Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

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Studies of mental functions, behaviors and the nervous system.

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Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#1  Postby kennyc » Jul 15, 2014 12:18 pm

Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances – How Explanations Of Mental Illness Affect Stigma

July 14, 2014 | by Nick Haslam

Depression, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions are increasingly linked to abnormalities in the brain and in our genes. Many professionals believe these developments hold the key to better treatments and their enthusiasm has spread. The public now endorses biogenetic (biological and genetic) explanations for mental health problems much more than in previous decades.

One possible side effect of these developments is a reduction in stigma. If the cause of psychiatric misery is in our brain chemistry or our DNA, then the miserable cannot be blamed for their symptoms. Advocates argue that stigma will diminish if we come to see mental health problems as biologically caused diseases, no different from diabetes or cancer.

This is an appealingly optimistic view, linking scientific advance to social progress. Unfortunately, it may also be wrong. Many writers have argued that seeing mental health problems as biogenetically caused diseases increases stigma. Believing that a person has a deep-seated biological defect may lead us to see them as unpredictable, incurable and categorically different from the rest of us.

My colleagues and I recently tried to resolve these conflicting views. We synthesised 53 studies of the links between biogenetic explanation for mental health problems and stigma.

The studies examined several forms of stigma. Some considered whether people were blamed and held responsible for their condition. Some assessed the belief that they were unlikely to recover. Some measured the desire to keep away from them. Finally, some measured the perception that people with mental health problems were dangerous or unpredictable.

Our findings indicate that biogenetic explanations have decidedly mixed blessings. People who attribute mental health problems to brain disease or heredity tend to blame affected people less. However, they are also more pessimistic about recovery, more willing to socially exclude affected people and more likely to see them as dangerous.


....


http://www.iflscience.com/brain/brains- ... ect-stigma
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#2  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jul 15, 2014 1:04 pm

I think there is some good discussion on the social effects of describing mental disorders as a biogenetic problem but to me it seems like there is an elephant in the room as to why we shouldn't be describing them as such: because it's factually wrong. Even if it turned out that describing them as being caused by biogenetic factors improved stigma or something else, I'd still argue that we shouldn't do so simply because I think there are harms to promoting known falsehoods.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#3  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 1:20 pm

One possible side effect of these developments is a reduction in stigma. If the cause of psychiatric misery is in our brain chemistry or our DNA, then the miserable cannot be blamed for their symptoms. Advocates argue that stigma will diminish if we come to see mental health problems as biologically caused diseases, no different from diabetes or cancer.


It makes no difference whether mental disorders are the result of genetic or environmental influences as far as blaming the sufferers for their misbehaviours is concerned. Nobody's responsible for anything they do ultimately, sane or otherwise.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#4  Postby kennyc » Jul 15, 2014 1:24 pm

Keep It Real wrote:
One possible side effect of these developments is a reduction in stigma. If the cause of psychiatric misery is in our brain chemistry or our DNA, then the miserable cannot be blamed for their symptoms. Advocates argue that stigma will diminish if we come to see mental health problems as biologically caused diseases, no different from diabetes or cancer.


It makes no difference whether mental disorders are the result of genetic or environmental influences as far as blaming the sufferers for their misbehaviours is concerned. Nobody's responsible for anything they do ultimately, sane or otherwise.


What??? Are you claiming we have not control whatsoever over our behavior. That's just dumb.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#5  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 1:27 pm

I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control. It's the biggest joke on the planet as I keep re-iterating but there we have it.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#6  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jul 15, 2014 1:30 pm

Keep It Real wrote:
One possible side effect of these developments is a reduction in stigma. If the cause of psychiatric misery is in our brain chemistry or our DNA, then the miserable cannot be blamed for their symptoms. Advocates argue that stigma will diminish if we come to see mental health problems as biologically caused diseases, no different from diabetes or cancer.


It makes no difference whether mental disorders are the result of genetic or environmental influences as far as blaming the sufferers for their misbehaviours is concerned. Nobody's responsible for anything they do ultimately, sane or otherwise.


Indeed, but I think the author is just referring to social attitudes/beliefs rather than making statements of fact. In other words, many people view biological causes as being more concrete, real, or immutable than non-biological causes (even though there is obviously no reason to think so).

Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control. It's the biggest joke on the planet as I keep re-iterating but there we have it.


You don't even need to be a determinist to accept the fact that environmental factors shape our behavior. The "determinist" bit is only relevant when you make the stronger claim that all of our behaviors are determined.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#7  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 1:39 pm

kennyc wrote:
What??? Are you claiming we have not control whatsoever over our behavior. That's just dumb.

I'd say that we have control over our behaviour, but that we're not responsible ultimately for who we are, so ultimately we have no control. All we are is a flicker of consciousness, poked and prodded into certain patterns of action by environmental and biological mechanisms beyond our control.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#8  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 1:42 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:
You don't even need to be a determinist to accept the fact that environmental factors shape our behavior. The "determinist" bit is only relevant when you make the stronger claim that all of our behaviors are determined.

I have no problem ATM making the claim that all our behaviours are determined.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#9  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 15, 2014 1:45 pm

Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control.
...

You are leaving out our capacity to make our own decisions. We humans are not like ants, whose behaviour is detemined by the interplay of environmental cues and command instincts. Although there are often compelling reasons to act in a particular way, we are still ultimately our own master. Indeed, there are only laws (and enforcement) because we don't necesarily do the socially acceptable thing (or, in the case of dictatorships, what is acceptabe to the dictator).
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#10  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jul 15, 2014 1:46 pm

Keep It Real wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
You don't even need to be a determinist to accept the fact that environmental factors shape our behavior. The "determinist" bit is only relevant when you make the stronger claim that all of our behaviors are determined.

I have no problem ATM making the claim that all our behaviours are determined.


Yeah I get that and I wasn't trying to debate that point at all, I was just pointing out that we wouldn't need to adopt a stance like determinism to think that not all behaviors are under our control. Even the most extreme proponents of free will would agree that we don't, and can't, consciously control all of our actions.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#11  Postby kennyc » Jul 15, 2014 1:46 pm

Keep It Real wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
You don't even need to be a determinist to accept the fact that environmental factors shape our behavior. The "determinist" bit is only relevant when you make the stronger claim that all of our behaviors are determined.

I have no problem ATM making the claim that all our behaviours are determined.


So you don't believe in random radioactive decay or quantum fluctuations I presume. Either that you you believe they are predetermined.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#12  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 1:58 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control.
...

You are leaving out our capacity to make our own decisions. We humans are not like ants, whose behaviour is detemined by the interplay of environmental cues and command instincts. Although there are often compelling reasons to act in a particular way, we are still ultimately our own master. Indeed, there are only laws (and enforcement) because we don't necesarily do the socially acceptable thing (or, in the case of dictatorships, what is acceptabe to the dictator).

Yes we are :)
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#13  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 2:00 pm

kennyc wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
You don't even need to be a determinist to accept the fact that environmental factors shape our behavior. The "determinist" bit is only relevant when you make the stronger claim that all of our behaviors are determined.

I have no problem ATM making the claim that all our behaviours are determined.


So you don't believe in random radioactive decay or quantum fluctuations I presume. Either that you you believe they are predetermined.

I think they are predetermined. Saying they're not is like the "god of the gaps" mentality - just because we don't understand what causes an occurrence doesn't mean it has no cause.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#14  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 15, 2014 2:01 pm

Keep It Real wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control.
...

You are leaving out our capacity to make our own decisions. We humans are not like ants, whose behaviour is detemined by the interplay of environmental cues and command instincts. Although there are often compelling reasons to act in a particular way, we are still ultimately our own master. Indeed, there are only laws (and enforcement) because we don't necesarily do the socially acceptable thing (or, in the case of dictatorships, what is acceptabe to the dictator).

Yes we are :)

You think we are just like ants?
Interesting theory, but maybe slightly misleading.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#15  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 2:02 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
You don't even need to be a determinist to accept the fact that environmental factors shape our behavior. The "determinist" bit is only relevant when you make the stronger claim that all of our behaviors are determined.

I have no problem ATM making the claim that all our behaviours are determined.


Yeah I get that and I wasn't trying to debate that point at all, I was just pointing out that we wouldn't need to adopt a stance like determinism to think that not all behaviors are under our control. Even the most extreme proponents of free will would agree that we don't, and can't, consciously control all of our actions.

Fair enough :cheers:
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#16  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 2:03 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control.
...

You are leaving out our capacity to make our own decisions. We humans are not like ants, whose behaviour is detemined by the interplay of environmental cues and command instincts. Although there are often compelling reasons to act in a particular way, we are still ultimately our own master. Indeed, there are only laws (and enforcement) because we don't necesarily do the socially acceptable thing (or, in the case of dictatorships, what is acceptabe to the dictator).

Yes we are :)

You think we are just like ants?
Interesting theory, but maybe slightly misleading.


Not just like ant's, in the same way that I'm not just like my sister. I actually think you're ant example paints the picture rather well. :cheers:
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#17  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 15, 2014 2:51 pm

Keep It Real wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
You are leaving out our capacity to make our own decisions. We humans are not like ants, whose behaviour is detemined by the interplay of environmental cues and command instincts. Although there are often compelling reasons to act in a particular way, we are still ultimately our own master. Indeed, there are only laws (and enforcement) because we don't necesarily do the socially acceptable thing (or, in the case of dictatorships, what is acceptabe to the dictator).

Yes we are :)

You think we are just like ants?
Interesting theory, but maybe slightly misleading.


Not just like ant's, in the same way that I'm not just like my sister. I actually think you're ant example paints the picture rather well. :cheers:

:rofl:
I suspect, therefore, that you don't know much about ants.
If the antennae of an ant in an outgoing column should accidentally stray into the homeward-bound column, then that ant immediately turns and joins the homeward-bound column again, without actually having any food to take with it! Therefore, I say, "speak for yourself" if you say we are "like ants".
EDIT: I think you are just playing with words, like "like".
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#18  Postby Shrunk » Jul 15, 2014 3:02 pm

Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control. It's the biggest joke on the planet as I keep re-iterating but there we have it.


But then you can't really blame the people that blame others, can you?
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#19  Postby Keep It Real » Jul 15, 2014 3:08 pm

Shrunk wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control. It's the biggest joke on the planet as I keep re-iterating but there we have it.


But then you can't really blame the people that blame others, can you?

Indeed not. Can't blame nobody for nothin'.
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Re: Brains, Genes And Chemical Imbalances

#20  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 15, 2014 3:10 pm

Keep It Real wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
Keep It Real wrote:I'm a determinist. People need to be held responsible for their actions in order for society to function but ultimately it's purely environmental and genetic influences which determine our behaviour; neither of which are within our control. It's the biggest joke on the planet as I keep re-iterating but there we have it.


But then you can't really blame the people that blame others, can you?

Indeed not. Can't blame nobody for nothin'.

What about the Mafia bosses? Do you see them as innocent, too?
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