© 2019

Madness and Genetic Determinism

Is Mental Illness in Our Genes?

  • Challenges theories of genetic determinism for mental illness, particularly schizophrenia

  • Discusses weaknesses of past research in twin and adoption studies to suggest that environmental factors play a major role in mental illness

  • Provides a historical examination of mental illness with particular focus on institutionalization


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 1-8
  3. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 9-20
  4. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 21-33
  5. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 35-46
  6. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 47-56
  7. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 57-67
  8. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 69-82
  9. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 83-97
  10. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 99-118
  11. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 119-129
  12. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 131-139
  13. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 141-148
  14. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 149-154
  15. Patrick D. Hahn
    Pages 155-170
  16. Back Matter
    Pages 171-193

About this book


This book explores the history of genetic determinist theories of mental illness, beginning in the nineteenth century and continuing right up to the present day. A century of research in the field of psychiatric genetics, from family studies to twin studies to adoption studies to genome-wide association studies, has produced no credible evidence of a strong genetic components to so-called “mental illnesses,” no findings that help the human condition in any way, and in fact has caused great harm by diverting attention away from the well-established causes of these conditions, which have their roots in trauma and other adverse childhood experiences. This book also explores the long tradition of humanistic psychiatry and its great success in treating these conditions with an empathetic, client centered approach—a tradition that has been all but forgotten in the modern era of biogenetic explanations and drug-centered treatments for mental illness.

Patrick D Hahn is an Affiliate Professor of Biology at Loyola University Maryland, USA, and a freelance writer. 


Genetics Critical Psychiatry Madness Mad Studies Schizophrenia

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.BiologyLoyola University MarylandBaltimoreUSA

About the authors

Patrick D Hahn is an Affiliate Professor of Biology at Loyola University Maryland, USA, and a freelance writer.

Bibliographic information


“For many people working in it or having contact with it, modern psychiatry is a pretty weird place. Has it always been this way? Pat Hahn's book traces the weirdness way back. Some of his case histories are jaw-dropping. He will also leave you with a dark suspicion—that a lot of the weirdness, maybe most of it, comes from the researchers.” (David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry at Bangor University, UK, and author of Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder (2008))

“Patrick Hahn has written an important book about psychiatry and psychiatric genetics. He describes troubling aspects of these fields’ histories, and shows that many of the core positions and assumptions of psychiatry and psychiatric genetics are controversial, and are based on very problematic research methods. I recommend this book as a refreshing alternative to mainstream accounts of these fields, which usually emphasize biological treatments and claimed biological causes, and often lose sight of the human condition and the emotionally damaging social, political, and family environments that so many people experience.” (Jay Joseph, clinical psychologist and author of Schizophrenia and Genetics: The End of an Illusion (2017))

Madness and Genetic Determinism is a meticulously documented account of arguably the worst scientific catastrophe of recent times. Patrick Hahn has managed to turn the tragic and shameful history of psychiatric genetics into a riveting human saga.” (John Read, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of East London, UK, and editor of Models of Madness: Psychological, Social, and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia (2004))