Genetics and Personality Disorders

Genetics and Personality Disorders

I’ve been reading about mindset in a curious way. It goes back to an old discussion in philosophy class many years ago. Do we have free will? Or are we “pre-determined” to do things. 

A review of the literature demonstrates that the genetic component in certain personality disorders (mainly the Antisocial and Schizotypal) is strong (Thapar and McGuffin, 1993). Nigg and Goldsmith found a connection in 1993 between the Schizoid and Paranoid personality disorders and schizophrenia. The three authors of the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology (Livesley, Jackson, and Schroeder) joined forces with Jang in 1993 to study whether 18 of the personality dimensions were heritable.

They found that 40 to 60% of the recurrence of certain personality traits across generations can be explained by heredity: anxiousness, callousness, cognitive distortion, compulsivity, identity problems, oppositionality, rejection, restricted expression, social avoidance, stimulus seeking, and suspiciousness. Each and every one of these qualities is associated with a personality disorder. In a roundabout way, therefore, this study supports the hypothesis that personality disorders are hereditary. This would go a long way towards explaining why in the same family, with the same set of parents and an identical emotional environment, some siblings grow to have personality disorders, while others are perfectly “normal”. Surely, this indicates a genetic predisposition of some people to developing personality disorders.

That doesn’t mean we’re pre-determined to be a certain way or do things a certain way. Our brain – a physical object – is the residence of mental health and its disorders. Mental illness cannot be explained without resorting to the body and, especially, to the brain. Our genetic makeup makes us resemble a personal computer. We are an all-purpose, universal, machine. Subject to the right programming (conditioning, socialization, education, upbringing) – we can turn out to be anything and everything. A computer can imitate any other kind of discrete machine, given the right software. It can play music, screen movies, calculate, print, paint. Compare this to a television set – it is constructed and expected to do one, and only one, thing. It has a single purpose and a unitary function. We, humans, are more like computers than like television sets.

According to the research, single genes rarely account for any behavior or trait. An array of coordinated genes is required to explain even the minutest human activity. Yet, it would seem that even complex behaviors such as risk taking, reckless driving, and compulsive shopping have genetic underpinnings.”Read MoreLiveslye, W.J., Jank, K.L., Jackson, B.N., VernonFree Articles, P.A.. 1993. Genetic and environmental contributions to dimensions of personality disorders. Am. J. Psychiatry. 150(O12):1826-31.

What does all this mean for personal responsibility and mindset? 

It appears that we are more than the sum of our genes. We can make choices. Sometimes those choices aren’t to our liking or to our benefit. But we must be responsible for the consequences of those actions. One way or another. It’s not good enough to say, “oh well, that’s the way I am” as an excuse to avoid the responsibility for our actions. 

I’m looking at my actions in a different light now. I hope you do too.

Ohio State University’s New Plan For A Debt-Free Undergraduate Education

Ohio State University’s New Plan For A Debt-Free Undergraduate Education

Ohio State University’s New Plan For A Debt-Free Undergraduate Education

Ohio State University (OSU) has unveiled a long-term plan intended to make it possible for its students to earn an undergraduate degree, debt-free. The “Scarlet and Gray Advantage” is part of OSU President Kristina M. Johnson’s vision for the university, which she described during her November 19, 2021 investiture speech.

“By reaching for excellence in everything we do, and by organizing ourselves for effectiveness and influence, we are going to make The Ohio State University just what it should be: the greatest land-grant university of the 21st century,” said Johnson, Ohio State’s 16th president. 

It’s expected that it will take about ten years to bring the new program to scale. Key to its development is Ohio State’s commitment to raise $800 million for student scholarships, but the program involves more than merely adding more scholarship opportunities. It also will require that students themselves take an active role in tapping the key additional sources of support the university will organize.

Here are the main components of the plan:

  • Scholarships: To expand its institutional scholarships, Ohio State will raise $800 million, including $500 million in endowments. To kick start this campaign and boost the impact of early gifts, the university and lead donors are creating a $50 million pool to match the first $50 million in private donations. Donors who contribute at least $100,000 to endowed scholarships while the match is available will have their gifts doubled in size.
  • Work opportunities: Working with employers throughout the state and country, Ohio State will expand its network of paid job and internship opportunities, giving students more opportunities to earn money, develop job skills and prepare for their post-college careers. The new work and internship positions will be offered both on campus and through outside employers.
  • Education and coaching: Scarlet & Gray Advantage students will participate in financial literacy programs, leadership and career counseling, and other programs to enhance their path to success.

The plan will be pilot tested in the fall 2022 semester, when the university will select 125 new first-year students to take part in the initial Scarlet & Gray Advantage cohort. Details about how those students will be selected will be determined next year as the incoming class is finalized.

A number of universities – most of them private – have introduced debt-free programs for their students over the past several years, but Ohio State, a public, land-grant institution that enrolls more than 53,000 undergraduates, would become one of the nation’s largest debt-free college programs, when its plan is fully realized.

With total student loan debt reaching as high as $1.7 trillion in 2021, those colleges that claim to offer a debt-free education have typically done so by replacing student loans in their financial aid packages with grants or scholarships that don’t have to be repaid. But like the Ohio State plan, “no student loans” is not the same as “free college.” Most universities will still require that students make some contribution and/or engage in part-time employment, while others may include parent loans in their calculation.

The Scarlet & Gray Advantage will come in addition to other affordability initiatives that Ohio State has used to reduce loan debt for its undergraduates. For example, since 2018, the Ohio State Tuition Guarantee has locked in tuition, housing and dining costs for each entering cohort of undergraduates for four years.

In 2020, less than half (47%) of OSU’s bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with debt, and these borrowers owed an average of $27,133, considerably less than the national average.

President Johnson believes that the Scarlet & Gray Advantage will be distinctive in higher education, claiming that “by teaching our students to successfully manage their finances, we will be offering far more than a debt-free degree — we will be turbocharging the next generation of change-makers.”

Ohio State’s plan will be watched closely by its peer institutions, particularly those in the Big Ten Conference. If it proves to be feasible at an institution the size of Ohio State, other flagship universities will feel the pressure to follow suit. That spells good news for thousands of prospective students and their families.

Published on Sat, 27 Nov 2021 06:00:00 -0500