Dr. Jay Joseph: Why Schizophrenia Genetic Research is Running on Empty


This week on MIA Radio we interview Dr. Jay Joseph. Dr. Joseph is a clinical psychologist and author who brings a critical perspective to claims in the media and the academic literature that disordered genes underlie psychiatric disorders.

His most recent books are The Trouble with Twin Studies: A Reassessment of Twin Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences and the 2017 e-book Schizophrenia and Genetics: The End of an Illusion.

In this interview, we discuss the evidence that psychiatry puts forward in support of the claim that mental disorders have an important genetic basis and the reasons why psychiatry is still searching after many decades of failed attempts.

In the episode we discuss:

  • How Dr. Joseph, as a clinical psychologist, came to be interested in the validity of the diagnosis of schizophrenia.
  • How he then became interested in the assertions by psychiatry that diagnoses such as schizophrenia had a genetic basis.
  • That he discovered that the evidence for genetic factors underlying major psychiatric disorders is very weak and based mainly on twin and adoption studies.
  • That, despite decades of work, there have been few if any discoveries of disordered genes that cause the major psychiatric disorders.
  • How twin and adoption studies are used to try and demonstrate the relationship between genetics and mental disorders.
  • That people are being told that their mental illness is genetically based which is not supported by evidence and it is rather like the chemical imbalance myth in this regard.
  • That a disorder or condition ‘running in the family’ means that it is ‘genetic’ is also a common misconception.
  • That psychiatry seems to be focused on finding the ‘cause’ of mental disorders within the body, rather than acknowledging that social and environmental factors are the main causes of trauma, distress, and psychological dysfunction.

Relevant links:

Dr. Jay Joseph

Schizophrenia and Genetics: The End of an Illusion

Bias and Deception in Behavioral Research

Schizophrenia Genetic Research – Running on Empty

To get in touch with us email: [email protected]

© Mad in America 2017


  1. Myself , as a supposed schizophrenic, I enjoy the information of that biological psychiatry’s days are numbered at time index 17:08 of the audio.
    Another highlight for me is at time 19:16 the ideas of Thomas Szasz is mentioned. If they find proof in the genes then its neurological disease not mental illness.

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    • A psychologist I greatly respect puts forth the following list of causes:

      “As children, schizophrenics suffer four injuries: 1) insufficient bonding that includes sensory deprivation and a profound lack of touch. They feel invisible, transparent and porous, as if they don’t have a container in which to exist; 2) intrusive parents who presume to read the child’s mind with invasive messages like, “I know what you are really thinking,” “I know you don’t mean what you said,” “No one would believe you;” 3) a major mind-blowing, terror-producing experience where no one says, “Wow, that was terrible!” or, “Wow, that was wrong!”‘ and 4) the child is not allowed his own point of view or perspective and cannot safely tell anyone how his life is going.”

      “It must be specifically said that the way psychiatrists historically treated their patients was schizogenic. In other words, if a parent treated her child the way psychiatrists treated their patients, the child would have become psychotic. As you will later read, the way to induce schizophrenia is to acutely or chronically injure a child, to then negatively and intrusively redefine that injury and his resulting feelings and thoughts so that the suffering was not suffering after all and the treatment was said to be humane. The child will never be allowed to recall the truth of what actually happened or express his authentic feelings. Feelings and memories are forever forbidden in order to protect the identity and interests of the abuser.”

      “Due to sensory deprivation from lack of touch, a bombardment of parental projections and a lack of quality personal interaction and communication around the child’s feelings and truth, the subconscious becomes more vivid and hallucinations begin to superimpose over reality when there is no real, material support. Traumatic experiences are definitive.”

      “lack of touch + intrusive parenting + extreme mental abuse + repression”

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      • I clearly remember my father spanking me, and then my crying. Then my father would say to me, “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”
        Then I would think to myself, “Gee, Dad, I already DO have something to cry about!”
        I can laugh now. But no wonder I got a bogus diagnosis and a prescription for psych drugs when my parents took me to a psychiatrist in High School!
        Psychiatry and it’s poison pills have done, and continue to do, far more harm than good.
        So-called “schizophrenia” is in fact an STD. It’s really a “socially-transmitted disease”.

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    • Similarly, psychologist Dr. Bertram Karon puts forth: “Schizophrenia is a chronic terror syndrome. All of the symptoms of schizophrenia are either manifestations of the terror or defenses against it. Chronic terror blanches out most other emotions, which led Eugen Bleuler to the erroneous conclusion that schizophrenics have no affect. Many patients are helped by being told in the first or second session that you will not let anyone kill them.

      Schizophrenia is not genetic, 85% of patients do not have a first-order relative who has the diagnosis. Schizophrenia is not primarily a physiological disorder, the disordered physiology is the result of the chronic terror. The physiological changes are the same that everyone experiences when we are terrified. Of course there are also physiological changes which are the effect, usually destructive, of the psychiatric medications.

      It is now known that schizophrenics typically have suffered multiple traumas, as well as lesser bad experiences. Most of the traumatic experiences do not get in to the hospital record, but if you listen to the patients you will eventually learn about them. I have never treated a schizophrenic patient whose life as experienced by the patient would not have driven me, or anyone I could conceive of, crazy. People do not get sick because life has been good to them.” http://healingwithdrcraig.com/video-films-radio/schizophrenia-is-a-chronic-terror-syndrome-not-genetic-dr-bertram-karons-acceptance-speech-for-empathic-therapist-award/

      So, the causes of “schizophrenia” are known, by some, but as of now their voices are rarely listened to or heard in the mainstream, and there is a strong current of blindness to or avoidance of looking at and naming disordered parenting as causative

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  2. I have been thinking about this problem with the genes…I don’t think genetic research concerning schizophrenia should be slowed down…we still don’t know that much….we need to research every possible angle…this is a terrible thing to have…

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    • Let’s say we discover that, say, 10% of cases of “schizophrenia” (whatever that is) have a genetic contribution. What do we do with that? What benefit is there to know this? How will it help us help people who suffer in this particular way?

      We already know that traumatic exposure in childhood has an 80+% correlation to psychotic problems. We have not found anything close to even 15% correlation with genetics, even when multiple genes are included as well as multiple “disorders.” And you can’t do ANYTHING about genetics anyway! Why don’t we spend our time and energy dealing with the 80% effect that we actually CAN do something about, instead of wasting billions researching something that isn’t even within our control? Does that make sense to you?

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        • Supposing you identify a subgroup that has a certain gene. What would you suggest could be done to help these people as opposed to those who do not? This is not even considering the fact that 40 years of genetic research has failed to turn up any gene that explains more than a tiny fraction of any psychiatric disorder, or even of the vast majority of known physiological problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. But say we did discover such a gene – what would be the intervention?

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          • Which is why it’s pretty much a waste of time. We know that heart disease is heritable, but there is no gene or set of genes that “cause” heart disease, because there are SO many variables that go beyond genetics that there is no way to even identify the genes that might convey vulnerability. Stress, style of eating, exposure to toxic substances, lack of exercise, diabetes, smoking, legal drug exposure (antipsychotics are particularly horrible in this area) and on and on. If this is true for heart disease, something you can visibly see and measure, how much MORE true is it for “mental disorders,” which are defined solely on behavior and emotional experiences that are far more affected by post-birth variables than heart disease.

            It’s just a losing proposition, which is why they’ve never found a genetic basis for any of these “mental illnesses” as defined by the DSM. The definitions are made up based on social concerns. Why would all people who are depressed, anxious, intense, easily bored, etc. all be that way for the same reason? Why would we assume they have anything at all in common besides their behavior?

            We’d be much better off spending our time and money reducing poverty and childhood trauma, and assisting immigrants with their integration into new cultural milieus. We might also learn a lot from studying cultures where recovery rates are WAY higher than ours, like Columbia and Nigeria and India. Interestingly, one thing those countries have in common is using a lot less antipsychotic drugs!

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          • It would depend on the subgroup you’re talking about. The first problem is that schizophrenia is a syndrome and not a disease unto itself, which is why much of this alleged research has such a close resemblance to humbug. Secondly, not being a single origin disease, the schizophrenias won’t all respond well to the same treatment, unlike, say, viruses, many of which will respond to megascorbate, the only differences being in the quantities you have to use to get a major response,

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  3. whatever we say here will not remove the importance of understanding causes…and causes are found in the interaction of biology/psychology/sociology…all three ….not one or the other…that is why it is so hard to understand …..we will know more as we go along…

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