Yet the search has proved to be more elusive than Aladdin's famous Genie. Even the white coated researchers are getting discouraged by the complexity of their task, as suggested in two recent scientific articles. Searching for Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. & The missing genes: what happened to the heritability of psychiatric disorders?
In the first article the authors explain that:
"Ten years ago it was widely expected that the genetic basis of common disease would be resolved by genome-wide association studies (GWAS), large-scale studies in which the entire genome is covered by genetic markers. However, the bulk of heritable variance remains unexplained."
And in the second article:
"Less than 2% of the 80–90% heritability of major psychiatric disease, for example, schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness is attributable to genes identified by linkage and association. Where is the missing heritability?"
Where is that Missing Heritabliity?
Its a great question and of coarse and the easy quick think answer is that genetics is more complex than we realized at the outset of the genome project, and given enough time and resources scientist's will find the genetic markers of all psychopathology? Or will they? Is the very nature of 'affective disorder' far more systemic and inter-relational than simple linear 'this causes that' thinking can possibly identify?
In the the article that prompted my words here; "Where’s the Bipolar Gene?" By
The author writes:
Perhaps any genetic predisposition is in the sensitivity of the organism to environmental conditions, such as the response of the autonomic nervous system to instinctive threat, or what neuroscience calls, 'neuroception.'
As I described in a recent post: Bipolar: Family & the Gen Affect
The theories & concepts pointed to above combine to show how common perception may contain more mis-perception than true understanding & awareness, so much so that we may be barking up the wrong tree in a belief that 'affective disorders' like bipolar, are in fact an 'illness.'
Indeed how much is our preference for linear cause and effect thinking, instinctively rather than intelligently driven, such as our assumption that the brain alone is responsible for affective disorders.
Perhaps there is a little too much differentiation in science circles, with not enough holistic integration across the many areas of research, as was pointed out in Allan Schore's excellent book Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development He brings together thousands of scientific papers to show a more complete picture of human development, including the probable genesis of affective disorders, than any one particular line of inquiry possibly can.
Just as the writer Candida Fink, MD suggests; "these are not simple cause-and-effect relationships," and just like the wish that conjured Aladdin's genie, are we perhaps wishing for technology to solve a problem stimulated by the instinctual energies of affect/emotion, prompted by denial?
In research that seeks a more complete picture neuroscience is beginning to glimpse the complexity of human development and interaction, coining the term 'affective states' to describe the systemic reactivity of each moment we live. The view of mental illness as disease includes such systemic reactivity, born of fear and the need for objective thinking to distance the mind from sensations of the body and the overwhelming power of affect/emotion.