Ethical implications of genetic susceptibility testing: NeuroGenEthics and the “Angelina Jolie effect”

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Elena Ferioli
Mario Picozzi



An increasing interest in genetics of aggressive behavior has developed in literature over time and specifically regarding genes involved in dopaminergic and serotonergic systems, sex steroids and glucocorticoids. The same could be said for mood and anxiety disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia syndromes and antisocial and criminal behavior. This has led to the idea that it was possible to make genetic tests applicable in psychiatry with the ability to define a risk profile.  However, the results obtained to date are mostly contradictory, un-replicable and lack standardized protocols and the legal frames are not clear. The results found were that there wasn’t a simple mendelian transmission or connection of a few genes. Today, we have to overcome the genetic determinism and generalize it in an interdisciplinary perspective without neglecting the ethical, legal and social issues and without slipping into a sort of “Angelina Jolie effect”.

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