No “Evil Genes”
Saturday August 18, 2007
Dear Alice and Barbara
After reading a readers mail from August 16, I will like to make a comment on the assumed link between behavior and genes. I will refer to the works of Jay Joseph, who have analyzed the claims of the geneticists about links to psychiatric disorders and behavior in general and their “research” that are supposed to back it up, from the foundation of the eugenics movement in the 19th century up until today.
Recent genetic molecular research have not identified genes for any psychiatric conditions nor for any wicked or antisocial behavior (which by the way often are categorized as psychiatric conditions). As the honest German psychiatric geneticist Peter Propping admits (2005): “Whereas genetically complex traits are being successfully pinned down to the molecular level in other fields of medicine, psychiatric genetics still awaits a major breakthrough” (Joseph 2006, p.221).
The claims of the connection between psychiatric conditions, (all sorts of) behavior, and genetics is therefor based in most part on family, twin, and adoption studies. As Joseph points out, they do not bring any evidence for genetic connections, since they all are plausibly explained on environmental grounds plus error.
As Joseph puts it in a letter to the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, criticizing an article by Kenneth Kendler (2005):
“Dr. Kendler noted that the “low” replication level for linkage findings “contrasts strikingly with the high level of consistency seen in the results of genetic epidemiologic studies—for example, the results of family and twin studies of schizophrenia” (p. 7). In fact, there is no “striking contrast” between these results if they are viewed as evidence supporting a purely environmental etiology for psychiatric disorders. Environmental theories predict 1) familial clustering, 2) a higher concordance of identical versus fraternal twins, and 3) a failure to find genes, and this is what we find”. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/162/10/1985
I will recommend the books of Jay Joseph, The Gene Illusion (2003) and The Missing Gene (2006). The books are described here: http://www.jayjoseph.net/GeneIllusion.html http://www.jayjoseph.net/MissingGene.html
Warmly, V. J.
AM: Thank you for your letter. We publish it for people who have not yet fully understood how the dynamic of child abuse works and how the myth of the bad child serves to take out the endured abuse on one’s own children. People who have understood this dynamic don’t need any “scientific” proofs of this kind. They know that neither mental illness nor extreme cruelty come from bad genes. And they know WHY.