The Gene is subtitled An Intimate History, and a very personal story runs through it. Can you explain what that is?
The book gets intimate from the first page. I have two uncles who have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and then one of my cousins, also from my father’s side, was also diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalised. So that story hung over my childhood and raised questions that were very urgent. Would I be affected? Was there a genetic predisposition? What was happening in my family? We’re often tempted to think about genes in terms of laboratories or universities, but of course it’s personal: it’s your story, it’s my story, it’s a story of how hereditary factors influence our lives. It’s the question that we’ve all wondered about. Why do we look like this? Why do we behave like this? Why are we like this?
Did you uncover things about yourself?
Absolutely. I had blocked out anything to do with mental illness. I didn’t want to understand partly because I was too fearful of understanding, but then this book allowed me to answer that with a clarity I would have otherwise lacked. When you have a history like this, amazing forces of denial rise inside you. Much of my childhood and my family was organised around the idea that it wasn’t there.
Good interviews of the Author:
and some video talks:
and the book on Amazon: