Genetic testing

October 2, 2020

A reader asked:

Greetings Dr.Dave, I am psychologist in northern CA, writing on behalf of a close friend in LA, in great distress, about her 9 year old daughter, impulsive, manipulative and angry. The mother says her Dad and maternal grandmother are sociopaths but that's her opinion only. This is my question: Does your clinic offer genetic testing for nine year olds with this kind of history, in addition to the other testing that is available?
Thank you in advance. I look forward to your reply.


We do not do genetic testing of kids, and frankly, I don't think the science is far enough along for genetic testing of antisocial behavior to be informative.  If the question is whether the 9-year old is showing signs of oppositional defiant disorder or pre-conduct disorder behavior, the best way to find this out is to have a thorough diagnostic evaluation, with interviews of the kid and the parents, supplemented by school records and any previous treatment records.  It may also be informative to have a neuropsychological assessment, which I would recommend through the UCLA Medical Psychological Assessment Clinic (MPAC) at (310) 206 8100.

Although antisocial behavior has a clear genetic basis, there are many factors - environmental, psychological, developmental - that can either aggravate or reduce the impact of genetic vulnerability.

--David Miklowitz PhD