The Human Being As An Association of Genes

One article in Science Daily happened to catch my eye of late, Two Genes Do Not Make a Voter. The implication, apparently dispelled, was that a couple of genes, or four, or five, could determine a specific human behaviorial trait.

They use as an example a 2008 study by James H. Fowler and Christopher T. Dawes of the University of California, San Diego which claimed that two genes predict voter turnout. Charney and English demonstrate that when certain errors in the original study are corrected — errors common to many gene association studies — there is no longer any association between these genes and voter turnout.

Emphasis added.

If you keep reading you will find that these genes have been credited with having a great many unfounded attributes. Sloth on the part of citizens is not the only negative quality, vice is still too strong a word to use in this instance, some researchers would find inherited.

Charney and English also document how the same two genes that Fowler and Dawes claimed would predict voter turnout are also said to predict, according to other recently published studies, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia nervosa, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, depression, epilepsy, extraversion, insomnia, migraines, narcolepsy, obesity, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, postpartum depression, restless legs syndrome, premature ejaculation, schizophrenia, smoking, success by professional Wall Street traders, sudden infant death syndrome, suicide, Tourette syndrome, and several hundred other behaviors. They point to a number of studies that attempted to confirm these findings and could not.

Hmmm, I wonder how “extraversion” and “success by” “Wall Street traders” got thrown in there? I think it amusing how these are the exceptions that prove the rule. Our researchers don’t tend to be searching for success genes, but rather they tend to be looking for failure genes instead. I wonder why this is? I don’t get the impression that they’ve managed to remove many of these failure genes from the human gene pool yet.

“There is a growing consensus that complex traits that are heritable are influenced by differences in thousands of genes interacting with each other, with the epigenome (which regulates gene expressivity), and with the environment in complex ways,” Charney said. “The idea that one or two genes could predict something like voting behavior or partisanship violates all that we now know about the complex relationship between genes and traits.”

So much for the hunt for the non-voter gene. I imagine that would be the first step in determining which genes vote republican, which genes vote democrat, and which maverick genes out there happen to vote independent. Now what arrangement of thousands of genes, plus interactions, cause people to avoid the voting booth, and what arrangement of thousands of genes cause certain people to receive a “mental illness” label.

This kind of senseless endeavor could go on for a spell. Do you have forever? If you don’t know, flip a coin, and call the side you favor forever. The other side of the coin, of course, you can call never.

43 Responses

  1. People have been told that a genotype is a map or a blueprint. This is wrong.

    A genotype is a recipe. It’s a program that finds ingredients and bakes an embryo. Physics, the properties of the elements have allowed this to occur in this particular environment.

    It might appear that there is a one to one mapping that is expressed as a phenotype, such as a person having blue eyes. That is true but only so far in that it was done to the embryo.

    To suggest that there is a gene that will exert a pressure on a person to wear blue socks is ridiculous.

    • I think some people think some genotypes are bad recipes then. In their view these are genes that can exert a pressure on a person to have a predisposition to wear mismatching socks.

      Imagine searching for a genetic predisposition, and a genetic predisposition to have emotional problems. I don’t think anybody is going to get a satisfactory 100 % answer out of that one. You’re only going to come up with unfathomable and unproveable fractions. I feel any predisposition is going to be awfully hard to put one’s finger on. I figure, given enough pressure and stress, 100 % of the human population would have a predisposition to break, but we no longer have the absolute power necessary to test any proposition of the sort.

  2. If a person engages in data mining they can come up with a result that appears to show a correlation between a sequence of proteins in the DNA of the vegetables that a person purchases in the mall and then consumes with a propensity to purchase Japanese motorcycles having an engine capacity greater than 600 cc.

    A person can also come up with a correlation that appears to show that people with a particular diagnosis do well on Paxil.

    If those same people are asked if there is a correlation between Paxil and suicide they say that they have no evidence that this could be the case.

    An examiner could then ask, “If you were to apply the same methods that appear to show a correlation between the use of Paxil and better mental health to a study that linked the usage of Paxil to suicide could you be able to demonstrate a correlation of similar import”.

    • When you have drug companies doing research, of course, they’re going to exaggerate the good news, and they’re going to suppress the bad news. As GM said, it’s all about the money. Financial success is the big ticket here, even if it’s financial success at tending what are seen as the losers. It’s not profitable to take a long and hard look at what you’re doing. You’ve got competition, and you’ve got a business to run.

      We don’t have any solid proof that so called “mental illnesses” have any biological source at all despite talk of looking for bio-markers. Calling emotional disturbance “brain disease” is a clever gimmick designed to bolster and reinforce the status of psychiatry, as well as to deflect criticism. This creates a big theoretical and semantic dilemma for our researchers; if it’s “brain disease,” it’s physical, and if it’s physical, it can’t be “mental”. If you imagine a boat, you don’t have a boat in your head, literally.

      These researchers might point to brain scans displaying areas of the organ of thought dimmed or lit up by activity or lack of activity. One scan might show the brain of a non-labeled person while the other scan shows the brain of a person with a psychiatric label. We don’t really know what we’re looking at until they use MRI scanners on people with psychiatric labels who don’t take psychiatric drugs. Doing so would be a breach of standard practice, and so don’t expect that to take place a lot any time soon. We could be seeing the effects those chemicals used to treat “mental disorders” have on the brain. We could have an unstated, “this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs”, going on here.

      Now back to the first point, we know of no proof that there is a biological cause for emotional disturbance. Alright, but biological psychiatry has this theory, and so they’re on a mad gene hunt. If there is no mad biology then the theory that biological psychiatry is grounded upon is wrong, mad gene or no mad gene. It is entirely possible that life crises are not biological in nature. The research has recently just got funkier than ever with this epigenetic ruse stressing the effect of the environment on genes. Environment is not a matter of genes. Duh! The researchers in this field are trying to get around this lack of evidence by trying to have it both ways.

  3. Physical and mental are two sides of a piece of paper; you can’t separate them.

    Environment is not a matter of genes but gene expression might be a matter of environment.

    It makes sense to me in terms of species survival.

    There is a lot of interesting research at: and also at:

    I must go; I have a boat in my head and an inexplicable desire to put on my blue socks..

    • Physical is, we don’t call it the physical universe for nothing. Mental, on the other hand, are calculations about the physical universe. If those calculations are based on error, it’s not the universe you think it is.

      As much as psychiatry has attempted to reduce the Cartesian mind/body duality to a body singularity, people still think, and what they think about doesn’t always correlate with the laws of physics.

      Well, we could evolve camouflage, and that would take multiple centuries, or we could just don camouflage gear, and that would take a matter of minutes. I think we have mucho controll over our enviroment, and therefore, “gene expression” if we want it. We can’t really wait for that “gene expression” to match the environment. I’d think, yep, “genes” express themselves differently in an environment that is friendly than they do in an environment that is hostile.

      Species survival is considered a part of using our much larger and highly developed brains for something besides modeling hats. I’d say that probably a great many of the problems we face in the world today stem directly from our success as a species. When life is a struggle, learning is more essiential, and it’s much harder to under appreciate the value of that life.

      Good luck with that boat in your head. I wouldn’t want it to turn into a major headache anytime soon.

  4. Mental is not detached from physical. To determine the factors involved in deciding on what we think about is complex at times and simple at others. For instance, if we are hungry, we tend to think about food. The fact that we can philosophise about the nature of food and its sources does not mean that we do not need to eat in order to feed our brains, the main gas guzzlers. Without fuel, it starts to malfunction. Put the wrong fuel into it and it breaks down, ergo your argument about drugs. If mental was separate from physical, drugs would have no effect upon our ability to think what we want to think at any given time.

    As a rule, we cannot exist in two planes, but there are exceptions; like Shamanism and astral travel. I am sure you can see that a metaphysical debate of some proportion would be necessary.

    What we think about may well correlate with the laws of physics. Take quantum theory. I was thinking about this in terms of the “mad gene hunt”. There is the potential for it to exist because of the idea of it and the subsequent search for it. It could be what they think it is because they think it is. Cartesian duality has served us but it is too simplistic now. In quantum theory, it could exist simply because it serves us. Discovery is variable. The observer and the observed are intrinsically linked.

    I skimmed through this one but found it quite interesting:

    Click to access Cartesian%20Epistemology.pdf

    “Bloom (2004) argues that humans have an innate tendency to believe in Cartesian dualism. He cites as evidence the fact that belief in an ontological separation between mind and body is early to emerge in development and is universal to all people in all cultures, with the exception of a few scientifically-minded university-educated people over the last century or so. (That a phenotypic property is innate needn’t mean that it is absolutely unchangeable, of course — although one might predict that it would be resistant to change.)”

    Change is the one thing that we can rely upon.

    I do not think that we have as much control as we like to think we do. It can all be wiped out without our being able to do a thing about it. Maybe we are all experiencing a phenotypic reality check right now.

    From Wikipedia:

    “In epidemiology, there exists a theory that rising incidences of coronary heart disease and type II diabetes in human populations undergoing industrialization is due to a mismatch between a metabolic phenotype determined in development and the nutritional environment to which an individual is subsequently exposed.”

    We don’t wait for our genes to match the environment, our environment affects our gene expression.

    “I’d think, yep, “genes” express themselves differently in an environment that is friendly than they do in an environment that is hostile.”

    Well, that’s progress!

    I took an aspirin and it just floated away..

    • You’re not going to escape the law of gravity by thinking about it, nonetheless you can have thoughts that are not bound to it. The proper domain for speculative thought, in fact, is metaphysics.

      Prior to the modern history of science, scientific questions were addressed as a part of metaphysics known as natural philosophy. The term science itself meant “knowledge” of, originating from epistemology. The scientific method, however, transformed natural philosophy into an empirical activity deriving from experiment unlike the rest of philosophy. By the end of the 18th century, it had begun to be called “science” to distinguish it from philosophy. Thereafter, metaphysics denoted philosophical enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence.

      ~Wikipedia, Metaphysics

      I realise the environment affects genes at a certain level. This realisation is inescapable. At the same time, I think it important to see the humanity in any interaction that takes place between human beings. Such humanity could easily escape the attention of any mere conglomeration of genes. We have the power to change our environment for the better or for the worse. We’re not likely to be doing much, in that capacity, if we’re absorbed by a search for the power gene or genes. We don’t, in fact, have to find any such genes before we act.

      Too bad. If aspirin was all it took, you didn’t have a dream-boat.

  5. That is the whole point of quantum physics; with the right application, one may well be able to. Gravity may only be a constant because we have not discovered otherwise yet.

    I mentioned metaphysics in my last post, perhaps you missed it:

    “As a rule, we cannot exist in two planes, but there are exceptions; like Shamanism and astral travel. I am sure you can see that a metaphysical debate of some proportion would be necessary.”

    Quantum theory is the new metaphysics.

    We do not have to find certain genes in order to act but it might help us to. Like most discoveries, there are likely to be positive and negative elements, but it will still go on. We are not all absorbed by the search for genes but everybody wants to be healthy.

    To what extent empathy is programmed is yet to be fully explored.

    Discoveries have gathered momentum of late so it will be interesting to see where we are in ten years time, say.

    That’s all right, The Love Boat docked right after that one left.

    • Was I not clear enough? I’m not posing Einstein against Newton. I’m not venturing into astro-physics or quantum mechanics. I’m only indulging my impulse toward philosophic speculation. Strands of DNA don’t philosophize!

      Of course, I noticed your mention of metaphysics. You were using wikipedia, and I’m still not sure you understand metaphysics.

      We can conceive of existing on two planes at once, or we can do aerial acrobatics, one foot on one wing, and one foot on the other…Sheesh. I don’t debate superstition.

      Theory is theory. Theories exist to be disproven. That’s what science is about, but we were discussing the limits of science. Science is about evidence. Some of this evidence, if it is based on wrong assumptions, has to be very dubious.

      No “mental illness” has ever been found in reality. We have no virus, no bacteria, no “diseased” cells. If we can’t discern the source of the “disease”, we can’t pin it down to “genetic” material. Researchers are looking at genes because they don’t have anything else. No wonder the mad gene search has stumbled into this epigenetic fog. We could be looking at the genes determining a predisposition to excell, but then again, it would come back to epigenetic factors, wouldn’t it? If we dwell in an inderterminate universe, self-determination means so much more.

      Programmed? Let me check my “circuits”. Now you see this is what is wrong with the jargon in the first place. We are dealing with an organism, and not with a technological device. We’re still a long ways away from Data of Star Trek fame.

      Changes don’t happen fast enough. The elusive “illness” continues to absorb the minds of people wanting to pigeon hole other human beings. I’d just as soon reject “my place” in the pecking order.

      Bon voyage.

  6. Well, don’t get your panties in a bunch there. What you made clear is that you do not expect to escape gravity by thinking about it.

    You do not want to venture beyond the end of your nose, it seems. Strands of DNA come together to form a being who can philosophise and speculation is by its very nature quantum. So regardless of whither you wish not to venture, you are already there.

    Ah, so you astrally projected yourself into my presence in order to check where I got my information on metaphysics. Clearly you ended up in the wrong house; I have no need of Wikipedia to learn about metaphysics. You are thinking of your own source and any lack of understanding is yours.

    We can not only conceive of existing on two planes at once, we can experience it; not superstition involved.

    Evidence cannot ultimately be based upon an assumption.

    And is it not wonderful that researchers might find a way of identifying and treating illness that tortures so many?

    I agree that self-determination means so much more in an indeterminate universe. However, I do not think that making people well means that they will find no self-determination. It is not necessary to suffer in order to find it.

    I use the word programmed because we are programmed. Genetically. If you see that as a word only to be used in conjunction with technological devices, then you have been conditioned by society to do so.

    Some of the minds absorbed do actually want to help people get better, you know.

    I think there are going to be some quite radical changes in our world and I hope to be here for them. You are free to reject your place anywhere.

    Que le vaya bien.

    • Correction: No superstition involved.

      • In Shamanism and astral-travel? I beg to disagree. I don’t argue with Christians either. They’re gonna give me their sermon anyway, and I’m gonna nod like a dash-board dog. I’m also gonna breath a sigh of relief (major pain relief) once they’re gone. I’m not gonna say that anything else would be impolite, but let’s just sweep that one under the rug shall we.

    • I don’t wear the panties in my household, G M. You read me very poorly. I was saying you could escape gravity by thinking about it, you just can’t escape gravity.

      I know the difference between a blue print and a house. Do you? The strand of DNA is like a blue print. There is much less to a blue print than there is to a fully built house. Ditto, DNA and the organism. In the end, it is the house that stands. Once the house gets lived in a little, you’ve got an environment. My my but our parasites must love us.

      I was using wikipedia as a reference long before your comment here, but since you started it…Na na ni na na!

      I’m not arguing about being on two planes at once. I’m not even thinking about it. Hmmm, I must be on another plane. However we got here, you’re trying to make a point, only not to me.

      Evidence can, and often is, based on assumption. Researchers seek evidense to support their theories. If they come up with this evidense, this doesn’t mean that they’ve factored in every plausible determinate, their theory could yet be disproven. They could be entirely wrong in their assumptions. Often they have to adjust their theory to account for new evidence. When genetics, for instance, becomes epigenetics, biology takes a lesson from the environmental sciences.

      I’m not beating myself up over people beating themselves up.

      We, you and I, G M, have irreconcilable differences in the way we look at this matter of mental health. You keep trying to make it, from my perspective, a medical matter. I’m not fond of the medical model of treatment. I think there are better ways of dealing with people in crisis. One of those better ways is by not labeling them. A lot of baggage comes with each of these psychiatric labels. When it comes to suffering, that’s a human matter, it’s not a medical matter.

      I used to have this friend who I was in a day hospital facility with once, and I would see her later on the outside from time to time. Every time I would see her she would tell me that I looked like I was doing better. I was always thinking, better than what. I was doing alright. I’m not sure you can do much better than alright. I would think it beats doing all wrong.

      Radical changes are what I’m counting on. If they get here, it won’t be soon enough for me.

      “Live long and prosper.”

      • It is possible to experience Shamanic journeys and astral travel without bringing superstition to the table. You can add that if you like but it is not necessary.

      • Oh, I read you well enough. I understood your gravity comment the first time, you do not need to present it in a new format. I do not necessarily agree with it. Gravity is currently a constant; that does not mean it will always remain so.

        Well, I have been living in a carefully folded waterproofed blueprint for some time – who knew? Of course the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. DNA is more like a blueprint that gets built into the fabric of the house; it is in every brick. And on the subject of parasites, they account for more of us that we do. They outnumber our own cells by about ten to one and also affect the way we behave.

        The point you have missed is that I was not using Wikipedia. I am well versed in metaphysics and did not need to look it up.

        You were talking about the physical universe and duality. My point about existing on two planes at once is an example of how the issue of physicality is not so clear. Sometimes I think you are on the plane where reading faster than you can absorb meaning is the norm.

        It is, which is why I used the word “ultimately”.

        Epigenetics is a natural development in a new science. The combination of disciplines makes it elegant.

        Nor should you. But it is contradictory of you to say you stand for those who suffer one ill whilst denying sufferers of another.

        You see, sometimes you write your views and you are very close to my own beliefs. I have the same opinion of the medical model and believe that a radical overhaul of how we approach health is necessary. Love, friendship, community, nutrition, exercise, sun, fun, purpose, challenge – these are all important components in the art of being well and helping others to be well. Elsewhere we have discussed emergency respite and we both believe this to be a crucial part of bringing about change. We concur that dragging people off, locking them up and forcing them to take drugs is counter-productive to recovery; not to mention terrifying. Not labeling people the way we do now is important but we do face a challenge there because of our human tendency to place most things into categories. We have debated new terms that might help and I do think that taking back the language is important for people. It is the loading – or as you say, “the baggage” – that the labels have that is the problem; people make connections and judge others to be dangerous or less intelligent, weird or unstable. It is ignorance that drives these decision chains so again, education is key.

        And here we part company. Suffering is human, yes, but it is somewhat biblical to cleave to it as if it ought to be there. When being conscious becomes excruciating for a prolonged period of time, there is something we can address. If science can relieve that suffering then I am prepared to give it a fair hearing.

        Thank you; I hope to.

  7. Excuse me. A little more civility, please. Not only am I not going to argue with superstition. I’m not going to argue what is, or what isn’t, superstition. There is no end to this sort of thing, seven day creation, or no seven day creation.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot of information embedded in a strand of DNA. I’m just saying that that information isn’t a human being. I don’t think that we’re going to be able to come up with any such reductionist formula for our species. I value my freedom from such easy formulas. Perhaps you value your freedom less.

    As for wikipedia you quote it, and then you blast me for quoting it, and referring to your quote. No you didn’t use wikipedia for metaphysics. You used wikipedia for epidemiology, or something of the sort. Same wikipedia, different person. I’m not sure this sort of nit picking serves anyone.

    Existing on two planes at once is like multi-tasking. Some people can manage it, some people can’t. Ditto, aerial acrobatics. You, sir, seemed to be arguing against duality. I wasn’t arguing against duality. I can’t say for certain how many planes we might exist on at any one time. If you consult a dictionary, you get something like this, “A level of development, existence, or achievement: scholarship on a high plane“, from In this sense, I think a person can indeed produce both quality and trash simultaneously.

    Ultimate is one of those ‘est’ words. You can’t measure it, and I’m not going to try to do so. It’s one of those words I prefer to leave among the cobwebs and the cadavers, ultimately.

    Biological psychiatry has long been trying to make biology the primary basis for behavior. This is one of their reasons for the mad gene hunt they are currently pursuing. Epigenetic dilutes this biological basis a little bit. Oh oh, there’s the environment again. Genes and the environment interact. You can’t get around the fact that this epigenetic slant is appearing because biological psychiatry has been unable to find the gene or genes responsible for “mental illness”. Maybe it’s because genes don’t bear responsibility. People bear responsibility. The psychiatrist, with all of his scientific pretensions, would presume to be outside of the grid that determines the fate of the subject of his studies, that is, the person said to have a “mental illness”. Personally, I’m not looking for bad genes. I feel certain that the whole endeavor is nothing more than a wild goose chase but, of course, only time will tell.

    I’m not confusing my “ills” right now. Maybe we can discuss “ills” at another time. The question concerns what constitutes pathology, and what doesn’t constitute pathology. I’m leaving that determination open for the time being.

    We agree on many things. Okay. We still have our differences. You have this feeling for much psychiatric theory that I don’t share. I’ve come to reject much of the research that you are so enthused about because I see it as based upon unsound theoretical assumptions. You apparently don’t see it that way. I also see it as entirely prejudicial. We get along better in the alternatives department. Both of us agree that there is much wrong with current mental health treatment, and that there are better ways to do this treatment business that will get better results.

    • I was being entirely civil. I do not know to what you refer exactly but assure you that you have inferred a different meaning. The point is that it is possible to experience different states without having any particular set of beliefs in place.

      It is not an “easy formula” when you bring epigenetics in. This combination could be a window to more freedom. I am more concerned with who is going to be in control than I am about it happening.

      Yes, I quoted Wikipedia for epidemiology and said as much. You said, “Of course, I noticed your mention of metaphysics. You were using wikipedia, and I’m still not sure you understand metaphysics.” This followed your telling me, “The proper domain for speculative thought, in fact, is metaphysics,” and quoting metaphysics from Wikipedia. You can see why I might think you were talking about metaphysics, which I need no immediate instruction in.

      I did not blast you for quoting Wikipedia, I said it was your source for metaphysics, which it was. It is a great source for looking up things you don’t know anything about..

      For “No you didn’t use wikipedia for metaphysics. You used wikipedia for epidemiology, or something of the sort. Same wikipedia, different person. I’m not sure this sort of nit picking serves anyone” read “Oh, grump, grump, I got them mixed up and I don’t want to talk about it any more”..

      Fine by me.

      It is more like stepping into another place, a different reality. It has a tangibility to it. I was considering the physicality of stepping onto another plane and how this interacted with the duality theory. Your use of the dictionary reference does not make sense to me.

      You are absolutely right about ‘ultimately’. A great many corpses are left by the roadside on the journey to an ultimate.

      I think epigenetics is a good thing because it affects the prediction scenario. Identifying a gene that causes a specific thing to happen to a person is one thing, identifying a gene that gives someone a higher probability of developing something depending upon environmental facts is entirely another.

      In the rush to find certain genes, it has been unearthed that it is just not that simple. Genetics and epigenetics comprise the nature nurture debate laid bare for all to see. And the answer is both, of course. We smart folks knew that already. As you say, epigenetics ‘dilutes’ the genetic factor. So, think about it. Epigenetics dilutes the argument for gene-specific illness. At the moment it is a complicated science but a predictable one. Ultimately – and I say that in recognition of those who will be sacrificed along the way – its use will render the middlemen – the psychiatrists – redundant.

      They won’t go down without a fight, however; they are already attaching their name to numerous other disciplines in an attempt to hold on to some credibility. Their outdated teachings need a bit of gloss.

      (I am going to mix it up here.)

      My “feeling for much psychiatric theory” is one of scepticism. Like most theory – for that is what it is – it has good points and bad points. The problems arise when you get some idiot who thinks he knows all there is to know about the human mind poking around in one. These people are invariably egotistical and approach patients with a status ratio in mind that places them above their patients. Any patient who challenges this is deemed to be suffering from some kind of mental illness.

      This is completely absurd.

      The research that I am “enthused” about is any research that gets these people out of the frame. I do not consider genetics and epigenetics to be based upon “unsound theoretical assumptions”, I think that basing medicine upon probabilities is unsound.

      Yes, it is entirely prejudicial. Psychiatrists bring their own baggage and project this onto patients. There is no such thing as a neutral individual; judgements begin as soon as people set eyes on each other for the first time. Take an example of a beautiful young woman who visits a psychiatrist. If that psychiatrist is a man, the chances are he will want to sleep with her; if the psychiatrist is a woman, she may feel rivalry. Nobody feeling lust or envy towards a patient can provide a safe space for them.

      We agree that only time will tell and we agree that this research needs monitoring.

      “The question concerns what constitutes pathology, and what doesn’t constitute pathology. I’m leaving that determination open for the time being.”

      It is good to hear you say that.

      • We are much farther apart than I might have indicated in my last comment. Much of what you are saying is complete and utter nonsense.

        The nature versus nurture debate is a false debate as far as I’m concerned. Nurture is a part of nature! Duh. You get this debate from the sort of goon who’s convinced of his or her superiority. I’m blessed with natural you name it. You on the other hand need “help”. I never bought it, and I still don’t. Children have 12 + years in which they have to rely upon parents. Is that nature? Yes, and it’s nurture. You expect a ready made adult, the way they come in medieval paintings, well, you’re going to be let down. Our “superiority”? Well, apparently a great deal of it is learned, or a product of nurture.

        There is much confusion in psychiatric research circles today between the effects of “disease” and the effects of drugs. Much damage, in fact, is attributed to “disease” that is actually a result of the drug purportedly used to treat the “disease”. The information on what these drugs do is out there, it’s just suppressed as far as the public is concerned. The gene myth, in most instances, is another attempt to credit the damage done by drugs to “disease” or “disorder”. I don’t think 95 % of the population have “normal” genes and 5 % of the population have “abnormal” genes any more than I think 95 % of the population have “normal” brains and 5 % of the population have “abnormal” brains. We’re not talking about people with developmental difficulties for the most part. We’re not dealing with birth defects.

        Time will tell regardless of whether we agree or not.

  8. You so cannot see the wood for the trees sometimes.

    It is my whole point that nurture is a part of nature. Duh, yourself! What I am saying is that science, once again, will come to prove what people know instinctively. Do you get it yet or shall I write it down again for you in big letters? What part of “And the answer is both, of course” don’t you understand?

    You are damned right I am convinced of my superiority, and if you don’t want to appear to be a goon then try reading my comments through twice and making sure you thoroughly understand them. You have a tendency to jump to conclusions based upon your misunderstandings.

    I remember reading an article on the results of an experiment proving that babies who were stroked grew more and fared better than babies who were not. Oh really, well go figure. We paid tax for you to work that one out? Pity the poor wee mites who didn’t get stroked. They are probably out there in Afghanistan shooting up the neighbourhood. The biggest gift a parent can give a child is the knowledge that they are loved. It nourishes them like water and the sun and earth nourish a plant.

    I agree that there are drugs out there that do more damage than good. It is the case in western medicine that giving one drug leads to giving another as side effects from the first one take over. The premise is allopathic, so ‘fighting’ the symptoms and ‘controlling’ them is what drives the methodology. This is no good when someone’s mind and emotions are disturbed, because you are essentially ‘fighting’ and ‘controlling’ the person. The drugs are designed to produce different effects, not to cure.

    Reading a drug insert is enough to frighten most people off taking it, but the doctor’s reassurances that it is “very safe” usually wins out.

    I think epigenetics is going to explain more to us about gene activation and I welcome that insofar as it is put to the good use of helping people.

    Let us wait and see for a while then. I am sure it will come up again.

    • Frankly, I prefer trees to lumber.

      Science doesn’t tend to prove instinct. Science tends to disprove superstition. Psychiatry, and that neuro-science associated with it, aren’t science. We’re dealing with really soft science here. Get soft enough, and you’re not scientific at all.

      Actually, I didn’t have a clue that you were convinced of your own superiority. I will keep it in mind when discussing anything else with you in the future.

      Babies and strokes, huh? Interesting. I believe I mentioned a need, in a treatment context, for more of the heart part at some point previously. I think that need still applies.

      I object to the drug treatment paradigm that is so pervasive in mental health treatment today. By taking a pro-choice position, I’m saying that patients need more options, including more drug-free and holistic options. Forced treatment today is totally anti-choice. Anti-psychotic is misnomer when applied to neuroleptic drugs. One of the long terms effects of these drugs, in fact, can be to increase psychotic symptoms. We have a symptom management way of treating people now. We could use a truly recovery directed approach. If drugs are to be used, they shouldn’t be used long term, and their use should be tapered off eventually.

      20 % of the US population are on psychiatric drugs, 11 % of the US population are on anti-depressants. We are the trendsetter, the world can only follow. It’s corporate imperialism. McDonalds and CVS are taking over the world. (Think hogs at the trough.)

      Forget reading the insert, so many people have been convinced that they’re “sick”, that they will take anything to end their suffering. So called side effect after so called side effect, it just goes through one ear and comes out the other. Given the gloss, the eye sees “help”, and passes easily over any potential to do harm. Convince a person he or she is desparate, and you’ve won the war. If you’re selling drugs, well, it’s a drug war.

      We were talking environmental factors long before epigenetics came of age. Epigenetics gives the environment voice again. It’s a little thing though, and not a big thing. This understanding gives a little more control back to the human being to make choices freely and to alter fate. A little bit of perspective can put the chromosome back in the cell where it belongs.

      I’m not arguing with you for the sake of argument, but damn if I know why we are going at it like this. Most of the people who comment on this blog understand that we don’t need to agree about everything. Most of the people who comment on this blog, like myself, are not looking to lay pathological labels on other human beings. You apparently differ in the sense that you are looking for pathology in psychiatric labels. Very well. Good luck with that.

      • It is a figure of speech, MFV. You cannot see the trees for the woodpile, then.

        Science proves instinct and superstition more often than it cares to admit.

        As I said, psychiatry is hitching a ride on the coattails of a number of disciplines at the moment. There are some interesting neurological and neuro-physiological discoveries, however, that are well into territory that psychiatry likes to hold close to its chest.

        Yeah, you do that(!)

        You know I think kindness is where it all starts.

        Yes, indeed.

        I saw this programme on acupuncture one time with a doctor looking for ‘proof’ that it is an effective anaesthetic. The ‘proof’ came in the form of a brain scan showing activity in the pain blocking centres of the brain. The smiling woman on the table with her stomach sliced open whilst she underwent an operation was clearly not ‘proof’ enough for western medical science. My point is that western medical practitioners want proof on their own terms. If epigenetics gives them the kind of proof they can relate to that the environment affects us then it is a good thing.

        Not all environment is a matter of choice.

        We are cells. And maybe more. Maybe not.

        When I have something to say here, I say it. If you want to be in a group where you can all keep reinforcing your own views to the exclusion of others then you must close your doors to all but the invited. Censorship, they call it. So much for “mind freedom”. You would like me to be like “most of the people”. In that, how do you differ from the people we seek to challenge? If you want to create your own little world of prejudice then what makes you different from them?

        You are very quick to label; you don’t seem to see that. I am not looking to label people based upon what a psychiatrist might say. I am looking for the truth that frees people.

  9. Have it your way, G M . I could censor you, but I’m not going to do so. Not yet anyway. This is a blog, and it is an open blog. You are entitled to have your opinions, too.

    One small point of contention though….

    Not all environment is a matter of choice.

    I was schooled in existentialism, and one aspect of existentialism is the notion that people are totally responsible for their actions. People bear responsibility for their actions because they are free to take them. Environment is a matter of choice. If you don’t like your environment, you can always relocate. You can change your environment, too. People have their freedom to make choices whether they like it or not. Is man (or woman for that matter) the master of his fate, or is fate the master of the man? I’m not one to favor fatalism, nor am I one for putting up with excuses.

    I don’t want to label people at all. If it seemed to you like I was doing so, my apologies. Such was not my intention.

    • Hi, MFV. There is a comment that has not posted here.

      • I searched, and I couldn’t find the comment in question, G M. I’m afraid that if you want it entered into the discussion you will have to re-post.

  10. Thank you for checking. It is not working for some reason so I am going to try posting it in two parts.

    I thought some more about this and I suppose I do find that you argue for the sake of it at times. Our views are a lot closer than you think yet you seem to be looking so hard for differences that you find them when they are not even there.

    If you want me to be someone who just comments and leaves then don’t be so quick to condemn what I have to say. Look a bit harder for the similarities and you will often find that I am saying the same thing. It is frustrating when you jump on something and choose to perceive it to be the opposite of what it is. I post here in the spirit of geniality, MFV. And try to recognise when I am having fun with you.

    I have a different perspective on the things we discuss or comment on here and it is one of value. If you want to shut that down then that only shows your own labeling mechanisms and prejudices are intact.

    I do not feel that we have to agree about everything but I will have a healthy debate with you. I note your “not yet anyway” thinly veiled threat of censorship. What do you want me to do with that? Change my behaviour? Isn’t the right to behave differently what you seek to defend? If you single me out and isolate me from “most of the people” for the audacity of thinking differently, you are doing exactly what you are saying should not be done. I hope you see that. You say you don’t want to label, so don’t label.

    • Maybe I could be a little more sensitive to your position, G M. I’m just saying it’s okay if we disagree, or agree to disagree, as I’ve heard it put before. Likewise, it’s okay if we agree when we agree.

      You might be a little put off my my manner, utilizing satire or sarcasm, what they used to call wit, the 18th century mode, but that’s me. I’m not changing it to suit you.

      As for censoring you, I was only trying to point out that this is my blog, not your’s, and on it I can censor anyone I so choose. If my preference was to silence you, then you’d be silenced. If you had an issue with that, well, that’s why people start blogs, that is, to break the silence. If you feel somehow miffed at the direction the discussion is headed in, you can always start your own blog.

      I’m not “singling” you out. I’m responding to your comments. You keep commenting. I keep responding. I would be as likely to respond to anyone else in kind.

  11. Hi, MFV. The posting problem appears to be something to do with links; sometimes they will not post at all. Is there a setting on your site that might be blocking them?

  12. I could say exactly the same to you:

    “You might be a little put off my my manner, utilizing satire or sarcasm, what they used to call wit, the 18th century mode, but that’s me. I’m not changing it to suit you.”

    I am the master, so bring it on!

    I don’t expect you to change it, I doubt I would still be commenting here otherwise. That is the difference between us. I am not put off by your manner at all; Like I said, I enjoy a good debate and you have been acting as if you do too until now. I don’t need you to be “sensitive” as long as you don’t expect me to be.

    Same here:

    “I’m not “singling” you out. I’m responding to your comments. You keep commenting. I keep responding. I would be as likely to respond to anyone else in kind.”

    It takes two, you know. Pot, kettle mean anything to ya?

    “As for censoring you, I was only trying to point out that this is my blog, not your’s, and on it I can censor anyone I so choose. If my preference was to silence you, then you’d be silenced.”

    It’s your ball and you can take it home any time you like.

    “If you feel somehow miffed at the direction the discussion is headed in, you can always start your own blog.”

    If you don’t like it, get your own ball.

    I never feel “miffed” about the direction of a discussion. You made it personal when you started on about “most of the people”. In that respect you were singling me out.

    The things here that will guarantee you a response are when you don’t read things properly and get hold of the wrong end of the stick; and when you try to attribute a way of thinking to me that is contrary to my own. Other than that, I am as happy as Larry.

  13. Test as comment is not posting:

    Not all environment is a matter of choice. Existentialism is a luxury not available to all. Children and babies cannot relocate.

    Watch the slide show at dream catchers for abused children dot com forward slash volunteer forward slash photos images

    • I haven’t thought of existentialism as a luxury, really, any more than I’ve thought of marxism or capitalism as luxuries, or post-structuralism for that matter. I do think of it as philosophy.

      Is computer technology a necessity? This is one of the big jokes of our time.

      Some people are not going to see it, or the questions it poses, as luxurious. The question existentialism poses is does essence come before or does essence follow after existence? That is, does a person make him or herself who and what he or she is, or is what he or she is determined by something existing before conception?

      I happen to follow a brand of philosophy that adheres more to the former position than it does to the latter. You seem to be more friendly with the latter view.

      • Some people are too concerned with surviving to spend much time philosophising.

        We managed without it, so no. One could argue that it helps us to advance and therefore evolve, but where that leads to is uncertain. Quantum computers and biological computers might see in an age where we become dispensable.

        To address the point you are making, some people will not have the opportunity to wallow in the “luxury” of pondering the question.

        I am “friendly” with my view of the answer being a combination of nature and nurture.

  14. It is because of the links, so I am writing them in full:

    http colon forward slash forward slash www dot

    People become conditioned to their environments as well, making it harder to change them. That Afghan women set themselves on fire to escape their environment is an indication of how difficult some are to break free of.

    http colon forward slash forward slash www dot

    http colon forward slash forward slash www dot

    http colon forward slash forward slash www dot,8599,2002340,00.html

    “I’m not one to favor fatalism, nor am I one for putting up with excuses.”

    Do you feel the same?

    • Yes. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care for and about other people. I’m not encouraging self-injurious or suicidal behaviors. Self-injurious and suicidal behaviors are things we live with. There could be less self-injurious and suicidal behavior, or there could be more. I’d like to see less of it. The same goes for child molestation. I think we can do something about these matters. I’d like to see us create a more loving and liveable world. I think doing so is the way to lessen child molestation, self-injurious behavior, and suicide. I’d like to see a more co-operative and socially oriented people focused world, and less of a competitive cut-throat and greedily selfish profit driven world. I’m saying we can and should change certain things about the world as it is. Sure, we can destroy ourselves, or we can save ourselves, but we decide which direction to take. This is a matter of choice. We, collectively, may make the wrong choice, but it’s still a matter of choice.

      • “We, collectively” making the wrong choice is something we have been living with because we allow small groups of people to make the decisions for us. The kind of people who claw their way into power are often the people who ought not to have it. I would like to see that change. There is a lot of turmoil in the world at the moment but I am glad to see that a lot of it is for positive change.

  15. Philosophy is a necessity to a philosophy professor. I just thought I’d leave that little tidbit with you for the aggravation.

    Glad to see that you’re surviving, G M. I don’t know whether levity is a necessity or a luxury in your book, but it sure can help at times. If you’re hauling around too much baggage, for instance, sometimes the thing to do is to just leave it at a terminal. If somebody else picks it up, still, no longer your problem. Prometheus and Sisyphus are damned by the Gods only so long as the Gods aren’t mythology. When the curtain comes down, the actors are free to come and go as they please.

  16. He could always become a refuse collector.

    Likewise. I find levity is necessary to survival.

    I sent you some dark images to express the fact that I personally have to acknowledge that not everyone has a choice. For some, their death is the only thing they have authority over; if that. Without the opportunity to save themselves, destroying themselves is the only thing they can control.

    Prometheus seems like he was a decent enough guy. That’s just what happens when you challenge the authorities! It is interesting that the story talks of liver regeneration, don’t you think? Our science proves what they knew almost three thousand years ago. I wonder if there was a crossover with Chinese medicine somewhere along the line.

    I ditched my rock in a Moscow park some time ago.

    • Refuse collector? Is that like a garbage man or sanitation engineer? If so, then garbage is a necessity for the “refuse collector”. He’d be out of the job that brings him his bread and bacon without it.

      We differ when it comes to choices. I don’t think people are ever without choices. Suicide or life is a choice. I choose to continue breathing. I don’t have a problem with that choice. Resistance or submission to oppression are choices as well. My view is that one always has a choice, one just has to see it.

      Actually a couple of hundred years ago mad doctors, alienists, were still seeing madness as an imbalance of humors, in the ancient Greek manner. Such was seen as more progressive than seeing it as a result of a deviation from the gospel and possession by demons, the other approach.

  17. The point is that philosophy is not.

    You advised that resistance was a bad thing when being dragged off for forced mental health treatment. That is because you know that resistance will be met by more force. In that instance, you advocate submission because you fear the consequences. You have been conditioned to do so. All I am suggesting is that the same applies to others. That you fight from the outside is different. Regardless of anything we have said, those babies had no choice and those women had little more.

    • Philosophy, according to Yahoo! Education, is

      pl. phi·los·o·phies
      1. Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline.
      2. Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods.
      3. A system of thought based on or involving such inquiry: the philosophy of Hume.
      4. The critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs.
      5. The disciplines presented in university curriculums of science and the liberal arts, except medicine, law, and theology.
      6. The discipline comprising logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology.
      7. A set of ideas or beliefs relating to a particular field or activity; an underlying theory: an original philosophy of advertising.
      8. A system of values by which one lives: has an unusual philosophy of life.

      If a police officer is arresting you, resisting arrest can be a serious offense. Detainment by the police is the way many people find their way into the mental health system. Resistence is the way people stay in the hospital, and submission is the way people get out. It’s a game, but you learn the rules, or you stay confined.

      While those babies didn’t have a choice, the same isn’t true of the women, and following any such incident either has a choice in how they deal with what has happened to them.

  18. Quite. And it is not necessary to the act of refuse collection. Number eight, of course, makes philosophers of us all.

    “If a police officer is arresting you, resisting arrest can be a serious offense. Detainment by the police is the way many people find their way into the mental health system. Resistence is the way people stay in the hospital, and submission is the way people get out. It’s a game, but you learn the rules, or you stay confined.”

    And you are so conditioned to that process that you accept it.

    The odds are stacked against you. The other side has all the weapons. The other side is free and you are not. You enter not knowing the rules because nobody gave them to you at the start. You learn the rules through violence and intimidation. It is all about domination and submission. Degradation and humiliation. It is the Nazis and the Jews all over again. It is not a game, it is a hunt. You have been caught and now your captors are going to have fun with their prey.

    “Resisting arrest”.

    A distressed person is going to react to the violence police officers inflict upon them during an arrest. In any other situation, self defence is considered a normal and justifiable response. Then along come the police and everything changes; only it does not change inside people. Reacting to danger to the self is primal and beyond intellectual control. That is what the police get off on; it gives them an excuse to unleash their aggression and it gives them an excuse to shoot.

    It should not be the case that a person has to learn to submit to violence in order to make it stop.

    “While those babies didn’t have a choice..”

    Exactly. So when do you think their responsibility for their own situation begin? At five? Ten? They are going to need some tender loving care to get them on their way.

    “..the same isn’t true of the women..”

    True enough, but the choices suck:

    http colon forward slash forward slash www dot

    They were born into these situations and forced into marriage as children.

    “..and following any such incident either has a choice in how they deal with what has happened to them.”

    Babies aren’t going to choose, they are just going to react. As time goes on they become conditioned.

    The women are conditioned too, just a bit older. For setting yourself on fire to be the best choice you can come up with, life has to be pretty hellish. The dynamic is that of Nazis and Jews again.

    On a positive note, take a look at these ladies in India:

    http : // current . com/sex-and-love/88939424_gulabi-gang-the-pink-women-of-india . htm (Close the gaps first.)

    • It is not so much “conditioning” in the case of the police and institutions as it is personal experience.

      “Conditioning” is not my word. “Conditioning” belongs to the jargon of the behavioral modification and the “classical conditioning” schools of psychiatric theory and practice. This is to say that “conditioning” is the approach of certain psychiatrists, and it’s never been an approach that I’ve approved of, or am partial towards. “Conditioning” works on rewards and punishments, and it doesn’t recognise people as free agents, and therefore responsible for their own actions. As long as this is the case, I will oppose it.

  19. I understand. But that is how they “condition” us. If you want to use another word, then fine, but it IS a system of reward and punishment. Resist and be punished. Submit and be rewarded. You oppose it, but you cannot oppose it in the situation as you might wish to because the punishment is too harsh. And so we learn. To submit. It is awful and hideous.

    “It should not be the case that a person has to learn to submit to violence in order to make it stop.”

    This is truth.


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