NY Times reports the findings of a new study that links the same genetic glitch to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, major depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And sociopathy? I see autism and ADHD on there, both of which I think are related to sociopathy.
Their study, published online Wednesday in the Lancet, was based on an examination of genetic data from more than 60,000 people worldwide. Its authors say it is the largest genetic study yet of psychiatric disorders. The findings strengthen an emerging view of mental illness that aims to make diagnoses based on the genetic aberrations underlying diseases instead of on the disease symptoms.
Two of the aberrations discovered in the new study were in genes used in a major signaling system in the brain, giving clues to processes that might go awry and suggestions of how to treat the diseases.
“What we identified here is probably just the tip of an iceberg,” said Dr. Jordan Smoller, lead author of the paper and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “As these studies grow we expect to find additional genes that might overlap.”
Researchers had already seen some clues of overlapping genetic effects in identical twins. One twin might have schizophrenia while the other had bipolar disorder. About six years ago, around the time the new study began, researchers had examined the genes of a few rare families in which psychiatric disorders seemed especially prevalent. They found a few unusual disruptions of chromosomes that were linked to psychiatric illnesses. But what surprised them was that while one person with the aberration might get one disorder, a relative with the same mutation got a different one.
Jonathan Sebat, chief of the Beyster Center for Molecular Genomics of Neuropsychiatric Diseases at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the discoverers of this effect, said that work on these rare genetic aberrations had opened his eyes. “Two different diagnoses can have the same genetic risk factor,” he said.
In fact, the new paper reports, distinguishing psychiatric diseases by their symptoms has long been difficult. Autism, for example, was once called childhood schizophrenia. It was not until the 1970s that autism was distinguished as a separate disorder.
I thought this was very interesting, especially the one twin schizophrenic and the other bipolar. I get a lot of emails and see a lot of comments where people mention that there is someone in their family who is a narcissist or BPD or bipolar. It could be that being exposed to these people in an intimate, familial setting could be the environment that is triggering otherwise unrelated genes in sociopaths, etc.? Or maybe we all share more in common genetically than we had previously considered. Right aspies?
Of course the predicament here is that if we killed sociopaths or put them on an island, that really wouldn't weed out the gene, would it? Sterilize sociopaths? Same argument would apply to anyone who shared the genetic risk factor, maybe bipolar, autistics, etc.? Genocide targeting sociopaths may have gotten just a little bit more complicated.