The Imprinted Brain: How Genes Set the Balance Between Autism and Psychosis
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The Imprinted Brain sets out a radical new theory of the mind and mental illness based on the recent discovery of genomic imprinting. Imprinted genes are those from one parent that, in that parent's interest, are expressed in an offspring rather than the diametrically opposed genes from the other parent. For example, a higher birth weight may represent the dominance of the father's genes in leading to a healthy child, whereas a lower birth weight is beneficial to the mother's immediate wellbeing, and the imprint of the mother's genes will result in a smaller baby. According to this view, a win for the father's genes may result in autism, whereas one for the mother's may result in psychosis. A state of equilibrium - normality - is the most likely outcome, with a no-win situation of balanced expression. Imprinted genes typically produce symptoms that are opposites of each other, and the author uses psychiatric case material to show how many of the symptoms of psychosis can be shown to be the mental mirror-images of those of autism.
Combining psychiatry with insights from modern genetics and cognitive science, Christopher Badcock explains the fascinating imprinted brain theory to the reader in a thorough but accessible way. This new theory casts some intriguing new light on other topics as diverse as the nature of genius, the appeal of detective fiction, and the successes - and failures - of psychoanalysis.
This thought-provoking book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in autism, psychiatry, cognitive science or psychology in general.
any explanatory role in biological studies of behaviour … Mind may be self evident to most people, but I see only a remote possibility of its being made logically or empirically evident…no kind of material reductionism can approach any mental phenomenon. Williams concludes that the “solution to the non-objectivity of mind” is “to exclude mind from all biological discussion.”38a Elsewhere Williams castigates what he calls “lubricious slides into discussions of pleasure and anxiety and other
the world,42 and male college students can locate almost twice as many countries on an unlabelled map of the world as female students can.43 In general, men—but not boys—seem to navigate preferentially by vector (that is, directions with distances), whereas women—but not girls—normally prefer to use landmarks.44 The fact that this difference only appears after puberty suggests that it is an evolved, innate one mediated by sex hormones. Furthermore, such evolved sex-differences in cognition would
distinguished by the absence of delays or deficits in language and of obvious signs of cognitive impairment in childhood. Today about half of all children diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome have relatively advanced verbal skills and are sometimes described as verbalizers.21a Indeed, a leading clinician comments that from his experience he considers that children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome just have a different, and not necessarily defective, way of thinking.22 Alternatively, Asperger’s
ti o n s • 2 7 Understandably perhaps in the light of the on-going debate about the exact diagnosis of autism and Asperger’s syndrome, not all of these suggestions have been accepted by everyone. In particular, Oliver Sacks has questioned whether Wittgenstein, Einstein, and Newton were “significantly autistic,” contrasting their cases with that of the chemist, Henry Cavendish (1731–1810), who he believes certainly was. Sacks thinks that, unlike most other “supposed autistic geniuses,” he
has great difficulty understanding abstraction, and has an overall IQ of 87. Yet he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of history, political leaders, roads and highways in the USA and Canada, professional sports, the space program, movies, actors and actresses, Shakespeare, the Bible, Mormon doctrine and history, calendar calculations, literature, telephone area codes, major Zip codes, television stations, classical music, 28 • The imprin t e d b r ai n along with the detailed content of 9000