Brain Disease or Existential Crisis?
As the schizophrenia/psychosis recovery research continues to emerge, we discover increasing evidence that psychosis is not caused by a disease of the brain, but...
Mental Health Professionals Critique the Biomedical Model of Psychological Problems
While a great deal of the excitement about advances in psychological treatments comes from the potential for research in neuroscience to unlock the secrets of the brain, many mental health experts would like to temper this enthusiasm. A special issue of the Behavior Therapist released this month calls into question the predominant conception of mental illnesses as brain disorders.
The Trouble with Twin Studies
As most readers are aware, it is widely believed that both within and without of psychiatry genetic factors play an important role in causing major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, ADHD, autism, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Twin studies provide the main pillar of support for this belief which is often, though mistakenly, presented as a scientific fact.
The Genetics of Schizophrenia: A Left Brain Theory about a Right Brain Deficit in...
In recent months, two teams of researchers in the UK and the US published complementary findings about the epigenetic origins of schizophrenia that have scientific communities who indulge in ‘genetic conspiracy theories’ abuzz. While these results are intriguing, and no doubt involve pathbreaking research methodologies, this line of thought represents a decontextualized understanding both of the symptoms that are typically associated with schizophrenia, and their causes.
Large German Anti-Stigma Campaign Shows Little Effect on Attitudes
“Overall, this study showed that the information and awareness campaign had almost no significant effects on the general public's attitudes toward people affected by either schizophrenia or depression,” the researchers, led by German medical sociologist Anna Makowski, wrote. “One could assume that deeply rooted convictions cannot be modified by rather time-limited and general activities targeted at the public.”
Schizophrenia and Genetics: A Closer Look at the Evidence
“The substantial hereditary component in schizophrenia,” a pair of researchers wrote in 1993, “is surely one of the two or three best-established facts in psychiatry.” But is it really? For mainstream psychiatry and psychiatric genetics, schizophrenia is “a severe mental disorder with a lifetime risk of about 1%, characterized by hallucinations, delusions and cognitive deficits, with heritability estimated at up to 80%,” or a “highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorder of complex genetic etiology.” Many commentators have challenged these claims, and some have challenged the concept of schizophrenia itself.
Researchers Develop New Model for Understanding Depression
Acknowledging that current depression treatments are failing many people, researchers from Michigan State and MIT have developed a new model for understanding how multiple psychological, biological, social and environmental factors contribute to depression.
Why Precision Psychiatry is Not a Paradigm Shift
A letter just published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that “precision psychiatry” is not the paradigm shift it’s purported to be by the psychiatric establishment.
Study Links Antidepressants and Decreased Coping Behaviors Across Generations
Biologists found that exposure to antidepressants suppresses important survival behaviors in zebrafish, an effect that persisted across three generations and was found to be more severe for males.
New Study Raises Doubts About fMRI Neuroimaging Research
More than forty thousand papers have been published using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to explore the brain. A new analysis of the common...
Brain Imaging Results Biased by Lack of Representative Data
What does "normal" brain development throughout childhood look like? It may depend on your demographics.
Comments on Jeffrey Lieberman and Ogi Ogas’ Wall Street Journal Article on the Genetics...
The March 3rd, 2016 edition of the Wall Street Journal featured an article by past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Jeffrey Lieberman and his colleague, computational neuroscientist Ogi Ogas. The article was entitled “Genetics and Mental Illness—Let’s Not Get Carried Away.” In their piece, the authors started by expressing the belief that a recent study identified a gene that causes schizophrenia, and then discussed whether it is desirable or possible to remove allegedly pathological genes in the interest of creating a future “mentally perfect society.” The authors of the article, like many previous textbook authors, seem unfamiliar with the questionable “evidence” put forward by psychiatry as proof that its disorders are “highly heritable” In fact, DSM-5 Task Force Chair David Kupfer admitted that “we’re still waiting” for the discovery of “biological and genetic markers” for psychiatric disorders.
The Deeper Genome: New Research Findings in Genomics and Epigenomics
In our field, there is a significant “missing heritability” between rates of “schizophrenia” in monozygotic twins and the combined reduced influence of genetic variants identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The 80% figure often given as a heritability factor is somewhat misleading for students in our field who do not know how the H2 statistic is derived and various ways of deriving it. Through extensive molecular biological research of the most recent studies on monozygotic twins I have derived a theory which will make a much stronger case for socioenvironmental influences on what was previously though of in classically genetic terms.
Twin Studies are Still in Trouble: A Response to Turkheimer
Human behavioral genetics and its allied field of psychiatric genetics are in trouble, as unfulfilled gene discovery expectations during the “euphoria of the 1980s” have continued to the present day, leading to researchers’ “nonreplication curse” dysphoria of the 2010s. In my recent book The Trouble with Twin Studies: A Reassessment of Twin Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, I presented a detailed argument that genetic interpretations of the common “classical twin method” finding that reared-together MZ twin pairs resemble each other more (correlate higher) for behavioral characteristics than do reared-together same-sex DZ twin pairs are invalid because, among other reasons, the twin method’s crucial MZ-DZ “equal environment assumption” (EEA) is false.
It is Time to Abandon the Candidate-Gene Approach to Depression
The candidate-gene approach to depression goes unsupported and is likely based on bad science, new research finds.
Twin Studies and the “Nonreplication Curse” in Psychiatric Molecular Genetic Research
Psychiatric molecular genetic research has failed to discover genes that underlie the major psychiatric disorders, the existence of which twin and adoption studies are assumed to have established. "Genome-wide complex trait analysis" (GCTA) was developed a few years ago as a means of solving what researchers call the "missing heritability" problem. One researcher believed that the new GCTA method would “drive a stake through the heart of” criticism of behavioral genetic theories and methods, and would finally put criticism of twin studies “to rest.” The opposite scenario appears to be playing out, however, as leading behavioral genetic and psychiatric genetic researchers struggle to prevent some recent negative GCTA findings and the obvious false assumptions underlying twin research from driving a stake through the heart of twin studies themselves.
Scientists Fight Against the Myth of the Normal or Optimal Brain
A new study out of Yale University uses evolutionary biology to debunk the idea that there is a “normal” or “optimal” brain.
Philosophers Challenge Psychiatry and its Search for Mechanisms of Disorder
Attempting to locate the mechanisms of psychiatric disorder is a step in the wrong direction and fails to challenge potentially unjust social practices.
“Bewitching Science” Revisited: Tales of Reunited Twins and the Genetics of Behavior
In this article I will attempt to debunk one of the great “scientific” smoke and mirrors shows of the past half century—the claim that stories of reunited separated MZ (monozygotic, identical) twin pairs indicate that heredity plays a major role in causing human behavioral differences. These stories, which are often used to sell the false ideology of genetic determinism, have entered the public imagination in a way that academic research results never could. Here I will show that these stories provide no evidence whatsoever that (as yet undiscovered) “genes for behavior” influence human behavioral development.
Biology and Genetics are Irrelevant Once True Causes are Recognized
The psychiatric genetics literature contains few references to specific environmental factors that cause psychiatric disorders, and while researchers acknowledge a role for these factors, they usually claim that environmental causes are mysterious or unknown. As a leading group of psychiatric genetic researchers recently put it, while claiming that schizophrenia “has a substantial genetic contribution,” the “underlying causes and pathogenesis of the disorder remains unknown.” But research suggests otherwise.
Large Study Finds Epigenetic Changes Associated with Trauma Explained by Smoking
A new study suggests that epigenetic changes that have been associated with trauma may actually be due to environmental toxins.
NIMH Funding Changes Threaten Psychotherapy Research
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is increasingly shifting its research emphasis toward attempting to uncover biomarkers for “mental diseases,” which may have dramatic consequences for research and training in clinical psychology. In an article to be published in next month’s Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Marvin Goldfried outlines how the shift in funding priorities for psychological research is tied to the needs of pharmaceutical companies and the biological model in psychiatry.
Large Rigorous Study Debunks Popular Gene-Environment Theory of Depression
A large and rigorous meta-analysis fails to find support for the gene-environment interaction theory of depression.
Researcher Urges Caution When Applying Genetics to Psychiatry
In a review editorial for the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, neurobiology researcher Steven Dubovsky from the University at Buffalo argues against the adoption of...
Ernst Rüdin’s Unpublished Family Study of “Manic-Depressive Insanity” and the Genetics of Bipolar Disorder
Although it is axiomatic in psychiatry that genetic factors are involved in bipolar disorder (manic-depression), and that they play a predominant role, there currently exists little if any scientifically acceptable evidence that bipolar disorder and other “affective disorders” are caused by disordered genes. Given almost 50 years of gene discovery claims that were not confirmed by replication attempts, we must assume by default that current gene finding claims are false-positive results as well. In the 1920s, pioneering psychiatric geneticist Ernst Rüdin decided against publishing his large family study of “manic-depressive insanity,” most likely because the results did not fit his theories of Mendelian inheritance, and failed to support his advocacy of eugenic policies.
12Page 1 of 2