Monday, July 9, 2007

The Danger in Genetics

My great friend Adam Messenger just sent me an article which I can't believe I missed. Late June in the New York Magazine there was an article entitled "The Science of Gaydar"

Has anyone read this article? After I did, I was very frustrated....

From the article-

"If sexual orientation is biological, are the traits that make people seem gay innate, too? The new research on everything from voice pitch to hair whorl"

I do not remember a time when sexual orientation was classified as a disease.......However that is only because I am young. Ask a host of physicians and they will tell you that until 1973 the American Psychiatric Association viewed it as a mental illness along the lines with bipolar disorder.

"Back then, many psychiatrists treated homosexuality with shock therapy, detention, or a mind-twisting intervention called “aversion therapy”—a practice that was still in vogue in the late seventies, when a lumpy-faced psychiatrist put me through a regimen of staring at Playboy centerfolds."

The author talks about how classical morphology is being used to evaluate for sexual orientation. I feel this is almost as if they are discovering a new "syndrome". If you examine all first print literature of genetic syndromes you find much the same associations.

In fact there is a book that lists standard and accepted measurements for moprhology. This book used to be a mainstay for skilled clinical geneticists. There is another textbook called Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation. The piece made me feel as if sexual orientation was soon to be listed in this book!!!! I am certain this will make the public feel similarly.

"A large-scale study within the next year is expected to determine more conclusively if a gene (or genes) is linked to sexual orientation. Alan R. Sanders, a psychiatrist from Northwestern University, is enrolling 1,000 pairs of gay brothers in one of the largest sexual-orientation studies ever undertaken. With the experiment, funded by an NIH grant of over $1 million, Sanders will attempt to map genes that influence sexual orientation."

This will create the first data in a long time on the subject. The Xq28 stuff is really suspect and I am certain there will be a much different take once this "study" completes.
But I agree with the author on his final assumption.

"It’s bizarre to think some value systems might lump gayness in with—say—sickle-cell anemia or Down syndrome. As Matt Foreman from the Task Force put it, “It’s not playing with the number of toes you have; it’s really manipulating your very essence. So many people see gay people only in terms of sexual behavior, as opposed to what sexual orientation is really about, which is how you fit into the world. I don’t want to get mushy, but it’s about your soul.”"

The Sherpa Says: What I have a hard time with is the simple fact that morphology analysis is being used. Even worse is the use of the term "gay gene" Yes genetics will impact everyone's life, but must we go at sexual preference. Aren't there bigger things to answer? Yes there should be some study of things considered deviant: child molestation, rape, etc. But I thought homosexuality was declassified in 1973......I guess I was wrong. If deCODE or any other DTC company markets a "gay test" please do not go out and take it!!!!!!!! Please!!!


Hsien Lei said...

I know you're being serious but this post cracked me up! Do you think you could user any more exclamation points? ;)

Steve Murphy MD said...

OMG!!!!! Are You Serious!!!!