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Osofsky, J.D. (1990). Development, Genetics and Psychology: By Robert Plonim. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986. 372 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 59:317-319.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:317-319

Development, Genetics and Psychology: By Robert Plonim. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986. 372 pp.

Review by:
Joy D. Osofsky

Our understanding of the importance of behavioral genetics for psychoanalysis, as reflected in Robert Plonim's book, starts with a concern for the relationship between heredity and environment, the nature versus nurture issue. Interestingly, we have learned from the study of molecular and cellular biology that hereditary influences change over the course of development. It is not only that we are born with a set of genes that are important determinants of later development, but that hereditary influences come in at different times and in different ways. Thus, heredity influences us not only early in development but later as well, affecting both normal behavioral development and disorders.

We know from studies of behavioral genetics that there is an interaction between heredity and environment. In emphasizing this interaction, Plonim stresses that one of the most important findings to emerge from human behavioral genetics involves the impact of environment on hereditary factors. Researchers have come to the remarkable conclusion that environmental factors can, at times, make two children from the same family as different from one another as are pairs of children selected randomly from the general population. Yet, the greatest environmental influence is the family, which affects each child differently.

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