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Sophie F's picture

Initial thoughts

If “virtually no behavior is determined by genes and virtually every behavior is influenced by genes,” there is obviously great merit in understanding the interaction of genes and their contribution to various mental states. If we know how the genes interact, perhaps certain mental stresses can be ameliorated with medications or other interventions at some point.  I wonder about the idea of “blaming” genes for behavior once we have elucidated the relationship between the two. In my mind, part of the necessary paradigm shift in conceptualizing, talking about and, yes, even treating mental illness comes from dissipation of the over-arching theme of blame. The story of “blame” is not a constructive one from the perspective of blaming environmental factors or blaming genes. If certain behaviors have a genetic component and there are new ways to evaluate this, then perhaps we can work to prevent people from engaging in such behaviors. Understanding the genetic implications of mental states does not necessitate complete reliance on genetic explanations in evaluating behavior. The greater the depth of understanding that can be achieved, through genetic markers and through an evaluation of environmental factors, the greater the potential to understand others' behaviors. 

This site had some really interesting information and links to pertinent articles about behavioral genetics.

In appealing to the storyteller as a vehicle for reshaping meaning, is that not an act of free will? Is that not the very point of “creating meaning” that we have the capacity, the ability, the possibility, if not always the tools, to craft a new story? I found this article, one story, about the very nature of our conception of free will affecting our behavior. (this is a link to the original study cited in the previous article) Perhaps, believing in free will, not limitless human powers, but choice within the boundaries, different for each of us, of our mental faculties coupled with our environments, gives us another tool in which to refine meaning. The less we employ various tools in reshaping meaning, the more difficult, though not impossible, it becomes to wield the same tools and to do so effectively. Yes, to free will and yes to variability in perceptions that lead to outcomes that might not be predicted.


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