Challenging the Therapeutic Narrative : Historical and Clinical Perspectives on the Genetics of Behavior book cover
1st Edition

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

  • Available for pre-order on December 28, 2022. Item will ship after January 18, 2023
ISBN 9781032395807
January 18, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
152 Pages

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Book Description

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 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 section 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 academicians from various disciplines working across the fields of behavioral genetics, evolutionary biology, philosophy of science and the history of science.

Table of Contents

Introduction Section 1: The Confabulating Species  1. The Problem with Storytelling  2. The Rise and Slow Decline of the Therapeutic Narrative  Section 2: 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  Section 3: Reconnoitering Innateness  6. Innateness Wars: A Darwinian Aside  7. The Missing 50%: Non-Heritable Sources of Variance  8. The Dimensional Approach

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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; and 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