Joanna Moncrieff: A Critique of Genetic Research on Schizophrenia

…or, as she subtitles it, ‘Expensive Castles in the Air’.

Click on the link to (thank you, Monica) for a post on this with a link onwards to Joanna’s own site. Beyond Meds offers a vast treasure chest of articles, links and other resources:-

Or this goes directly to Joanna’s site – which also offers valuable resources:-

The bottom line is that there is no compelling evidence establishing a genetic basis for medical model diagnoses of schizophrenia – although studies are often presented to imply an evidence base that does not exist:-

‘….results have lead some commentators to conclude that ‘genetic predispositions as significant factors in the prevalence of common diseases are refuted’ (6). Yet researchers and the media continue to report genetic studies as if they represent evidence that bodily diseases and behavioural or mental disorders are genetic conditions- that is conditions that are determined in an important way by detectable genetic variation. The recent schizophrenia study was reported in just such a way.’

Like Monica, we resonate with Joanna’s closing comments:-

‘To me, the fact that genetics contributes little to our risk of disease, or our likelihood of developing behavioural and mental disturbance, seems a matter of celebration. The idea that we are doomed by our genetic make-up to develop life-threating or disabling conditions is surely a profoundly depressing one.

We will likely never be able to fully account for why some people experience extreme mental states, but we know that poverty, unemployment, insecure attachments, familial disruption, low self-esteem, abuse etc. play a role for many. We would be better concentrating on how to eliminate these from our society if we really want to reduce the impact of mental disorder, rather that pouring more money into the bottomless pit of genetic research.’

poverty, unemployment, insecure attachments, familial disruption, low self-esteem, abuse’: Well quite. These studies pour money into analysing the dust under the bed, whilst the elephants in the room watch TV and eat pop-corn.

Our own overwhelming sense in this service is this: Those who find in therapy a path into exploring their experiences of ‘extreme mental states’ (and there are many paths besides therapy), also find there is nothing random or inexplicable about those mental states – they arise from and are a response to experience. In all cases.

The meanings and unwindings of ‘extreme mental states’ are personal, subtle and do not necessarily need to be understood by client or therapist from a cognitive place. The task is more a holistic re-encountering, re-inhabiting and symbolizing of experience, held within a relationship characterized by the core conditions. And it is possible to heal, reintegrate and move through, into Rogers’ conception of the ‘good life’, a freer, fuller, more alive, organismic experiencing.

Like Joanna, we would like monies currently spent on this genetic research to be redirected, into creating more enhancing ways of living with each other and parenting our children in our cultures, and to offering healing relationship to those needing it.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter


This entry was posted in Carl Rogers, cultural questions, genetics, healing, human condition, Joanna Moncrieff, medical model, Monica Cassani, organismic experiencing, person centred, psychiatric drugs, psychiatry, research evidence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Joanna Moncrieff: A Critique of Genetic Research on Schizophrenia

  1. Pingback: Neutralising suffering: how the medicalisation of distress obliterates meaning and creates profit – Joanna Moncrieff | Palace Gate Counselling Service Blog

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