Genes, Biology, Mental Health, and Human Rights

Alexander C. McFarlane and Richard A. Bryant

in Mental Health and Human Rights

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199213962
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754500 | DOI:
Genes, Biology, Mental Health, and Human Rights

Show Summary Details


Sandy McFarlane and Richard Bryant discuss the relationship of advances in genetics and neurobiology and human rights with particular reference to the case example of traumatic stress. They appraise positive and negative possibilities associated with providing biological information–the latter associated for example with employment and insurance. They place this in the context of the later 19th century preoccupation of the role of heredity in mental illness, and the prejudices, abuses, and atrocities that flowed from this. They review the implications of the impact of traumatic stress on genes and chromosomes, with implications for mental health, and the ethical dilemmas associated with genetic testing for participants (including denial of life opportunities) and families. They examine a range of risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which could constitute potential markers, problems with their reliability and predictive capacity, and the ethical problems arising. They also consider genetic screening, the rights of the unborn child, parental rights, and the potential psychosocial consequences and injustices for those children at high genetic risk, who may never express the genetic disorder. Such scenarios have profound, even alarming implications, and need to proceed with due regard to people’s rights.

Chapter.  5570 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.