Friday, March 1, 2024

Blaming Our Genes: The Heritability of Our Behaviors

This article helps to uncover the question of whether some traits people have are really beyond their control or something they could have picked up throughout their years of development.  When it comes to behavior, genetics plays a significant role, as shown by studies on various traits and disorders. Twin studies and family genetic studies help us understand the heritability of behaviors, indicating how much of a trait is influenced by genetics versus the environment, basically nurture vs. nature. Traits like intelligence and addictive behavior (food addiction, alcohol/drug addictions, sex addiction) both have substantial genetic components, with estimates of heritability ranging from 50% to over 90%, indicating that traits like these are more likely than not to get passed down across generations.  Disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression also have strong genetic bases, with heritability estimates ranging from 70% to 85%. Similarly, conditions like familial advanced sleep phase syndrome (FASPS), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism have clear genetic components contributing to their development. Understanding the genetic basis of these behaviors and disorders can help destigmatize mental illness, improve diagnosis and treatment, and even lead to the development of new therapies.  This article was very interesting to me, but it also freaked me out in a way because of the way that disorders like depression and bipolar disorder can be passed down from generation to generation. I know someone who suffers from depression personally, so I know that the lows are very low and the high can be at times too high. I also know that this person really dislikes the fact that they have this disorder and would be incredibly upset at the fact that will more likely than not pass the trait down. I can't even begin to imagine how it might feel like it's all your fault when your child experiences similar struggles that you face.


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