Genetics and a Book Recommendation


I woke up feeling blank as usual and lay in bed in this robe that, honestly, I’m getting sick of feeling on my skin. I spent twenty minutes . . . a half hour . .  . an hour staring at the wall listening to thoughts pass behind my eyes that made no sense at all and then, because I’m terrified of spiders and always wonder about them, put my ear to my wall wondering if I could hear them scurrying around in the wood. No such luck.

After that charade was over I figured I’d trudge out into the kitchen and get some food before my stomach killed me.

It’s two in the afternoon.

I sat at this computer with my food, purposefully avoiding the second email from my previous employer, and got prepared to stare at a screen for another twenty hours.

5231811-a-bowl-of-spilled-neopolitan-ice-cream-on-white-carpet-that-is-melting-stock-photoDays mesh together like strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate in a bowl in 100 degree weather, and I’m sure I’ve mastered the art of existing, regardless of the circular philosophy you send yourself in at an attempt at defining it.

That being said, thank you to those of you sending encouraging words. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like much to just send a positive word to someone but just reading them reminds me I’ve been through this before and can make it out alive yet again. What I will do after that I have no idea. For now, I’ll ride the wave until it crashes on the shore. Whenever that may be.

All of THAT being said, I opened my flipboard in hopes for some juicy content, something I could maybe thrust some sarcasm in, twist, and rip a few organs to shred.

I found a gem but not one to mock, one to bring attention to.

I wish it were longer. But I suppose keeping it short these days guarantees more people will take the time to read. I know it helped me get through the few paragraphs with this fucked attention span of mine. I used to be able to read, I don’t know what happened.

This article has to do with genes. It has to do with genes in relation to mental disorders, specifically schizophrenia, one disorder I feel we often attribute heritability to more often than any other. Is that because those of us in the psychiatric research world have no idea what goes on in the process of this disorder? You can bet your bottom dollar.

Do people still say that anymore?


That reminds me, there is a book I would recommend for anyone interested. It’s called “Of Spirits and Madness: An American Psychiatrist in Africa”. By Paul Linde M.D. He discusses the lives of 9 patients he treated while in Africa, the majority of whom were suffering psychosis, mania, schizophrenia, or a combination of the three. He speaks of getting accustomed to 1) greeting everyone in the hospital every morning as a cultural requirement, 2) learning their customs 3) realizing how absent spirituality is in western medicine these days. He often asked him self “is there a possibility this person is cursed/possessed by his ancestors as the African healers suggest?” He often found the healers methods worked at times.

In Africa going to a Psychiatrist is a last resort. 

In Africa their go-to medication was Thorazine.

In Africa they don’t care about “how” an illness came about, they care about “why”.

750825-_uy400_ss400_It’s an interesting read. I’ve been going to the library and reading a chapter or two because I still owe them 50 cents and I don’t want to pay it.

Anyway, the article I read today had nothing to do with Africa. The article I read, which you can also read here is entitled “There are no ‘schizophrenia genes’ and here’s why”. Written by a couple of professors.

We all know there’s a big uproar about this, about finding a single gene to link to a mental disorder so we can finally have that biological cause that absolutely means . . .

literally, nothing.

But we want it anyway. So we spend millions on trying to find that gene rather than improving treatment standards and training professionals to help those with the disorder live the life they want to.


These professors pinpoint the real issues about these genetic studies.

The “Rosetta Stone” gene that got published last year? The one I remember hearing about? On Flipboard?

Studied on mice and had already not been linked to schizophrenia in a 2012 study.

Harvard, good old Ivy League Donate-To-Us-And-We’ll-Give-You-A-Full-Ride-Scholarship-Especially-If-You’re-ethnic-Unless-You’re-Asian, University claimed they produced “a landmark study that provides the first rigorously tested insight into the biology behind any common psychiatric disorder”. Now if that doesn’t already sound ridiculous (it should), the findings which showed the genetic link incredibly tiny, minuscule even, got exaggerated. As usual.

sn-genetransferThere are hundreds of genes that have found to have a tiny effect, a tiny link, to all psychiatric disorders. Including Anxiety. Including depression. Including things like Autism.

This paragraph explains these warped views better than I could have summarized. I couldn’t taint this perfection with my sloppy vocabulary:

The high heritability estimates reported in earlier quantitative genetic studies don’t rule out environmental influences, but have discouraged researchers from taking social causes seriously. But we now know that there are proven strong associations between psychosis and a range of social risk factors, such as exposure to impoverished and urban environments, migration, childhood traumas (sexual or physical abuse and bullying by peers), and recent adverse experiences in adulthood. So why does the genetic story about mental illness continue to appeal?

What’s funny is that a link to an article below is entitled “Study reveals genetic secrets behind Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder”.

Give me a fucking break here, you guys. Really.

Why does the genetic story about mental illness continue to appeal? Quick fix possibility? Kill the baby before it’s born so it doesn’t suffer? An obsession with the “how” and nothing more? Another reason to call yourself defective maybe? Another reason to prove you’re not part of the average population?

What do you think?




6 thoughts on “Genetics and a Book Recommendation”

  1. Interesting…just read a similar article today about genetic links to schizophrenia. It mentioned how much more complicated it was to trace than they originally thought. That instead of finding a single genetic culprit, it was more like a symphony of genes interacting in specific ways.
    I think with mental illness they see a hereditary link, where the illness may run through different generations in a family, so they think perhaps they can find a genetic root cause, that may lead to better treatments and earlier medical interventions. At least that’s what is claimed I’m sure. Being slightly more cynical myself I’m sure the genetic path is pursued because it could lead to a potential financial windfall, with patents for testing and new drugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s usually how it goes with genetics anyway, they should know that. They should know that from the Belyaev experiments, that genes often influence each other, that they mix, and that they rarely ever act on their own.

      Yeah I agree, that’s usually what they claim but I laugh at it, I doubt they’ll ever find what they’re looking for, at least not at the standard they’re looking to find it. Definitely agree with your view, I”m pretty sure the point is to find new drugs and boost that already booming business. Oh, and thanks for commenting! Hope you are well.

      Liked by 1 person

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