Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 137–159 | Cite as




Critical realism is used to explore the problem of reductionism in a classic (the Amish Study) andwidely-cited study of manic depression. Along withrelated ideas drawn from the works of R.C.Lewontin, Arthur Kleinman, and Byron Good, it isshown that natural and social scientists deployatomistic and holistic reductionism; this, in turn,leads to the construction of artificially ’closedsystems' through the control of variables orexogenous forces. The psychiatric genetic studies ofthe Amish were predicated on the assumption thatAmish society is homogeneous and unchanging and,therefore, closed. We conclude by arguing thatinteractions between behaviors and genes, where theyexist, take place only within open systems, characterizedby multiple mechanisms – social andbiological – that together co-determineany event. To move forward, it is argued, behavior and generesearch requires recognition and resolution of thephilosophical conundrums that accompany reductionism.


Open System Social Scientist Manic Depression Genetic Study Multiple Mechanism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andreasen, Nancy C. 1983 The Amish: A Naturalistic Laboratory for Epidemiological and Genetic Research. American Journal of Psychiatry 140 (1): 75–76.Google Scholar
  2. Archer, Margaret S. 1995 Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barinaga, Marcia 1989 Manic Depression Gene Put in Limbo. Science 246: 886–887.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, A. T. 1971 Cognition, Affect and Psychopathology. Archives of General Psychiatry 24: 495–500.Google Scholar
  5. 1976 Cognitive Therapy of Depression. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bhaskar, Roy 1978 A Realist Theory of Science. Brighton: Harvester Press.Google Scholar
  7. 1979 The Possibility of Naturalism. New York: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  8. 1986 Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  9. 1989 Reclaiming Reality. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  10. 1991 Philosophy and the Idea of Freedom. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  11. Brody, Jane 1987 Amish Suited to Gene Study. New York Times, 26 February 1987, Section B, p. 7.Google Scholar
  12. Collier, Andrew 1994 Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar's Philosophy. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  13. Egeland, Janice A. 1992 Molecular-Biologic Basis of Manic Depressive Illness. Pharmacopsychiatry 5(1): 37–40.Google Scholar
  14. 1986 Cultural Factors and Social Stigma for Manic Depression: The Amish Study. The American Journal of Social Psychiatry 6 (4): 279–286.Google Scholar
  15. 1983 Biopolarity: The Iceberg of Affective Disorders? Comprehensive Psychiatry 24(4): 337–344.Google Scholar
  16. Egeland, Janice A., James N. Sussex, Jean Endicott, Abram M. Hostetter, David R. Offord, John J. Schwab, Cleona R. Allen, and David L. Pauls 1990 The Impact of Diagnoses on Genetic Linkage Study for Bipolar Affective Disorders among the Amish. Psychiatric Genetics 1: 5–18.Google Scholar
  17. Egeland, Janice A., Daniela S. Gerhard, and David L. Pauls 1989 Description of Amish Study Data Set. Genetic Epidemiology 6: 195–199.Google Scholar
  18. Egeland, Janice A., Richard L. Blumenthal, John Nee, Lawrence, Sharpe, Jean Endicott 1987a Reliability and Relationship of Various Ages of Onset Criteria for Major Affective Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders 12: 159–165.Google Scholar
  19. Egeland, Janice A., Daniela S. Gerhard, David L. Pauls, James N. Sussex, Kenneth K. Kidd, Cleona R. Allen, Abram M. Hostetter, David E. Housman 1987b Bipolar Affective Disorders Linked to DNA Markers on Chromosome 11. Nature 325: 783–787.Google Scholar
  20. Egeland, Janice A. and James N. Sussex 1985 Suicide and Family Loading for Affective Disorders. Journal of the American Medical Association 254 (7): 915–918.Google Scholar
  21. Egeland, Janice A. and Abram M. Hostetter 1983 Amish Study, I: Affective Disorders Among the Amish, 1976–1980. American Journal of Psychiatry 140 (1): 56–61.Google Scholar
  22. Egeland, Janice A., Abram M. Hostetter, and S. Kendrick Eshleman 1983 Amish Study, III: The Impact of Cultural Factors on Diagnosis of Bipolar Illness. American Journal of Psychiatry 140 (1): 67–71.Google Scholar
  23. Egeland, Janice A., Judith R. Kidd, Alan Frazer, Kenneth K. Kidd, and Virginia I. Neuhauser 1984 Amish Study, V: Lithium-Sodium Countertransport and Catechol O-Methyl transferase in Pedigrees of Bipolar Probands. American Journal of Psychiatry 141: 1049–1054.Google Scholar
  24. Etzioni, A. 1995 The Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society. Touchstone: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  25. Gingerich, Hugh and Rachel Kreider 1986 Amish and Amish-Mennonite Genealogies. Gordonville, PA: Pequae Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Ginns, Edward I., Janice A. Egeland, Cleona R. Allen, David L. Pauls, Kathleen Falls, Tim P. Keith, and Steven M. Paul 1992 Update on the Search for DNA Markers Linked to Manic-Depressive Illness in the Old Order Amish. Pharmacopsychiatry 25: 37–40.Google Scholar
  27. Hardin, Russell 1995 Contested Community. Society 32 (5): 23–29.Google Scholar
  28. Hostetler, John A. 1993 Amish Society. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hostetter, Abram M., Janice A. Egeland, and Jean Endicott 1983 Amish Study, II: Consensus, Diagnoses, and Reliability Results. American Journal of Psychiatry 140: 62–66.Google Scholar
  30. Johnson, George and Laura Mansnerus 1987 Linking a Gene to a Mental Illness. The New York Times, 1 March 1987.Google Scholar
  31. Kelsoe, John R., Helgi Kristbjanarson, Patricia Bergesch, Paul Shilling, Sharon Hirsch, Arvin Mirow, Hans W. Moises, Tomas Helgason, J. Christian Gillin, and Janice A. Egeland 1993 A Genetic Linkage Study of Bipolar Disorder and 13 Markers on Chromosome 11 Including D2 Dopamine Receptor. Neuropsychopharmocology 9: 293–301.Google Scholar
  32. Kelsoe, John R., Edward I. Ginns, Janice A. Egeland, Daniela S. Gerhard, Alisa M. Goldstein, Sherri J. Bale, David L. Pauls, Robert T. Long, Kenneth K. Kidd, Giovanni Conte, David E. Housman, and Steven M. Paul 1989 Re-Evaluation of the Linkage Relationship Between Chromosome 11p Loci and the Gene for Bipolar Affective Disorder in the Old Order Amish. Nature 342: 238–243.Google Scholar
  33. Keyes, Charles F. 1985 The Interpretive Basis of Depression. InCulture and Depression: Studies in the Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder (pp. 153–174). A. Kleinman and B. Good, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  34. Kidd, Kenneth K., Janice A. Egeland, Lyndall Molthan, David L. Pauls, Susan D. Kruger, and Kenneth H. Messner 1984 Amish Study, IV: Genetic Linkage Study of Pedigrees of Bipolar Probands. American Journal of Psychiatry 141: 1042–1048.Google Scholar
  35. Kleinman, Arthur 1986 Social Origins of Distress and Disease: Depression, Neurasthenia, and Pain in Modern China. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kleinman, A. and Byron Good 1985 Culture and Depression. InCulture and Depression: Studies in the Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder (pp. 491–505). A. Kleinman and B. Good, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  37. Kolata, Gina 1986 Manic-Depression: Is It Inherited?. Science Vol. 232 (issue 2 May 1986).Google Scholar
  38. Kotulak, Ronald 1988 Dark Heritage: Amish Study Shows Mental Illness Isn't All in the Mind. Chicago Tribune, 10 May 1988.Google Scholar
  39. Kraybill, Donald B. 1989 The Riddle of Amish Culture. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Kusnetzky, Lara, Jeffrey Longhofer, Jerry Floersch, and Kristine Latta 1994 In Search of the Climax Community: Sustainability and the Old Order Amish. Culture and Agriculture (50, Winter): 12–14.Google Scholar
  41. Lewontin, R. C., S. Rose, and L. J. Kamin 1984 Not in Our Genes. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  42. Lewontin, R. C. 1991 Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  43. Longhofer, Jeffrey and Jerry Floersch 1995 Amish Society (book review). Mennonite Life 50 (2): 30–31.Google Scholar
  44. Longhofer, Jeffrey 1993 Household and Community: The Alexanderwohl Mennonites and Two Counterfactuals, The Amish and Hutterite. Research in Economic Anthropology 14: 153–188.Google Scholar
  45. Longhofer, Jeffrey 1994 Nursing Home Utilization: A Comparative Study of the Hutterian Brethren, the Old Order Amish, and the Mennonites. Journal of Aging Studies 8 (1): 95–120.Google Scholar
  46. Lutz, Catherine 1985 Depression and the Translation of Emotional Worlds. InCulture and Depression: Studies in the Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder (pp. 63–100). A. Kleinman and B. Good, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  47. McKusick, V. A., John A. Hostetler, and Janice A. Egeland 1978 Genetic Studies of the Amish: Background and Potentialities. InMedical Genetic Studies of the Amish: Selected Papers (pp. 3–21). V.A. McKusick, ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Mirow, Arvin L., Helgi Kristbjanarson, Janice A. Egeland, Paul Shilling, Tomas Helgason, J., Christian Gillin, Sharon Hirsch, and John R. Kelsoe 1994 A Linkage Study of Distal Chromosome 5q and Bipolar Disorder. Biological Psychiatry 36: 223–229.Google Scholar
  49. New Scientist 1987 Multiple Genes for Manic Depression. Vol. 113 (12 March), p. 23.Google Scholar
  50. Obeyesekere, Gananath 1985 Depression, Buddhism, and the Work of Culture in Sri Lanka. InCulture and Depression: Studies in the Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder (pp. 134–152). A. Kleinman and B. Good, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  51. Pauls, David L., Daniela S. Gerhard, Lucy G. Lacy, Abram M. Hostetter, Cleona R. Allen, Steven D. Bland, Michele C. LaBuda. and Janice A. Egeland 1991 Linkage of Bipolar Affective Disorders to Markers on Chromosome 11p is excluded in a Second Lateral Extension of Amish Pedigree 110. Genomics 11: 730–736.Google Scholar
  52. Piccone, Paul 1994 Confronting the French New Right: Old Prejudices or a New Political Paradigm? Telos 26 (4): 3–22.Google Scholar
  53. Robertson, Miranda 1989 False Start on Manic Depression. Nature 342 (16 November): 222.Google Scholar
  54. Saltus, Richard 1987 Manic-Depression Caused by Gene, Study Indicates. The Boston Globe, 26 February 1987, p. 1.Google Scholar
  55. Sayer, Andrew 1992 Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Shweder, Richard A. 1991 Thinking Through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Spitz Robert L., Jean Endicott, and Eli Robins 1978 Research Diagnostic Criteria. Archives of General Psychiatry 35: 773–782.Google Scholar
  58. Wallis, Claudia, Andrea Dorfman, and Dick Thompson 1987 Is Mental Illness Inherited?. Time 129 (10): 67.Google Scholar
  59. Wolf, Eric R. 1986 The Vicissitudes of the Closed Corporate Peasant Community. American Ethnologist 13: 325–328.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

    • 1
    • 1
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Missouri-Kansas CityKansas CityUSA

Personalised recommendations