Commentary on So-Called 'Biological'
In Genetics in Medicine: Real Promises, Unreal Expectations, by Steve
Jones, for the Milbank Memorial Fund, we read:
“To type “OMIM” reaches the database Online Mendelian Inheritance in
Man, maintained by the National Institutes of Health. At last count,
10,000 distinct genetic conditions were listed, by recessive, dominant,
and sex-linked loci, with others due to many genes of small effect .Most
perinatal mortality has some genetic basis, and most long-term mental
patients have conditions that can be ascribed to genes. All cancers,
too, involve genetic changes, in body cells, in the germ line, or both.”
While I find this report to be scientifically correct, for the
most part, here we have an unscientific, or anti-scientific blurring of
the line between organic neurology and non-organic psychiatry. Was this
intended, to the benefit of industry-based "biological psychiatry" which
seeks to portray all things mental/emotional/behavioral as genetic, as
chemical imbalances, and thus, as diseases (having an abnormality
within the child/person) or was this an innocent imprecision of
Although there are now over 10,000 distinct genetic conditions in
humansnone at all have been confirmed in purely psychiatric disorders.
The only long-term mental patients with conditions that can definitely
be ascribed to gene abnormalities, have neurological, not psychiatric
diagnoses. Huntingtons disease leading to dementia and dependence is
genetican autosomal dominant. Alzheimers disease is a known
progressive brain degeneration, an undoubted disease, and, as such is
neurological, not a mental or psychiatric disorder- disease.
While genes appear to play a role in Alzheimers disease, much about the
underlying mechanisms in AD remain to be learned.
To be very clear on the distinction between psychiatry, on the one hand,
and neurology and all of the rest of medicine, on the other, not a
single psychiatric condition is known to have a physical or chemical
abnormalityincluding geneticanywhere in the brain or body to make of
it a bona fide disease.
As we all know, the joint message of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical
industry to the public--that every emotional and behavioral pain and
problem is a disease--bears no resemblance to actual scientific facts.