Fixing Genes Won’t Fix Us


From The Boston Globe: Scientists’ focus on biology and genetics research downplays the role of socioeconomic factors in causing distress and health problems.

“Science is threatening a new era of ‘market-based eugenics,’ whereby gene editing in combination with in vitro fertilization techniques will allow us to engineer our way to a society with fewer instances of diseases like schizophrenia. The implications are enormous and one of the most complex ethical questions is central mission of the science itself. But the movement toward psychiatric genetics is also dangerous in its subtler message: The idea that social problems are biology problems can channel more resources to wealthy scientists while diverting it from social services.”

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  1. Surprising to see something so enlightened coming out of the Boston Globe! I am happy to see they mentioned adult neurogenesis. The whole idea that everything is set is stone once you reach a certain age has been long belied by the studies showing that older adults who continue to exercise their brains with learning and stimulating games are better able to fend off dementia. And the concept that we grow up once and then it’s done is extremely limiting and simply false. Lifelong learning, growth and change seems to me to be one of the hallmarks of our humanity. Of course the brain doesn’t stop growing and regenerating at age 18 or 25 or whatever age they’re embracing now. I’d even be willing to bet that epigenetic changes can be reversed and gene activation changes as ones environment changes!

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  2. The first victims of Nazi Germany weren’t Jews. They were people who’d been given psychiatric labels. Back then, theory held that schizophrenia and other such psych conditions were inherited … exactly like today…

    Somewhere between one-fifth and one-quarter million people diagnosed with schizophrenia were sterilized or annihilated in this first step along the way towards the genocide of so many others, including homosexuals, intellectuals, gypsies, and Jews. That was somewhere between 73% and 100% of all people considered psychiatrically defective who were murdered or sterilized between 1939 and 1945

    If a nation murdered and sterilized an estimated 73% to 100% of its diagnosed schizophrenics, yet a generation later that nation had a higher rate ofincidence of new cases of schizophrenia than did surrounding nations, shouldn’t we have questions about the claim by the mental health establishment that schizophrenia is highly heritable?

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