CA - Chad O’Melia, 26, fatally stabbed by Bryn Spejcher due to Marijuana, Thousand Oaks, 18 May 2018

No, there was no genetic history at all. Which is why we had no idea what was really going on with him, until he was finally, properly , diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

We thought he was using hard drugs and hiding that from us---which turned out to be incorrect.

He lived with Schizophrenia for the rest of his life. Was hospitalised a few times, lived in group homes most of his life and took strong meds until his death in his late 50's.

Although one of his doctors from the mental hospital once asked my mother if she had been ill at any point during her pregnancy with him. And she said she does remember being in the hospital with a respiratory infection, and then later a urinary tract infection, and both times needed medications. He told her there was some research connecting illnesses during pregnancy with later mental health issues in the children.

It's really hard to know if there were genes. We find new ones that cause schizophrenia every so often (there are quite a few - most schizophrenics have just one of them; some have other genes that may interact with the schizophrenia genes - and so they are more vulnerable). It's kind of like playing the slots, if the alleles in one's ancestry are scrambled each time a new baby is made (which they are - through the processes of crossover and random assortment). So, for example, if one parent had a gene for schizophrenia (even the strongest ones are expressed only about 70% of the time, last time I read up on it, which was maybe 5 years ago) and the other parent had another gene that helps trigger schizophrenia (we have no clue how many of those there are), the chances are slim that two siblings would get both of those alleles (more than 23,000 alleles with two alleles in each slot - so 46,000 combinations X an unknown number of schizophrenia-enabling genes).

This case and the research on schizophrenia and cannabis make me think that there's likely a gene (perhaps not related just to schizophrenia) for intense, psychotic reactions to marijuana (or even just to sativa - the strain that many people prefer for its somewhat upper-like qualities).

I don't think most psychiatrists and psychiatric anthropologists think that viruses or maternal illness is the root cause of new in a family line - but it is possible, of course). The literature on maternal illness and medication and future mental health of children is both vast and necessarily sketchy. But so far, I don't think we have any evidence of someone developing schizophrenia without one of the known genes - but the methodology for figuring out new alleles has made some people who look and act schizophrenic end up being diagnosed with a general psychosis (I'm looking at a couple of human subjects in that area right now - both are students of mine with that diagnosis).

It's a fascinating subject. And as for prior psychiatric symptoms, one of my interests has long been physicians who are diagnosed with either bipolar (more genetically determined than schizophrenia) and schizophrenia. One of my good friends, who passed away during COVID, was a high-functioning schizophrenic physician. She had 1 gene for schizophrenia, her mother was also schizophrenic, she participated in research about those genes, which is how I met her. Her mother may have had more than one of the genes.

But she often pondered what other genes she might have (that made her have psychotic episodes). If there are new alleles (which we're learning happens more than we used to think in genetic anthropology), how would we know about them? Much less know what caused them? A major cause of mutations-in-general is lack of protein or nutrients in the maternal diet. Hard to go back and investigate, except anecdotally.

Anyway, my friend functioned very well as a physician for many years. She did avoid drugs and alcohol. She meditated a *lot.* She hung out with other schizophrenics, too (including other physicians - which is how I met a couple of others - one of whom was significantly impaired, IMO). She always wondered if she was truly the paranoid type (and if the typing of schizophrenia was accurate in psychiatry - her own insights were highly valuable, but she never published on the topic).

So in the case of this now-convicted murderer, it could be that marijuana did indeed trigger a deeper psychosis - but many people live with semi-psychotic features of schizophrenia or bipolar and function fairly well in their professional lives.


This is a local article on her conviction.
 
It's really hard to know if there were genes. We find new ones that cause schizophrenia every so often (there are quite a few - most schizophrenics have just one of them; some have other genes that may interact with the schizophrenia genes - and so they are more vulnerable). It's kind of like playing the slots, if the alleles in one's ancestry are scrambled each time a new baby is made (which they are - through the processes of crossover and random assortment). So, for example, if one parent had a gene for schizophrenia (even the strongest ones are expressed only about 70% of the time, last time I read up on it, which was maybe 5 years ago) and the other parent had another gene that helps trigger schizophrenia (we have no clue how many of those there are), the chances are slim that two siblings would get both of those alleles (more than 23,000 alleles with two alleles in each slot - so 46,000 combinations X an unknown number of schizophrenia-enabling genes).

This case and the research on schizophrenia and cannabis make me think that there's likely a gene (perhaps not related just to schizophrenia) for intense, psychotic reactions to marijuana (or even just to sativa - the strain that many people prefer for its somewhat upper-like qualities).

I don't think most psychiatrists and psychiatric anthropologists think that viruses or maternal illness is the root cause of new in a family line - but it is possible, of course). The literature on maternal illness and medication and future mental health of children is both vast and necessarily sketchy. But so far, I don't think we have any evidence of someone developing schizophrenia without one of the known genes - but the methodology for figuring out new alleles has made some people who look and act schizophrenic end up being diagnosed with a general psychosis (I'm looking at a couple of human subjects in that area right now - both are students of mine with that diagnosis).

It's a fascinating subject. And as for prior psychiatric symptoms, one of my interests has long been physicians who are diagnosed with either bipolar (more genetically determined than schizophrenia) and schizophrenia. One of my good friends, who passed away during COVID, was a high-functioning schizophrenic physician. She had 1 gene for schizophrenia, her mother was also schizophrenic, she participated in research about those genes, which is how I met her. Her mother may have had more than one of the genes.

But she often pondered what other genes she might have (that made her have psychotic episodes). If there are new alleles (which we're learning happens more than we used to think in genetic anthropology), how would we know about them? Much less know what caused them? A major cause of mutations-in-general is lack of protein or nutrients in the maternal diet. Hard to go back and investigate, except anecdotally.

Anyway, my friend functioned very well as a physician for many years. She did avoid drugs and alcohol. She meditated a *lot.* She hung out with other schizophrenics, too (including other physicians - which is how I met a couple of others - one of whom was significantly impaired, IMO). She always wondered if she was truly the paranoid type (and if the typing of schizophrenia was accurate in psychiatry - her own insights were highly valuable, but she never published on the topic).

So in the case of this now-convicted murderer, it could be that marijuana did indeed trigger a deeper psychosis - but many people live with semi-psychotic features of schizophrenia or bipolar and function fairly well in their professional lives.


This is a local article on her conviction.
Interesting about the marijuana, because my little brother smoked A LOT of pot in his high school years. A lot.

And about the genes, I misspoke. I didn't mean to say HE didn't have any schizophrenic genes. I meant that we didnt have any known schizophrenics in my mother's or father's extended families, in previous few generations.

Both families were large but lived in same area for decades. I knew all my aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides. One of my paternal Aunts was probably autistic. But in her times that was not yet 'a thing.' She was kept at home and cared for protectively. I don't think she was schizophrenic though. I knew her well. She was like a young child in an adult's body.

I didnt recognise any of my brothers symptoms when it first came on. I thought he was probably doing psychedelics because we were in Berkeley in the 1970's. It was everywhere. And he smoked a lot of pot, every day.
 
Interesting about the marijuana, because my little brother smoked A LOT of pot in his high school years. A lot.

And about the genes, I misspoke. I didn't mean to say HE didn't have any schizophrenic genes. I meant that we didnt have any known schizophrenics in my mother's or father's extended families, in previous few generations.

Both families were large but lived in same area for decades. I knew all my aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides. One of my paternal Aunts was probably autistic. But in her times that was not yet 'a thing.' She was kept at home and cared for protectively. I don't think she was schizophrenic though. I knew her well. She was like a young child in an adult's body.

I didnt recognise any of my brothers symptoms when it first came on. I thought he was probably doing psychedelics because we were in Berkeley in the 1970's. It was everywhere. And he smoked a lot of pot, every day.

Oh - that's how I took what you were saying. There are lots of schizophrenics whose known family tree doesn't have any diagnosed schizophrenics. But now we know that the trigger that sets off schizophrenia may lie elsewhere in the genome.

If it's a substance, well, things were different in the past. I'm convinced that some of my own relatives converted to conservative, anti-alcohol, anti-lots of things religions in order to manage themselves. But there are clues that there were some less well-functioning people on a couple of branches - not sure full blown schizophrenia. Mom's grandpa became a "hobo," a voluntarily homeless person of few words (consistent with non-paranoid schizophrenia; he may have exhibited delusions - it's hard to say). He did not drink as far as anyone knows.

Combine some of those triggers with modern environment, and we have a new thing going on. OTOH, maybe we just hear more about it.

I grew up in a world like yours. For as far as I can see and have experienced, no major psychosis in my family (I am speaking of the ones who raised me - but seems to be true of my bio family as well). But anyway, this isn't about the incidence of schizophrenia/psychosis but about its triggers. There's good research that says even fairly genetically loaded people who make it to age 35 without a psychotic break are likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

One factor is sleep quality (which both alcohol and marijuana affect - and they affect people differently). The military studies show this because, well, sleep deprivation is part of most early military training (but not all).

Anyway, even if one DOES have the genes, there is less of a chance of actually becoming schizophrenic than with the genes for bipolar, at least last time a good literature review was published. Both illnesses have a window of onset (for most people). I just want people to know that avoiding the triggers until middle age might well be a preventative for many things. At least until the mid-20's.
 
Family members of a man stabbed to death by a Ventura County woman during an episode of cannabis-induced psychosis in 2018 are outraged after a judge on Tuesday sentenced the 32-year-old woman to two years of felony probation and no prison time.

Thousand Oaks resident Bryn Spejcher was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last month in the killing of 26-year-old accountant Chad O’Melia.

[...]

Spejcher faced up to four years in prison along with sentence enhancements, though the judge ruled that given the facts, he didn’t believe it was warranted.

“He took into account her lack of criminal record, her professional standing in the community and that she did in fact suffer from severe psychosis at the time killing and really did not know what she was doing,” KTLA Legal Analyst Alison Triessl said of the judge’s sentence.

The judge cited evidence and expert testimony, also saying the 32-year-old did not know marijuana would have this type of effect on her when she smoked with the 26-year-old victim that night.
 

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