Dubin.

    http://www.amazon.com/Autism-Spectrum-Sexuality-Law-professional/dp/1849059195/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464897738&sr=1-3&keywords=nick+dubin

    He is obviously a very intelligent person. But I find his views and his writing to be complete non-sense. He is absolutely convinced that he suffers from this “neurological difference” referred to as ASD or Asperger’s. And he was not diagnosed with this until his mid 20’s.

    He explains all the things about this which make him different from other people, all the things he is not able to do. But I read his own writing and I see that he is way above average in each of these areas.

    I see that he spends lots of time with his parents. His view is that there is nothing wrong. But I read his accounts, and I read parts of his books written by each of his parents, and I feel that his mother finds him to be an embarrassment to such an extent that he makes her skin crawl. No, none of them come out and say this, but I read their writings and this is what I feel. And I note that both parents are university faculty and they have also had many years of working with an Autism therapist, essentially learning how to conceal what their real feelings are. I see that the father is the glue person, spending many hours per week on the telephone with Nick, basically trying to placate the mother who likely wishes Nick would die. This is not what the books literally say, but this is how I read them.

    So it is possible that someone could be deeply hated by one parent, and the other parent, largely agreeing with the first, spends lots of time, energy, and money trying to be the white hat and keep communications from completely ceasing.

    And then about Nick Dubin was also the unacceptance of his homosexuality, and the fact that he was in abusive school environments.

    He traveled to Europe for a tennis tournament and he was attracted to Amsterdam’s Red Light District. But in fact he spent most of his time in those years driving home hundreds of miles each week to be with his parents, or driving around in his car for hours and hours looking for residential neighborhoods which resemble the place his parents live.

    Nick wants to hire a female sex surrogate because he believes he has a problem. His father is horrified about that possible crossing of legal lines. So we find Nick contracting the services of a prostitute in a licensed Nevada brothel. This long planned and arranged encounter resulted in nothing except huge shame and embarrassment.

    So I see Nick Dubin as someone with a crushed spirit, and an unwillingness to live. And I see the primary culprits as being his mother and father, and also our society which supports The Middle-Class Family and the exploitation of children which this entails.

    As I see it, the Middle-Class Family wounds you. The way it does this is via the social and emotional isolation, and by the fact the that parents are living in Bad Faith. I mean this in the Existentialist sense, of not living up to their own values, not admitting that they have choices. So they are having children in order to use them.

    Every society imprints on children in all sorts of ways. But the Middle-Class is unique in that they are people who really do have choice, but they decide not to admit it. So the ones who suffer are the children. The scapegoat is the one who is so severely targeted that they cannot live the denial systems.

    So then once one has been harmed in this way, they are easy targets for psychotherapy, psychiatry, evangelical religion, and the recovery movement. They will also very likely suffer horrible intimate relationships and have a very hard time in employment and getting a suitable education.

    So while I could go on and on and come up with example after example. I want to hold it here for now. And again, please accept my apologies if I have said anything which you find offensive or excessively intrusive.

    I feel that many of those most severely exploited and harmed by the middle-class family, have no idea whatsoever that this has happened.

    But this does not mean though that I am going along with doctors who said you had a mental illness or a brain disease, or that your mother caused this. This gets into much more involved philosophical issues.

    One thing I am certain of, is that we each must do everything we can to find the truth. The doctors try to stop this, stop us from finding the truth. I they are not able to stop us, then they would have to face their own pain. They are doctors and they prey on others because they do not want to face their own pain.

    I know from your voluminous posting that you are committed to finding the truth. So please do continue posting and continue to keep us informed.

    My own forum has a PM capability and with it people might also exchange emails. I feel that communicating and organizing is essential.

    I’m going to hold it here, for now.

    Nomadic

  11. And also, just to clarify, as I know this is sensitive. My intent here is not to offer some alternative type of diagnosis, Middle-Class Family Survivorship as opposed to Mental Illness.

    Rather it is my view that our entire society has some extremely serious problems, and the people who show some signs of this are often those who are the least harmed. Those most harmed are our normals.

    Nomadic