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September 05, 2013

The Genomics of Gender

A few months ago, I was given several books by another physician in return for a favor. All were written by Bryan Sykes, a well-known British geneticist I'd never even heard of- an increasingly common phenomenon in our complex, over-informed and overpopulated world.

Dr Sykes (not a physician) writes beautifully about things that are inevitably centered on Genetics- a science in which he's been a modern pioneer- especially as it applies to the hereditary elements of our species that impact our modern world: complex new concepts falling under the rubric of Genomics, a subject that had almost immediate resonance within Academic Medicine.

To my considerable surprise, I soon discovered that much of what I've learned about the behavior of cannabis users seeking "legality" in California has enabled me to identify with a major theme in Dr. Sykes' work: the damage done to our species and its global habitat by the militantly aggressive Y chromosome and its "need" to dominate its more nurturing and compliant X partner with which it must combine if a new human is to be produced.

In genomic terms, sustained male dominance, as mediated through the Y chromosome can be thought of as patrilineal and its behavioral opposite- mediated through its X partner- is matrilineal. Of course, that's not how contemporary humans have become used to thinking about issues of sex and gender, but as Sykes outlines them in Adam's Curse, I quickly began to catch his his drift.

Throughout its relatively short history, Homo sapiens, has been exclusively patrilineal, a characteristic which, as Sykes explains, may not have been the best way to insure our long-term survival. In that context, it's also necessary to understand that there are several other important variables- some of which may not resonate well with contemporary beliefs- but all have been well established by the Medical sciences- especially Genetics.

I will have more to say about these admittedly complex issues when I can find a bit more free time.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 5, 2013 06:17 PM