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The Gene Illusion [Paperback]

Jay Joseph
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

January 2003
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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Review

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

About the Author

Jay Joseph, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist practising in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Since 1998, his articles on genetic research in psychiatry and psychology have appeared in journals such as Developmental Review; The American Journal of Psychology; Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs; Politics and the Life Sciences; The Journal of Mind and Behavior; Psychiatric Quarterly; New Ideas on Psychology; and Ethical Human Sciences and Services. He is currently an Associate Editor of Ethical Human Sciences and Services, and an Assessing Editor of The Journal of Mind and Behavior.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In 1925 psychiatrist Abraham Myerson, who was writing at the height of the eugenics movement's influence the belief in the overriding importance of genes, observed, 'We often hear of hereditary talents, hereditary vices, and hereditary virtues, but whoever will critically examine the evidence will find that we have no proof of their existence. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars shooting down decades of biopsychiatry's puffery March 10 2004
Format:Paperback
Pick up virtually any text book on psychiatry or abnormal psychology, and you're sure to find confident assertions that schizophrenia has a "strong genetic component." Twin studies and adoption studies will be claimed to provide clear scientific evidence of this.
Jay Joseph has done something the authors of most such text books have not - he's actually looked at the studies themselves. His own book is detailed, comprehensive and scholarly - and when he holds these studies up to the light, most of their authors' confident conclusions virtually crumble. At the very least, Joseph shows how speculative and shakily supported these conclusions are. But I think Joseph establishes more: if the twin and adoption studies stand for anything, they show how overwhelmingly important environment and experience are in schizophrenia.
This book is not light reading. But it methodically puts biopsychiatry to the test. And, as so often in its history, biopsychiatry does not fare well when looked at too closely.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars shooting down decades of biopsychiatry's puffery March 10 2004
By Peter C. Dwyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Pick up virtually any text book on psychiatry or abnormal psychology, and you're sure to find confident assertions that schizophrenia has a "strong genetic component." Twin studies and adoption studies will be claimed to provide clear scientific evidence of this.
Jay Joseph has done something the authors of most such text books have not - he's actually looked at the studies themselves. His own book is detailed, comprehensive and scholarly - and when he holds these studies up to the light, most of their authors' confident conclusions virtually crumble. At the very least, Joseph shows how speculative and shakily supported these conclusions are. But I think Joseph establishes more: if the twin and adoption studies stand for anything, they show how overwhelmingly important environment and experience are in schizophrenia.
This book is not light reading. But it methodically puts biopsychiatry to the test. And, as so often in its history, biopsychiatry does not fare well when looked at too closely.
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