• Welcome! It’s great to see you. Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

    If you'd like to talk with people who know what it's like

What Caused This to Happen?



Well-known member
Mar 23, 2009
"What caused this to happen?" is usually one of the first questions asked by patients and their families following a psychotic episode, suicide attempt, or manifestation of any serious mental illness. In earlier times, the explanations ranged from an imbalance of the "humours" to demonic possession. More recently, there have been "schizophrenogenic" or "refrigerator" mothers and "abusive" or "toxic" fathers. Modern scientists and clinicians point to a mix of genetic and environmental factors but these explanations are rarely satisfying and do little to stem the tide of guilt, shame, and blame that surrounds mental illness as much today as during the witch hunts of centuries past.

Of course, genetics and environment are important. But their effects are probabilistic. With the exception of a few rare mutations that appear causal for autism, genetics confers a tendency for height, personality, and risk for mental illness through the aggregate effects of hundreds of common variations in the genome. This information may be useful in populations, but it is of little help in explaining cause for any individual.

Environment or, more accurately, experience is undeniably a factor for PTSD, but for most other forms of mental illness the link is difficult to prove. We use terms like "adversity," "toxic stress," or "trauma," recognizing that our assays of these experiences are woefully imprecise and knowing that subjective experience, especially memories of childhood experience, may trump any objective measure of the event. None of these factors have prevented patients and clinicians from assuming that "trauma" is the cause of most mental illness, perpetuating a culture of blame that has permeated mental health care for a century.

The scientific answer to the question of "what caused this to happen?" is to cite a mixture of genetic and environmental factors, often expressed as a gene-environment interaction. The honest answer to the question of cause is that we don't know. Gene-environment interaction is a multi-syllabic way of saying "we don't know." Our minds seek explanations to reduce the mystery and pain of mental illness, but in truth, we are early in our search for understanding how, when, and where these disorders develop.

What Caused This to Happen? | Thomas R. Insel


Well-known member
Jan 10, 2015
after 48 years of therapy and drugs I and the therapists can honestly identify the causes of my personality disorder and depression ,, some of it can be aided by drugs and behaviour modification ,, but other parts such as the basic personality brain wiring to be simplistic cannot at present knowledge and technology be changed ,,

and anyway it was probably my mothers training and conditioning of my brain between age 2 and 12 that caused all the confusion and conflict , she was warned by teachers, doctors and friends but before she realised it was an error i was 42 years old

Now i just have to cope with it ,, sometimes succesful sometimes in the pit .


With SMI perhaps we should give more access to therapy?

Historically that hasn't happened....so where is the data on environment and cause coming from?

From what I read on here.....and that is the extent of my knowledge.....most people with SMI get a dismissive try at therapy, with comments such as "therapy doesn't work on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and even personality disorder"....then the drugs are used.


Because it's by nature bad, they have an inherent bias to not being able to understand the reasons why it happened. That is the cause for lack of empathy. It's obvious what causes bad things - bad actions by people. Subtle bad ways they are and also big bad things like gang beating or something. Which is why there isn't really such a thing as mental illness because that implies it's unnatural which it aint.

Firemonkey how did you find, if they did, any drugs actually help you? how did they actually help, that you noticed in terms of stopping negative symptoms not positive? Given you only had negatives mainly.
Last edited: