Emotional Recovery

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Physical, Verbal Aggression Linked to Gene?

I'm going to attempt to make comments on a few statements. I am also going to answer some questions for myself while creating some rhetorical banter, which will allow me to vent a bit on some unfinished business. So...Here we go!

"Aggression is one of the most studied aspects of human personality, and researchers say about 30%-60% of personality traits appear to have some genetic basis." This is a quote off an article that was suggested to me by one of my visitors. I first hestitate to believe any article, which sites a study without naming which study it was and who produced the hypothesis. But for the sake of argument, let's proceed remembering that I am not a PhD. So bear with me please, won't you?

"One gene that turns out to be associated with anger, aggressiveness, and impulsivity is the TPH gene, which helps regulate levels of serotonin." There are findings that at least serotonin uptake inhibitor, fluoxetin, lithium carbonate, beta adrenergic blockers and a typical neuroleptic, clozapine can be effective in violence. So...If the TPH gene sitting on its little ol' allele decides it wants to change its serotonin level, he, or she who is the owner of the grey matter, may find it increasingly difficult to control their emotions, or even realize they're out of sync.

"Irritable, verbally abusive 'neurotic hostility' and more violent, physical forms of 'aggressive hostility." These are two types of aggression pointed out in the article. So, austensibly, If I can control the TPH gene and regulate the amount of neurotransmission of the serotonin, I could "unagress" someone. There is a minor glitch to one part of this. That is, that none of these variations was associated with verbal aggressive traits. That would not have helped me very much in my circumstance. My wife was verbally demeaning and emotionally 'tweeked'. The foundation of her cycle of violence was the verbal attacks. So, I suppose the TPH thing would have been a wash.

It all goes back to the old addage: "Nature, or Nurture?"
If a person is diagnosed with Disociative Personality Disorder and Sociopathic to boot, will the serotonin reuptake level make any difference? I can't answer that. I know that she was and I an my kids suffered through years of abuse and incredible anxiety. Her childhood was abusive and horribly out of wack. Her mom was an abuser and her dad was never a father. He was a gambler and booky. Mom helped run the books. The kids were beaten and pushed aside. None of the five made it through to adulthood with any common sense. The two that still live are addicts and remain on the street in their 50's. Two of their children are dead from gang violence and one is doing a long stretch in prison.

So, Nature, or Nurture. What's your conclusion? We might be getting closer through biopsychosocial investigation, but I feel that we're still a long way from preventing one person from abusing another.


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