Behavior: Genes and Depression

Manic-depressive illness, or psychosis, is one of the most common and clearly defined, yet one of the most baffling of emotional disorders. The victim may seem normal for months, then enter a period of mania in which, as one imaginative psychiatrist described it, he "comes in swinging from chandeliers that aren't there." Back to normal for a while, he may next become depressed, sometimes suicidally.

Psychiatrists have argued for generations about the cause of manic-depressive illness, although it is known to run in families. Is it "functional," meaning that it is acquired as the result of life experiences, or is it "organic,"...

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