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What is a contradiction in terms? Perhaps it is today’s headline….

The mad gene hunt gets odder and odder. The headlines are more and more becoming fit fodder for late night television comedy. The Times of India had this to say.

Childhood adversity ups genetic disorder risk

You can imagine the faces of their collective readership registering shock and dismay. “Are children really having that much unprotected sex!?”

1. Childhood adversity is an environmental factor
2. Genetic make up is a biological factor

Either/or, according to researchers, is trying awfully hard to be a both/and. Good luck with that!

This brings us back to an even more prehistoric question: which came first, the chicken or the egg? How can childhood adversity equal genetic disorder? Uh, actually, it can’t.

If you have a genetic propensity that gets unleashed by environmental factors, you’re a gulled victim of the mad gene con. Not to fret, there is a solution to this matter. Kiss your happy childhood back, and forget about it.

Do not call us. Do not try to sue. You have no rights. You cannot win. There is nothing you can do about anything. This is science, baby! You’ve fallen into the bad childhood bad genes black hole.

22 Responses

  1. You know, this is a really sticky subject. At least adult patients have a chance of escape from misdiagnosis and inaccurate drugging. Children are so vulnerable and parents are so willing to believe doctors. There needs to be a mandate restricting tampering with children. If children is encountering adversity, then love and encouragement are what they need, not mental illness diagnoses. As if those are going to help them cope with their peers, for goodness’ sake. If the parents are the problem then get the children out and into good foster homes. And stop treating children in foster homes like an incarcerated experimentation pool.

  2. Correction: “If children are encountering adversity..”

    • If children are encountering adversity, they are likely to receive a “mental disorder” label. It’s pretty easy to read: encountering adversity = troubled. Theory has it troubled = genetic predisposition. I don’t think we have anything here but confusion, G. M. Genes don’t make people troubled, troubles make people troubled. These doctors are stretching matters a little bit too far to remove selected specimens of a species from the species. The different must be genetically different, too. Especially for people who think that it’s bad to be different. The question remains, when are we going to start looking at these people as human beings rather than as victims of some kind of obscure genetic affliction? The genetic ruse is downright insulting. It’s not okay to suggest that African Americans are genetically inferior to the mass of humanity, but it’s okay to suggest that people who have received mental health treatment are genetically inferior to the mass of humanity. I’d say we have some kind of double standard here. I’d also say, no; it’s not okay. When you think of human beings as an effect of the environment upon genes, think of how much you are missing. Markps2 got it right when he claimed this pursuit of the mad gene was a witch hunt.

  3. Of course… why didn’t I think of it… the old epigenetic glucocorticoid methylation trick.

  4. That’s interesting stuff, Rod. All the more reason to keep pregnant ladies well supplied with pickle and ice cream!

    See, MFV, that is the problem. This new excitement over genetics is blinding people to the fact that we are going to have to deal with things in life and that those things are not always going to be easy to deal with. Everyone is heading for “Bowl of Cherries Syndrome”, whereby they seek instant gratification to alleviate the pain of living.

    Children must be protected from blundering tweakers. It is early days for this science and I do not want to see our children suffer for it. Learning how to cope with difficulty is part of growing up and doctors must not be allowed to create new generations of ill-equipped adults.

    Yes, troubles make people troubled but, as I have said before, it is how people deal with those troubles that indicates their level of mental health. This is why rehabilitation is so important. People need coping strategies in order to recover.

    Be assured that the mad gene witch hunt will continue.

    • The point, G M, is that children are NOT being protected. We’ve gone from a time when children were protected to a time when they’re being labeled left, right, and center. Childhood “mental illness” used to be a rarity. Now you’ve got labeled kids everywhere.

      Kids are being labeled with ADHD. Some of these kids have grown up, and now you’ve got adult ADHD. ADHD is seen as co-occuring with some of these newer kiddie disorders like Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder. The prognosis for ADHD is not so good. Some of these kids go on to be tagged with more serious “mental illness” labels while others manage to make their way into the world of criminality.

      We recently underwent a bipolar disorder boom with the introduction of childhood bipolar disorder. Cleaning up the mess created by this fiasco is leading to the creation of another entirely different disorder in the revised version of the DSM slated for publication in 2013. The introduction of this new disorder, temper disregulation. is not going to diminish the number of cases of childhood “mental disorders” we are currently dealing with by a single case.

      On top of the childhood bipolar disorder boom, the numbers of kids labeled schizophrenic, although low, has gone up. You can expect this number to continue rising into the future. The line between behavior that will get you a bipolar label, and behavior that will get you a schizophrenia label is just not that broad. People are less cautious about labeling kids completely bonkers when they are already labeling them anxious, slow learners, panicky, and you name it anyway.

      In foster care, and among kids in juvenile detention, the use of neuroleptic drugs for reasons for which they haven’t even been FDA approved are way way up there. Discipline is a breeze when you’ve got a sedative that can numb any kid into a submissive stupor. The problem is that these chemical restraints are very dangerious, and we’re going to get serious health complications out of them in the long run that will haunt us for years to come.

      Now you’ve also got parents saying “mental illness” has nothing to do with child rearing so don’t blame this on me. I suppose it might be a little different if we said “behavioral problems” instead. Technically you can’t run a hospital on misbehavior. The thing is, the only thing it takes to have a “diseased” kid is a kid and a psychiatrist. Bring your child problem to a shrink, and the shrink will conveniently give that problem a label, and a prescription of drugs with which to drug it into oblivion.

      The greatest reason for not labeling children is the damaged brains and the shortened lifespans that will come of the use of some the drugs used to treat serious “mental illness” labels. A “mental illness” label is not a good basis for life to start out on. Stop labeling kids with such frequency, and you’ve given them the kind of a chance they would not have had otherwise. Refraining from such labeling, somewhat disastriously, is not the trend that we are seeing.

      • Bang on.

      • I just had a look to see if any of the major children’s charities are doing anything about this and it would appear not. Given their mission statements they would have to take a look at the overwhelming evidence and I think that from there they would be in the best position to investigate. One has the issue of where the big donations come from again but contacting the charities with your knowledge of the background of all of this would be a start.

  5. The shrinks want to bet each way so they propose this bogus biology/environment idea. But biology is always in their equation since they consider themselves to be medical doctors.

    A typical scenario might use the “broken home” as the environmental factor in the story. Some products of broken homes will become pillars of society others will wear foil hats and shout incoherently in the street. Somehow this becomes an argument that supports the notion of a biological or genetic basis for behavioral aberration.

    They disingenuosly pretend that all broken homes are the same and act as a control leaving biology as the relevant variable.

    Same thing if it’s a city under siege. No one’s going to experience the same thing. It makes no sense to package the suffering as PTSD. Some survivors will go on to be “obsessive” about locking doors and storing food. You don’t need to be a shrink to know that and it makes no sense to diagnose these people as having a mental illness.

  6. Absolutely. Right up until that last bit.

    Of course it is true that not everybody will be affected in the same way under any circumstances, and I do not advocate packaging suffering.

    However there is dramatic incidence of collective PTSD amongst soldiers who have seen action in war zones:


    Some people go on to recover from their symptoms without treatment, others see it as normal to go through an adjustment period when returning to civilian life; then there are those who do not get better.

    When you talk about a “city under siege”, personal experience within that situation together with a person’s ability to cope will determine the outcome. But I think it is fair to say that being in that position erodes a person’s ability to cope.

    The sympathetic nervous system floods with adrenaline in response to danger; it is a survival mechanism. If you are in a city being bombed or you are a soldier being sent into dangerous situations, you are constantly having your system flooded. There is no escape to safety so the system stays on red alert. When this happens hard enough or long enough, people experience the same level of stimulation when there is no longer any danger. They are paranoid and perceive attack everywhere, reacting to, say, a car door slamming, or the sound of someone walking deliberately quietly whilst they are sleeping. They are beset with nightmares to warn them to stay on guard. It is exhausting and debilitating and they might seek peace in a bottle or with drugs, or worse.

    They can also become addicted to the adrenaline rush. Self-medicating recreates the danger response by causing drops in the blood sugar level. Adrenaline floods the system and raises the blood sugar level but also stimulates a fear response. Others are stimulated to find their adrenaline fix through activity, continuing until they collapse from exhaustion and fall into the only kind of sleep that gives them any peace.

    Soldiers brought home often want to go back to the front, where they feel they can operate. The fighting gives them the release they crave and without it some turn on those around them.

    This is really worth a look. There are some well thought out and heartfelt contributions from veterans. Trauma therapists, the author, doctors and others also comment. What people have to say reflects the debates we have here about the reality of mental illness:


    I recommend that, for a minimum, you start with number one by Been There, a female veteran; look at the first few, then jump to 41 – 48 and check out Geritol Ranger (veteran) and DocD (psychiatrist) going at it. Brilliant stuff.

    • I read the article and most of the comments. It’s a real can of worms for lots of reasons. But if war was fun and games for all concerned we’d have to invent something else with which to wreak revenge, maintain “honor”, threaten, kill and steal.

      Maybe it’s a bit like this:

      Everyday all over the world people are driving their vehicles into trees at 100 kph or headlong into other vehicles doing the same speed. Even if you are not impaled, rapid deceleration is almost certain to break you and you will die.

      This might not be considered healthy but it is a fact of the physics that exists in this world. Likewise with neoplasms, parasites, microbes and “toxins”. We might not like them but they are physics. They’re selection pressures and without them we would not be as we are.

      The members of any species have only evolved as far as to enable them to exist to this moment. There is no intelligent designer tweaking improvements with time. An organism only exists because it can. It doesn’t have to be able to handle every contingency.

      It doesn’t have to have “perfect”, or even a particularly “good” monitoring and feedback mechanism to control hormones and neurotransmitters. We are here posting and some of us have children so the mechanisms are sufficient to allow that.

      Does it make sense to lament abilities and facilities that we just don’t have? If a thing does not exist can it be said that the lack of this non existant thing is an illness?

      • The thing you are talking about not existing is enough emotional and mental resilience to cope with whatever transpires during one’s particular lifetime. Of course resilience exists. If it did not then we would all be gibbering wrecks instead of just 50% of us and counting.

        A person cannot handle every contingency and that can cause a breakdown in their imperfect monitoring and feedback system. If an organism is subjected to enough resilience eroding experiences, then that is exactly what will happen to them; their resilience will be eroded. This can happen over time or in one go, depending upon the severity of the experience(s), the amount of them, and the level of the individual’s resilience at the time of the experience(s).

        Some people are more resilient than others. There are those who are born resilient, those who achieve resilience, and those who have resilience thrust upon them. We are adaptable creatures, so we can ‘get on with it’ to a degree.

        Western societies have gone soft. In the US in particular, litigation is a driver for the mental illness explosion. The amount of mental distress caused by losing luggage or having a haircut go wrong is questionable, as are the endless permutations rolled out by defence attorneys. But that does not mean that nobody ever gets sick, Rod.

        Engine parts are only made to withstand a certain amount of stress before they break. So are we.

      • I tend to think, Rod, that a lack of abilities and facilities, for most of us, indicates a lack of interest rather than a lack of potential.

        GM, can resiliense be learned? Can a person’s capacity for resilience be developed like any other skill? There’s a good study question, don’t you think? Maybe you should look into it.

  7. I disagree with your remark to Rod, MFV. You only have to watch one of the plethora of talent competitions screened to see that interest often outweighs ability.

    Of course resilience can be learned or developed; that is what I said. It would come under “those who achieve resilience” and “those who have it thrust upon them” (and cope).

    That is why I say to you that treatment should be focused on strong rehabilitation programmes and the introduction of coping strategies rather than on drugs. In this way people will gain the skills they need to recover or to manage their conditions. Consider it ‘looked into’.

    • I don’t see that, G M. I see talent as ultimately subjective. You’ve got your arbiters–the judges, an audience, and the participant/contestants, but it is seldom good taste that wins. In my view, nobody ever failed alone, and likewise, nobody ever succeeded alone. I think what you’ve got going here has more in common with a popularity contest than anything else, and I’m not out to kiss the ass of Miss Congeniality. (Sure, perhaps this position represents a challenge to corrupting influence, but I’ve not been corrupted yet.)

      Rehabilitation presumes a broken or negative state. This is not always the case. Of course, mental “ill” health is determined by a doctor, not by a trial, and doctors make errors. This insight doesn’t seem to have caught up with psychiatry yet. I think a great deal of the personal problems people develop derive from unequal relationships to wealth and power. Work on those, and you’ve got your rehabilitation, a rehabilitation from the distress and disruption brought on by wealth and power disparities. I don’t think there is much of a mystery involved in the relationship between monetary depression and emotional depression. If a person feels like a failure, it may be because that person is a failure, but coming to this conclusion is not the same thing as turning one’s life around, and attaining the trappings of success.

  8. Please. There are people who sing well and there are those who don’t. There are people who picture complex equations in their heads and there are those who don’t. I am all in favour of people working at and achieving their dreams no matter what but I am not about to say that the tone deaf are going to set the airwaves alight any time soon. Interest outweighing ability is not restricted to talent competitions. Mediocrity is all around.

    We started out talking about a person’s ability to cope with high levels of stress anyway.

    Yes, I can see that kissing Miss Congeniality’s ass might require a shift in your position…

    You said:

    “Rehabilitation presumes a broken or negative state. This is not always the case.”

    If it is not the case then no rehabilitation is required.

    I think that determining someone’s mental state is not something that doctors ought to expect to achieve in a short space of time.

    Let us not forget that judges make errors too.

    Rehabilitation is about turning one’s life around. Some people need more help with that than others.

    Ah, “attaining the trappings of success”. Interesting how they are called “trappings”. True success does not revolve around wealth.

    • I apparently don’t take such a dim view of humanity as you do. Tone deafness is the exception to the rule, and when one is tone deaf then there are other talents. The same principle applies to color blindness. The academy awards suck big time! Who needs to hear what this actress or that was wearing for the evening? You can take the vanity of the lot of them, and flush it down the tubes. If you were to take a bunch of unknowns, and make a movie with them, the world would be none the worse. These rich actors and actresses are completely unnecessary when you can make your own. Ditto musicians. They’re producing a product that anyone else could produce as well. I’m not saying that it’s done by magic, no, as in Rome wasn’t built in a day, it takes time, patience, and mostly doing to get there. I just don’t think vain and spoiled egomaniacs are any more special than anybody else in the long run.

      The mental health/illness treatment world is a parenthetical world that I prefer to live without. Rehabilitation is working for no pay, and given the broken mental health/illness system we’ve got today, no hope of attaining post rehabiliation employment. Give me the real world any day of the week. I will leave you and anybody else that wants to go there to your parenthesis. I prefer life outside of the parenthesis.

  9. I have every respect for people with talent or without who get on and do it. But I have no interest in being personally subjected to someone’s talentless drivel whatever form it arrives in. And plenty arrives on a daily basis. The bar for what passes for entertainment is pretty low and I take a dim view of that.

    I was answering your “talent is subjective” remark. I disagree with it. What people like is subjective.

    On tone deafness:

    From the geniusblog:

    “Studies now show that virtually everyone can distinguish tonal differences and appreciate music (Dalla Bella et al, 2007). And while a tiny percentage of people truly cannot hear tonal differences due to some specific brain damage, “present findings suggest that tone-deafness may emerge as a pure output disorder….that poor singing may occur in the presence of normal perception. This possibility finds support in a recent study conducted with poor singers who exhibited pitch production deficits but normal pitch discrimination (Bradshaw & McHenry, 2005).”
    In other words, the vast majority of people who call themselves tone deaf (or who are mocked as such by friends and spouses) actually hear and perceive music perfectly well, and simply have a problem generating with their vocal chords the tones they hear in their brain.”

    Indeed they do. It is just a fact of life that not everyone is going to be a Whitney. People have to find their own voice. And yes, I say that deliberately in the context of what we speak of here. One’s voice is worth fighting for.

    And back to resilience:

    “According to referral agents, clients residing in
    respite have an experience of safety and an
    opportunity to experience a calm environment at a
    time of major turmoil. One referral agent argued
    that respite offered clients ‘greater self resilience
    especially using planned respite because the client
    feels in control and that is empowerment working’.”


    Click to access respite_care_in_christchurch.pdf

    A debate on celebrity is a whole new ball game, so in brief: It is a necessary diversion for the masses. It gives them something to dream of and aspire to that keeps them from paying attention to what is really going on. Essentially, it is propaganda.

    It is also big business and drives a number of industries. Blessed are the “vain and spoiled egomaniacs” for it would appear that they inherit the earth..

    The rehabilitation I am talking about has nothing to do with “working for no pay”. You are thinking of the US prison and mental health systems that now provide the slave labour that used to come from the black community. I am talking about person-centred rehabilitation that empowers and teaches resilience.

    To enter the “parentheses” you describe is a dangerous undertaking. People should be treated with kindness; it is amazing how much can be achieved through treating people with kindness. Care should be just that. Care.

    • I’m certain that there is much “talentless drivel”, but great art has to start somewhere. Sometimes that somewhere is in “talentless drivel”. Behavioral addictions are going to be introduced in the DSM-5. Although there will likely be an “internet addiction” in the appendix from the last reports I got on the matter, I believe that television programming has gotten so atrocious that nobody in their right mind would become addicted to watching it. This is not because of “talentless drivel”, this is because of the mindless commercialism that promotes “talentless drivel”. When learning becomes an addiction, I think you will see a talent level on the incline, too. Unless, of course, we find an effective cure for such a dangerious addiction before it arises.

      Wonderful, G M. In the vast majority of cases what we refer to as tone deafness is a learning deficit. I’d say that a “lack of talent” is pretty much the same thing. People have choices, of course. One can dig ditches, or one can be entertaining.

      Sorry, G M, I have more sympathy for the long suffering and self-sacrifing common citizens than I have for the rich and spoiled vain egomanaics that are going to inherit the world from them. The poor little rich kid bit gets old after awhile, and drama queens are nothing special, however inflated a value Hollywood, Inc. puts on them.

      I’ve personally known so called “person centered” so called “rehabilitation” that didn’t pay, and that didn’t even do much in the way of “rehabilitating”. Perhaps you have experienced another sort of “rehabilitation”. If so, my congratulations! I know it must beat the time-wasting warehousing ‘within the community’ that some of us have experienced. My own view is that sometimes a person can get along a lot better without the system than within it.

      Oh, the parenthetical existence I was speaking of works sort of like this, real world (mental health treatment world). I feel, at this point in time, much more at home in the world outside of the parentheses.

  10. Great art is rarely born of talentless drivel although talentless drivel is too often regarded as great art.

    Sure, mindless commercialism promotes talentless drivel, but it is the talentless drivel itself that people become addicted to.

    Learning is an addiction to some, but it is considered an acceptable addiction; providing that the results don’t completely upset the apple cart. Obsession is necessary.

    Talent is a natural ability that you either have or do not have. Tone reproduction can be improved upon if a person has no talent for singing, for instance, but it does not a natural talent make. It is true to say, however, that practice and determination will take you further than talent. Like I said, mediocrity is all around.

    I was being ironic about the “vain and spoiled egomaniacs”.

    No, I have not experienced person-centred rehabilitation. On the surface of it one would think that it would be a good thing. If it is not working then it needs to be revised accordingly. I agree that people can get along better without certain systems, but I do think that a lot more support is needed for people finding life impossible. This support should be provided without the overreaching desire to lock people up.

    I understood your parentheses the first time. I regard entering the mental health system you describe to be the “dangerous undertaking”.

    • Art is made by human beings. The distinction between “talentless drivel” and “great art” is often entirely a matter of bias. When you depart from the realm of human beings, and you enter the realm of the Gods, generally you are using much imagination.

      A “talentless drivel” addiction would, I suppose, have to be a “behavioral addiction”. I’m not in favor of inclusion of so called “behavioral addictions” in the DSM-5; in fact, I’m not in favor of psychiatric labeling or continued use of the DSM at all.

      Learning is not an addiction. Learning is a pain. This is why people who care so much about their pets can care so little about their neighbors. This is also why people are able to avoid registering the amount of damage done by psychiatric drugs so well. This is why guilty bystanders are so common.

      Much art is made almost in opposition to nature. Art is illusion. A spirit dominates it, surely, but the end product is a thing of smoke and mirrors (or, special effects if you’re into cinema). I’m not saying that it may not be difficult, elaborate and elusive. I wouldn’t put it “beyond talent”.

      I was not being ironic about “vain and spoiled ego maniacs”.

      I have experienced what purported to be “person centered” therapy, but I feel that there is a great deal of distance between the jargon and the reality. I’m not against support. I see the ‘warehousing’ of human beings as indicative of a broken system. Ditto the unaccountability of doctors who fail their patients. When we have a system that works to get people out of that system, we will have gotten somewhere. Encouraging people to find a niche in the ‘warehouse’ is not such a good idea. We get damaged and dead people out of doing so.

      Indeed, getting into the mental health system can be a “dangerous undertaking”, and a lot of undertaking is the result.

      • I agree regarding bias to a certain extent, or we would not have so much talentless drivel around(!)

        Tom Wolfe’s “The Painted Word” is a great read.

        I have been contemplating how much time one has to spend doing a thing for it to become an addiction. Better bang up those concert pianists and inject them with some mind altering drugs; they are clearly deranged.

        I think it only an addiction when it makes you miserable and you can’t stop.

        Some learning is a chore, it is true; but if it enables you to do something you want to do, it is necessary. When you start to progress, it makes you feel good about yourself. I do think that it can become an addiction and an avoidance strategy, however. That is not to say that I think it to be a treatable offence.

        I do not think it is necessarily a dislike of learning that causes these things. People get so caught up in their own lives and situations that they have little time for others. They are bombarded with all the ills on the planet, they become overloaded with information, and they just want to turn off the tap and watch their favourite television shows. Those who have the time and want to get involved with improving things have to make a choice about where they spend their energy. The situation is changing as more people become aware of what is going on, although. I do think the individual prosecution of drug tycoons who push drugs they know to be dangerous is necessary to ‘encourage’ stringency in the future.

        I think very little is beyond talent.

        You appeared to think that I was being literal was the point. It hasn’t been a stretch to figure out that you weren’t being ironic about the vain and spoiled egomaniacs..

        Yes, I agree with the rest. The accountability of doctors is something I am most in favour of. They get away with murder.

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