Genetics and Evolution
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
A Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Mind So RareA Natural History of RapeAcquiring GenomesAdapting MindsAgeing, Health and CareAlas, Poor DarwinAn Introduction to Evolutionary EthicsAncient Bodies, Modern LivesAnimal ArchitectsAping MankindAre We Hardwired?Bang!BehavingBeyond EvolutionBeyond GeneticsBlood MattersBody BazaarBoneBrain Evolution and CognitionBrain StormBrave New BrainBrave New WorldsChoosing ChildrenCloneCloningConceptual Issues in Evolutionary BiologyConsciousness EvolvingContemporary Debates in Philosophy of BiologyControlling Our DestiniesCooperation and Its EvolutionCreatures of AccidentDarwin Loves YouDarwin's Brave New WorldDarwin's Gift to Science and ReligionDarwin's UniverseDarwin's WormsDarwinian ConservatismDarwinian PsychiatryDarwinism and its DiscontentsDarwinism as ReligionDebating DesignDecoding DarknessDefenders of the TruthDo We Still Need Doctors?Doubting Darwin?Early WarningEngineering the Human GermlineEnhancing EvolutionEnoughEntwined LivesEthical Issues in Human CloningEthical Issues in the New GeneticsEvil GenesEvolutionEvolutionEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorEvolution and LearningEvolution and ReligionEvolution and the Human MindEvolution in MindEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolution: The Modern SynthesisEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Origins of MoralityEvolutionary PsychiatryEvolutionary PsychologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolutionary Psychology as Maladapted PsychologyExploding the Gene MythFaces of Huntington'sFlesh of My FleshFrom Chance to ChoiceFrom Darwin to HitlerGenesGenes in ConflictGenes on the CouchGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGenes, Women, EqualityGenetic Nature/CultureGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetic SecretsGenetics of Criminal and Antisocial BehaviourGenetics of Mental DisordersGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenomeGenomeGenome: Updated EditionGenomes and What to Make of ThemGlowing GenesHow Women Got Their Curves and Other Just-So StoriesHuman CloningHuman Evolution, Reproduction, and MoralityImproving Nature?In Our Own ImageIn Pursuit of the GeneIn the Name of GodIngenious GenesInheritanceInside the Human GenomeInside the O'BriensIntegrating Evolution and DevelopmentIntelligence, Race, and GeneticsIs Human Nature Obsolete?Language OriginsLess Than HumanLiberal EugenicsLiving with Our GenesMaking Genes, Making WavesMaking Sense of EvolutionMan As The PrayerMean GenesMenMood GenesMoral OriginsMothers and OthersNature Via NurtureNever Let Me GoNot By Genes AloneOf Flies, Mice, and MenOn the Origin of StoriesOrigin of MindOrigins of Human NatureOrigins of PsychopathologyOur Posthuman FuturePhilosophy of BiologyPlaying God?Playing God?Portraits of Huntington'sPrimates and PhilosophersPromiscuityPsychiatric Genetics and GenomicsPsychologyQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRe-creating MedicineRedesigning HumansResearch Advances in Genetics and GenomicsResponsible GeneticsResponsible GeneticsScience, Seeds and CyborgsSex and WarSociological Perspectives on the New GeneticsStrange BedfellowsStrange BehaviorSubjects of the WorldSubordination and DefeatThe Age of EmpathyThe Agile GeneThe Ape and the Sushi MasterThe Biotech CenturyThe Blank SlateThe Book of LifeThe Bridge to HumanityThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Century of the GeneThe Common ThreadThe Concept of the Gene in Development and EvolutionThe Debated MindThe Double-Edged HelixThe Epidemiology of SchizophreniaThe Ethics of Human CloningThe Evolution of CooperationThe Evolution of MindThe Evolution of MindThe Evolved ApprenticeThe Evolving WorldThe Fact of EvolutionThe Folly of FoolsThe Future of Human NatureThe God GeneThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Impact of the GeneThe Innate MindThe Innate MindThe Innate Mind: Volume 3The Limits and Lies of Human Genetic ResearchThe Lives of the BrainThe Maladapted MindThe Meme MachineThe Misunderstood GeneThe Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and ScreeningThe Most Dangerous AnimalThe New Genetic MedicineThe Nurture AssumptionThe Origin and Evolution of CulturesThe Origins of FairnessThe Paradoxical PrimateThe Perfect BabyThe Robot's RebellionThe Shape of ThoughtThe Shattered SelfThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story WithinThe Stuff of LifeThe Talking ApeThe Temperamental ThreadThe Terrible GiftThe Theory of OptionsThe Top 10 Myths About EvolutionThe Triple HelixThe Triumph of SociobiologyThe Woman Who Walked into the SeaTwinsUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding the GenomeUnnatural SelectionUnto OthersUp From DragonsWar Against the WeakWhat Genes Can't DoWhat It Means to Be 98 Percent ChimpanzeeWho Owns YouWhose View of Life?Why Evolution Is TrueWhy Think? WondergenesWrestling with Behavioral GeneticsYour Genetic Destiny

Related Topics
Genes, Environment, and PsychopathologyReview - Genes, Environment, and Psychopathology
Understanding the Causes of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders
by Kenneth S. Kendler and Carol A. Prescott
Guilford Press, 2006
Review by Nassir Ghaemi, MD MPH
Dec 13th 2011 (Volume 15, Issue 50)

If one could select one book that would give the most useful information about understanding mental illnesses from a scientific standpoint, I think it would have to be this book.  Written by prominent psychiatric genetic researchers, it summarizes three decades worth of work by Kenneth Kendler and his collaborators.

Around 1980, when Kendler started his work in this field, psychiatric genetics was not an extremely popular field; psychoanalytic theories still enthralled, and, to the extent that any work had been done in genetics, it had been done in schizophrenia.  Kendler’s life work has been to seriously study depression and anxiety from a psychiatric genetic perspective.  In the process, his research has touched on many related conditions -- substance abuse, personality disorder, and even cultural topics, such as the genetics of social and political and religious attitudes.  By taking the powerful methodology of genetic research, and applying it to the most common clinical presentations in psychiatry -- depression and anxiety and related topics -- Kendler’s work has been immensely important.

I had the benefit of knowing and working with Kendler’s group in the late 1980s, when I was a medical student, and I can attest to the inspirational ambience of the group: research was an exciting adventure of seeking new knowledge and of thinking new thoughts, without any fear about what that knowledge might be.  This attitude has proven quite successful, with hundreds, if not thousands, of scientific papers produced in the last three decades. I’ve tried to keep up with these complex and frequent publications. It is a difficult task.

But it is made moot by this book, which brings together the essence of all that research in one place. I will leave it to readers to see it for themselves, but here I will just highlight a few of the typical findings:

  1. The heritability of major depression is only 37%, which is similar to personality traits.  This reflects important genetic aspects to depression, but it highlights just as important, if not more important, environmental components.  (p. 374)
  2. The environmental component is specific to each twin, not shared between them, and thus NOT reflective of family or culture -- contrary to the assumptions of many theorists of our day, especially of the postmodernist school. Our intellectual leaders have yet to acknowledge, much less grapple with, this fact.
  3. Heavy caffeine use has a 77% genetic predisposition (p. 96)
  4. Parental death seems to specifically increase the risk, in children, of later adult depression; parental divorce is nonspecific in its later effects on anxiety or depressive or other conditions (pp 138-140)
  5. The types of specific adult life events that predispose to triggering a depressive episode tend to involve loss or humiliation (pp 158-160)
  6. Social support has very little benefit in protection against depression (pp 162-164).
  7. In depression, the genetic risk is constant over time, from childhood to adulthood; environmental risks tend to be recent and have short-lived effects. (pp. 185-186
  8. Contrary to popular assumptions, regarding risk of depression, genetic effects are greater in adulthood than childhood, and environmental effects are greater in adulthood than childhood (p. 191).

 

Using science and not mere opinion, if you want to understand depression and anxiety -- and, since those conditions are at the heart of the most common psychiatric presentations -- if you want to understand psychiatry, read this book.

 

 

© 2011 Nassir Ghaemi

 

Nassir Ghaemi, MD MPH, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology; Director, Mood Disorders Program, Tufts Medical Center

 


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7700 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716