The Inheritance of Trauma

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar notme says:

    I’m sure defense attorneys all over are taking notice.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    From 1948 onward, at least plurality of Israel’s population basically suffered form PTSD because they survived horrific anti-Jewish violence in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. The 1990s brought in millions of Jews from the former USSR or Ethiopia that suffered from anti-Jewish violence organized on the state level. This can explain a lot.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    Is this outcome seen in the Cambodians that lived through the Kumar Rouge (sp) atrocities?
    You’d expect to see it in all kinds of populations.

    The Armenians?
    American Africans?
    The muslim slaves?

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I can’t remember where so please take this with a grain of salt, but I heard/read that there is evidence of animals “inheriting” certain fears from their parents. So if a lab rat got shocked every time he touched the red button, his future children would have an inborn fear or aversion to red, even though they never actually experienced the association firsthand.

    It would seem to me that if this is indeed possible in animals, that it would be possible in humans. The mechanisms, extent, intensity, frequency, etc. might vary greatly but the general notion that a future generation could carry certain emotional legacies of their forefathers doesn’t seem out of the question.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      The linked article talks about it:

      Scientists at Emory University in Atlanta trained male mice to fear the smell of cherry blossom by pairing the smell with a small electric shock. Eventually the mice shuddered at the smell even when it was delivered on its own.

      Despite never having encountered the smell of cherry blossom, the offspring of these mice had the same fearful response to the smell – shuddering when they came in contact with it. So too did some of their own offspring.

      On the other hand, offspring of mice that had been conditioned to fear another smell, or mice who’d had no such conditioning had no fear of cherry blossom.

      The fearful mice produced sperm which had fewer epigenetic tags on the gene responsible for producing receptors that sense cherry blossom. The pups themselves had an increased number of cherry blossom smell receptors in their brain, although how this led to them associating the smell with fear is still a mystery.


  5. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    A couple things:

    I’m not sure how controversial “epigenetic inheritance” really is. I can think of more than a few more-parsimonious alternative explanations in this particular study. Plus, epigenetic inheritance has been demonstrated in animal and unicellular models and it’s presumed that it takes place in humans, although really quite hard to separate from “environmental” factors.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      We could solve this question by taking a few hundred children and raising one set in a control group and another subjected to various horrors and tortures. Run that test for a few generations and see what’s what.Report