Do genes confer risk or resilience?

It has been common practice in the study of genes and behavior to identify certain genes as “risk genes.” You may hear people say, “I have the depression gene” or “addiction gene” or even as broad as a “bad gene.” However, the understandings about specific genes and their behavioral implications is far more complex. Additionally, it may be that some differences in alleles (the various forms of a genetic locus) are predictive of risk but also resilience or even advantage depending on the environment. The environment in which we develop interacts with us at a biological level, thereby altering the behaviors associated with certain alleles. One interesting investigation written by a non-academic conceptualizes one famous “risk” gene as related to dandelion and orchid children. The author postulates that for those children without the risk gene, they are likely prosper no matter their environment (i.e. dandelion). For other children, their “risk” gene may make them particularly vulnerable to harsh environments, but blossom beautifully in a nurturing environment (i.e. orchid). I highly recommend reading into this and reconsidering genes only in terms of “risk” and welcome thoughts.

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