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Nature and Nurture in Mental Disorders, Second Edition

A Gene-Environment Model

Joel Paris, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-61537-334-5
  • Item #37334

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Over the last two decades, spurred particularly by the decoding of the genome, neuroscience has advanced to become the primary basis of clinical psychiatry, even as environmental risk factors for mental disorders have been deemphasized.

In this thoroughly revised, second edition of Nature and Nurture in Mental Disorders, the author argues that an overreliance on biology at the expense of environment has been detrimental to the field—that, in fact, the nature versus nurture dichotomy is unnecessary. Instead, he posits a biopsychosocial model that acknowledges the role an individual's predisposing genetic factors, interacting with environmental stressors, play in the etiology of many mental disorders.

The first several chapters of the book provide an overview of the theories that affect the study of genes, the environment, and their interaction, examining what the empirical evidence has revealed about each of these issues.

Subsequent chapters apply the integrated model to a variety of disorders, reviewing the evidence on how genes and environment interact to shape disorders including:

  • Depressive disorders
  • PTSD
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders

By rejecting both biological and psychosocial reductionism in favor of an interactive model, Nature and Nurture in Mental Disorders offers practicing clinicians a path toward a more flexible, effective treatment model. And where controversy or debate still exist, an extensive reference list provided at the end of the book, updated for this edition to reflect the most current literature, encourages further study and exploration.


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Theory

  • Chapter 1: Historical Overview
  • Chapter 2: Genetic Predispositions
  • Chapter 3: Environmental Stressors
  • Chapter 4: Gene-Environment Interactions
  • Chapter 5: Diagnoses, Disorders, and Traits
  • Part II: Mental Disorders

  • Chapter 6: ADHD and Conduct Disorder
  • Chapter 7: Schizophrenia
  • Chapter 8: Depressive Disorders
  • Chapter 9: Anxiety Disorders and OCD
  • Chapter 10: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Chapter 11: Eating Disorders
  • Chapter 12: Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders
  • Chapter 13: Personality Disorders
  • Part III: Implications

  • Chapter 14: Clinical Implications
  • Chapter 15: Implications for Prevention and Further Research
  • References

About the Authors

Joel Paris, M.D., is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

This is an important and transformative book. Thoroughly rewritten since first published in 1999, Dr. Joel Paris makes gene-environment interactions understandable and accessible to practicing psychiatrists and other clinicians. One of contemporary psychiatry's best writers, Paris uses his talent to carefully synthesizes decades of research to reconcile opposing sides of the spurious nature-nurture debate. His arguments are crisp and fiercely unapologetic. As he makes clear, clinicians wedded to nature or nurture without attempting their integration do their patients a disservice.—Donald W. Black, M.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine

The most longstanding model for understanding causes of psychiatric conditions is a diathesis-stress one considering predisposing and precipitating factors. Joel Paris brings his well-recognized intellectual rigor to address the utility of this model (here weighting genetic and environmental factors) and to provide persuasive arguments against current reductionistic models. This is a book that goes to the heart and soul of psychiatry.—Gordon Parker, Scientia Professor of Psychiatry, University of NSW, Sydney

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