Molecular Genetics and the Human Personality

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Jonathan Benjamin, Richard P. Ebstein, Robert H. Belmaker
American Psychiatric Pub, Aug 13, 2008 - Medical - 376 pages
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In the 1960's and 1970's, personality and mental illness were conceptualized in an intertwined psychodynamic model. Biological psychiatry for many un-weaved that model and took mental illness for psychiatry and left personality to psychology. This book brings personality back into biological psychiatry, not merely in the form of personality disorder but as part of a new intertwined molecular genetic model of personality and mental disorder. This is the beginning of a new conceptual paradigm!!

This breakthrough volume marks the beginning of a new era, an era made possible by the electrifying pace of discovery and innovation in the field of molecular genetics. In fact, several types of genome maps have already been completed, and today's experts confidently predict that we will have a smooth version of the sequencing of the human genome -- which contains some 3 billion base pairs

Such astounding progress helped fuel the development of this remarkable volume, the first ever to discuss the brand-new -- and often controversial -- field of molecular genetics and the human personality. Questioning, critical, and strong on methodological principles, this volume reflects the point of view of its 35 distinguished contributors -- all pioneers in this burgeoning field and themselves world-class theoreticians, empiricists, clinicians, developmentalists, and statisticians.

For students of psychopathology and others bold enough to hold in abeyance their understandable misgivings about the conjunction of "molecular genetics" and "human personality," this work offers an authoritative and up-to-date introduction to the molecular genetics of human personality. The book, with its wealth of facts, conjectures, hopes, and misgivings, begins with a preface by world-renowned researcher and author Irving Gottesman. The authors masterfully guide us through Chapter 1, principles and methods; Chapter 4, animal models for personality; and Chapter 11, human intelligence as a model for personality, laying the groundwork for our appreciation of the remaining empirical findings of human personality qua personality. Many chapters (6, 7, 9, 11, and 13) emphasize the neurodevelopmental and ontogenetic aspects of personality, with a major emphasis on the receptors and transporters for the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Though these neurotransmitters are a rational starting point now, the future undoubtedly will bring many other candidate genes that today cannot even be imagined, given our ignorance of the genes involved in the prenatal development of the central nervous system. Chapter 3 provides an integrative overview of the broad autism phenotype, and as such will be of special interest to child psychiatrists. Chapters 5, 8, and 10 offer enlightening information on drug and alcohol abuse. Chapter 14 discusses variations in sexuality. Adding balance and mature perspectives on how all the chapters complement and sometimes challenge one another are Chapter 2, written by a major figure in the renaissance of the relevance to psychopathology of both genetics and personality; Chapters 15-17, informed critical appraisals citing concerns and cautions about premature applications of this information in the policy arena; and Chapter 18, a judicious contemplation by the editors themselves of this promising -- and, to some, alarming -- field.

Clear and meticulously researched, this eminently satisfying work is written to introduce the subject to postgraduate students just beginning to develop their research skills, to interested psychiatric practitioners, and to informed laypersons with some scientific background.


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Page 345 - DL (1988). A single dominant gene can account for eye tracking dysfunctions and schizophrenia in offspring of discordant twins.

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About the author (2008)

Jonathan Benjamin, M.D., is Associate Professor in the Division of Psychiatry at Ben Gurion University, and Chief of Psychiatry at Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon, Israel.

Richard P. Ebstein, Ph.D., is at the Research Laboratory at S. Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel.

Robert H. Belmaker, M.D., is Hoffer-Vickar Professor of Psychiatry at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel.

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