A study qualifies for my ‘Enough Is Enough’ series when bad science crosses the line to total absurdity. Today’s entry is Identification and Replication of a Combined Epigenetic and Genetic Biomarker Predicting Suicide and Suicidal Behaviors, by Jerry Guintivano, Ph.D et all, in the American Journal of Psychiatry online July 30, 2014.which is accessible on “Blood Test for Suicide May Come From Stress Gene Defect”. This well regarded study proposes that 80% of suicide, suicidal behavior, and suicidal ideation comes from a variation in the region of the SKA2’s genetic and epigenetic expression. Suicidality can be predicted by a simple blood test.
I had to double check that this article wasn’t published in the “Onion” before writing this blog. The idea that suicidality is caused by a defect in a gene is a total absurdity. And cortisol can predict suicidality?… So the public will now believe we can have somebody in the emergency room; give them a blood test; and bang, we can tell if they are suicidal. People suffer with pain from death, loss, depression, anger, failure, rejection, self-hate, illness, trauma, abuse, etc. and may struggle with suicidal thoughts. These are all human struggles. Anyone with a passing acquaintance with human suffering and suicidal behavior, knows that it comes from an individual’s incredibly complicated emotional life as reflected in his characterological issues. And furthermore assessing suicidality is a rather simple clinical skill. Human personality and human struggle is incredibly complicated and can’t be reduced to a gene and a pill. This study participates in the never ending quest and delusion that complicated human behavior and human suffering is located in the physiological brain, that genes biochemically create human behavior. And all we have to do is find the bad gene.
I have already written a post on the prevalent and bad science - correlation science - which explains no mechanism of causality, “Correlation and Causation”. We are talking about the incredibly complicated issue of suicide. Suicide is not caused by a gene defect, fix the gene and life is good. Yes, all of human behavior is manifest in the brain. It is in fact organized and mapped as the play of consciousness in the brain, but it is not caused by his brain. See - “The Play of Consciousness: Consciousness is biologically organized as a Drama in the Brain”.
What has happened that this is even taken seriously? This kind of research is the extension of the house of cards built on the false belief that human struggle is a genetic-neurological brain disease. And a study such as this is actually honored as credible, and promoted. The idea that this is a myth is considered out of touch. Enough is enough.
Robert A Berezin, MD is the author of “Psychotherapy of Character, the Play of Consciousness in the Theater of the Brain”