social or biological?

Most people understand that depression is not someone’s fault. A depressed individual is not able to cheer themsevles up on their own due to a medical imbalance that, in serious cases, needs to be adjusted with medication. Much like depression, some other disorders that are commonly classified as social problems may in fact be biological.

Take for instance a man who became a pedophile because of a brain tumor. When the tumor was removed, he returned to normal.

What about anorexia? Long considered a social disease, genetic research over the past several years shows that genes may play a major role.

These discoveries are interesting, but I’m afraid people will use them as an excuse for bad habits. But officer, I was going 120mph in a school zone because, you see, my brain is wired for speed!

People rationalize their actions all the time, and this may add more fuel to the fire, allowing them to absolve themselves of any responsibility. Disastrous consequences can follow. I’m convinced that most people are quite capable of making their own choices and controlling their behavior, even if their chemical makeup gives them a propensity for negative types of behavior. We all have bad habits, but most of them can be overcome with a little effort. The biological reason is more likely the exception rather than the rule for normal, healthy people.

It would be rather odd though, if research continues to show that some people have faulty wiring, judges may start sending criminals to the surgeon rather than the warden.


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  1. Additionally, we have the capability to alter our chemical state based on our actions. So there is a point where you have a chicken/egg scenario. We have the ability to alter our chemical state by exercising physically and mentally.

    Would it not be any wonder that if we taste of something potentially addictive, our choice can alter our chemical state to crave it?

    I’m grateful for medications that can help people when they are down, for I used them for a short period myself. I believe however, that they are best used when they give us a leg up to help ourselves. I have a friend who used to be social, get exercise, go out and do things, etc. Then they started sitting at home all the time and not going out when called, etc. Of course, they started to get depressed. And regardless of whether it was initiated by their chemical state or themselves, they promoted the behavior that reinforced this state. Then instead of seeking counseling, they decided to go the medical route but didn’t change their lifestyle. So of course, the medication didn’t work. All they did was spend time going back to the doc for reworks of the medication. Vicious cycle – meds can help but if you choose to stay in the same state, the chemicals are going to keep you in a bad state, regardless of medication.

    IMO, people cannot rely on medication alone. It can be a starting point but they have to change behavior. If you don’t, it’s like if someone is trying to help you jump over a ledge. They are lifting you up and instead of grabbing the railing and pulling yourself up, you just lean back, keeping all your weight on the person trying to push you up. You go nowhere and they tire out.

    Comment by Renee on December 10, 2004 @ 9:29 am

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