Monday, July 23, 2018

Is Mental Illness Genetic?

"I have a bad temper," said Orlando, a client in-session.

"I rage, hurt people, and throw things  around. I just can't help it. My father and mother and their siblings all had it in the family," he continued with a sigh.

This client saw me because his wife left him due to his repeated anger outbursts and physical beatings.

He's severely depressed and afraid that he might get out of control.

Orlando genuinely wished he could change his behavior pattern.

But he's at the same time believing that it's in his "genes," impervious to any shift.

He noted, however, that he had one brother and one sister who didn't have an anger problem.

It did make him wonder about the validity of his "genes" theory.

If psychological problems, such as a bad temper, has genetic cause, then both of Orlando's brother and sister would also have an anger problem.


Genes do not cause mental disorders. No one is born with psychopathology. 

There are no scientific or medical genetic tests to confirm a diagnosis of mental illness. 

No such thing as "bad temper gene," "depression gene," "addiction gene," "suicide gene," or social anxiety panic gene."

My take, then, is that psychological and emotional problems are not hereditary. Not biologically or gene-based. Nonphysical.

They're "learned habits in life" (unconscious though most are) traceable to original environment and people who nurtured one's foundations.

Trauma, emotional harm, and substance abuse from origins or culture increase the likelihood of developing a mental illness.

Given this context, potential control remain possible. Your mind is not a helpless victim of your genes.

Original trauma or pain creates disorders you don't choose. Healing creates changes you choose in your mind.

As George Bernard Shaw once observed, "Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."