Are mental health problems created by our genes?
Shared from Google News & Weather
“Genes play an important role because they establish the general tendency within which a person responds to the environment,” says Professor Richie Poulton, head of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit at the University of Otago.
“That gene-environment interplay explains why people react the way they do and why they develop the problems they have or, conversely, end up being very successful at certain things.
“So are we more a product of our nature or of our nurture? It is a combo.”
On the other hand, UK psychologist and psychotherapist Oliver James contends: “There is no evidence that psychiatric outcomes are caused by both genes and environment, the ‘bit of both’ theory. It is primarily the presence of childhood maltreatment or adult stress that is the causal factor, not variations in genes.”
As he writes in his new book Not in Your Genes: The Real Reasons Children Are Like Their Parents, we are who we are thanks to the “intergenerational transmission” of traits transferred not through nature but nurture. “Families are like dramas,” he writes, “and the parents’ own childhoods are the main scriptwriters which, in turn, are heavily influenced by their own parents’ and so on.”
For more than a century (longer if you include the philosophical jousting between Aristotle and Plato), the pendulum has barely paused. First it was nature, a darkly eugenicist argument for the selective reproduction of acceptable traits. Then BF Skinner’s radical behaviourism, regarding each newborn as a blank slate on which life, often parents, scratched their indelible mark. Back to nature and the promise of the Human Genome Project to explain family tendencies, likenesses in twins and psychological disorders.