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Author Topic: Bad Gene  (Read 4917 times)

Offline sprite190582

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Bad Gene
« on: 06/07/2004 13:00:38 »
Since I can’t really do much at the moment I have taken to reading a few books I bought a long time ago and never until now got round to reading one is called Cries Unheard by Gitta Sereny and it the story of the child killer Mary Bell.
In the introduction it talks about people being born good and made bad by situations that they experience. The whole abused abuser thing, if you are abused you are more likely to become an abuser. But another book I read stated that there could be a “bad gene” something in our DNA that gives us the ability to perform such bad things as killing. I studied A level psychology but did not take it any further. What are people’s views on this? Are we all good but some of us turn bad or is there something built in to a few individuals that makes them bad? Is there such a thing as a “bad gene”?


Alex


 

Offline DrN

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #1 on: 08/07/2004 12:54:40 »
well, there are two sides to this, since the genome project has been completed people are trying to blame all anti-social problems on genes, instead of facing up to general bad behaviour being at fault. It kinds of gives people an excuse to keep on doing it if they can say 'its not my fault, its in my genes'.

However, of course its possible, and even quite likely, that a gene could be responsible for a chemical imbalance in the brain, as this kind of thing has been shown to cause anti-social and violent behaviour in stroke/brain tumour victims.

I read a particularly interesting article in a magazine recently about a man who had brain surgery - i think that may have been the result of a stroke - and his personality changed completely from a lovely family man to being very angry and violent.

I know a family who adopted a kid, then had three of their own. their own three are lovely and normal, but the adopted one was out of control from day one, and despite being brought up in the same environment etc, he's been in a lot of trouble. kind of supports a genetic factor.

would be great to discover this gene, I guess someone is already working on it!
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #2 on: 08/07/2004 20:54:06 »
If such a gene does exist would it be right to eliminate it ? (I'm not arguing that it should not...I'm just playing devils advocate here)....Could it also be responsible for other actions and re-actions which may be necessary ? and with the power of our own intelligence could it not be that people with the bad gene  be taught to recognise their own bad behaivour ? or would the predisposition to be ' bad ' be so strong that the only course of action would be a treatment of sorts.

Incidentally I personally believe that we do have inherant bahaivoural tendencies as well as the ability to learn as we grow from our surrounding environbment and circumstances

'Men are the same as women...just inside out !'
 

Offline tweener

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #3 on: 08/07/2004 22:03:27 »
I too believe that we have inherent behaviors that are genetically determined, but can control our behavior to a huge extent.

There is a guy that I grew up with (he was a few years younger, so I didn't know him well) that was a nice quiet person, all around "good guy".  Then he was in a motorcycle accident and suffered a head injury.  After the injury, he was very irresponsible, couldn't hold a job, and would have violent outbursts at times.  A very radical change.

As I hear about more and more research discovering physiological and chemical traits in the brain being associated with certain behaviors, I'm led to believe ever more strongly that our basic personality and behavior is controlled by genes more than environment.  Maybe even the amount of "self-control" we have is determined the same way.

Personally, I would be in favor of a genetic "treatment" for the "bad gene" if one is really found.  (Which I don't for a minute believe has been found).

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John - The Eternal Pessimist.
 

Offline DrN

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #4 on: 09/07/2004 11:04:45 »
I think its quite possible that a treatment could be found if it really was due to a 'bad' gene. after all, all genes make proteins to do their work (as far as i know? at least RNA anyway) which can be activated, inactivated, silenced, etc. so if the gene product of the bad gene was identified, and the way the gene is altered in 'bad' people, i.e. upregulated, downregulated or mutated was known, then a treatment could be worked on.

but how on earth do you find a gene that specifically causes bad behaviour? i can imagine it would be very laborious, boring work that could take years, and even then there might not be one!!

 

Offline jai

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #5 on: 13/07/2004 00:46:51 »
first of all, how do you define 'bad behaviour'? i know that this may sound straight forward, what what is 'bad' in one situation may be 'good' in another. ie agression, (as in the case of self defense) or the creativity to lie effecively. what society sees as bad behaviour usually results from a twisted view of reality being pushed sometimes by a gentetic or chemical trait. one in which the person being abused is not as human (jews in germany or women in some parts of india)or someone who deserves this abuse (often abused partners or children). this may be contributed to by a genetic tendancy toward a behaviour, such as a low tolerance of iritants or, as is more often the case, by a chemical imbalance (excuse my bad explanation) such as paranoia or schitophrenia. i.e my ex boss behaived very badly, for no reason at all he would shout and scream at you, he would call his wife a f**king c**t and such on the street and in the company of her friends and workmates. he was extremely paranoid and wound up, constantly looking for people to be having a go at him. when i spoke to his wife i found that his behaviour has changed radically over the last five years, she felt that it was particularly down to the medication that he was on for high blood pressure (if you drink alcholhol with it it increases your blood pressure rather than decreases it, thus causing symptoms such as increased agression, paranoia etc) however she felt that he had always had a tendancy towards this that previously he had not given in to.

if you think about it in terms of the autistic levels of inteligence, ie that there are different types of inteligence (simplistically , emotional, logical, socia, verbal etc)and that all people have varying levels of these inteligences (sorry re sp)then these initial levels would be genetically determined. however environment will enhance or decrese these levels drastically as would changes in chemical balance. get me?

what do you think?

yes, but.........
 

Offline chris

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #6 on: 13/07/2004 06:21:33 »
The accepted wisdom is that IQ is a combination of nature and nurture, split roughtly 50/50.

Consider height. Many Asian migrants to the UK now have UK-born children much taller than themselves. Height is determined genetically (tall parents usually have tall children) but in order to realise your genetic potential you must be placed in an optimal environment. The Asian parents I refer to were less well nourished during their upbringing in Asia and hence never reached their full genetic (height) potential.

I think we can probably assume that the environment plays an equally big role in the development of other traits. Take alcoholism as an example. There are some populations with a very high risk of alcoholism. Whilst controversial, some scientists have identified amongst these at-risk people, different versions of some of the genes involved in the brain's reward and pleasure chemistry. But an individual with these genes will only turn into an alcoholic if they live in an environment in which alcohol is available. This is an extreme example, but serves to make the point.

I don't think you'll be able to track down individual genes which directly lead to bad or antisocial behaviour (except in a few severe cases). Instead we might define combinations of genes which increase the liklihood of an individual developing a certain way or having certain traits under certain conditions.

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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Offline sprite190582

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #7 on: 13/07/2004 10:12:10 »
Thanks for those examples Chris, they answer my question well. Jai, People on the autistic spectrum are a good example, they are often referred to as having problems within the triad of impairment.

Socialisation: difficulties with social relationships, poor social timing, lack of social empathy, rejection of normal body contact, inappropriate eye contact.
Communication: Language impairment across all modes of communication: speech, intonation, gesture, facial expression and other body language.
Imagination: rigidity and inflexibility of thought process: resistance to change, obsessional and ritualistic behaviour.

Because of problems they experience in this triad they can produce challenging behaviours (being bad – hitting, biting, spitting, stripping…). These behaviours are a emotional reaction, usually a combination of things such as anxiety, confusion, fear or even excitement. They may be doing bad things but may not understand that they are bad, diminished responsibility.

Autism is a funny thing. Look at people at the top end of the spectrum, they can sometimes be “super smart”. Photographic memories, read a book once and know it off by heart. I met, through my work an 11 year old boy who could strip down a car engine and rebuild it just by looking at the manual once! Ok, he was completely obsessed by cars which caused a slight problem. Every time he saw a car he would quote the engine size, registration, make, model, year of manufacture, place of manufacture causing a few problems on the motorways when he could not keep up with the amount of cars passing us!

Anyway I’m going off on one so I’ll stop! Thanks for all your replies.


Alex
 

Offline bezoar

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #8 on: 14/07/2004 01:07:36 »
You breed dogs for disposition, so it would seem to me that any animal can have a "genetic" disposition, or propensity toward certain reactive behaviors.  I would think that nurturing has to do with whether or not the reaction becomes a negative or positive, ie socially acceptable one.
 

Offline DrN

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #9 on: 14/07/2004 14:37:49 »
you've got a point there. Guard dogs are bred for their aggressive nature, therefore aggresiveness at least must have some kind of genetic link. although it could be encouraged by the rearers. if these dogs are reared in an environment that discourages aggression, in my experience anyway, the dogs are soft. but i guess you never know.... the lovely family pet that has never shown signs of aggression suddenly attacking a kid always hits the headlines.
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #10 on: 14/07/2004 21:45:33 »
Good genies give you extra wishes, bad genies are meany-poos !! (sorry :D)

'Men are the same as women...just inside out !'
 

Offline jai

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #11 on: 15/07/2004 10:25:41 »
i thought that aggression in dogs was linked to a highly responsive fear reaction like and adrenaline response (do dogs have adrenaline?). this would explain why a dog that is taught to fear certain things and to react in certain ways would be highly aggresive and a dog that was brought up in a 'soft' environment would be 'softer' but possibly still have a reputation for suddenly turning on people. even when they have no previous history of agression there are some breeds that have been known to become extremely violent very suddenly, usually when frightened or over excited. sorry, had bad experiances with 'cudly' alsations and dobermans.

i guess that i am just agreeing with the idea that it is a combination of nature and nuture but with the nature side linked to chemical responses. ie adrenaline response is 'programmed' by a gene and the response can be appropriate to the situation or not and therefore be deemed 'nice' or 'nasty'

did anyone hear the reef lectures on radio four last year? i cant remember the lecturers name but he was very interesting. he was talking about physiological reactions in the brain to thoughts and stimuli. he gave an example by explaining a type of blindness where the disfunction is purely located in the brain. in this example a person would be unable to see out of his\her eye but if you threw a ball at them and asked them to catch it (of course covering the non blind eye) they could catch it and would often be surprised at this. the eye nerves were functioning perfectly but the brain was refusing to process the information.

he also used similar examples to help explain other more common illnesses such as schitzophrenia where he observed a mixup in the perception and the action. something like when you decide to pick up the glass there is a delay in the recognition of the action until you begin the action and then this times up with the request for the action and you know what you are doing. in some people the request does not time up with recognition of the action and these people experience the sensation that someone else is controling them.

i think he hypothesised that though a small feeling, over a period of time this sensation would become very disturbing and would possibly lead to a state of paranoia, the brain trying to find explanations for this and so to schitozphrenia.

also linked to schitozphrenia, i read an article last year on genetic mutations and agression, again specifically discussing schitzophrenia. the researcher had observed an imune system reaction in people with this condition that showed the persons own imune system attacking specific protiens within the body that were natural to the body and should not be attacked (sorry bad explanation i know). through the family tree he was able to tentatively link this imuno reaction to virus that was known to be present in the womb during gestation (do you use the word gestation when refering to humans?). the virus caused a change in the dna which in turn triggered this imuno reaction during adolescence.

could these two ideas be linked? has anyone heard of these ideas before? does anyone understand what i am talking about?..... or am i goin stark raving mad? ...... am i talking to myself???? :D

yes, but.........
 

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Re: Bad Gene
« Reply #11 on: 15/07/2004 10:25:41 »

 

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