1st Edition

Challenging the Therapeutic Narrative Historical and Clinical Perspectives on the Genetics of Behavior

By Robert G. Goldstein Copyright 2023
    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume explores and challenges the assumption that behavioral proclivities and pathologies are directly traceable to experience—an assumption that still widely dominates folk psychology as well as the perspective of many mental health practitioners.  This tendency continues despite powerful evidence from the field of behavioral genetics that genetic endowment dwarfs other discrete influences on development and psychopathology when extrinsic conditions are not extreme. 

    An interdisciplinary collection, the book uses historical, cultural and clinical perspectives to challenge the longstanding notion of identity as the product of a life-narrative.  Although the nativist-empiricist debate has been revivified by recent advances in molecular biology, such ideas date back to the Socratic dialogue on the innate mathematical sense possessed by an illiterate slave. The author takes a philosophical and historical approach in revisiting the writings of select figures from science, medicine, and literature whose insights into the potency of inherited factors in behavior were particularly prescient, and ran contrary to the modern declivity toward the self as narrative. The final part of the volume uses historical and clinical perspectives to help illuminate the elusive concept of innateness and highlights important ramifications of the revolution in behavioral genetics.

    Seeking to challenge the clinical utility of the therapeutic narrative rather than the importance of experience per se, the book will ultimately appeal to psychiatrists, psychologists, and academics from various disciplines working across the fields of behavioral genetics, evolutionary biology, philosophy of science, and the history of science.

    Introduction Part I: The Confabulating Species  1. The Problem with Storytelling  2. The Rise and Slow Decline of the Therapeutic Narrative  Part II: Apostles of Modern Nativism  3. Francis Galton and the Birth of Behavioral Genetics  4. The Novelist as Accidental Nativist: The Addict as Natural Kind  5. Seymour Kety and American Lysenkoism  Part III: Reconnoitering Innateness  6. Innateness Wars: A Darwinian Aside  7. The Missing 50%: Non-Heritable Sources of Variance  8. The Dimensional Approach


    Robert G. Goldstein is Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry and Assistant Attending Psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He is also a member of the Research Faculty at the DeWitt Wallace Institute of Psychiatry, an interdisciplinary research division at Weill Cornell, USA. He is a graduate of Brown University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA.

    "This is an evolutionarily sophisticated book manuscript that I found very valuable."

    -- John Alcock, Emeritus Professor, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

    "This book is a refreshing counterpoint to the classical and still fashionable reliance on narrative biographical formulations in clinical psychiatry, that endure despite a century of countervailing behavioral neuroscience and genetics evidence. The author manages to entertain while tackling this complex topic."

    --Albert HC Wong, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada

    "This was a difficult book for this clinical psychologist to read. Goldstein takes the view that human psychology is due primarily to genetic factors. What follows is a detailed explanation that downplays the role of personal experiences typically understood to impact human psychology. Psychotherapy is essentially described as a process that helps patients only in identifying their genetic proclivities and figuring out what to do about them. Readers who cite research supporting at least 50 percent of factors influencing behaviors that are non-heritable encounter a chapter titled "The Missing 50%," which argues that genetic and neurological factors do account for that missing 50 percent but just have not been identified yet. When reading this chapter, this reviewer was reminded of how Sigmund Freud, a neurologist, insisted that neurology would someday account for all aspects of psychology, including the unconscious; the science had just not caught up yet. In terms of providing a solid summary of research showing the genetic influence of behavior, this is an excellent text." 

    --D. C. Marston, Marston Psychological Services, LLC, CHOICE