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August 21, 1972

The Genetics of Mental Disorders

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Rochester, NY


by Eliot Slater and Valerie Cowie, 413 pp, 65 illus, Oxford University Press, 1971.

JAMA. 1972;221(8):920-921. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200210064033

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This is a modest title for this exceedingly well-written text which deals most comprehensively with considerably more than this rather vast subject.

The "genetics" of schizophrenia, the affective psychoses, senile and presenile dementias have long posed many imponderable problems. While there is considerable evidence for genetic predisposition for this complex group of disorders, specific modes of inheritance remain unclear. To a great extent, genetic analysis is complicated by the very poorly defined and unmeasurable environmental factors that modulate expression of genetic predisposition. To this difficult problem the authors have very effectively addressed themselves. Chapters 2 through 9 comprise a very detailed review of the evidence for genetic predisposition and an objective anlaysis of the data in terms of several genetic models. In their analysis, the authors reach conclusions supported by the data but they critically resist the oversimplification and dogma advanced by others in an attempt to establish the "genetics"