5. Do you believe nature (biology/physiology), nurture (environment), a mix, or something else has an impact on mental health?
In my last 30 Days entry I mentioned my belief that my depression is borne from a difficult childhood and a life of attempting to counter it by being strong. Therefore, it will probably come as no surprise that I give much credence to the “nurture” side of the debate.
However, I also believe that there is a strong genetic element. It is no coincidence that I have immediate family with depression, schizophrenia, self-harm & alcoholism. On the next level I have depression & heroin addiction. I firmly believe there is a genetic “weakness” or “pre-disposition” in my family…a tendency towards mental health issues and/or addiction. I inherited many traits, some positive (academic ability, strong moral values, honesty) and some neutral (thick hair, big feet)…it would be idiotic to believe that the negatives, including my sub-optimum mental health, does not have genetic origins too.
But I do believe that nature and nurture interact and are not mutually exclusive factors. Perhaps, had I grown up in a different environment, I would not have developed this mental illness. Perhaps the genetic potential would have simple faded away had my parents not exposed me to their ugly relationship, had I not been conditioned that approval was dependent on perfection, had I not expected abandonment by those I loved….the list is endless. It’s all a pointless game of “what ifs” that I generally try not to engage in. I can no more change my history than I can predict my future. I can only live in the now.
My nature-nurture opinions no doubt form part of the reason I sit firmly in the medical intervention camp. The general trend towards anti-medication superiority angers me and I have written previously about this topic. My genetic pre-disposition to gynaecological problems, for example, led me to my GP to seek medical assistance. Why should my pre-disposition for mental issues not be the same?
What’s this all about then eh?
I found a pretty cool challenge on a blog from last year – 30 days of mental health posts. I’ve decided to give it a go, despite being a year late to the party! You can also see the other participating posts. This is my fifth entry. If you prefer, you can read from the start.