30 Pages 7576 Words
DNA & BEHAVIOR
Is Our Fate in Our Genes?
The Topic In-Depth
Since 1998, when The DNA Files first presented an overview of the science and social implications of research in behavior genetics, scientific discovery has been relatively limited. Instead, commentary has focused on the complex interplay of genetics and environment in affecting human behavior.
Discussion has also emphasized the inherent difficulty in applying standard scientific techniques - such as the "experimental method" - when studying the genetic factors that influence human behavior.
Further, experts continue to urge caution against using terms like "genetic" and "inherited," interchangeably with terms like "familial." While "genetic" and "inherited" involve the transfer of a trait from one generation to another by physical means like DNA, a "familial" trait simply occurs at a high rate within a particular family - a phenomenon that may due to biological factors, environmental influences, or a combination of the two.
Meanwhile, the reported discovery of a "gay gene" in 1993 continues to be challenged. Likewise, the "gene for" or "genes for" violence or particular personality traits have remained no more than theoretical possibilities. While specific genetic factors continue to be associated with alcoholism and other addictive behaviors, their exact contributions - and how this information could be used in mitigating the behaviors - are still unclear.
Progress, mainly through studies of twins, has also been made in identifying genetic factors that may influence the development of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But t...
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