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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Joel Schrift, D.O., M.A.(University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: A growing body of literature addresses the nature/nurture issue as it relates to psychopathology. Theories that heretofore have been thought to be self-evident vis-à-vis etiology have been overturned, such as the notion that personality and psychopathology are mainly environmentally influenced through shared factors on twin pairs, and genetic contributions to behavior and psychopathology are negligible. This research reveals that depending on the behavioral phenomena, up to 50 percent of the variance is explained by genetics and that of the environmental contribution, 10 percent or less is explained by shared environment. This book summarizes this literature and helps readers fine tune their concepts of these important issues. Focusing on the Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Disorders (VATSPSUD), the authors illustrate the differential contributions of genetics, shared and individual — specific environmental contributions to psychopathology. Written and edited by internationally recognized researchers, this is an outstanding contribution to the psychiatric literature.
Purpose: The purpose is to synthesize the results of the Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Disorders and illustrate how the environment and genetics interact to create risk for psychiatric disorders.
Audience: The intended audience includes researchers, clinicians, and graduate students.
Features: The first of the book's five reviews the methodological issues involving twin studies and specific scientific aspects of the VATSPSUD study. Part 2 addresses genetic risks involved in mood and anxiety disorders, antisocial behavior, substance abuse and dependence, and bulimia. Part 3 focuses on the influence of childhood experiences including parenting, parental loss, and childhood sexual abuse. Stressful life events and social support as influencing factors are also reviewed. Part 4 looks at the influence of gender differences on psychopathology and comorbidity. Part 5 is an attempt to integrate all these issues with chapters on the genetics of the environment, mechanisms of genetic control of exposure to the environment, the relationship between environmental risks factors and etiology of psychiatric disorders. The final chapter places the major concepts of this research in scientific and philosophical context. The sidebars, list of abbreviations, reference section and subject/author indices are quite helpful.
Assessment: This is a superb new book on the contributions of genes and environment to psychopathology. Researchers and clinicians alike would find this book interesting and enlightening.