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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 12, 771 - 780

Essay

Gene environment interaction: mechanism of action of early relationships?

A.C. van Reekum, M.G.J. Schmeets

summary
The results of studies on the interaction of genes with the environment seem to take the 'nature nurture' discussion to higher ground. Genes and the environment influence each other via complex processes. Psychopathology apparently develops as a result of a person's genetic make-up which can influence behaviour only in the context of specific environmental factors. Or, you can turn the argument around: environmental factors only lead to psychopathology if someone has a specific genetic make-up. Genes and the environment are therefore dependent on each other and interact on a daily basis. People, just like plants and animals, are finely tuned so that adaptation can occur. The quality of early relationships plays a decisive role in this tuning. In the light of recent progress in the neurosciences, particularly in the field of biological models of early development, there is a need for conceptual adaptation in psychiatry.

 

keywords epigenesis, gene-environment interaction, quality of early care