Two articles this week, different sources and at first sight totally unrelated. Not immediately about overcoming adversity or leading an extraordinary life.
Or are they? On further reflection I am not so sure.
The first is a post in ScienceBlog on a study by Dr. Rebecca Todd at the University of British Columbia which identified the gene ADRA2b in people predisposed to view events negatively.
The gene does not appear to be uniformly distributed across all population groups. While the findings suggest that 50% of Caucasians have it, they also indicate that it is found in only 10% of Rwandans.
From my experiences of living in Africa, it has long been my contention that many unsophisticated tribal people living with no modern amenities, often under poor living conditions and facing constant threat of political intimidation, are more content than most Westerners. Is it because they are more stoic? Able to endure hardship and deprivation better than us with all our first world conveniences – and stress? Because their way of life is still in many ways the same as it has been for generations? Or as this study suggests, are they genetically programmed to be more positive?
The second article was pointed out to me by my good friend Tim Gibney – The Resilience Doctor. It is a report by Cherrill Hicks published in the Calgary Herald as Dozens of mental disorders don’t exist.
It is a review of Dr. Gary Greenberg’s book, “The book of Woe”. The book takes issue with the recently published 5th edition of “Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” or DSM. The mental health “bible”.
The main point of his book and the article is that many of the so-called mental disorders that have become prevalent in the last 40 years are not disorders, but a result of excessive over-diagnosing. He gives examples of the huge increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder with the result that millions of people including children under 6 are taking massive quantities of medication.
He also investigates the links between pharmaceutical companies and looser definitions of mental disorders.
The article makes very interesting reading and supports what I and many of the baby boomer generation have long suspected, that many of the “Acronym-type” mental disorders are excuses for lack of discipline, poor parenting, publicity seeking doctors and scientists, profit hungry drug manufacturers.
Fast foods, agricultural chemicals, pollution, sun spots or cosmic waves, may have an effect on physical and mental health, but I am convinced that the major cause is behavioral not environmental.
Are then the subjects of these two articles related? You can draw your own conclusions, but I believe they are.
First, it would be interesting to discover whether the “negativity” gene is more prevalent in younger people than older. Is it being spread through more mobility, a greater opportunity for introducing new genes. In previous generations, people were less mobile, tended to live, marry and produce children closer to where they themselves were born.
It would also explain why some people find it more difficult to have a positive focus, live happier and more successful lives.
Here is the possible link between the two, those of us genetically programmed with a negative focus may be more inclined to exhibit symptoms that could be classified as milder mental disorders. More importantly that gene may programme people to more readily accept the diagnosis, let it define them and submit to medication that may not be either necessary or desirable.
I am not a doctor or scientist, nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice. I am merely making observations based on a long and interesting life as a student of human behaviour, success and failure.
Read the articles, draw your own conclusions, share them with other readers by leaving a comment.
Above all, think independently and create an extraordinary life.