Genetic information and environmental factors

Because “the study is not designed to determine whether certain genes contribute to the expression of these disorders,” it cannot “address this important question.” And the studies it has been published in are “confounded by the use of a variety of measures of environmental stress, that is, stressors that may affect the expression of genes that have been linked to the development of psychiatric disorders.” That is, the data support what we have always suspected: “the scientific data show that genetics and environmental factors play a significant role in the development of these disorders.” The journal cited above was not alone in reporting the study. In fact, one of the most popular news stories on the article cited above (also written by the journal) also appeared in the March 2012 issue of The New York Times, in a piece titled “Genetic Links to Schizophrenia, Depression and Autism Are Linked to Abnormal Brain Development.” The story noted that “genes in the genes that are thought to be associated with these diseases have been identified,” but that “it is still unclear whether the genes in question have anything to do with the actual behavior of these disorders.” But this statement is misleading: the link between genetic changes and the actual symptoms of psychiatric disorders is clear.

A broader problem with the study, though, is that it cannot even claim to have demonstrated the existence of a causal link between environmental factors and the onset of a psychiatric disorder. It can only assert that these factors influence the development of these disorders, and that there is “substantial evidence” to support this hypothesis. In fact, the study does not even provide evidence that these environmental factors cause the onset of the disorders in question, because it is a study of just five psychiatric disorders. There is no evidence that it shows that these environmental factors are the cause of any other psychiatric disorders, nor that they are the cause of the illnesses in question, but simply that they influence the onset of the disorders in question.

The American Psychiatric Association’s definition of a psychiatric disorder is as follows:

A psychiatric disorder is a medical condition that is characterized by a range of abnormal behaviors, thought, emotions, perception, or behavior that is not part of the individual’s cultural, ethnic, or family heritage.

A condition that has no clear cultural, ethnic, or family heritage is not a psychiatric disorder. Therefore, the condition in question is not schizophrenia, depression, autism, bipolar disorder, or any other disorder that is found in cultures other than the one in which it is found.

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