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Do you think mental illness is hereditary or taught?

So I just read a post that has me thinking.  Mental illness runs rampant in my family.  But my own problems could very easily have been taught rather than hereditary.  What are your thoughts on mental illness?  Is it hereditary or taught?


Asked by MrsHouston47302 at 6:13 AM on Jan. 21, 2011 in Just for Fun

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Answers (13)
  • It can be both.

    There are many mental illnesses that are hereditary-schizophrenia, bi-polar, some forms of clinical depression, schizo-affective disorder, etc. These disorders are most likely to appear no matter how the child was raised or in what situations someone may find themselves.

    Others come on due to life stressors. These can include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, some depressions, borderline personality disorder,etc. It is life situations that typically cause these types of issues.

    Now, the interesting question would be--why do some people develop these disorders and others do not. Would it be a predisposition to these disorders that could be hereditary?


    Answer by layh41407 at 6:28 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • I think true mental illness that has causes that are physical/chemical in nature (ie---schizophrenia) are usually hereditary. Mental disorders, hangups, addictions, etc may be hereditary, environmental, or a combination of both. But mental illnesses and disorders are very complicated and I don't think there's a hard and fast rule for who develops problems and who doesn't.

    Answer by vicesix at 6:16 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • I think that it can be both genetic and taught behavior.

    Answer by mistynights234 at 6:21 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • You cant teach someone to have Autism.... its carried along in the gene pool and a naturally occuring disability.

    Answer by Zoeyis at 6:32 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • I have a degree in Psych. Some of it is Hereditary, but mainly is it Narcissistic personality disorder that is taught. 70% of children whose parents had NPD will also have it as adults. This also leads to sociopathic or psychotic behavior. Other diseases like Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia is genetic, however some people never show signs. It is usually brought on by some sort of stressor and then you see signs of the illness.
    Autism is not a mental disorder. It is a neurological disorder, thats totally different. My son is high functioning Autistic and I have one with Bipolar disorder. I had to do alot of reading on it.
    If it runs in your family (personality disorders) then keep an eye on behaviors you might have. You could have symptoms without being mentally ill if you parents were for instance drug addicts or unstable, thats simply because it was how you were raised.

    Answer by gemgem at 7:46 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • Some are genetic, some have a genetic predisposition if exposed to the correct chemicals etc in their environment to trigger them (IMO autism) and some are learned. And yes autism is considered a mental disorder, as in depression, and mental retardation.

    Answer by aeneva at 7:58 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • she didn't say it was mental, it is NOT mental, it is nueroligical.

    Answer by mama2bof2 at 8:06 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • I have depression and it is in my family going back.

    Answer by sweetmom1007 at 9:27 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • There are certain mental disorders (like Schizophrenia) that are absolutely hereditary and genetic. There is speculation that depression and certain dissociative disorders are also organic in nature, but I'm not aware of any hard evidence to prove or disprove it. There has been a lot of research on anti-socials; many of them became mentally ill after abuse or neglect.

    I guess my answer is "it depends on the disorder we are talking about."

    Answer by Scuba at 10:18 AM on Jan. 21, 2011

  • I believe it is definitely hereditary but can also be affected by environment. Mental illness runs in my mom's side of the family. I, myself, was diagnosed with major clinical depression at the age of 9.. before I had any idea what mental illness was!

    Answer by alinker at 1:29 PM on Jan. 21, 2011