The Behavioral Genetics of Psychopathology: A Clinical Guide

By Kerry L. Jang | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Schizophrenia and the Psychotic Disorders

The psychotic disorders are probably the most dramatic of the psychiatric conditions, with their prominent delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech and behavior. The clarity of the psychotic phenotype makes it an ideal disorder to study from a genetic perspective. Interest in these disorders, especially schizophrenia, has led to some of the most comprehensive theories explaining their development. This chapter examines the behavioral genetic support for the most commonly accepted theory: that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which a fixed brain lesion in early life interacts with maturational events that occur much later (Weinberger, 1987). This hypothesis is based on the idea that a brain lesion can remain clinically silent until normal developmental processes bring the structures affected by the lesion "on line" (Marenco & Weinberger, 2000).

Support for this model would consist of evidence for: (a) a genetic predisposition for the disorder, (b) influence of environmental phenomena on gene expression at critical times during development, (c) the impact of altered patterns of gene expression on other developmental processes and subsequent behavior, and (d) the largely permanent nature of any alterations in gene expression (Lewis & Levitt, 2002). In this chapter, I review some of the recent behavioral genetic research in each of these four areas. Most of the published research is relevant to the first three issues, particularly the first. There is a large amount of molecular genetic literature, a cursory review of which would fill a book, and several excellent reviews of this literature have already been published.

To provide a sample of what has been found, there have been several reports that possible susceptibility genes have been located on chromosomes 6p and 8p (e.g., Moises, Yang, Kristbjarnarson, et al., 1995; Pulver et al., 1995; Schwab et al., 1995; Wang et al., 1994). Replications on chromosome 10p have also been reported

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The Behavioral Genetics of Psychopathology: A Clinical Guide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Behavioral Genetics of Psychopathology - A Clinical Guide *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - Behavioral Genetic Basics *
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 - The Abcs of Behavioral Genetics 15
  • Chapter 3 - Classification and Diagnosis 44
  • II - The Behavioral Genetics of the Common Mental Disorders *
  • Chapter 4 - The Mood Disorders 67
  • Chapter 5 - The Personality Disorders 87
  • Chapter 6 - The Anxiety Disorders 111
  • Chapter 7 - Substance Use Problems 132
  • Chapter 8 - Schizophrenia and the Psychotic Disorders 150
  • Chapter 9 - Recapitulation 165
  • Further Reading 172
  • References 174
  • Author Index 195
  • Subject Index 205
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