Epigenetics: old parent blaming in new shape?
I'm fascinated by epigenetics and the promise that it will yield insights into the underpinnings of eating disorders and human health in general. This is some of the most exciting stuff in medicine right now.
I'm amused by those who were not all that interested in genetics before but have leapfrogged over the well-known 53-83% heritability factor for eating disorders and jumped headfirst into epigenetics in a sort of "see! see! you parents DO cause eating disorders" late embrace of science.
Most people who are interested in the promise of epigenetics are genuinely interested in the role of environment and predisposition. Even the role of parenting. I am.
Some, however, are just unable -- even in denial, maybe? -- to accept that eating disorders are really not a sign of society's ills and parental perfidy. Do some parents suck? Yes. Do some parents of eating disorder patients suck? Duh. But are the symptoms of eating disorders a reflection of a person's parenting? Not that we know of. So why do we keep going back to THAT aspect of environment, I wonder?
Epigenetics is not the Usual Suspect that you are looking for. There is still no reason to think that an eating disorder diagnosis says ANYTHING about the parents or the sufferer's life. It's just a diagnosis. It's a real brain disorder that ravages lives and families but can be successfully treated by those with genuine and complex interest in the science.
Here's the litmus test. If you didn't believe in genetics and EDs before, you think parents are probably contributing to the causation of most eating disorders, you think eating disorder sufferers are telling us something about society and families, then you may just not be as interested in epigenetics as you think.