Skip to content

Molecular Genetics and the Human Personality

Edited by Jonathan Benjamin, M.D., Richard P. Ebstein, Ph.D., and Robert H. Belmaker, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-755-9
  • Item #8755

View Pricing

List Price

APA Members

20% off

APA Resident-Fellow Members

25% off

Buying In Canada or Europe?


In the 1960's and 1970's, personality and mental illness were conceptualized in an intertwined psychodynamic model. Biological psychiatry for many un-weaved that model and took mental illness for psychiatry and left personality to psychology. This book brings personality back into biological psychiatry, not merely in the form of personality disorder but as part of a new intertwined molecular genetic model of personality and mental disorder. This is the beginning of a new conceptual paradigm!!

This breakthrough volume marks the beginning of a new era, an era made possible by the electrifying pace of discovery and innovation in the field of molecular genetics. In fact, several types of genome maps have already been completed, and today's experts confidently predict that we will have a smooth version of the sequencing of the human genome—which contains some 3 billion base pairs

Such astounding progress helped fuel the development of this remarkable volume, the first ever to discuss the brand-new—and often controversial—field of molecular genetics and the human personality. Questioning, critical, and strong on methodological principles, this volume reflects the point of view of its 35 distinguished contributors—all pioneers in this burgeoning field and themselves world-class theoreticians, empiricists, clinicians, developmentalists, and statisticians.

For students of psychopathology and others bold enough to hold in abeyance their understandable misgivings about the conjunction of molecular genetics and human personality, this work offers an authoritative and up-to-date introduction to the molecular genetics of human personality. The book, with its wealth of facts, conjectures, hopes, and misgivings, begins with a preface by world-renowned researcher and author Irving Gottesman.

  • The authors masterfully guide us through Chapter 1, principles and methods; Chapter 4, animal models for personality; and Chapter 11, human intelligence as a model for personality, laying the groundwork for our appreciation of the remaining empirical findings of human personality qua personality.
  • Many chapters (6, 7, 9, 11, and 13) emphasize the neurodevelopmental and ontogenetic aspects of personality, with a major emphasis on the receptors and transporters for the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Though these neurotransmitters are a rational starting point now, the future undoubtedly will bring many other candidate genes that today cannot even be imagined, given our ignorance of the genes involved in the prenatal development of the central nervous system.
  • Chapter 3 provides an integrative overview of the broad autism phenotype, and as such will be of special interest to child psychiatrists. Chapters 5, 8, and 10 offer enlightening information on drug and alcohol abuse. Chapter 14 discusses variations in sexuality.
  • Adding balance and mature perspectives on how all the chapters complement and sometimes challenge one another are Chapter 2, written by a major figure in the renaissance of the relevance to psychopathology of both genetics and personality; Chapters 15-17, informed critical appraisals citing concerns and cautions about premature applications of this information in the policy arena; and Chapter 18, a judicious contemplation by the editors themselves of this promising—and, to some, alarming—field.

Clear and meticulously researched, this eminently satisfying work is written to introduce the subject to postgraduate students just beginning to develop their research skills, to interested psychiatric practitioners, and to informed laypersons with some scientific background.


  • Contributors
  • Foreword
  • Chapter 1. Principles and Methods in the Study of Complex Phenotypes
  • Chapter 2. Relevance of Normal Personality for Psychiatrists
  • Chapter 3. Genetics of Personality: The Example of the Broad Autism Phenotype
  • Chapter 4. Animal Models of Personality
  • Chapter 5. DRD4 and Novelty Seeking
  • Chapter 6. Serotonin Transporter, Personality, and Behavior: Toward Dissection of Gene-Gene and Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Chapter 7. Dopamine D4 Receptor and Serotonin Transporter Promoter Polymorphisms and Temperament in Early Childhood
  • Chapter 8. Personality, Substance Abuse, and Genes
  • Chapter 9. Role of DRD2 and Other Dopamine Genes in Personality Traits
  • Chapter 10. Genetics of Sensation Seeking
  • Chapter 11. Quantitative Trait Loci and General Cognitive Ability
  • Chapter 12. Genetic Polymorphisms and Aggression
  • Chapter 13. Molecular Genetics of Temperamental Differences in Children
  • Chapter 14. Genetics of Sexual Behavior
  • Chapter 15. From Phenotype to Gene and Back: A Critical Appraisal of Progress So Far
  • Chapter 16. Human Correlative Behavioral Genetics: An Alternative Viewpoint
  • Chapter 17. Genetics of Human Personality: Social and Ethical Implications
  • Chapter 18. Genes for Human Personality Traits: Endophenotypes of Psychiatric Disorders?
  • Index

About the Authors

Jonathan Benjamin, M.D., is Associate Professor in the Division of Psychiatry at Ben Gurion University, and Chief of Psychiatry at Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon, Israel.

Richard P. Ebstein, Ph.D., is at the Research Laboratory at S. Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel.

Robert H. Belmaker, M.D., is Hoffer-Vickar Professor of Psychiatry at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel.

This is a valuable new book summarizing the state of the science of the genetics of personality. Any clinician or researcher with an interest in psychopathology should read and refer to this book.—Michael J. Schrift, DO, Doody's Health Science Book Review Journal

After reading this excellent and comprehensive volume, readers should have sufficient information to make their own informed decisions about the benefits and pitfalls of this fascinating and still-evolving field.—Anil K. Malhotra, M.D., JAMA, 4/1/2003

Molecular Genetics and the Human Personality is a well-written and generally well-edited book that will be of interest to clinicians in several disciplines—primarily genetics, psychology, and psychiatry.—Mark H. Fleisher, M.D., American Journal of Psychiatry, 4/1/2003

Related Products

Become an APA Member
Join Now