The Genain quadruplets (born in 1930) are a set of identical quadruplet sisters. All four developed schizophrenia, suggesting a large genetic component to the cause of the disease. The pseudonym Genain, used to protect the identity of the family, comes from the Greek, meaning dire (αἶνος) birth (γεν-). The sisters were given the pseudonyms Nora, Iris, Myra and Hester, to represent each of the four letters in NIMH, the acronym for the United States National Institute of Mental Health. Nora, Iris, and Hester were hospitalized for their schizophrenia at least once each.
The quadruplets were reportedly physically abused by their father Mr Genain. subsequently the Genians accepted an offer by the NIMH to take the daughters into their clinic and each was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
There was a history of mental illness in Mr. Genain's family that might have been an example of genetics being linked with mental illness or it may have just been a dysfunctional and abusive family. This could tie in with current nature/ nurture discussions.
Mr. Genain's mother had had a three-year nervous breakdown in her late teens. The NIMH had recorded behaviors in Mr. Genain's siblings indicative of mental illness. References below would give more information about the Genian association with mental illness.
- Bentall, R. (2009). Doctoring the Mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail. London: Allen Lane
- Bernheim, Kayla F. & Lewine, Richard R. J. (1979). Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-09017-5.
- Rosenthal, David, (1963). The Genain quadruplets: A case study and theoretical analysis of heredity and environment in schizophrenia ISBN B0000CM68F