I have a relation who was diagnosed in her twenties with schizophrenia (and she was full-blown psychotic), but it seems to have just disappeared. She’s been fine for decades and has a full-time, demanding job. So this news may help explain why:

Schizophrenia is classified as a psychotic disorder, one characterized by an inability to discern what is real and not real, to think clearly, have normal emotional responses, and act normally in social situations. As Elyn Saks told us last year, “it’s a waking nightmare, where you have all the bizarre images, the terrible things happening, and the utter terror — only with a nightmare you open your eyes and it goes away. No such luck with a psychotic episode.”

Scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes it, nor does it manifest identically in all people who have it (leading to the broader diagnosis of being on the ‘schizophrenia spectrum’). But links have been made to genetics, social factors (including early development), and neurobiology. The heritability link looks to be particularly promising, however; about 80% of the risk for schizophrenia is genetic. Yet scientists have struggled to identify which genes are responsible for the condition.

But a novel approach to analyzing genetic influences on more than 4,000 people with schizophrenia has finally allowed researchers to identify distinct gene clusters that contribute to eight different classes of schizophrenia.

3 thoughts on “Progress

  1. Everything is hereditary and rooted in genetics. Everything. Including why some catch and some do not catch the same common cold. Why these genes are in our DNA is the question. Are they an accident of natural (?) combinations (people producing offspring and changing the DNA pattern) or were they purposely implanted in our DNA in the past for some unknown and yet undiscovered reason? Not everybody caught the Spanish Flu virus of 1917-18 and those people who survived the Black Plague had a resistant gene.

  2. My particular concern with genetics is the development of a determinist paradigm with respect to a variety of human ailments. Certain elements in society would be quite happy to introduce a ‘new’ eugenics, allowing them to terminate the lives and reproductive rights of billions based on connections scientists “aren’t entirely sure” of.

  3. Euthanasia. In polite society they call it war. If we end all violence then violence in any form would become unacceptable. Including any decision about who gets to live and who gets to die.

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