The theory of neoteny assumes that adult animals that are higher on the phylogenetic scale retain juvenile characteristics for greater periods of their lifetime. This hypothesis would account for the continuation of curiosity, learning and playfulness in humans and other higher primates in contrast to less evolved mammals. The failure of the neoteny process could result in humans that have lost these juvenile characteristics and lack motivation, curiosity and the capacity to learn freely. These features are indicative of the negative symptoms of dementia praecox, a chronic mental illness that strikes individuals as they become adults.
It is postulated that a possible mechanism in the etiology of dementia praecox is the failure of regulator genes to program structural genes to produce enzymes necessary for neoteny. Positive symptoms of the disorder may be conceptualized as the organisms aberrant response to this activation failure. The role of regulator genes in chronic illness may prove a significant avenue for further investigation.
Key wordsneoteny regulator genes schizophrenia
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Gould SJ.Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Harvard Press, 1977.Google Scholar
- 2.Strauss JS, Carpenter WT Jr, Bartko JJ. The diagnosis and understanding of schizophrenia. III. Speculations on the processes that underlie schizophrenic symptoms and signs.Schizophr Bull 1974;1:61–9.Google Scholar
- 3.Crow TJ. The two syndrome concept: origins and current status.Schizophr Bull 1985;11:471–86.Google Scholar
- 4.Arieti S.Interpretation of Schizophrenia. New York: Basic Books, 1974.Google Scholar
- 5.Bleuler E.Dementia Praecox or the Group of Schizophrenias. New York: International Universities Press, 1950.Google Scholar
- 6.Freud S. The loss of reality in neurosis and psychoses. In: Freud S.The Ego and the Id, and Other Works. London: Hogarth Press, 1924:183–8. (Strachey J, ed. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud; Vol. XIX.)Google Scholar
- 7.Rosenthal D, Wender P, Ketz S, Wilner J, Shulsinger F. The adopted away offspring of schizophrenics.Am J Psychiatry 1971;128:307–10.Google Scholar
- 8.Rosenthal D. Sex distribution and the severity of illness among samples of schizophrenic twins.J. Psychiatr Res 1961;1:26–36.Google Scholar