More Harsh Reality: Aging Fathers and Bipolar Children
By Peter D. Kramer
Like depression, bipolar disorder has been romanticized as an
affliction that confers hidden benefits. It may, but evidence is
accumulating that suggests manic-depression results from the sorts of
genetic disruption that contribute to other severe afflictions, such as
schizophrenia and autism.
Readers of this blog may recall that schizophrenia and autism have been
linked to “de novo” mutations , new abnormal genes that develop in
the parent’s sperm line and have not passed a Darwinian, evolutionary
test  of fitness. The amino acid sequences are simply disrupted.
Readers who have looked at yet earlier columns will recall that problems
in gene regulation — epigenetic “scarring”  — can also give rise to
mental illness. Scientists are now suggesting  that both of these
mechanisms, new mutations and gene dysregulation, may be implicated in