Genetics and Affective Changes in Schizophrenia

  • Peter McGuffin
  • Anne E. Farmer
  • Ian Harvey
  • Maureen Williams
Conference paper


One of the pioneers of psychiatric genetics, Luxenburger (quoted in Jaspers)(1) remarked, that for the purpose of research ‘schizophrenia’ should be regarded as no more than a useful working hypothesis. It remains essential to retain this principle especially in the current era of research when operational diagnostic criteria such as DSM-III (2) with all their proven reliability and appearance of certainty can easily mislead us into the belief that we really know what schizophrenia is. The enhancement of reliability has of course been a boon to psychiatric research, and it is scarcely surprising that the use of explicit criteria has now become virtually mandatory in respectable scientific journals when schizophrenia is the topic. But, in addition to a false sense of security and certainty, operational definitions have two other drawbacks. First, many alternative sets of criteria are available, most with proven reliability, but when a variety of definitions is employed to classify the same sample of patients there is frequently poor concordance over which subjects are or are not diagnosed suffering from schizophrenia. As Brockington et al (3) have put it, the previous state of inarticulate confusion in the diagnosis of schizophrenia has been replaced by a ‘babble of precise but differing formulations of the same concept’. The second problem is that some workers have come to question virtually any finding established before the comparatively recent introduction of operational definitions. Therefore before focussing on affective change it is worth giving some brief consideration to the genetics of schizophrenia in the context of modern diagnostic criteria.


Manic Depressive Illness Affective Disorder Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Affective Illness Functional Psychos 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter McGuffin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anne E. Farmer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ian Harvey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maureen Williams
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Wales College of MedicineCardiffWales
  2. 2.University of Wales College of MedicineLondonEngland
  3. 3.King’s CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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