Genetic Predisposition Vs Environmental Triggers In Mental Illness

1004 words - 5 pages

The concept that nurture has a direct effect on the process of development was first formalized in the 19690's by John Locke, which this was then contested in 1869 by a man named Francis Galton who believed that nature alone influenced the process of development. The current consensus within the scientific community is that there is a mixture of both genetic and environmental factors that contribute to mental illness. The real controversy now lies with which of the two are more prominent in an individuals developmental process and at what point the two intertwine. This essay will attempt to understand both sides of the argument and outline what the evidence on either side leads us to conclude, and how that may shape future treatement of mental illness.

It is without question that DNA is the building blocks of any human being, recent studies have found that your genetic makup has a significant impact on how a person responds to stress, which can make certain people susceptible to mental illness, most notably depression. (Srijan Sen, 2011) It is believed that your DNA allows for a range of possible characteristics and tendencies that is then determined by your environment and daily activities. This last point of course leads to the heart of the controversy between genetic predisposition and environmental triggers, and which is more prominent. A study released by Livesley in 1993 is a perfect example of the attempt to link genetic predisposition strongly to mental illness and found that Narcissistic Personality Disorder had a 64% heritability rate. This study however was widely criticized as to having no consistency with its chosen participants and also failed to mention if any of the participants or their parents had a personality disorder. Due to these external variables, it was believed that the margin of error was too significant for the studies findings to hold any real merit in presenting a strong link between genetic predisposition and NPD in particular. With this being said, studies continue to reveal more about our genetics with each passing day. The neurology department at UCLA revealed last year that they had identified a number of genes that can both increase and reduce the risk of certain mental illnesses. More interestingly, they found that the same genes affected the brain similarly in people throughout different populations, showing that genetics have a key role to play in the development of mental illnesses and in some cases may be able to be treated in the future biologically, by attempting to lessen the risk of individuals to mental illness.

An individuals environment is known to have substantial effects on a persons characteristics and behavior. Aggression and anti-social behavior is one such trait that is used in the argument of nature vs nurture. The Genetic-developmental theory, although supportive of genes having a direct effect of producing aggression as a trait also states that environmental factors result in...

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