Mental Illness, Genetics of

  • Steven Matthysse
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Only adoption studies can provide solid evidence for the existence of heritable factors. Twin studies, showing that the concordance rate in monozygotic twins exceeds that in dizygotic twins, are weakened because monozygotic twins are likely to be treated more similarly by significant persons in their environment, and may also tend to identify psychologically with each other. Studies of family process, showing that families with disturbed communication patterns are more likely to have a schizophrenic child, are not compelling evidence for nongenetic factors, because the disturbed behavior of the parents could be a consequence of the behavior of the child, or a parallel effect of the same genes that caused schizophrenia in the offspring. There are, however, adoption studies in both schizophrenia and affective disorder that point toward the existence of heritable factors.

Further reading

  1. Botstein D, White RL, Skolnick M, Davis RW (1980): Construction of a genetic linkage map in man using restriction fragment length polymorphisms. Am J Hum Genet 32: 314–331Google Scholar
  2. Gottesman II, Shields J (1982): Schizophrenia: The Epigenetic Puzzle. New York: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  3. Kety SS (1983): Mental illness in the biological and adoptive relatives of schizophrenic adoptees: Findings relevant to genetic and environmental factors in etiology. Am J Psychiatry 140: 720–727 (Contains a summary of the Danish adoption study data, with responses to critics.)Google Scholar
  4. Kidd KK, Matthysse S (1978): Research designs for the study of gene-environment interactions in psychiatric disorders: Report of a Foundations’ Fund for Research in Psychiatry panel. Arch Gen Psychiatry 35: 925–932CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Mendelwicz J (1981): Adoption study in affective illness. In: Biological Psychiatry, Perris C, Struwe G, Jansson B, eds. New York: ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  6. Schulsinger F, Kety SS, Rosenthal D, Wender PH (1979): A family study of suicide. In: Origin, Prevention, and Treatment of Affective Disorders, Schou M, Stromgren, E, eds. New York: Academic PressGoogle Scholar
  7. Sutcliffe JG, Milner RJ, Shinnick TM, Bloom, FE (1983): Identifying the protein products of brain: Specific genes with antibodies to chemically synthesized peptides. Cell 33: 671–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Tsuang MT, Winokur G, Crowe RR (1980): Morbidity risks of schizophrenia and affective disorders among first degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia, mania, depression and surgical conditions. Br J Psychiat 137: 497–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

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  • Steven Matthysse

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