This book is essential reading for anyone seeking an alternative to the increasingly popular, yet mistaken view that 'genes are destiny'. What are the forces shaping who we are, how we live, and how we act? Are we shaped primarily by our environment, or by our genes? These are very old questions, and form the basis of the 'nature-nurture debate'. Increasingly, we are told that research has confirmed the importance of genetic factors influencing physical and psychiatric disorders, personality, intelligence, sexual orientation, criminality, and so on. Much of the scientific evidence cited as supporting these ideas has been produced by the fields of behaviour genetics and psychiatric genetics. It has been delivered to the public in numerous magazine and newspaper articles, as well as by the authors of several popular books. In particular, studies of twins (both reared together and reared apart) have been cited as providing conclusive evidence supporting the importance of genetic influences on psychological trait differences.
The reared-apart twin studies by researchers at the University of Minnesota have been the subject of much attention, including stories of individual pairs of reared-apart identical twins who, it is claimed, displayed remarkable similarities upon being reunited. Family and adoption studies are also cited in support of the importance of genetic factors. Schizophrenia is the most studied, and at the same time the most feared and misunderstood, of all psychiatric diagnoses. Two chapters are devoted to problems with genetic research in this area. One of these chapters reviews the schizophrenia adoption studies, which include the well-known and frequently cited Danish-American and Finnish investigations. Another chapter looks into the alleged genetic basis of criminal behavior - an idea more popular today than at any time in the past 50 years. Additional chapters look into other areas of current interest in genetics, such as IQ, heritability, and molecular genetic research. In contrast to the bleak view of humans and their future laid out by those claiming that heredity is of overriding importance, there exists a radically different perspective.
The threat to the future of humanity does not come from peoples' genes. Rather, it comes from well-known and well-documented psychologically traumatic events and environments.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
As long as 'science' sticks to a pretence of impartiality - increasingly difficult as the independence of scientist is reduced to vanishing point - its pronouncements must still be delivered in the vocabulary of evidence and demonstration. That is why Jay Joseph's book is so important and so admirable. For with painstaking scholarly care he takes apart the extensive literature that gives the biogenetic approach in this field its credibility and shows that, whatever sustains it, it is certainly not the valid application of scientific method. David Smail, Clinical Pychologist and author, Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, 3.3. The claim that psychiatric disorders are biological and genetic in origin has done a great deal of harm to the mental health professions and their clients. Dr Jay Joseph's book should be read by anyone interested in a genuinely scientific analysis of the myths of biological psychiatry. Peter R Breggin MD, Author, Toxic Psychiatry