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The Latest On The Mad Gene Chase

Before anyone gets too excited about the supposed genetic links to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that have been bandied about by the media of late, a few relevant pieces of information might help to temper that enthusiasm.

Schizophrenia according to the National Institute of Mental Health afflicts 2.4 million adults, or 1.1% of the population of the United States. Bipolar disorder according to the NIMH statistics affects 5.7 million people, or 2.6% of the overall population.

The latest genetic research on the subject seems to be that pertaining to the ABCA13 gene which would be linked to both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. According to a Times of India article on this research, Gene linked to schizophrenia discovered:

“We found that the gene was involved in 4 per cent of individuals with bipolar and 2 per cent of people with schizophrenia. This is quite significant, since we think that these disorders are caused by hundreds or even thousands of genes,” he [Dr. Allan McRae] said.

Wait a minute! Who does this doctor think he is fooling?

Apparently we’re talking 4% of 2.6% of the population, and 2% of 1.1% of the population. These are incredibly shrinking odds if you ask me. Certainly these fractions of fractions are by no means any smoking gun.

What this research seems to be saying is that 98% of the schizophrenic population and 96% of the bipolar population remain completely unaffected by this particular genome.

I don’t see in this research anything having to do with environmental factors, social factors, self-control, nor resilience and recovery. Just think, maybe other factors play a much more significant role in the development of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder than the gene these researchers are looking at.

One Response

  1. I go nuts when people tell me that “it has now been proven that there is a genetic cause of mental illness”.

    Like you say in the post the so called gene, possibly one of “thousands” occurs in a very small fraction of those diagnosed. The “gene” also occurs in people who have no diagnosis.

    That the “gene” is found slightly more frequently in those diagnosed than not is touted as proof, even though, and as well, the numbers being very small anyway.

    Also the average person who may kind of think they understand and agree with the shrinks, is unaware that they have had to do multiple runs of databases so that they could even cherry pick this flimsy “evidence”.

    It would make more sense to say that the entire genome is the gene “for” “mental illness”.

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