A massive effort to uncover genes involved in depression has largely failed. By combing through the DNA of 34,549 volunteers, an international team of 86 scientists hoped to uncover genetic influences that affect a person’s vulnerability to depression. But the analysis turned up nothing.
The results are the latest in a string of large studies that have failed to pinpoint genetic culprits of depression. “I’m disappointed,” says study coauthor Henning Tiemeier of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The negative finding, published online January 3 in Biological Psychiatry, “tells us that we have to be very modest,” he says. “Yet we think it’s doable to find some of the genes involved.”
The above quote almost speaks for itself. A study is done, an enormous number of researchers get their hands on over 34 thousand people in about the most serious attempt ever to prove the fervently believed theory that depression must be caused by your genes — and find nothing. Yet, the author still thinks, “It’s doable to find some of the genes involved.”
In other words, no matter what the evidence may say, I’m still gonna believe that my genes are to blame.
It’s a direction our entire society has gone in desperate pursuit of in so many areas: The gay gene (There isn’t and likely can’t be one), The Schizophrenia gene (Nothing to find here either) and now the Depression gene (A definitive wash). In truth, we knew the answer before we even went looking and, yet, we’re still looking — and huge numbers of pop authors are still acting like Schizophrenia is genetic and the gay gene is a proven fact.
One possibility is that our Puritan roots are still so strong that any developmental (Read: non-medical) cause automatically means you can work your way out of it and, if you can, you MUST. (And, forget about seeking any help — just, “Think Different.”) Few like the impact that has…
Another is that guilt is still such a powerful driver of our supposedly secular society that we still have to acquire absolution for everything — even hallucinations — or be condemned by others/ourselves.
A third may be that we are simply not that good at taking ownership for much and, often, would like to off-load it.
While it would be difficult to deny at least some validity of all of the above, it’s much more likely that the search comes from an even deeper place: We don’t like to see ourselves as being at the mercy of others.
One of the strongest mythologies we have in North America is the story of the lone ranger — the fierce, authoritative, fundamentally independent and emotionless island in the universe. The myth is so embedded that the elderly continually die in their own homes years earlier then if they had just moved into a care facility that fits their actual level of mobility — just to guard their independence. Even the insanity around the American gun culture is driven by the stark inability of the one side, that sees guns as a symbol of masculine ability to enforce freedom, finding themselves unable to communicate with the other, which sees guns as a way stupid people create tyranny.
The idea that broken families, broken marriages, broken hearts and broken promises might impact me — well, that makes me look like a victim and I’d rather look like anything other than a victim… So, ya, my genes made me do it…
Yet, depression often starts to be healed at the moment a person finally quits running, looks the pain of the past straight in the eye, admits that the impact of denying that pain has been a profound self-directed rage for being vulnerable and collapses in the deep, soul-wrenching sobs we call grieving.
Schizophrenia begins to be dealt with when a person finally admits that the real world is what happens when they are ON these meds and owns the need to deal with the impact of their high-stress world.
Responsible handling of same-sex attractions often starts when a person looks in the mirror and accepts that they have the ability to decide to cease living in the shadow of the self/other inflicted judgments and wounds of the past that generate so much self-destructive behaviour.
But all of that requires that we accept that other people can have a serious (and sometimes permanent) impact on us and that, even in the face of such, we still have choices we can make to create lives that are fully human and fully alive. In other words, “I’m not an island and, yet, I still need to own my responsibility for my path in the present.”
But, there likely isn’t another sentence written that can more universally generate rage…