Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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March 27, 2008

Neuropsychiatric Genetics fails to find cause of mental illness

Psychiatry is looking for biological mechanisms to explain what it defines as "mental illness" to justify biological treatments, such as electroshock and mind bending pharmaceutical drugs. One of the more recent trends is to look for genes as a cause of aberrant behavior.

No such luck, says Vince Boehm, who maintains a specialized mailing list, in a recent communication. The search for a genetic cause is failing, according to author Dr Jay Joseph, and even psychiatry's own researchers admit as much. Here's what Vince says:

Well, I've got some horrible news for the true believers out there. Don't blame mom and dad.

Genetics is a cherished "article of faith" in mental illness theory. I've often wondered how this "bedrock of science" went unchallenged. After all, this search for simplistic answers to a complex problem has been going on for the past 100 years, for thousands of papers and books, actually, without coming up with any straight answers.

The genetics hypothesis has been used for decades by drug makers and their "grass roots"(AstroTurf®) advocacy groups to answer the inevitable causation problem. Causation is an unanswerable question. Blame heredity and just leave it at that. The state supported public mental health systems add the mantra of genetics to their litany of disinformation to enforce compliance.

This question bothered me until I met Dr. Jay Joseph in the fall of 2003 at the MindFreedom hunger strike.


Dr. Jay Joseph

I was astounded. Up to that time, the hypothesis had gone unquestioned. It was considered to be unassailable scientific truth, with almost religious overtones.

Joseph exposed how the researchers had perverted science. He detailed the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes to justify the conclusions of the studies cited.

Surely one cannot deny that these things do "run in families". However the answer here cannot be purely genetics. One must consider the multitude of other factors that make up the human psyche. Socioeconomics, ideology, trauma, drug marketing, politics, cultural issues, and a desperate search for answers, any answers, all play a role. Environment is a much stronger argument than genes, per se.

Straight answers to even the simplest questions on this topic are hard to come by.

Dr. Joseph's second book on genetics, The Missing Gene: Psychiatry, Heredity, And the Fruitless Search for Genes (Paperback), rebuts the evidence cited in support of genetic theories. He shows that family, twin, and adoption studies are plagued by researcher bias, unsound methodology, and a reliance on unsupported theoretical assumptions. Basically, he reviews more than a century's worth of psuedoscientific flotsam and jetsam in this book.

An example is the famous "Danish Twins Study" (Kety). Seymour Kety was the first scientific director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). This study was terribly flawed, but still cited as Holy Grail proof that schizophrenia is hereditary.

Of the 18 Kety "schizophrenics" only one had a hospital diagnosis. The rest were "diagnosed" in a series of five minute door step interviews by a cadre of grad students. They had to expand their sample to paternal siblings to get their conclusion. (Joseph, Missing Gene).

Kety's fatal error was accepting "latent schizophrenia", or schizophrenia without psychosis, as a valid diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Merely having unusual notions, like a strong belief in a lucky number, or having a minority sexual orientation might earn a person a schizophrenia label in those days. While the latent schizophrenia concept was accepted when the work on Kety was done in the early `70s, latent schizophrenia was rejected by DSM-III in 1980.

So just 4 years after Kety was published, most of his "schizophrenics" weren't schizophrenic any more.

Today psychosis is a pre-requisite for a schizophrenia label. Fourteen of the eighteen alleged Kety "schizophrenics" were labeled as latent schizophrenics. The remaining four were distributed throughout one large, dysfunctional extended family. (Breggin). This, in itself, is a strong argument for environmental causes rather than pure genetics.

A note about scientific method

Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process must be objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so it is available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them.

Peer review, the mandate of scientists of equal status to assess, test, and either rebut or affirm any given hypothesis is the true life blood of the scientific method.

Peer review in this field is nonexistent. Replication of results not even considered. This funny business lends itself well to my Dodo Theory.

In Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at a certain point in the proceedings a number of characters become wet. In order to dry themselves, the Dodo decided to issue a contest.


Everyone was to run around the lake until they were dry. Nobody cared to measure how far each person had run, nor how long.

When they asked the Dodo who had won, he thought long and hard and then said "Everybody. Everybody has won and all must have prizes."

Now, four leading psychiatric geneticists have made a startling admission.

Their 100 year effort has produced nothing but psuedoscientific gibberish.

From this editorial, this group is going high tech and embracing the Human Genome Project! You might consider buying a pair of hip boots. The doo-doo is gonna get very deep out here in a hell of a hurry!

"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit". (P.T. Barnum)


- - -

Jay Joseph writes:

I would like to quote from a 2007 article from a group of four leading psychiatric geneticists. They actually admit, after more than two (and in some cases three) decades of intense worldwide research, that they have found virtually nothing in the way of replicated gene findings for psychiatric disorders! They do claim that a "few" findings have been replicated, but fail to name them. In fact, I am not aware of any consistently replicated findings. Unfortunately, many leaders of this field feed stories to journalists about supposed gene findings, and these of course end up as sensationalized reports of "gene findings" that are actually never replicated. It's too bad that the sobering assessments these psychiatric genetic researchers share with their colleagues rarely make it into the popular media.

Here is the quote, from a 2007 article by psychiatric geneticists S.V. Faraone , J.W. Smoller, C.N. Pato, P. Sullivan, and M.T. Tsuang:

"It is no secret that our field has published thousands of candidate gene association studies but few replicated findings."

Jay Joseph, Psy.D.
Licensed Psychologist
The Missing Gene (2006), The Gene Illusion (2004)

- - -

Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection comments:

(Original here)

In the 1930s eugenicists proclaimed mental disorders were "proven" to have a genetic basis. Psychiatrist Franz J. Kallmann, an influential geneticist of the period said that the aim of his 1938 schizophrenia family study was "to offer conclusive proof of the inheritance of schizophrenia." [1 See, note]

A major report by Dr. Alan Sanders and 22 colleagues in the official journal of the American Psychiatric Society, acknowledges that the science isn't there to support the claim of a genetic cause for schizophrenia. Their comprehensive analysis casts doubt on the genetic hypothesis for schizophrenia:

"our findings suggest it is unlikely that true associations exist at the population level for the alleles that have formed the basis for the large candidate gene literature for these 14 postulated schizophrenia candidate genes." [2]

The sample included 1,870 cases (schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder) and 2,002 screened comparison subjects (i.e. controls), all of European ancestry, with ancestral outliers excluded based on analysis of ancestry-informative markers.

"Neither experiment-wide nor gene-wide statistical significance was observed in the primary single-SNP analyses or in secondary analyses of haplotypes or of imputed genotypes for additional common HapMap SNPs. Results in SNPs previously reported as associated with schizophrenia were consistent with chance expectation, and four functional polymorphisms...did not produce nominally significant evidence to support previous evidence for association."

Psychiatry has so far failed to provide a valid explanation for any biological underlying cause for mental disorders. After decades of research utilizing sophisticated technology, no genetic, biochemical, or other biological locus for psychiatric disorders has been found. The "chemical imbalance" theory has been debunked as a "metaphor," Thus, the presumed biological basis underlying psychiatric diagnoses remains unvalidated. (PlosJournal)

Jay Joseph has written books and numerous journal articles critical of genetic research in psychiatry. He provides a cogent critique of psychiatry's underlying assumptions and flawed methodology. He believes that molecular genetic research in psychiatry has failed to find specific genes that cause psychiatric disorders because such genes are unlikely to exist. [3]

In light of the failure to pinpoint any biological basis for mental disorders, Psychiatry will be hard pressed to justify its continued prescribing of highly toxic drugs whose severe adverse effects are measurable and documented in chronic disability and early deaths.

Psychiatry's aggressive prescribing practices—including prescribing untested multi-drug combinations or "cocktails" even for young children—lack a medico-scientific basis.

Psychiatry's prescribing of antipsychotics singly and in drug cocktails is akin to using a chemical sledgehammer. Lacking a science-based biological target, such a shotgun approach is carried out in complete ignorance.

Four-year old, Rebecca Riley was a casualty of psychiatrists' irresponsible use of toxic drugs for a dubious biological diagnosis at age 28 months.


1. Dr. Kallmann trained under Dr. Ernst Rüdin, one of the architects of racial hygiene policies in Nazi Germany, fled to the US in 1933. Kallmann F: The Genetics of Schizophrenia: A Study of Heredity and Reproduction in the Families of 1,087 Schizophrenics. New York, J. J. Augustin, 1938

2. Alan R. Sanders, M.D. + 22 colleagues. No Significant Association of 14 Candidate Genes With Schizophrenia in a Large European Ancestry Sample: Implications for Psychiatric Genetics, Am J Psychiatry 2008; 165:497–506.

3. Jay Joseph's latest book, The Missing Gene: Psychiatry, Heredity, and the
Fruitless Search for Genes, 2006, New York: Algora.

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav

See also:

Doctor is sued in death of girl, 4
The parents of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley are awaiting trial on charges that they killed her in December 2006 with an overdose of psychiatric drugs.
more stories like this

A medical malpractice suit filed yesterday asserts that a Tufts Medical Center psychiatrist who diagnosed the girl as bipolar when she was 28 months old and then treated her for two years with a regimen of powerful drugs is to blame for her death.

The new neuropsychiatric genetics
It is no secret that our field has published thousands of candidate gene association studies but few replicated findings. (emphasis added) After much discussion among the Editors and the Editorial Board about guidelines for publishing such studies, we have decided to use the following principles to guide our editorial decisions...

"Unlikely" that key genes cause schizophrenia
"We did not detect a significant association of schizophrenia with SNPs in 14 candidate genes that have been of great interest to the field," wrote the authors.

"Our results suggest that, taken together, common DNA variants in these 14 genes are unlikely to explain a large proportion of the genetic risk for schizophrenia in populations of European ancestry."


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday March 27 2008
updated on Friday June 26 2009

URL of this article:


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Readers' Comments

As my 'mentally ill' friend would say; "I may be mad but I'm not stupid".

Can't say the same for many of these so-called scientists.

Posted by: Northerntracey on March 28, 2008 12:43 PM


I am not surprised at all that I can't blame my dad for my OCD and my daughter can't blame me for hers - all three of us have it.

I think the only "genetics" the three of us share are similar exposures to bacteria, viruses, and/or fungi passed on environmentally (such as Lyme and babesia) - and most importantly, similar exposures to electromagnetic and microwave fields (power lines, cell phone masts, etc...)

Posted by: Carol on April 4, 2008 11:13 AM


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These articles are brought to you strictly for educational and informational purposes. Be sure to consult your health practitioner of choice before utilizing any of the information to cure or mitigate disease. Any copyrighted material cited is used strictly in a non commercial way and in accordance with the "fair use" doctrine.



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