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The “Missing Heritability” of Psychiatric Disorders: Elusive Genes or Non-Existent Genes?

Published: 23 April 2012

Abstract: The psychiatric genetics field is currently undergoing a crisis due to the decades-long failure to uncover the genes believed to cause the major psychiatric disorders. Since 2009, leading researchers have explained these negative results on the basis of the “missing heritability” argument, which holds that more effective research methods must be developed to uncover presumed missing genes. According to the author, problems with the missing heritability argument include genetic determinist beliefs, a reliance on twin research, the use of heritability estimates, and the failure to seriously consider the possibility that presumed genes do not exist. The author concludes that decades of negative results support a finding that genes for the major psychiatric disorders do not appear to exist, and that research attention should be directed away from attempts to uncover “missing heritability” and toward environmental factors and a reassessment of previous genetic interpretations of psychiatric family, twin, and adoption studies.
Keywords: psychiatric disorders / missing heritability / argument / presumed / twin / exist / uncover

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