. . . and it's not their genes either. – Dr. C



Dear Reader:

I wrote the essay – The Era of Chemicals – in 1988. A year earlier, I was awarded my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. I was in my second year as the Director of a 66-bed residential facility in Southern California for boys placed from probation, social services, and mental health agencies. It was the first of three large mental health facilities than I’ve managed. I wrote this essay late one night in my office.

I never did much with it. I used to give it to my colleagues to read. I continued to do that over the years until I retired. I dusted it off to publish it now, because, well, it’s time. In fact, as you will see, it’s overdue.

When I managed facilities as the Director, I didn’t allow children to be given chemicals for their behavior. Admittedly, it was a lot easier in the mid-1980’s. The psychiatric Medical Model didn’t have the stranglehold on our profession as it does now. I just said no.

I had my reasons – professional, theoretical, philosophical – and they all added up to “no.” There was no “wiggle room” either, by the way. You’re either all in or all out with this failed model, so I didn’t allow any “dabbling.” There were many times I had therapists – especially new therapists – in my office cajoling, begging, angrily advocating, with articles-in-hand (no internet back then), to allow them to encourage the psychiatrist to prescribe a chemical “just for this one kid – please!” I said no. Luckily, they liked working with me, and I liked their work too – and we did good work together. By the time I started my third agency in 2003, I was more seasoned, less strident, more clever and, I’m happy to say, as successful.

The essay is a little awkward and stiff and some of the sentences go on forever. I ask for your patience, please. This was my first attempt at writing something serious about the subject. Nonetheless, other than some grammar and structure and other similar kinds of things, I wouldn’t change anything, so I didn’t.

I admit, though, there is the one thing that haunts me. The last paragraph. I used the word “perhaps” four times, including the last word of the essay. I was naïve. I was hoping the essay would have lost its relevance by now. It didn’t, I’m sorry to note.

I’ll tell you this now, a quarter century later: there’s nothing “perhaps” about it. We’ve gone from a few hundred thousand children given these toxic chemicals, to eleven million – and counting. It’s our shame, and our responsibility to put an end to it.

For now – The Era of Chemicals – from 1988.


We learn early in life that there are simple solutions to complex life problems. Whether a headache, tension, stress, depression, excessive activity, insufficient activity, insomnia, bed-wetting, bad grades, bad dreams, hallucinations, poor reading skills, too much appetite, not enough appetite, and so on, a simple trip to the drugstore, to the liquor cabinet, or to the “corner connection,” will ease these annoying and sometimes pervasive life-symptoms.

It’s as if unpleasant personal interactions, disappointments, tragedies, elations, moods, lack of skills, uncomfortable thoughts, undesirable physical appearance, and other events experienced by most human beings are best dealt with by the ingestion of one type of chemical or another. There may be a day when medication will carry the disclaimer: “Caution: The Surgeon General has determined that living may be hazardous to your health.”

The Medical (or Disease) Model is the prevailing theory in the helping professions. When discussing people who are “sick” or “ill” pertaining to a psychological description of behavior, the Medical Model is inferred. Indeed, the body’s chemicals do have an effect on behavior. As the chemist will state, in some ways “it’s all chemical.” Neurons are chemically stimulated, and they, in turn, chemically stimulate muscles and organs, and so on. Yet with some theorists, scholars, and students of human nature there exists a vast difference between the physiology of motion and the cause of behavior.

When someone behaves in a socially inappropriate way the physician seeks to explain the behavior by discovering the chemicals that are either missing, are in short supply, or are in overabundance within the individual. This is the cause of the disturbance, and they will treat the anomaly with chemicals of their own.

When questioned, the physician will claim there is an imbalance of some kind, in less than understood ways. Yet there is offered little, if any, explanation of what “balance” means. The fact the depressive is “elevated” by Elavil is enough to conclude the effects are beneficial, and that this is evidence of the efficacy of the drug. Most often the physician is at a loss to explain why the chemical works, how the chemical works, what can be predicted about its effects, or how long the person being treated will have to use the chemical.

Another concern is found in the phrase “side effects.” This is a marketing term used to minimize the impact of uncomfortable physical and psychological effects that occurs with the use of any medication. With chemotherapy, for example, hair loss, loss of appetite, and other effects of the chemicals used are well known. For the life-threatening physical disease of cancer, discomfort and distress may be well worth the option of not taking the treatment. However, when psychotropic medication is given to human beings for a psychological disturbance of some sort, unavoidable problems arise. The term “thorazine shuffle” was coined by the lay-employees in psychiatric settings, as their observations of the “side effects” of this drug were noted.

The use of Ritalin, or methylphenidate hydrochloride, provides another example. This overused and misused drug has been around for over a quarter of a century and is almost exclusively used for children. Its main purpose is to “calm” the hyperactive child. How does this work? How does a stimulant have just the opposite effect with very active children? No one seems to know. Turning to the Physicians’ Desk Reference, a volume of over 2200 pages that give a detailed description of all legal chemicals, you find some interesting remarks about Ritalin. The PDR, states:

Ritalin is a mild central nervous system stimulant. The mode of action in man is not completely understood, but Ritalin presumably activates the brain stem arousal system and cortex to produce its stimulant effect. There is neither specific evidence that clearly establishes the mechanism whereby Ritalin produces its mental and behavioral effects in children, nor conclusive evidence regarding how these effects relate to the condition of the central nervous system. (Physicians Desk Reference – 1987 edition)

The authors of the PDR also state Ritalin should not be given to children under six, and it is contraindicated when the child has marked anxiety, tension, and agitation as Ritalin may aggravate these symptoms. Continuing, they note that data on safety and efficacy of long-term use of Ritalin in children is not yet available, and “although a causal relationship has not been established, suppression of growth (i.e. weight gain, and/or height) has been reported with the long-term use of stimulants in children.”

And what are the “side effects” of this stimulant? Nervousness and insomnia are the most common reactions, along with hypersensitivity, skin rash, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, palpitations, headache, dyskinesia, drowsiness, blood pressure and pulse changes (up and down), tachycardia, angina cardiac arrhythmia, abdominal pain, and weight loss, to name some. An overdose may induce vomiting, agitation, tremors, hyperreflexia, muscle twitching, convulsions, euphoria confusion, hallucinations, delirium, sweating, flushing headache, hyperpyrexia tachycardia, hypertension, hydrias, and dryness of mucous membranes.

The most common place that a child first comes in contact with medication is in school, due to “disruptiveness” or “inattentiveness,” or in general, “poor school performance.” Dr. David Keirsey, author and professor emeritus has these remarks about the use of medication with school children:

The parents blame the school, as they should, but the school blames the child. He’s “dyslexic,” has “minimal brain dysfunction,” is “hyperactive,” has a “learning disability.” Therefore, says the school, he “needs medication.” Then some well meaning but ill-advised physician prescribes massive daily doses of some stimulant drug, parroting others’ assumption that the stimulant has a “paradoxical effect” of acting as a depressant. The victim is thus given his daily fix and its false high, his teacher claiming that he’s “calmer and works better.” Who wouldn’t be with that big a fix? And of course the child need not aspire to much; after all, what can you expect of a person with a bent brain? And later on? No. The child’s real problem is the school, not his brain; his brain is just fine.

Portraits ofTemperaments – Pg. 26

So why is the use of medication so pervasive with particular children? Usually because the child is a management problem, although this is most often denied. The child is ostensibly given drugs “to help him.” Yet close observation will note it is the teacher who needs help, or the mother, or the counselor. The belief is if someone is in profound psychological distress due to chemical imbalances, and this is interfering with more traditional treatment, then chemicals are prescribed to ease the distress in order to enter into a therapeutic conversation. Yet this seldom, if ever, occurs.

Instead the teacher is initially relieved she was heard, and while the child’s behavior doesn’t really improve, “at least he’s being treated.” Mother is now reluctant to take her child off medication for fear of a recurrence of past events, even though her son is tired all the time and doesn’t eat right, and in a “bad mood” constantly. Ironically, even the most ardent disciples of the Medical Model make no claim chemicals used for psychological disturbances “cure” the disturbance. Instead most will say some people will have to be on medication for “the rest of their lives.”

All professionals, including therapists, teachers, child-care counselors, teacher’s aides, social workers, and others, should become familiar the with the PDR. There are good reasons for this. Once a child is placed on medication designed to treat a psychological shortcoming of some sort, it soon becomes impossible to distinguish with any degree of accuracy between behavior that is due to the child’s psychological distress and behaviors due to the “side effects” of the prescribed chemicals.

Is the child agitated, now, because of internal strife, or is the prolonged use of medication affecting him? Is the child awake at night because of a sense of unbelonging, or is she simply exhibiting an effect of the particular chemical she is taking? When the child becomes disruptive at school and breaks another window, does this mean an increase in the medication, another type of medication, a decrease in medication, the medication is an irritant, or what?

Medical personnel refer to this process as “adjusting the meds.” The pursuit, really, is to “adjust” the child. Many experienced physicians are adept at creating just the right “high” so the child is awake, yet sedate. Often out of frustration and desperation – and genuine care – a child is referred to a doctor for his “medical problem.” However, when chemicals are used to manage the recalcitrant child, other more damaging “side effects” inevitably follow.

Once medicated, the child has a “disease” in addition to stressful life experiences he may have to endure. This disease is something beyond his control, something he and his family now may have to cope with. The child is seldom told of the prescription until it has been decided by others “for your own good.” He is given vague reasons as to why he has to take the medication (“to help you”), can soon become dependent (“I can’t go to school without my meds”), loses control over his behavior (“I can’t help it/it’s not my fault/I’m not responsible – I’m hyperactive”), lowers his own expectations about his future (mimicking the view others’ have of him), because of his “handicap.”

Chemicals have the effect of altering the physical-emotional-psychological affect or consciousness of human beings. About that there is not doubt. Yet this is a poor reason to give medication to children in psychological distress. “Why Mellaril instead of a ‘shot of booze’” asked one professional.” There is no good answer. Chemicals, for the most part, create dependence rather than independence. Most disturbing is the dependence created in many professionals and lay persons alike. After a confrontation it is not unusual to hear in some settings: “somebody take him to the psychiatrist and get his meds straight!!”

Chemicals taken into the body do have an impact on the human being. Give a child Ritalin, and his body is affected. Introduce Valium to the overworked bank teller and watch him calm. Allow the lonely housewife her vodka for the day and see a different housewife. Many simply can’t go to work without a cup of coffee. Others must smoke a cigarette as soon as they wake in the morning. And so on.

The use of drugs permeates every level of contemporary society. If one was to include all legal drugs in addition to the illegal drugs, then there are very few of us who are truly drug-free. In fact, one could argue the cause of the drug problem in our society lies not in the area aimed at by our “war on drugs,” which is the attempt to eliminate the use and distribution of a handful of illicit drugs. Instead one could defend the thesis the origin of the drug abuse problem in this society falls at the feet of the 3200+ legal drugs, and the permeating idea of “quick-fixes” that begins at a very early age. Moreover, as the distribution of legal drugs is a multi-billion dollar industry, new “breakthroughs” are common as the relief of life-symptoms can be done even more effectively with the “new and improved” products.

George Washington, after retiring from his two-term presidency, lived his final days in Mount Vernon. It’s likely this national hero and “father of our country” would have had the most updated and best medical professionals of his time at his calling. The state-of-the-art, unfortunately for Washington, proved to be unsuccessful. He was inadvertently bled to death in an attempt to cure him.

With hindsight, his treatment seems uncivilized and uninformed. Yet within the medical profession this was the best solution at the time. With foresight, one may wonder how our progeny will view the use of drugs in our current society. Perhaps they will look back and view us as uncivilized and uninformed. Perhaps they will wonder what we were doing to ourselves. Perhaps they will, as they review their history, refer to us as living in the “Era of Chemicals.”




Dr. Dean Edell started his radio broadcast in 1978. His common sense and clear answers earned him the accolades of millions of Americans. Dr. Dean retired in 2010. “No nonsense, no BS, no medi-babble” could have been his motto. Enjoy your retirement, Dr. Dean.

I was listening to him in the late seventies and early eighties when he would periodically tell his listeners there was no such thing as a sugar high. More than that, he implored his audience to pass this information around to others. I was surprised. How, I asked myself, could Dr. Dean be so wrong about this, and so right about most everything else?

At the time my wife and I were living with 8 boys ages 12-17 years old in a group home. They were active. We got them up in the morning, readied them for school, greeted them after school, helped them with chores, ate dinner with them, helped them with homework, and got them to bed. As professionals, and as surrogate parents, we stopped giving them sweets because we knew sweets added to their already too active behaviors, and we cared about these kids.

We knew about the behavioral power of sugar because we heard it from all of our sources at the time including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, teachers, teacher’s aides and other parents. My wife and I were parents with young children at the time. Like our friends and family who had young children, we all knew about the “sugar high,” the “sugar rush,” and, though less well known, the “sugar crash” – that’s what happens when sugar is depleted and all of the child’s energy is spent. The child “crashes.” We were informed parents and, as knowledgable child behaviorists, we were compelled to educate colleagues and the general public whenever we could.

Dr. Dean ruined all of that.

I did some homework, which was a lot more difficult back then. The internet wasn’t born yet. I was working towards my Master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton and I had access to their library. I used to study there before class, and from time to time I would research this question. To my utter dismay, I found out Dr. Dean was right. Conclusive. No kidding. No doubt. There was – and still is – no scientific evidence anywhere to support the idea that sugar has anything to do with increased activity – child or adult. There is no “high,” there is no “rush,” there is no “crash” either, even though those terms were so much part of our culture back then and, most distressing, still are.

I succumbed to this truth. I quickly converted, cleansed myself, and became a disciple. I felt obligated to pass this information on to friends, family and colleagues, as Dr. Dean suggested. Together we could help kill this myth, and get on with the task of helping children.

Not so fast there buddy. When I would tell people there’s no such thing as a sugar high, many would get mad at me, and the rest would ridicule me – as if I needed to modernize my thoughts. The same psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, teachers, teacher’s aides – and nearly all parents – refused to listen to this. This is still true, and it’s 2011.

Well informed mothers, fathers, caretakers and professionals are quick to point out they have watched children’s behavior become “manic” when too much sugar enters their blood streams. They’ve witnessed what is clearly a physiological effect with their own eyes and, way too often, their own ears. It’s obvious to anyone, they say without hesitation. Too much sugar “hypes” kids. So obvious that many parents dread birthday parties, Christmas cookies and, God-forbid, Halloween.

The simple reply is, respectfully, no, you didn’t see what you said you saw. You may have seen your child’s activity increase, but it didn’t have anything to do with sugar. You get madder still.

So, nowadays, in the 21st Century, I refer everyone to their own encyclopedia, the world wide web. Please, when you have an extra 20 minutes, take the time to Google, Yahoo, or Bing “sugar high” or “sugar rush.” See what you find. In the meantime, here are excerpts from five different sites I selected – there are many more – with their web addresses:

From The Straight Dope: In 1995 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of 23 comparatively rigorous studies conducted between 1982 and 1994. These were your classic controlled double-blind affairs: two groups of kids, one fed a bunch of sugar, the other given a placebo (i.e., artificial sweetener), everyone kept sufficiently in the dark as to who’d gotten what, etc. The results? No discernible relationship between sugar ingested and how the kids acted. It didn’t matter how old they were, how much sugar they got, what their diets were like otherwise — nothing. The JAMA authors stopped shy of drawing any definitive conclusions, but if there were a legitimate sugar-high effect out there, you’d like to see it turn up in the lab every so often.(http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2747/does-giving-sweets-to-kids-produce-a-sugar-rush)

From a nutritionist in Hawaii: It is not unusual, due to the misinformation that abounds out there in the public media (books, magazines, newspapers, word-of-mouth testimonials), to think that a ‘sugar high’ is a real thing. In some of the research that I have done with adolescents (almost 200 of them, at one time), we fed the boys as much sugar as we could cram into a breakfast, and not a one had a hormonal profile that suggested hypoglycemia; and, none of them experienced anything resembling a ‘sugar high.’ In fact, if you follow the biochemical pathway of sugar (glucose or sucrose) in the body, what it predicts is a calming effect of sugar, providing nothing else is eaten at the same time.(http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2000-01/947564807.Me.r.html)

From a Yahoo source on Health and Wellness: Here’s the big news. The scientific research that has been conducted not only finds no direct correlation between hyperactive activity and sugar, but actually has produced evidence that sugar may well have a palliative effect.(http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/515073 sugar_high_myth_or_reality_pg2.html?cat=5)

From a mother, at Daily Dose of Common Sense: My daughter had a birthday yesterday, and I had several well-wishers ask if she was bouncing off the walls because of sugar. Well, no, actually she was no more hyper yesterday than any other day. Yes, she ate a cupcake, Cracker Jack, Nerds, and a bunch of other junk, but she’s a healthy kid. That, and there’s no such thing as a “sugar high.” I know, it takes a second for it to sink in. We have been led to believe that sugar makes people (especially kids) hyper. But, it’s just not true. Our bodies do a really good job of regulating the sugar we intake. Many studies have been done on this topic and the conclusions are the same: the amount of sugar that a kid eats does not affect his or her level of activity. Jessie from Rational Moms did a great in-depth debunking of the sugar high myth. I highly recommend giving it a read. So, don’t worry about your kids being up all night after eating a bunch of sugar. They’re up late because they want to be up late. Duh. (http://www.dailydoseofcommonsense.com/2009/07/22/the-sugar-high-myth/)

Finally, and maybe you should go here first, this from Rational Moms: Even confronted with this evidence it can be difficult to believe. I’ve heard people grudgingly accept that it may not cause hyperactivity in children but insist that it causes rapid spikes and falls in blood sugar levels which create the feeling of the “Sugar Rush” and the “Sugar Crash.” . . . In this study all mothers identified their children as “sugar sensitive”. All the children were given a placebo (aspartame) but half of the mothers were told that their child was given a large amount of sugar. The mothers who thought their child was given sugar tended to stay physically closer to their child, criticized, looked at and talked to their children more then the parents who knew their children had the placebo. The mothers who thought their children ate sugar also rated their children as significantly more hyperactive than the control group.(http://www.rationalmoms.com/2008/12/01/the-myth-of-the-%E2%80%9Csugar-high%E2%80%9D/)

So, you’ve read the excerpts. More important, I hope you took some time to research this on your own. Good. Now you know for sure – a certainty – that there is no physiological sugar high, rush, or crash in human beings, and that includes little human beings. Not because I said it, or Dr. Dean said it, or those others you read on the web said it. But because, now, you say it. When it comes to behavior the unequivocal answer is no, children aren’t sugar sensitive, there isn’t a sugar high, a sugar rush, or a sugar crash – and there isn’t any wiggle room.

Why is this important? For a few reasons.

One. You and I – and everyone else convinced at one time or another that too much sugar causes children to be hyperactive – are mistaken. That includes your doctor, psychiatrist, teacher, aide, school psychologist, therapist, social worker, and any other professional you’ve relied on to make sure you are accurately informed.

Two. We become frantic when our children eat too much sugar, especially at the wrong time. Sometimes we even chastise the child because he – and it’s almost always he – doesn’t monitor his own sugar intake. After all, he should know by now that he has “ADHD” or an “imbalance” or “sensitivity” of some kind. He is, in a word, sick, and we’re just being cautious about his “condition.” We now know – you and I – this was never true. (By the way, maybe you know someone who has a very bright, 14 year old boy who has said on more than one occasion: “Sorry mom. I know I got hyper last night! I couldn’t stop! OK, OK, you were right! I had too much candy! Sorrreeeee!” Now you know for sure – and so does the 14 year old boy – it’s not the candy.)

Three. We can no longer place responsibility for a child’s behavior on this chemical because of a flaw in his body that was never there in the first place. This idea is going to become very important in Part II.

Four. We both now know our beliefs – even strong, heartfelt beliefs based on our care, our concern and our professional consultation – can alter our perceptions. Whoops, our bad. We need to make up for our mistake, and apologize to our children. You can still say he’s “too active,” however, you at least know now to eliminate sugar as a cause.

What’s the big deal? Is it really that harmful – this false truth about children that we’ve kept alive for way too long? My goodness, parents are educated to believe their child is sensitive to sugar in the way a diabetic is sensitive to sugar. A range of informed professionals explain to parents in convincing detail – usually something about brain chemicals – that their child may be “sugar-sensitive,” or worse, may have a “psychological disease.”

And what do conscientious parents do with this information? They seek out a doctor for their child’s medical condition. The doctor tells parents to monitor the child’s sugar intake, that much is obvious, and that maybe your child should take some medicine – usually Adderall or Ritalin or some other amphetamine – and your child’s disease is treated. Never fixed or cured – there are no fixes or cures available from these doctors – but medically treated.

Here’s an idea, if you have the gumption. The next time you have the opportunity, maybe in private, ask your child’s doctor, therapist, counselor, teacher or teacher’s aide if too much sugar causes children to engage in too much activity. If the teacher tells you it does, correct this common, misguided, and harmful answer. If the therapist persists, share your information and ask that it be checked out. If the doctor becomes frustrated trying to make you understand that you’re a layman, well, when you can, as politely as you think necessary, find another doctor. This one is woefully uninformed – and stuck in it – unlike you. Dr. Dean warned us decades ago that the most resistant to this information are informed professionals. Please, help them out.

Is there a physiological effect of taking in too much sugar? Sure there is. Ask anyone who substituted a pound of Sees candies or a quart of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for their dinner. When finished with their indulgence, they yearn to nap. In fact, an abundance of sugar does have a calming effect on human physiology, especially on an empty stomach. Also, sugar is often referred to as “empty calories,” and sweets certainly add to the obesity epidemic, not to mention the part it plays in tooth decay. And, as you already know, sugar certainly has a role in diabetes. (More about psychiatry’s dastardly psychi-babble use of diabetes in Part II).

You may guess my point about this. If we could both be so wrong about what we thought was so right, then are there other “truths” that need to be revealed as myths or comfortable conventions or false science? My goodness yes. Psychiatry is the biggest offender, as you will see in the upcoming article.

Finally, fellow convert, please help. To obliterate this harmful lie – and to make it right to all those kids we falsely accused and to ensure the next generation is accurately informed – we must be bold. When you’re at the check-out stand and you hear a stranger talk about “sugar high,” with a smile, ask them to “Google it.” When you’re at your PTA meeting and parents are concerned about all those “sugar snacks” the school is giving, make sure it’s because of calories and general health, and not because “sugar hypes kids.” Keep smiling, and educate them. And the next time you have a family reunion, deliberately bring this subject up so you can get into a friendly family argument and have it settled on the internet. You’ve just done a world of good for the kids in your family, and that’s always good for a smile.

Lest I forget, you can also forward this article to your friends, family members, doctors, teachers, therapists, neighbors – everyone. It’s 21st Century information. It’s not mine. It’s not Dr. Dean’s.

Now it’s yours. Make it someone else’s.

Let’s put the sugar lie to bed – for good.

The Gene Fool


The “Science”
Speaking in Washington at a noon briefing for congressmen, Professor William Garfield of the University of Minnesota said this:

“Despite what you hear, nobody has ever proven a single gene causes a single human behavioral trait.  Some of my colleagues believe such associations may eventually be found.  Others don’t think it will ever happen, that the interaction of genes and the environment is just too complex.  But, in any case, we see reports of new genes for this or that in the papers every day, and none of them has ever proven true in the end.”

“What are you talking about?” said the aide to Senator

Wilson.  “What about the gay gene, that causes gayness?”

“A statistical association.  Not causal.  No gene causes sexual orientation.”

“What about the violence gene?”        

“Not verified in later research.”

“A sleep gene was reported…”

“In rats.”

 “The gene for alcoholism?”

 “Didn’t hold up.”

 “What about the diabetes gene?”

“So far,” he said, “we’ve identified ninety-six genes involved in diabetes.  We’ll undoubtedly find more.”

There was a stunned silence.  Finally, one aide said, “If no gene has been shown to cause behavior, what is all the fuss about?”

Garfield shrugged.  “Call it an urban legend.  Call it a media myth.  Blame public education in science.  Because the public certainly believes that genes cause behavior.  It seems to make sense.  In reality, even hair color and height are not simple traits fixed by genes.  And conditions like alcoholism certainly aren’t.”(http://www.docmercury.com/rainy/category/to-our-shame)

The Making of a Growing Urban Legend
If you are among those who periodically declare, when talking about human behavior, that “it’s genetic,” or “it’s hereditary,” or “it’s in the gene’s,” please, my friend, be aware you are perpetuating this growing – and so far completely false – urban legend.  Heed Professor Garfield’s cautionary words.  Please stop.  You have no scientific reason to continue this growing falsehood about our behavior.

Also, please consider, “psychiatric geneticists” do the vast majority of these “studies.”  Please make room for your well-placed disdain for “modern psychiatry” to include this growing industry.  Why do they do this?  You know why.  To develop “medications” to provide “treatment” so that you will buy them to “fix” those “bad genes.”

Tell your friends, colleagues, confidants – and those you may provide services to – that so far, up to and including today, it’s all nonsense.  Help end this equally harmful, quickly growing, misguided, media-driven, lucrative psychiatric myth.

Still not convinced?  You’re insulted?  You think you know your Aunt Mildred’s genes are the reason you are “just like her?”  You are sure your son is a “chip off the old block?”  Everyone in your family drinks alcohol, or none of your family drinks alcohol, and that’s because of your genes?  More to the point, you think you’re bi-polar because your mother was bi-polar, and your sister is probably bi-polar too.  You’re asking me “what about that, wiseguy?”

How about a short story instead.

The Devil is in Those Blue Genes
In November of 2010 my wife Debbie and I were at my brother-in-law’s home in Valley Springs California.  Bob and his wife Sue are great hosts.  They live in the country and we have plenty of time to talk.  We usually bicker about something, whether it’s politics or global warming or the cycles of the moon.  It’s fun.  This night it was genetics.

As a career-long, professional opponent of “modern psychiatry” I’m skeptical of nearly everything they proclaim, and that includes their newest moneymaking escapade: “psychiatric genetics.”

“There’s a gene for everything,” one of us said.  “Google it,” someone else said, so I did, on my very smart Smartphone.  And that’s how it started.  Someone would think of a human trait, condition, emotion – anything – and I would insert that word and add “gene.” For example, someone said “depression” so I googled “depression gene” and looked at the hits. You know how this works.  I’d pick the most recent article or website, open it, and read the first few paragraphs, and add it to the list. Running out of ideas, we’d try anything.  Someone yelled out “fairness!”  Just as quickly, someone else said: “Fairness!? Oh come on! Fairness can’t be in a gene!”

Apparently, it can.

There it was.  The “fairness gene.” Soon to follow were the genes for God (not kidding), divorce, caffeine, hate – well, you won’t believe some of them.  The truth – and the point of this essay – is you really have no reason to believe any of them.  I’ll tell you this now:  none on the list that follows has proven to be true. None of them.  Not even the ones you think mustbe true.  To use the Professor’s words, the “evidence” for all of these studies “didn’t hold up.”

By the way, these aren’t quacks or kooks, should you think so.  As you’ll see, most of these “studies” were conducted at major universities around the world.  I name the names of otherwise reputable “scientists.” You’ll be impressed by their credentials.  And, if you’ll excuse a cynical watchfulness for some watchful cynics out there, when you skim an article, keep an eye out for the connection to a big pharmaceutical company.  You will likely find it.

We came up with 33 “behavior” genes that night.  I later added 18 more I found on the internet, and just recently I added 17 more, for a current total of 68. With your help, I think we can improve on that number – by increasing it.

I’m now a collector.  As you go about your business and you run across the newest genetic “discovery,” please leave me a link in the comment section, and use FOUND ANOTHER ONE! in the Title box.  Don’t be shy.  More than one in the same category is great, as long as they don’t point to the same study.  There are 68 so far.  I expect the list to grow and, if you wish (let me know), I will fully attribute your contribution to The Urban Legend List of Genes.

Here’s the list, as of May, 2012 (and please be sure read Professor Garfield’s comments at the end of the list – and the Epilogue).


To follow are recent genetic “discoveries,” “studies,” “links,” “might-be’s,” “identifieds,” “beliefs,” “finds,” and “suggesteds.” I included dates, information sources, introductory remarks, names of scientists, schools, and scientific sources wherever possible – plus a link for you to see the entire article too. The Summary first, then The Details:

The Summary: June, 2012

  1. ADHD
  2. ADHD II *
  12. AUTISM
  17. BI-POLAR
  23. CRIME
  32. FEAR
  34. GAY
  35. GAY MICE
  37. GOD
  39. HATE
  42. HUNGER
  43. INSOMNIA (in flies) 
  48. MISERY
  56. PORK*
  59. PTSD
  69. SUGAR

The Details

  1. ADHD – 9/29/2010: Gene Disorder Linked to ADHD.  Many who suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear to have a genetic abnormality that may predispose them to the condition, British researchers  FULL ARTICLE:  https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/attention-deficit-disorder-adhd-news-50/gene-disorder-linked-to-adhd-643724.html
  2. *ADHD II. December, 2011.  “At least 10 percent of the ADHD patients in our sample have these particular genetic variants,” said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The genes involved affect neurotransmitter systems in the brain that have been implicated in ADHD, and we now have a genetic explanation for this link that applies to a subset of children with the disorder.”FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111204144650.htm
  3. AGGRESSION – 3/21/06 (TERRADAILY). A version of a gene previously linked to impulsive violence appears to weaken brain circuits that regulate impulses, emotional memory and thinking in humans,researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)have found.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Aggression_Related_Gene_Weakens_Brains_Impulse_Control_Circuits.html
  4. ALCOHOLISM – 10/19/10: Now scientists have identified a gene that has a “big, big effect” on how people respond to alcohol, says Kirk Wilhelmsen, senior author of a paper posted Tuesday by the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.  FULL ARTICLE: https://www.myaddiction.com/news/%5Btermpath-raw%5D/gene-identified-may-explain-how-we-react-to-alcohol
  5. ALCOHOLISM II– 10/30/10 (About.com): The study, published in the January 2004 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, is the first to demonstrate an association between this particular gene and alcohol dependence.  “There were lines of evidence from other studies — animal studies, in vitro studies — that suggested GABA receptors are involved in the behavioral effects of alcohol,” says lead author Danielle M. Dick, Ph.D., research assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. FULL ARTICLE: http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/genetics/a/bluwa040114.htm
  6. ALZHEIMER’S– 4/14/10 (WebMD): People with a particular variation in the gene, dubbed MTHFD1L,may be nearly twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as people without the variation.Still, the absolute risk of developing Alzheimer’swill be “very small” for any given individual that carries the variant, says Margaret Pericak-Vance, PhD, director of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20100414/new-alzheimers-gene-identified 
  7. AMISH (HEART DISEASE) –12/12/08 (myLot): A rare genetic abnormality found in people in an insular Amish community protects them from heart disease, a discovery that could lead to new drugs to prevent heart ailments, U.S. researchers said.”People who have the mutation all have low triglycerides,” said Toni Pollin of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, who led the study released Thursday.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/1832863.aspx
  8. ANOREXIA NERVOSA –11/19/10 (ScienceDaily): Scientists at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphiahave identified both common and rare gene variants associated with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa . . . “However, despite various genetic studies that identified a handful of candidate genes associated with AN, the genetic architecture underlying susceptibility to AN has been largely unknown,” said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101119120840.htm
  9. ANXIETY – 3/3/08(Science Daily). “We found that variations in this gene were associated with shy, inhibited behavior in children, introverted personality in adults and the reactivity of brain regions involved in processing fear and anxiety,” says Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD, of the MGH Department of Psychiatry, the report’s lead author. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303190630.htm 
  10. ANXIETY AND SWEETS –5/6/10: Researchers have found an “anxiety gene” which when switched on not only causes stress but increases our craving for sweets and comfort food.  FULL ARTICLE: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/7686306/Scientists-find-anxiety-gene-that-also-makes-you-comfort-eat.html
  11. ART & SCHIZOPHRENIA: NewScientist – July 16, 2009. …New research seems to show why: a genetic mutation linked to psychosis and schizophrenia also influences creativity.  The finding could help to explain why mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing mental illnesses such as schizophreniaand bipolar syndrome have been preserved, even preferred, during human evolution, says Szabolcs Kéri, a researcher at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, who carried out the study. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17474-artistic-tendencies-linked-to-schizophrenia-gene.html
  12. AUTISM – 10/12/11 (The Sydney Morning Herald): A cluster of genes is missing in children with autism, US scientists have found. . . Michael Wiglerfirst proposed it may play a major role . . . Dr Wigler’s colleague, Alea Mills, has found the deleted gene cluster not only plays a role in the condition but also may affect head-size. “Kids with autism tend to have larger heads” . . . research was funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative,started by billionaire James Simons and his wife, Marilyn.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.smh.com.au/world/science/scientists-find-gene-link-to-autism-20111011-1lj95.html 
  13. AUTISM II – 4/2/12 (nature) : De novomutations revealed by whole-exome sequencing are strongly associated with autism; Stephan J. Sanders, Michael T. Murtha, Abha R. Gupta, John D. Murdoch, Melanie J. Raubeson, A. Jeremy Willsey, A. Gulhan Ercan-Sencicek, Nicholas M. DiLullo, Neelroop N. Parikshak, Jason L. Stein, Michael F. Walker, Gordon T. Ober, Nicole A. Teran, Youeun Song, Paul El-Fishawy, Ryan C. Murtha, Murim Choi, John D. Overton, Robert D. Bjornson, Nicholas J. Carriero, Kyle A. Meyer, Kaya Bilguvar, Shrikant M. Mane, Nenad Šestan, Richard P. Lifton et al.. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10945.html
  14. AUTISM III – 4/25/12: A team led by scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL)publishes research today indicating a striking association between genes found disrupted in children with autism and genes that are targets of FMRP . . . “A surprising proportion — up to 20% — of the candidate geneswe see in our sample drawn from 343 autism families appear to be regulated by FMRP,” says CSHL Research Investigator Michael Ronemus, co-first author of the new study. FULL ARTICLE – http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-04-link-fragile-x-gene-mutations-autism.html
  15. BAD DRIVING – 10/29/09 (CNNTech).In a study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex, researcher Steven Cramerfound that people with a certain gene variant performed more than 30 percent worse on a driving test than people without it.. FULL ARTICLE:http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/10/29/bad.driver.gene/index.html
  16. BEDWETTING – 7/1/95 (What’s News).A team of Danish scientists examined 400 Danish families and selected 11 that suffered from ‘primary nocturnal enuresis type 1’ (PEN1) . . . They were able to localize the responsible gene to the long arm of chromosome 13. “A child who wets the bed does not do so on purpose,” said Hans Eiberg, Associate Professor at the Danish Center for Genome Research. “We now have scientific evidence that many cases of bed-wetting are caused by genetic factors beyond a child’s and parent’s control.”. FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.cccbiotechnology.com/WN/SUA05/bedwet.php
  17. BI-POLAR – 10/19/06: Bipolar Gene Discovered:  A team of researchers from Sydney, Australiaannounced some exciting findingsin this January’s edition of Molecular Psychiatry– a genetic link to bipolardisorder, the FAT gene.  FULL ARTICLE – http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2006/01/19/bipolar-gene-discovered/
  18. CAFFEINE – 4/6/11: Now researchers have found two genetic variations that may explain why never the twain shall meet.Genetic epidemiologist Marilyn Cornelis of the Harvard School of Public Health in Bostonknows about coffee addicts first hand—she’s got one in the family. Her father drinks 10 cups a day, she says. “He actually needs a cup of coffee before he can go to bed.”  FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/04/caffeine-fiend-could-be-gene-thing-or-two
  19. CANNABIS INDUCED PSYCHOSIS – 03/17/16 (PSYCHIATRIC NEWS). A team in the United Kingdom enrolled 442 young cannabis users (aged 16 to 23) and tested their working memory and psychotic symptoms both while intoxicated and drug free; they also collected DNA samples and tested for the presence of variants in two genes: AKT1 and COMT.FULL ARTICLE:https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2016.3b53
  20. CHRONIC PAIN – 9/8/11 (Yahoo Health). British scientists have identified a gene responsible for regulating chronic pain, called HCN2, and say their discovery should help drug researchers in their search for more effective, targeted pain-killing medicines. “Individuals suffering from neuropathic pain often have little or no respite because of the lack of effective medications,” said Peter McNaughton of Cambridge’s pharmacology department, who led the study.   FULL ARTICLE:  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pain-gene/scientists-find-gene-that-controls-chronic-pain-idUSTRE7875PN20110908
  21. COCAINE ADDICTION – 11/11/08 (The Telegraph). Rainer Spanagel, professor of psychopharmacology at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, who led the study, said: “If you are a carrier of this gene variant the likelihood of getting addicted to cocaine is higher. You can certainly use this as a vulnerability marker for cocaine addiction.” FULL ARTICLE:  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/3438758/Cocaine-addiction-gene-discovered.html
  22. COMPULSIVE GAMBLING – 9/5/96 (CNN). The research suggests compulsive gamblers share a gene that predisposes them to addictive behavior.  Environmental factors are important, psychological factors are important. It’s a complex disorder. But genes also play a role and this is one of the genes, said David Comings of the City of Hope National Medical Center.  FULL ARTICLE: http://edition.cnn.com/HEALTH/9609/05/born.gamblers/ 
  23. CRIME – 7/2/08: Crime Gene Discovered:  Researchers from King’s College Londonhave found that boys who have a version of a gene are much more likely to leave the rails if they are abused when young.FULL ARTICLE:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2165715.stm
  24. DEMENTIA – 7/16/06 (NIH). “This new finding is an important advance in our understanding of frontotemporal dementia,” says NIA director Richard J. Hodes. “It identifies a mutation in the gene producing a growth factor that helps neurons survive, and it suggests that lack of this growth factor may be involved in this form of frontotemporal dementia.”. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_90102
  25. DEPRESSION – 2/4/12 (FOXNews): David Glahn of Yale Universityand the Hartford Hospital Institute of Living, who worked on the study, said that finding the key to characterizing the gene was to combine all the information. “We assume that the biological measures are closer mechanistically to the underlying disease processes in the brain. Yet, ultimately we are interested in the subjective experiences and functional impairment associated with mental illness,” said Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, where the study appears. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/01/04/scientists-find-gene-for-depression/
  26. DEPRESSION II – 1/3/11 (TIMEHeartland):Researchers led by Srijan Sen, a professor of psychiatry atUniversity of Michigan, report in the Archives of General Psychiatry that individuals with a particular form of the serotonin transporter gene were more vulnerable to developing depression when faced with stressful life events such as having a serious medical illness or being a victim of childhood abuse. The form of the gene that these individuals inherit prevents the mood-regulating serotonin from being re-absorbed by nerve cells in the brain. FULL ARTICLE: http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/03/a-gene-to-explain-depression/
  27. DESPAIR – 9/17/09 (MedIndia). A gene, touted as the “despair” gene, which earlier had no relation with mood disorders, has now been found to have a link with bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenic conditions, according to pharmacy scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).  FULL ARTICLE –  http://www.medindia.net/news/Despair-Gene-Linked-to-Mood-Disorders-Depression-and-Schizophrenia-60999-1.htm 
  28. DIVORCE – 2/27/12 (MEDIndia). Researchers from the Karolinska Instituteanalyzed the DNA of more than 1,800 women and found that “women who had a variation of an oxytocin receptor gene, known as A-allele, were 50 per cent more likely to report ‘martial crisis or threat of divorce’.” FULL ARTICLE – http://www.medindia.net/news/divorce-gene-identified-98087-1.htm
  29. DRUNK AND VIOLENT – 12/22/10 (The Telegraph). Interestingly, we found that the genetic variant alone was insufficient to cause people to act in such ways,” said Dr David Goldman at National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholismin Maryland, USA. “Carriers of the HTR2B variant who had committed impulsive crimes were male, and all had become violent only while drunk from alcohol, which itself leads to behavioural disinhibition.” FULL ARTICLE: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101222131121.htm
  30. EARLY FIRST SEX – 8/14/09. (BBC NEWS).The researchers at the University of Oregon compared the average age of first intercourse among children whose fathers were always absent, partially absent or always present throughout childhood . . .Jane Mendle, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, who led the study said: “The association between father’s absence and children’s sexuality is best explained by genetic influences, rather than by environmental theories alone.  FULL ARTICLE:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8251483.stm
  31. ELITE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE – March/2003. Full Report.  ACTN3 Genotype Is Associated with Human Elite Athletic Performance.  Institute for Neuromuscular Research, Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney; Australian Institute of Sport and Human Genetics Group, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra; and Genetics Division, Children’s Hospital, Boston.  FULL ARTICLE: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1180686/
  32. FAIRNESS – 2/27/12 (MEDIndia). The D4 receptor (DRD4) exon3 is a well-characterized functional polymorphism, which is known to be associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and personality traits including novelty seeking and self-report altruism. Applying a neurogenetic approach, we find that DRD4 is significantly associated with fairness preference. A FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2972208/
  33. FEAR – 11/18/05 (SOFTPEDIA). Rutgers geneticist Gleb Shumyatskyhas discovered a gene that controls both innate and learned forms of fear. . . Stathmin knockout mice, or mutants bred to be deficient in this gene, showed an increase in the amount of microtubules . . .They noted that the knockout mice showed no fear and consistently explored more open areas than normal mice.”This study provides genetic evidence that amygdala-enriched Stathmin is required for the expression of innate fear and the formation of memory for learned fear,” the authors concluded.  FULL ARTICLE:  http://news.softpedia.com/news/Rresearchers-Discover-the-Fear-Gene-12780.shtml
  34. FEMALE ORGASM – 6/7/05 (theguardian). Tim Spector of St Thomas’s hospital in London, who led the research, said: “The theory is that the orgasm is an evolutionary way of seeing if men can prove themselves to be likely good providers or dependable, patient and caring enough to look after the kids.” Women who orgasm very easily may be more likely to be satisfied with poor quality men. FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/jun/08/genetics.research
  35. GAY – 4/16/10 (UWIRE). Recent research from Northwestern U. professor J. Michael Baileyraises new questions in the science behind sexual orientation, namely bisexuality and the prototypical “gay gene.”  In his studies on bisexuality, Bailey, a psychology professor, and a team of researchers look at sexual arousal patterns to objectively determine sexual orientation in men and women. Bailey tracks the subject’s brain activity while they are looking at erotic pictures to essentially determine “what turns them on,” he said.  FULL ARTICLE: http://uwire.com/2010/04/16/new-research-into-possible-gay-gene/
  36. GAY MICE – 7/14/10 (POPSCI). A group of Korean geneticists has altered the sexual preferences of female mice by removing a single gene linked to reproductive behavior. Without the gene, the mice gravitated toward mice of the same sex. Those mice who retained the gene, called FucM, were attracted to male mice. (FucM is short for fucose mutarotase.)  FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-07/has-gay-gene-been-found-female-mice
  37. GENEROSITY – 10/31/07 (World Science). The experiment provided “the first evidence, to my knowledge, for a relationship between DNA variability and real (costly) human altruism,” wrote Ariel Knafo of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a member of the research team, in an e­mail. The study appears in the early online edition of the research journal Genes, Brain and Behavior.  FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.globaldialoguefoundation.org/files/Genesgenerosity.pdf
  38. GOD – 11/14/04: LONDON — An American molecular geneticisthas concluded after comparing more than 2,000 DNA samples that a person’s capacity to believe in God is linked to brain chemicals.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/nov/14/20041114-111404-8087r/
  39. HAPPINESS – 2/27/09 (eNotAlone). Whether you see a glass half-empty or half-full may depend on your genes, report scientists in Britain.  Variations in a mood-altering gene influence whether people take a pessimistic or optimistic view of the world, Elaine Fox and her colleagues at the University of Essex They found that different versions of the gene, which is involved in the transportation of the wellbeing chemical serotonin, affect whether or not we are drawn to negative or positive aspects of the world.  FULL ARTICLE: http://www.enotalone.com/article/19375.html
  40. HEROIN ADDICTION5/31/05 (NewScientist). The study was conducted on heroin-addicted rats. But the researchers now think that, within a few years, better treatments will become available to human heroin users who cannot quit due to insidious cycles of relapse. “Many people try to stop taking heroin, but in a few months almost all of them go back to using the drug,” said Ivan Diamond, at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in California, US, and one of the research team. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7445
  41. HOMOPHOBIAOctober, 2000 (BNET). MANILA Gay scientists think they may have found a gene for homophobia. Researchers at the city’s Gay Science Institute(GSI) are optimistic that they are `very close’ to a scientific explanation for the condition.  FULL ARTICLE: https://newint.org/features/2000/10/05/news/
  42. HUNGER – 8/8/08 (WRAL). A gene might make children prone to becoming obese, according to the results of a recent study in the United Kingdom. . . The study tested more than 3,000 children between the ages of 8 and 11. It found that children with a particular strain of gene could not tell when they were full. They were more likely to eat than children without the gene. . . “It is genuinely much more difficult for them to regulate their food intake appropriately,” Jane Wardle, a professor at University College London, said.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/healthteam/story/3351228/
  43. INSOMNIA (in flies)– 2/22/12 (ZEENEWS.COM). A team at Rockefeller University in New Yorksays its has identified the genetic mutation in fruit flies . . . The research says although flies and humans have little in common when it comes to lifestyle, the mechanisms of sleep and wakefulness are likely to be quite similar. Dr Nicholas Stavropoulosled the team.FULL ARTICLE: http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/sexual/the-insomnia-gene-discovered_15734.html
  44. INTELLIGENCE– 4/27/06 (Feinstein Institute for Medical Research). Psychiatric researchers at The Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Researchhave uncovered evidence of a gene that appears to influence intelligence. “A robust body of evidence suggests that cognitive abilities, particularly intelligence, are significantly influenced by genetic factors. Existing data already suggests that dysbindin may influence cognition,” said Katherine Burdick, PhD, the study’s primary author.FULL ARTICLE:  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060427161424.htm
  45. KINDNESS – 01/12/05 (ABC NEWS). “We take good behavior for granted,” says psychologist Philippe Ruston of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, author of a recent study on the genetic basis for altruism . . . In his most recent research, Ruston wanted to know if there is a genetic component to good behavior. In other words, do we have a “goodness gene” that encourages us to do the right thing?  Ruston thinks the answer is yes, although such a gene is obviously expressed differently in some persons than it is in others.  FULL ARTICLE: https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/DyeHard/story?id=402969&page=1
  46. LONELINESS – 9/14/07: Loneliness is gene deep, its molecular signature is reflected in the lonely person’s DNA. This was the conclusion of a new US study by scientists at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and other US academic centers.  The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Genome Biology.  FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/82496.php
  47. LOVE-RAT GENE.  September, 2008.  Researchers have found that men with a common genetic ‘flaw’ are less likely to marry even if they have children with a long-term partner.  Those who have tied the knot are twice as likely to be in a rocky marriage and to have discussed the possibility of divorce. Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers, from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, said: “This may tentatively reflect a lower degree of commitment.”  FULL ARTICLE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1051487/The-love-rat-gene-Why-men-born-cause-trouble-strife.html
  48. MISERY – 6/17/09 (Science Alert). Researchers at the Western Australian Centre for Health & Aginghave identified a genetic variation in the C-reactive protein gene that predisposes individuals to developing depressive symptoms. FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20091706-19303.html
  49. MONOGAMY – 9/2/08 (Washington Post) “Men with two copies of the allele had twice the risk of experiencing marital dysfunction, with a threat of divorce during the last year, compared to men carrying one or no copies,” said Hasse Walum, a behavioral geneticist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholmwho led the study.FULL ARTICLE:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/01/AR2008090102087.html?nav=hcmodule
  50. OBESITY– 4/13/07 (Medical News Today). UK researchers have discovered a commonly occurring gene variant that may explain why some people become overweight while others do not. However, they point out that it is unlikely to be the cause of the global obesityepidemic . . . A UK research team, led by Dr Andrew Hattersley of Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, have discovered a gene variant that occurs in over half of people of European descent that they think helps to regulate the amount of fat in the body.  FULL ARTICLE: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67666.php
  51. OBESITY II– 4/13/07 (NPR). When people inherit a common variant of a gene called FTO, they tend to put on a few extra pounds and are at higher risk of becoming obese. That’s the bad news scientists already knew. What they didn’t know, until now, is that people with this version of the gene also tend to lose more brain tissue as they age.  That’s the bad news from a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The study, led by researchers atUCLA, looked at brain scans of more than 200 healthy people older than 55.  FULL ARTICLE:  http://m.npr.org/news/front/114623161?page=1
  52. OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER – 9/4/02 (BBC NEWS). Researchers from the University of Torontostudied OCD patients and their parents.  They focused on a gene that plays a central role in determining how one of the serotonin receptors works.  And they found that OCD patients were more likely to inherit a particular version of the gene from their parents.  FULL ARTICLE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2234315.stm 
  53. OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE HOARDING – 10/7/08 (National Institutes of Health). Recent work suggests that neurotrophic factors may contribute to the genetic susceptibility to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Among other clinical dimensions, the presence of hoarding obsessions and compulsions has been shown to be correlated with a number of clinical and neuroimaging findings, as well as with a different pattern of genetic inheritance.  FULL ARTICLE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18616610
  54. OPINIONS – 6/18/01 (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN). According to a new study published in this month’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,our views on things ranging from abortion and racial discrimination to roller coasters and exercise may arise at least in part from our genes. The study, led by James Olson of the University of Western Ontario, looked at 336 pairs of both fraternal and identical adult twins.  FULL ARTICLE: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/genes-may-hold-sway-over/
  55. PAIN & REJECTION.  August, 2009. UCLA psychologistshave determined for the first time that a gene linked with physical pain sensitivity is associated with social pain sensitivity as well.  “These findings suggest that the feeling of being given the cold shoulder by a romantic interest or not being picked for a schoolyard game of basketball may arise from the same circuits that are quieted by morphine,” said Baldwin Way, a UCLA postdoctoral scholarand the lead author on the paper. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817142859.htm
  56. PLACEBO – 12/1/08 (NewScientist). For the first time, a gene is being linked to increased susceptibility to the placebo effect, the mysterious capacity some people have to benefit from sham treatments. . . “To our knowledge, it’s the first time anyone has linked a gene to the placebo effect,” says Tomas Furmarkof Uppsala University in SwedeFULL ARTICLE: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026854.900-first-placebo-gene-discovered.html
  57. PORK(That’s right – Pork). org.  May, 2012. Duke University Medical Center scientists, working with colleagues in Norway, found that about 70 percent of people have two functional copies of a gene linked to an odor receptor that detects a compound in male mammals called androstenone, which is common in pork.  Hiroaki Matsunami, PhD, a Duke associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, had previously discovered and described the genetics of the odor receptor for androstenone (OR7D4). FULL ARTICLE: https://mgm.duke.edu/home/2012-news-archives/genes-explain-why-some-people-turn-their-noses-up-at-meat/
  58. PREAMATURE EJACULATION – 12/1/08 (NewScientist). The volunteers in Marcel Waldinger’sstudy were 89 men who had so-called primary premature ejaculation, meaning they had always suffered from it from their first sexual contact onwards.For a month, their female partners were asked to use a stopwatch at home to measure the time until ejaculation each time they had intercourse. [Marcel D. Waldinger is a neuropsychiatrist and head of the Department of Consultative Psychiatry and the outpatient Department of Neurosexology at Leyenburg Hospital in The Hague in The Netherlands.]FULL ARTICLE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7657092.stm
  59. PTSD – 2/2/12 (LATimes). The existence of a study population with clear genetic links, common family histories, and exposure to a single trauma allowed researchers an unusual opportunity to distill informationabout genes’ role in PTSD, said UCLA psychiatristArmen K. Goenjian, who led the study.FULL ARTICLE: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-ptsd-genes-20120404,0,6603955.story
  60. RUTHLESSNESS – 4/2/08 (Nature). Researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalemfound a link between a gene called AVPR1a and ruthless behaviour in an economic exercise called the ‘Dictator Game’. The exercise allows players to behave selflessly, or like money-grabbing dictators such as former Zaire President Mobutu, who plundered the mineral wealth of his country to become one of the world’s richest men while its citizens suffered in poverty.FULL ARTICLE: http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080404/full/news.2008.738.html 
  61. SALT – AFRICAN AMERICANS – 3/26/99 (Science Daily). “This is a new finding — no one has reported this association in African Americans,” says the study’s lead author, John M. Flack, M.D., professor and associate chairman, department of internal medicine, and director of the cardiovascular epidemiology and clinical applications program at Wayne State University in Detroi African Americans are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure than the general population.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326061953.htm
  62. “SCAREDY-CAT” – 4/08 (MailOnline). Psychologist Christian Montag, one of the research team from the University of Bonn in Germany, said the Met158 mutation – which doesn’t exist in chimpanzees – may have helped survival by increasing wariness. ‘It was an advantage to be more anxious in a dangerous environment,’ said Mr Montag, whose findings are reported today in the journal Behavioural Neuroscience.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1043424/Revealed-The-scaredy-cat-gene-makes-jump-horror-movies.html
  63. SCHIZOPHRENIA – 3/20/01 (BBC NEWS). A group of psychiatrists, geneticists and neuroscientists from the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Julius Maximilians-University in Wuerzburgfound the gene during their investigation of chromosome 22.  FULL ARTICLE – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1229281.stm 
  64. SCHIZOPHRENIA II – 01/28/16 (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN). After conducting studies in both humans and mice, the researchers said this new schizophrenia risk gene, called C4, appears to be involved in eliminating the connections between neurons — a process called “synaptic pruning,” which, in humans, happens naturally in the teen years.  FULL ARTICLE:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/schizophrenia-gene-discovery-sheds-light-on-possible-cause/
  65. SHYNESS/SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER – 3/3/08 (Science 2.0). “We found that variations in this gene were associated with shy, inhibited behavior in children, introverted personality in adults and the reactivity of brain regions involved in processing fear and anxiety,” says Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD, of the MGH Department of Psychiatry, the report’s lead author. “Each of these traits appears to be a risk factor for social anxiety disorder, the most common type of anxiety disorder in the U.S.”. FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.science20.com/science_2_0/study_rgs2_gene_variant_linked_to_increased_risk_of_anxiety_disorders
  66. SLEEP GENE DISCOVERY – 7/4/06 (The Medical News). Proteins that regulate sleep and biological timing in the body work much differently than previously thought, meaning drug makers must change their approach to making drugs for sleep disorders and depression and other timing-related illnesses.  The surprise finding is an about-face from previous research,said Daniel Forger, assistant professor of math at the University of Michigan.  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/07/04/18706.aspx
  67. SMOKING ADDICTION – 8/11/08 (NATIONALNEWSDESK). Researchers at Michigan Universityhave found a new gene that hugely increases a person’s risk of becoming addicted to tobacco after their first smoke. FULL ARTICLE – http://news.injuryboard.com/study-links-smoking-addiction-to-gene-variant.aspx?googleid=245470
  68. STUBBORNNESS.  January, 2008.  Researchersat the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciencesin Leipzig say such influential figures as Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and suffragette leader Emily Pankhurst probably had the “never say die” gene which gives them the dogged determination to continue in times of adversity.  The study’s co-author, Dr Markus Ullsperger, said that about 30 per cent of the population have the so-called A1 mutation. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.scotsman.com/news/one-in-three-people-born-stubborn-and-if-you-don-t-agree-tough-1-1072219
  69. SUGAR – 5/23/08 (The Endowment for Medical Research). “These findings may help explain some of the individual variations in people’s preference for sugary foods. It’s especially important given the soaring rates of obesity and diabetes throughout much of the world,” study senior researcher Ahmed El-Sohemy, of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, said in a prepared statement. “We have found that a variation in the GLUT2 gene is associated with a higher intake of sugars among different populations.”  FULL ARTICLE – http://www.endowmentmed.org/forum/index.php?topic=37.0
  70. SUICIDE – 11/14/11 (theguradian):“If we knew who had an enhanced risk of suicide, we could change our approach to their care,” said John Mann, chief neuroscientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. . . The results revealed a variant of a gene called RGS2 that appeared more often in those who tried to kill themselves.   FULL ARTICLE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/nov/14/gene-raises-suicide-risk
  71. TRANSEXUALITY – 10/27/08 (ABCScience). Study leader, head of molecular genetics at Prince Henry’s Institute of Medical Researchin Melbourne, Associate Professor Vincent Harley, speculates, based on cell studies, that this genetic variation might reduce testosterone action and “under-masculinise” or feminise the brain during foetal development. “Studies in cells show the longer version of the androgen receptor gene works less efficiently at communicating the testosterone message to cells,” Harley says.   FULL ARTICLE:  http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/10/27/2401941.htm
  72. VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY – 6/9/10 (Reuters). Scientists have found three genetic differences that affect a person’s risk of being deficient in the “sunshine” vitamin D and say their work helps explain why sunlight and a good diet aren’t always enough . . . “Our findings establish a role for common genetic variants in regulation of circulating vitamin D concentrations,” said Elina Hypponen of the University College London Institute of Child Health, who worked on the study.  FULL ARTICLE:  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-genes-vitamin-d/scientists-find-gene-links-to-vitamin-d-deficiency-idUSTRE6586QF20100609
  73. WARRIOR GENE – 6/8/09 (Science Daily). Boys who carry a particular variation of the gene Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), sometimes called the “warrior gene,” are more likely not only to join gangs but also to be among the most violent members and to use weapons, according to a new study from The Florida State Universitythat is the first to confirm an MAOA link specifically to gangs and guns.  FULL ARTICLE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090605123237.htm                   


Professor Garfield, One More Time
“The public readily believes that genes cause behaviour, but the actual relationship between genes and environment is very complicated, and scientists have little understanding of how genes work . . .  [T]here is no general agreement on what a gene is,” says Garfield.“[Among scientists] there is no single agreed-upon definition of what a gene is. http://radboud.academia.edu/HubZwart/Papers/924007/Book_review_Michael_Crichton-_Next_2006_

Don’t be a Gene Fool
And don’t let your gene’s fool you either.  We’re a lot more than our 23 pairs of chromosomes and 25,000 or so genes.  So, whether you believe in God, whether you are fair to your fellow human beings, or whether your opinions are so much different from everyone else’s, don’t blame it on your genes.

They never did anything to you . . . or for you . . . so far.


Summary published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine,National Institutes of Health on June 1, 2012:
“. . . In human behavior genetics, however, powerful new methods have failed to reveal even one bona fide, replicable gene effect pertinent to the normal range of variation in intelligence and personality. There is no explanatory or predictive value in that genetic information . . . The promises of the molecular genetic revolution have not been fulfilled in behavioral domains of most interest to human psychology.”


Up to and including today, no matter what day today is when you read this, there is still no gene scientifically proven to have anything to do with human behavior.
If that sounds like a challenge, it is – to the new and growing number of “psychiatric geneticists” to offer scientific proof otherwise.
A single exception to this resolute assertion will do.




Couple of things you said caught my eye.

“Just because ‘a gene’ for a condition can’t be isolated, doesn’t mean the condition isn’t genetically inherited.”  

I hear the “just because” argument often about a variety of facts.  For example:  “Just because there’s no evidence of Bigfoot doesn’t mean Bigfoot doesn’t exist.”  We forget the absence of evidence isn’t evidence of anything either.  That, and you use the term “condition.” That’s usually a euphemism for “disease” or “disorder” and points to something that is lacking or in short supply that needs “treatment.”

“For example, there is not even ‘a gene’ for a simple trait like eye color, but no one would seriously argue that eye color is not hereditary.”

You’re right, of course, though you made my point, inadvertently. After a more than a hundred years of genetic research, no one can point to a gene for eye color, or anything else – first and foremost human behavior.

“Most genetically inherited traits are influenced by genes interacted with the environment (epigenetics).”

Whoa.  If you are talking about physical traits – eye/hair color, bone formation, facial forms – that seems obvious.  I look a lot like my dad, and my mom too, to a lesser degree.  If the geneticist wants to claim we inherit our physical traits, OK.

We venture into fantasyland by making a huge leap of faith – not science – that genes have something to do with behavior.  We tend to take up the sort of agreed upon “truth” that because eye color seems to be inherited, well then, the same must be true for “behavioral traits.”  Ask anyone. “He’s just like his dad” so it must be “inherited,” and that means it’s “genetic.”  Despite no credible science to support this – so far anyway – it just must be true.

“Twin studies overall show heritability of behavioral traits like impulsivity, learning disabilities, addiction, and criminal behavior are somewhere between 35% and 65% inherited, and that those traits tend to cluster, probably sharing multiple genes that predispose to them.”

So absent any proof found from the genetic laboratory, there are all those “twin studies” that purport to show the “degree of similarity with respect to the presence or absence of a particular disease or trait (concordance),” measured in percentages. How long would it take a sociologist or psychologist to offer a completely non-genetic, non- psychiatric explanation for these similarity “percentages?”  About ten minutes. (By the way, if monozygotic twins grow up in the same healthy household, using the “logic” of the geneticists, how is it that their “behavioral traits” differ at all?  They’re genetically identical.  Their physical traits are obviously identical (99%+), so why aren’t their behavioral traits?  To answer that question you have to talk about sociology and psychology, and that’s the point.

Here’s a few references of my own.

From Richard M. Lerner, Tufts University, Medford, Mass., USA – Another Nine-Inch Nail for Behavioral Genetics!  http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/oct2007/Behavioral_Genetics.pdf

“Why do we have to keep reinterring behavior genetics or other counterfactual conceptualizations of the role of genes in behavior and development? Why is it still necessary to continue to drive additional nails into the coffin of this failed approach to developmental science.”

From Jay Joseph, the leading critic of behavioral genetics, THE CRUMBLING PILLARS OF BEHAVIORAL GENETICS:  http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/genewatch/GeneWatchPage.aspx?pageId=384

“The evidence suggests that genes for the major psychiatric disorders, as well as for IQ and personality, do not exist.  Simply put, the gene finding claims and predictions by Plomin and other leading behavioral geneticists turned out to be wrong. The best explanation for why this occurred is not that “heritability is missing,” but that previous and current claims that psychiatric and psychological twin studies prove something about genetics are also wrong.” 

Joseph also said this:

“Although the media frequently reports that specific genes have been linked to psychiatric disorders and psychological traits, in almost every case subsequent research has failed to substantiate these findings.”

Finally, It’s not up to the naysayers like me to “prove” that Bigfoot doesn’t exist.  It’s up to the proponents to offer proof of this myth.

Like Bigfoot, the “psychiatric geneticists” must provide us with proof, first, of their premise:  genes influence behavior. So far, after a century of trying to do so, none exists.  Second, if that can be done – and even though I doubt that will ever happen I will acknowledge the discovery if it ever does – then these same scientists must provide proof that a gene or a group of genes “causes” a single behavioral trait.  As I mentioned in my article, so far the score is 0 for 73.

Until then, we’re all being Gene Fools, and perpetuating this urban legend.


Star Shape

Do Your Own Thing

The STAR child stands alone in the lifelong quest for adventure and freedom. Not the simple freedom of choice, for that would only tease this youngster. The STAR chooses to act on a whim, to spend the most recent impulse, to revel in spontaneity in order to achieve their unique sense of self-esteem. “Do your own thing” is a command, not an option, for the fun-first STAR.

STAR children are fine-tuned to their senses and inner workings of their bodies.  They seek pleasure through sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. They can be “good-eaters,” as they expend an enormous amount of energy in a day. They enjoy textures, colors, and tones as they seek to play and manipulate them. Like no other shapes, STARS are at their best as they go about flipping, jumping, and hopping through space looking for opportunities to play. They enjoy these activities even more if others are watching.

STARS can be burgeoning brain surgeons or high wire acrobats or Generals or gamblers or dancers or glass blowers or Wall Street investors – or presidents. About a third of our presidents have been STARS, from both sides of the political spectrum, including Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. (You can read more about presidential temperaments at: http://keirsey.com/presidents.aspx.)

STARS may throw themselves completely into today’s activity, only to lose interest the next. Maybe something else caught their eye, maybe not, frustrating parents and supervisors of these youngsters. Adults often make a mistake when they insist the STAR “re-ignite” their lost interest. Impulses are, well, impulsive, not to be “prodded” by even the most caring – or authoritative – adults. Especially authoritative adults.

The most physically expressive of the four shapes, most STARS love a challenge. Tell them you bet they can’t climb that tree over there, and watch them sprint to be the first to try. Unlike the SPHERE, who avoids competition, for the majority of STARS, competition is their life-blood. Winning and losing – the game or the job – and the excitement of the contest creates motivation in the STAR.  This is a key to effective education, training and counseling – and parenting too.

STAR children can be charming and are usually well liked by their peers. They are fiercely loyal, and expect the same. They desire an “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” relationship with friends – and adults too — when they can find it. In the company of other STAR friends each tends to encourage the other’s nature, with the consequences of their behavior receding into the background as excitement increases.

While we all experience to some degree the SQUARES need for belonging, the SPHERE’S search for authenticity, and the CUBE’S yearning for competency, action without forethought or purpose – action for action’s sake – is usually to be avoided. Social conventions require preparation, practice, and storage of impulses “until the proper time,” something the STAR finds wholly unsatisfactory.

STARS can be difficult to manage, if the goal is simply to manage them. As a result, the STAR is a constant source of frustration for child managers and parents as traditional means of intervention have little effect, other than confinement or exclusion, for the freedom-seeking STAR.

If the SQUARE is the “rule-maker” then the STAR by contrast is the “rule-breaker.” Even though directives may eventually be followed, it won’t be without many arguments and confrontations. Parents, teachers, and counselors of all kinds will say, “these kids take up most of my time!

There are numerous directives and re-directives given, even for daily routines. Too often, compliance becomes secondary to supervising adults. Whether the task is completed or not, the STAR tends to be confronted, but not for his performance. More often than not adults will state: “His attitude is the problem!

These youngsters may be especially adept at recess, athletics, art, music, manipulating tools, crafts, and any activity that allows for unrehearsed movement. As adults, these children gravitate to professions encouraging spontaneous action. Whether it’s hours on the basketball court or at the piano, the STAR is engaged in an activity. If they happen to become very good at the activity, even better. That’s a second or third goal, if at all. Spending the impulse, at the moment, is the goal. Moreover, once the impulse is spent it is spent, not to be “stimulated” by others’ insistance – or threats.

The STAR child needs a stage, and an audience to show their talents. Whether a one-person audience or a thousand, abilities are on display in need of applause and applause and applause. The STAR seeks recognition for their unique artistic skills, and unless others notice, they will seek an “audience” in other ways. For the shame filled STAR, if applause is not forthcoming, scorn from their supervisors will do.

School can be a place where a handful of STARS can shine. Young athletes, musicians, and dancers can find a way to express their energy in organized school activities.  They are routinely “on stage,” their talents on display for everyone to see. Regrettably, for the non-athlete, musician or dancer, there is little at school to hold their attention. This is a matter of poor teaching skills, not “poor learning skills,” as modern educators have little understanding how STARS learn. Instead, STARS are constantly told to “sit still, keep your eyes forward, and do your work!” Frustrated educators and psychologists will officially declare the STAR as “educationally handicapped,” in need of special education.

STAR children are, regrettably, relentlessly given stimulants by ill-informed medics for ADD, ADHD, Conduct Disorder, and other false diseases, generally a result of being tagged as “inattentive” by the frustrated teacher. In fact, the STAR is stimulated by many activities. They simply “attend” to whatever catches their interest at the moment. If the teacher or schoolwork is not doing the trick, it could be the ruckus in the schoolyard, the birds flying outside, or the pigtails of the girl in front of him.

Rather than “inattentive,” just the opposite is true for many STARS. Place a STAR in a room with something they like to manipulate, and see how focused their attention becomes. Whether alone with the flute, or with a coach at the gymnasium, or with a group in a dance studio – or concentrating for hours at a time at their game console – the STAR can focus like few others can.

The STAR is pegged as “inattentive” in as much as “he doesn’t stay on task,” so say their teachers, therapists, and counselors. From the view of the STAR, tasks are to be avoided in direct relation to the amount of boredom and drudgery that accompanies them. Structure and routine, intended to be a source of safety and security for children, are the very attributes from which the STAR flees.

All children get bored, no doubt. However, boredom is as unbearable to the STAR as sorrow is to the SQUARE, self-doubt is to the CUBE, and detachment is to the CIRCLE. Note that the latter three – sorrow, self-doubt, detachment – will often find a sympathetic ear from concerned adults. After all, we often commiserate with children who are too sad, too insecure, and too alone. Not so with boredom. Adults have little patience with boredom, most often coming up with a “find something to do!” or “do it anyway!” solution.

When their life-impulse is suppressed by design or necessity over time, and a crisis of esteem is apparent, like all four shapes, behavior changes from productive to protective. The primary means with which the STAR attempts to protect themselves from the lost excitement they yearn is through retribution. Now the attempt is to “even the score” with those people thought to be responsible for their lost impulses, to “pay back” in harmful ways by desecrating themselves, or others.

All rules and norms, even if previously complied with, can come into question. Adults may refer to them as a “hot head,” seemingly defiant and disruptive for no visible purpose. The purpose, of course, is to again find the lost excitement they seek, even if the cost is the many real or threatened consequences that forever follow these children.

The frustrations, admonishments, worry, and reprimands offered by others in order to “make sure he doesn’t get away with it” have almost no effect in stopping unwanted behaviors. Too often the adults spend an enormous amount of energy devising strategies to stop behaviors, and is a joyous source of fun and excitement to this natural “resistor.”

Illogical restrictions, punishments, long-term consequences, threats, and traditional therapeutic means often have little effect. Continued failure by professionals will have them assert, “before we can help him, he has to help himself,” thus formally relegating responsibility for failure to their student. Nonetheless, the STAR child can take satisfaction in accomplishing their goal of frustrating the best efforts of those responsible to care for them.

Action is their master” states Keirsey, and the insightful practitioner uses this natural performers talents as a means to offer change. Not a saver like the SQUARE, the STAR is the spender: of impulses, time, money, and excitement.

Like no other child, encouragement of new or present behaviors, with tangible and immediate rewards, insuring they “spend” in appropriate ways, is more likely to aid these young artisans in the pursuit of their special road to self-esteem.

• Following the rules • Saving: time, money, impulses • Restrictions
• Others “making me do x!” • Boredom/ennui • Repetition and routine
• Work first, then play  • “Get in line” • “Wait your turn”   • “Do as I say”

• “Getting even” • Defames and devalues others • Impulsivity
• Addictive behavior • Narcissism • Poor school performance
• “Anti-social” •  “Chip on shoulder” • “Cocky”
•  Aggressive • Pain-resistant • “Can’t sit still”

• Freedom •  Activities/action • Variety
• Living for the moment  • The physical world • Nature lovers
• Excitement • Pay-off (“what do I get”) • Being different/rebel
• Spending: time, money, impulses • “Showing off”
• Working with tools, instruments, art and crafts, athletics, music


• Logical consequences (for a stipulated time period) • Blackmail
• Rehearsal • Bribery • Vacuum
• Defusing • Distraction • Decommercializing

• Psychodrama • Gestalt • Symbolic Projection

• Music/Art Therapy • Reality Therapy • Relaxation techniques

• Strict behavior-modification (i.e., reward good behavior and ignore poor behavior)

Encouraging a STAR to do something (action), rather than NOT to do something (inaction) is a key to success for insightful parents and practitioners.





“Human action can be modified to some extent,
but human nature cannot be changed.”    – Abraham Lincoln

Medium Shapes

I developed Children’s Temperament Traits (CTT) in the mid-1980’s.  By then I was completing my doctoral dissertation.  I was also running the first of three different treatment facilities for children and I was training my staff in temperaments and techniques.  I’ve also used this material to train thousands of professionals and parents in workshops throughout California.  Most of the professionals were licensed therapists, interns, school teachers and aides, and child-care counselors.

Though I knew he wouldn’t remember me – I had one class from him while I was a student at Cal State Fullerton – on the outside chance I might hear back, I mailed CTT to David Keirsey for his critique, sometime in the late 1980’s.  He was long retired by then, and I hadn’t seen him in several years.  I wasn’t sure if he would reply.  Thankfully, he did, in a manner of speaking.

Dr. Keirsey sent back my entire essay, with edits hand-written in the margins, other words crossed out and replaced, and other changes.  He added no other comments, other than a “good job!” on the very bottom of the last page.  The edits he made were all gems, and I quickly made the changes.

I’ve made a few more since, though not too many.  Now that I have time, I’m primed to do some long overdue research, writing and lecturing about children, temperament, and techniques.  I also hope to find people who are adept, and so inclined, to take on this endeavor.  It’s never been done, as far as I know.

I experimented 30 years ago with a children’s “sorter” of my own.  I didn’t like it, and I don’t like children temperament sorters in general.  I’ve reviewed a few on different websites.  The ones I found seemed to “miniaturize” adult sorters.  It’s really not that simple.  Children aren’t merely smaller versions of their adult counterparts.  In Keirseyan temperament theory, children arrive whole, already equipped.  Our job then, as child managers, is to understand who they are and to help them unfold.

More important, a sorter for children relies on adults to give answers to the written questions, so it’s fraught with the bias – and temperament – of the adult.  Too much “mind-reading” occurs and, when discovering a person’s temperament, “mind-reading” is not allowed.  Observation – watching what children do – is, as far as I’m concerned, the most accurate way to understand what makes a child move.

Child Management Techniques
The specific techniques we choose as parents, teachers, coaches, and counselors to manage troubled or troublesome children is temperament dependent.  To follow is a list of techniques that I’ve collected, used, and trained on over the years.

The majority of the techniques (except for Amnesty) found in Reactive and Proactive sections are gleaned from Keirsey’s little known yet very useful work, Corrective Intervention:  A Manual for Casualty Reduction Specialists in Pupil Personnel Services, copyright, 1972.  Though I’ll write more about this later, this small, obscure handbook may have had the most impact on my career – and the children in my care.

After I post the four portraits – the next blog will be about the STARS –  I’ll provide a description of each technique, as well as how they are best used with STARS, SQUARES, SPHERES and CUBES.  For now, the list of techniques include:

1.  Therapy Techniques
Reflection (Client Centered Therapy):  Carl Rogers, Inventor
•  Psychodrama:  Jacob Moreno, Inventor
•  Rational-Emotive Therapy:  Albert Ellis, Inventor
•  Gestalt Therapy (NOT to be confused with Gestalt theory):  Fritz Perls, Inventor
•  Behavior Modification:  A generic term, behaviorism began with the writings of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner
•  Reality Therapy:  William Glasser, Inventor
•  Insight Therapy (Psychoanalysis):  Also a generic term and used by many, the inventor of this technique is Sigmund Freud.

2.  Reactive Techniques
•  Restriction         •  Abuse         •  Restitution        •  Deprivation      •  Amnesty

3.  Proactive Techniques
•  The Easy Task   •  Blackmail       •  Bribery        •  Defusing           •  Distraction
•  Frontloading     •  Moratorium  •  Rehearsal    •  Sidetracking     •  Signaling

4.  Group Techniques
•  Adolescent Interactive Group (AIG)       •  The Truth Chair           •  Challenge
•  GIDE (Group Interaction and Drug Education)
•  GIVE (Group Interaction and Violence Education)

5.  Other Techniques
•  The Baldy Maneuver•   Logical Consequences
•  Active Response Training (ART 21)  –
           ~  Regardless & Nevertheless                       ~  The Sponge
           ~  The “You Win” Proposition                         ~  The Takeover Maneuver
(ART 21 is pre-esclation training for school, residential care, and other mental health facility personnel.  Considered “basic training” in my facilities, ART began in California as Alternatives to Restraint Training in 1989.)

CTT Portraits
Each of the four portraits will include a description of the four shapes.  In addition, each portrait will conclude with a section on:
(1) Dislikes/Complains About
(2) Worrisome Behaviors
(3) Enjoys
(4) Praise for/Responds to
(5)  Intervention Techniques, for each of the four shapes.

I’ll start with the STARS, the most troublesome of the four shapes.


Next Blog:  CTT Portrait:  STARS – “Do your own thing!”

Why Shapes?

Large Shapes

I’ve been asked a few times where I got the idea for the four shapes I selected to represent the four Keirseyan temperaments.   As a reminder, they are:

    Star Shape  STARS (Young Artisans) 

  Cube Shape  CUBES ( Young Rationals)      

Sphere Shape  SPHERES (Young Idealists)

Square Shape  SQUARES (Young Guardians)

About 25 years ago I started doing CEU[i] workshops for therapists, social workers, counselors, teachers, teacher aides and parents in child management techniques and temperament.  They go hand in hand, by the way.  A technique that may be useful for the Square may have no effect on the Star, and sometimes may make things worse.  The name of the workshop was “Kids Come in All Shapes.”  Participants learned about the four temperaments of children, and left after 6 hours training with some new techniques for each temperament.

Back then, I was a maturing student of Gestalt psychology, thanks to David Keirsey.  Gestalt is the German word for form or shape, and it designates  “wholeness,” a fundamental concept for this long forgotten and much more humane theory of human psychology.

By the way, for those who may be interested, Gestalt psychologists believe “modern” psychology isn’t so modern.  We believe the “elemental psychologists” (the other 99%!) look at human behavior and personality inside out – literally.  The “elementalists” see human psychology as made up of different “parts” or “elements,” and it’s the parts that make up the whole.  Holists (Gestaltists), like me and Dr. Keirsey, believe wholes are fundamental, and much, much more than the sum of it’s parts.

More than that, the current psychiatric elementalists believe that the cause of poor behavior can be understood by looking through a microscope, whether it’s measuring “neurotransmitters” (chemicals), or by “decoding” a persons “genome.”  It’s all nonsense – and I’ll be writing more about this soon – however, it is today’s “modern science” for most professionals, and lay people.

Anyway, I wanted to develop a temperament metaphor using the wholeness idea.  At the time, there were a few other temperament metaphors for children, usually animals.  They included beaver and bear for Guardians, dolphin and unicorn for the Idealist, the owl for Rationals, and the fox (and monkey) for the Artisans.  They were okay, but I didn’t use them too much.  Both kids and parents often liked or didn’t like one animal over another, regardless of temperament.  Instead, I came up with the idea of geometric shapes.  They are unique from one another, and each alone has no particular meaning or value.  Shapes are neutral.

So, I started with the Artisans, about 40% of all earthlings (I was still calling them “SP’s” way back then).  I thought of a star almost immediately for the Artisan.  There are an abundance of stars in the sky, no two the same, but all of them must shine, each a little differently.  While the star symbol I chose is yellow, Stars come in all colors.  The most stylish of all temperaments, Stars also need a stage and must have an audience to appreciate their art – even the quiet ones.  So, without much ado, young Artisans became Stars for me.

Squares, about half the Earth’s population, came to me quickly too.  A square has a solid foundation, and all right angles. Two squares next to each other make a rectangle, rectangles make foundations, and foundations are the building blocks of our society.  I used black and white for the Square because there is very little “grey area” from the perspective of the Guardian.  Right is right, and wrong is wrong, period, so says the Square.  Also, though a little outdated, the slang use of the word “square” seems to fit for the work first-play later, serious minded, routine oriented, industrious, diligent Guardian.

The quest for self-actualization by the Idealist lead me to the Sphere (I made a silly choice in the beginning and used the term “Circle” instead of Sphere because I thought sphere was too hard to pronounce!).  The Sphere must be whole.  A Sphere is symmetrical, symbolic of many Idealists yearning for authenticity.  There’s also a “glow” to the Sphere not found in other shapes, and points to the natural warmth these rare individuals provide.  Though I chose red to signify the heart they tend to wear on their sleeves, Spheres can glow in different colors when engaged with other people.  Keirsey has said that the world could use more Idealists.  He was right about that too.  Only about one in twenty among us are the imaginative, harmonious, people-loving Spheres.

The cube took a long time coming, for some reason.  I thought of a few geometric shapes including a triangle, a pentagon, a cone, a pyramid, even a cylinder.  I settled on the cube, after a while, for the often odd young rational.  Some of you may remember the “Borg” from the 2nd generation Star Trek series.  This half human, half machine, impeccably logical, emotion-free entity traveled the Universe – in a cube.  Ironically, a cube has the unique property of “changing shapes” right in fromt of you.  That is, if you stare at a three dimensional cube on a two dimensional page long enough, you’ll notice that sometimes the cube points to the left, and then, just as quickly, it points to the right.[ii]

Once I decided on these shapes, the rest was easy.  At my workshops, attendees where expected to know their own temperament when they arrived, or soon afterward.  I gave them a nametag with the appropriate shape, and for the next six hours we had some fun, had some great discussions, and the participants left with new ways to interact with their children, and a new perspective about themselves too.  I did this, off and on, for the next 20 years in dozens of foster care and residential facilities in California.

Then, a little more than two years ago, David Keirsey and I went out to lunch.  It was our first meeting in nearly 30 years.  I told him what I had been doing, I gave him some of my material, and I told him about the shapes – or forms – that I had been using for each temperament.  I was a little nervous, as you might imagine.

He didn’t like Star, in the beginning.  I told him the metaphor was about the star on stage, and their need to shine.  “Oh,” he said, “that’s what you mean.  I like that.”  He liked the Square for Guardians, and he really liked the Cube for the Rationals.  I told him I was using the term “circle” for “sphere,” and my reasoning to do so.  He found my reasoning – that sphere was hard to pronounce – rather weak.  “It’s not so hard to pronounce,” he said with a grin, and a little sarcasm, “listen.  Sphere.”  So, sphere it is.  He also said:  “Am I the first to notice that the Cube and the Sphere are three dimensional?”  He was, other than me.  “The extra dimension,” he said, “is imagination.”  Right again, Dr. Keirsey, right again.

I had his blessings, finally, and that meant a great deal to me.  I also went over the slogans I created for the four shapes.  His son Mark was with us for that, and they both approved.  They are:

STARS – “Do your own thing!”  

SPHERES – “To thine own self be true”

 CUBES – “Looking for a better idea”

SQUARES – Longing for belonging”

So, to the point, what are these “techniques” that I’ve been talking about, and how are they used with temperaments?  Well, first, I’ll give some details about the observable behavior for each of the four shapes.  I’ll start with the Stars, the most “troubling” of the young temperaments.

[i] Continuing Education Units – This is required annual training for most professionals.  More here.

[ii] This phenomenon is called – fittingly enough – a “Gestalt.” You can see more Gestalt images here, and you can read about Getalt principles here.


NEXT TIME:  Temperament Traits – STARS

Star Traits Page

Lone Ranger JPEG

For a number of personal and professional reasons, I’ve been away from my blog for much too long.  I’ve heard from a few of you, wondering if I was going to finish “The Horrible Kid.”  I did.  It’s  longer than the other chapters however, I wanted to finish the story.   Thank you for your patience, and your interest.

For now, to follow directly after this post, please see “THE HORRIBLE KID – Chapter IV:  A tale from the Lone Arranger.”  Thanks.

Dr. C

“Mondays with David”

Keirsey Picture 3 

It has taken me more than a month to write this.

My friend, David West Keirsey, died July 30, 2013.  He was 91.  I’m so proud, and fortunate, to call him my friend.  Up until a few years ago, he was Professor Keirsey to me, and I hadn’t seen nor spoke to him for 30 years.

As far as I know, Dr. Keirsey was humankind’s last Gestalt psychologist, and that’s something you should know.  His ideas are historic, and I’ll be writing much more about them, and similar things, for the rest of my life.  First, though, before I tell you more about Dr. Keirsey, I want to tell you about my friend, David, and the loves in his life.

David loved his country.  He was a proud veteran of World War II.  He joined the Navy in 1942. After flight training, he took his commission as a Marine fighter pilot and flew several missions in Japan towards the end of the war.  He wrote in some detail about his military experience in his autobiographical essay, Turning Points.

Those times, and the depression before the war, had a lifelong impact on David, as it did with everyone from the greatest generation.  He believed we were morally obligated to fight World War II, and he knew many who gave their lives protecting our freedoms.  He considered himself lucky to come home, and grateful, for the rest of his life, that he did.  Thank you David, for your service, from all of us.

David loved questions.  For the past 18 months or so I’ve been meeting with him on Mondays for three or four hours, often with his son David Mark, talking about temperament and psychology, and many other things.  I often took notes on my iPad.  I put them in my “Mondays with David” file on my computer.  I love asking questions, he loved answering, so our friendship grew.  We had much to talk about, and it was always fun. (You can read more about this from a prior blog, here.)

At times he became frustrated, his memory sometimes needing more and more of his depleted energy.  When I arrived for a visit I’d often ask, “how was your weekend David?”  He’d reply, with a smile, “I don’t remember, but I’m sure it was fine.”  Once he added, again with a smile, “. . . although I could try to retrieve the information for you if you wish.”  It takes energy to retrieve information.  At 91, you have the privilege of choosing where you want to spend your energy.  It was a polite question anyway.  I always knew where he was every weekend.  He was with his wife and his family.  He cherished his weekends.

Once we started talking about something he was interested in, he became focused, taking his memory to task, retrieving important ideas, if triggered by the right question.  Precision, more than anything, was his forte, organizing and analyzing ideas to a depth only a very few can imagine, simplicity his reasoned pursuit, efficiency always a welcome bi-product.  He never stopped “tinkering,” often spending hours at the computer, changing single words at a time in his many essays about temperament and “madness.”

I put madness in quotes because, well, David wouldn’t have it any other way.  Professor David West Keirsey was so much more than temperament theory.  His humane, holistic, and thoughtful explanation of “madness,” is above all else, his legacy to humankind, as far as I’m concerned.  His seminal work, Dark Escape, provides our species, for the first time in human history, a way out of the “madness” of modern day psychology and psychiatry.  I will be writing much more about this.

 David loved to read.  He read everything.  I mean everything.  I mean anything, and everything, and that started when he was a seven year old, and it never stopped.  The last time I saw him he was reading a favorite novel, for the fifth time.  Why?  “I might find something new – and I like it!” he said.  This wasn’t unusual.  From Turning Points:

I began reading when I was seven. Read (most of) a twelve volume set of books my parents bought, Journeys through Bookland. Read countless novels thereafter, day in and day out. I educated myself by reading books. Starting at age nine my family went to the library once a week, I checking out two or three novels which I would read during the week. Then, when I was sixteen, I read my father’s copy of Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy. I read it over and over again, now and then re-reading his account of some of the philosophers. (Long afterwards I read his magnificent eleven volumes—The Story of Civilization. I also have read his The Lessons of History many times, this being his brilliant summary of the eleven volumes.)

I mention Durant’s book The Story of Philosophy because it was a turning point in my life, I to become a scholar as did Durant, thereafter reading the philosophers and logicians—anthropologists, biologists, ethologists, ethnologists, psychologists, sociologists, and, most important, the etymologists, all of the latter—Ernest Klein, Eric Partridge, Perry Pepper, and Julius Pokorny—of interest to me now as then.

So, I said to myself, who better to ask questions than someone who has read everything – over and over?  He had so many useful answers.  I’ll be sharing them with you too.

David loved words.  Not as a wordsmith or author, though he was certainly both.  He loved words as an etymologist – the only one I’ve ever met.  He often said he may be the only one left.  David studied words.  From Turning Points:

I became a scholar, one of three boys in the scholarship society in 1942. I took a course in word study. I have studied words ever since, even during the war, pasting lists of words on the bathroom mirror wherever I stayed. Why etymology (word signs) instead of linguistics (word sounds)? Because word sounds shorten with use becoming only remnants of what they were, while word signs are written and therefore remain the same. My interest was in what is written, not in what is spoken.”     

Many times on Mondays, triggered by something we were talking about, we’d go upstrairs and sit at his computer in his comfortable, book-filled library – me to his left, him behind the keyboard – looking at an online etymology site, researching a word.  He called it “fun” and, wouldn’t you know it, so did I.

David loved kids.  He started working with troublesome teenagers at the Verdemont Boys Ranch as a young psychologist, figuring out ways to manage these boys, and to help their families.  He worked in schools most of his career, doing the same, training thousands of teachers and counselors and psychologists in methods that work, not theories that don’t.  He began collecting the many techniques to manage and counsel adults and children that was to become the core of his one-of-a-kind, and highly successful Counseling Psychology graduate program at California State University, Fullerton.

He wrote some remarkable essays in defense of children, and every parent and professional should read them.  So, please, do that.  You can read Drugged Obedience in the School here, and The Evil Practice of Narcotherapy for Attention Deficit here, and The Great ADD Hoax, here.  There are many other important and useful essays you will find at the same site.

His solution to helping troubled and troublesome children?  “Be nice to them, and keep them away from those drugs.”  We had a lot in common about kids.  I’ll also be writing about useful child management techniques, from a temperament point of view.

David loved his family.  David Mark, his son and lifelong companion, joined our Monday morning conversations often, and I cherished those times in particular.  A gifted computer scientist, David Mark called his father “Daddy.”  He honored his father.

The two of them could, and often would, debate an obscure, yet important idea with the same passion as when the debate started 30, or 40, or even 50 years earlier.  His father honored him too.  Often, when it was just David and me, he would boast about his son Mark, as fathers who love their sons often do.  How lucky they were to have each other.  I envied them.

Every weekend David and his wife Alice went to Del Mar to meet with the rest of the Keirsey clan and, when they didn’t, family members came to their home.  David and Alice traveled and vacationed with their children and grandchildren.  The two of them together made sure they gave their family the best gift you can give to people you love:  wonderful memories.

Mostly, David loved Alice.  What was the first thing this returning WW II veteran did when he came back from the war?  He married his junior college sweetheart, Alice.  He admired her so.  “Alice has done such a wonderful job of keeping our family together and close over the years,” he often said, with much pride.

When you walk up the circular stairs of their beautiful home you will meet all of the family.  Alice has dozens of family pictures and other mementos adorned on the walls and on the stairs – and everywhere else throughout their warm, loving home.  This, you can tell, is a family that cares for each other, and they are grateful to have each other to love.  I recognized their family quickly.  I come from one too.

Alice – he called her “babe” – from they way he liked to tell it, was a dynamo of her own when she was working in elementary schools.  David said she was always the head of a department or committee or project, or part of some other crusade to care for all those kids for which she loved and cared.

They never quarreled, he told me, more than once, because, he said, more than once, “we were made for each other.”  That certainly proved to be true.  They were married in December, 1945.  I was two months old.

Why did it take so long to write this, and anything else, for that matter?  Well, honestly, I’ve been mourning my friend.  Just a few days before he died, my wife and I visited David and Alice at their home.  As we were leaving, I leaned over, gently grasped his hand to say goodbye, and to tell him, “I’ll see you soon, David.  I have another two or three thousand more questions to ask.”  Without hesitation, he replied, “Good,” and added, “I have two or three thousand more answers.”

His spirit, more than willing, his body, so weary.  During some of our best conversations, he would remind me, and David Mark, “there’s still much work to be done.”  Lucky for me, he trusted me with all that he has written.  The answers to my questions are all there, and that’s good.  I will be doing a lot more reading.  It’s not the same though, and not nearly as much fun, as asking my friend, David, just a few more questions.

You can tell a lot about a person when you know the loves in his life.  I admired him.  I loved him too.  I miss him, very much.

Mondays, for me, will never be the same.


“I just want the world to understand, there’s no such thing as ‘madness.’”

David West Keirsey

Lone Ranger JPEG

Welcome to “Tales of the Lone Arranger.”

Tales of the Lone Arranger is be about troubled and troubling children I knew and counseled over the past 35 years, from a temperament point of view.  You may recall, I use the terms Stars (Artisans), Squares (Guardians), Spheres (Idealists), and Cubes (Rationals) to describe the four Keirseyan temperaments of children.Temp graphic 2

There are two reasons I chose the name “Tales of the Lone Arranger.”

The first and most important is David West Keirsey.  I learned in my continuing talks with Dr. Keirsey that, in temperament terms, I’m an “arranger.”  He continues to fine-tune his theory, tinkering with his words every day, precision and simplicity his goal.

Thirty years ago, when I first learned about temperaments, I was an “INTJ Skeptic.” Sometime later I was dubbed an “INTJ/Mastermind.”  Dr. Keirsey has abandoned the letters and metaphors, replacing them with exact words that describe what a person does.  In his own inimitable way, he’s settled on “arranger” for my type.  Not surprisingly, the term fits like a glove.  Arranging – and rearranging – is what I’ve been doing over my lifetime.  Nothing more.

The second reason?  My favorite Saturday morning television cowboy show in the early ‘50’s – and there were lots of them – was The Lone Ranger.  He often worked in disguise, he looked out for the good guy, he never killed the bad guy, and he always left town with as little fanfare as possible.  (I also fell in love with the William Tell Overture – as a seven year old!)

This first tale – Goth Girl – is about a 14 year old Sphere (Idealist) who was heavily medicated.  Like all Spheres, it’s about their feelings – or absence of them.  The story has a good ending – at least from the last contact I had with her mother a few years ago.  And, like so many cowboy films I saw in the early fifties (when 50 cents got you admission to the theater, a box of popcorn, and a coke!), these tales will be serialized.  Goth Girl is a four part tale.

There will be more temperament tales to follow.  What we call “normal” childhood behaviors follow observable temperament patterns to trained eyes, so too are the patterns of troubled and troublesome children.  Children “act-out” their shame in ways consistent with their temperament, and therein lies clues for adults who want to intervene.

Part one of Goth Girl follows this blog.  I’ll post part two next week.

Dr. C



How’s Business?


Business has never been better, thanks for asking.

As long as the public – you and I – continue to demand newer and better quick fix chemicals, we act as a sales force for this huge industry.  Psychiatry, like any business, is subject to market pressure.  Right now, there is pressure to create more and more chemicals for more and more “diseases.”  Our demand is met, happily, by their supply.

Let’s take a quick look at “ADHD,” just one example out of hundreds of fake diseases.  “ADHD” has been a financial boon for Big Pharma.  It’s been increasing nearly 6% a year for the past decade.  In America – like no other country on earth – one of every 12 children between the ages of 3 and 17 are given this tag, most of them prescribed an amphetamine (“speed”).  That’s more than five million American teenagers, grammar school kids, and toddlers – most of them boys. (See CDC FastStat here)

And, dear parents, your doctor can choose from 61 different chemicals for “ADHD” – with more on the horizon.  There are 78 chemicals for depression, and there are 7 “kinds” of depression.  Antipsychotic chemicals?  26.  There are 12 chemicals to treat autism, the most maligned of all children, as you will see in an upcoming essay.  Anxiety disorder of some sort?  There are 188 chemicals in 9 different “topics” to help you if you are too anxious.  Anxiety “relief,” as you can tell, is a big seller.  (See Drugs.com here.)

What’s A DSM?
Let’s get a picture of the growth of this industry in the past 60 years.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is psychiatry’s modern day witches brew.  It contains all the American Psychiatric Association (APA) approved “diseases.”  If it’s not in the book, it’s not a “disease.”

In 1952, there were 106.  In 1968, the second edition of DSM was published.  There were 182 “diseases.”  The third edition, published in 1980, had 265, and then was revised in 1987 to total 292.  And, finally, in 1994, the fourth edition contained 297 “diseases” – and if you count the “disorders,” it’s over 400 (see the entire list here).  No cures, you may remember.  Treatment only, usually forever, because mental health “diseases,” once diagnosed, according to the vast majority of psychiatrists, last forever.  Ask them.  (See more about the DSM here.)

The DSM is a billing device for the profession, nothing else.  It has no other value.  Still, as a billing device, everyone must use it.  By everyone I mean government, big business, non-profits, academia, licensed individuals, public and private providers, schools – everyone.  Without a diagnosis from the DSM, no services will be given; not without a designated name and number from this book of incantations.  (See upcoming article Diagnosing for Dollars soon)

So, you can see, it pays to be in the book.

DSM V –  Progressing Backwards
The DSM is being revised again, due in May of 2013.  If you guessed there would be more diseases, you’d be right.  One addition is particularly egregious.  Grief.  If you lose a loved one, and if you don’t snap out of it after a few weeks, you are “diagnosable.”  I’m not kidding.  Complicated Grief Disorder (CGD) is in the book.  Ethical professionals from all disciplines are screaming at this “medicalizing” of human sorrow.

For the record, and full of irony, no one is screaming louder than Dr. Allen Frances, the Chairman of the DSM IV Task Force.  The irony is that the biggest foe of the fifth book of diseases is the psychiatrist who led the group that wrote the fourth book of diseases.  For many of us, editions 1-4 are just as unscientific and nonsensical as the fifth, though the latest version is now, officially, the worst. (More about Dr. Frances and the DSM V controversy here.)

Not quite everyone is screaming, by the way.

Not the DSM Task force, for sure.  They voted CGD into the book.  Certainly not Big Pharma.  They’re applauding.  Their market was increased.  Now that your new “disease” is in the book you can be prescribed one or more of those 188 “anti-anxiety” chemicals already available.  This will have to do until the new and improved “anti-grief” chemical is developed.

Then there’s this.

At first it appeared – and then it was confirmed – that 70% of the DSM V Task Force members have reported direct industry ties.”  New diseases are proposed every year.  The people making those decisions are benefitting from those decisions, as are their “industry ties,” as they decide who wins and who loses. Many professionals, including me, are crying foul about the ethics of the task force whose members openly admit their connection to Big Pharma, mostly to deaf ears. (More about DSM V here.)

Who are the winners?
The scientists and doctors from Academia and Big Pharma corporations who get their newest “disease” in the book are the winners, and it’s very competitive.  Major Universities and massive corporations – and individuals with “connections” – stand in line to present their self funded “research.”  If you can get an unwanted behavior proclaimed a “disease” by the disease proclaimers – the DSM Task Force – and placed in the book, then the doctors, universities and corporations who invented the “diseases” will be enriched because, well . . .  because we give them fistfuls of money for their products.

Big Pharma’s most important customer, by the way, is the doctor, not you.  Doctors, after all, are the ones who sell their products to us.  While these companies aim their endless advertisements to entice you, it’s the doctor who has the power to grant permission, and they are the focus of the Big Pharma’s substantial financial coffers.  From an article from Time: Health & Family, Psychiatrist Contends the Field Is Committing Professional Suicide,” October, 2012:

In 2004 alone, pharmaceutical companies spent about $58 billion on marketing, 87% of which was aimed squarely at the roughly 800,000 Americans with the power to prescribe drugs. The money was spent mainly on free drug samples and sales visits to doctors’ offices; studies find that both free samples and sales calls increase prescribing of brand-name drugs and raise medical costs without improving care.  (Read more: here.)

And talk about lucrative.  Global sales of pharmaceuticals was nearly 800 billion through 2008, and is likely to be closing in on a trillion dollars annual income now.  Thanks to their customers – us –  90% of those sales occur in the United States.

5 Million and Counting
Finally, let’s talk just a bit more about those 5 million kids given doses of “speed” for “ADHD.”  That’s a lot of kids.  For this to be true, you have to believe American kids are much less healthy than kids in rest of the world.  Or, is it that the rest of the world’s kids are just as unhealthy as ours, only they don’t know it?

Maybe it’s because our healthcare services are state-of-the-art, our workforce so well trained, the research and science from our Universities so sophisticated that we’re just that much better at “diagnosing” ADHD in kids who need medical help.  This explanation, by the way, is what both Academia and Big Pharma wants us to believe.  Our system, they say, is modern and compassionate, and that’s why we can, and do, provide so much needed medical care to “mentally ill” children.

By now, I trust, you know this isn’t true for a lot of reasons we’ve already discussed.  The most important reason?  I think you already know.

Your kids aren’t sick.

NEXT:  Here’s Where We’re Going