We all have them, or so it seems. The ‘things that run in our family’.
Some of them are good. Some are excellent. But some of them are not so positive; common examples of negative family patterns and traits can include:
- Failing relationships, unable to sustain long term relationships.
- Money problems, lack, scarcity, ‘never enough’.
- Depression, anxiety, OCD, mental health problems, stress.
- Addictions (food, alcohol, gambling, online shopping, porn, social media)
- Disease, inherited/genetic disorders.
- Abuse – sexual, emotional, mental, physical.
- Problems with authority, rules, compliance, social order.
- Negative self image and self worth issues.
- Anger, rage, ‘out of control’
- Religious intolerance, racial intolerance, gender bias, prejudice.
When we see these types of patterns coming down the family line, repeating generation after generation, we can be pretty sure there is ancestral trauma attached to the DNA.
But how does anything attach to our DNA strands? Is it physical or metaphysical?
It’s actually chemical.
A gene is a distinct portion of your cell’s DNA. Genes contained within the DNA are the only way to transmit biological information between generations.
But our genes change all the time, depending on many factors including our environment, our mood, our lifestyle, our choices.
These changes come about through chemical tags that attach themselves to our DNA, switching genes on and off.
Here’s what the research has shown about trauma
A specific area of a human gene is responsible for the regulation of stress hormones, and we know that stress hormones are obviously affected by trauma. So it seems likely that trauma can be ‘switched on’ or ‘switched off’ by these chemical tags attached to the DNA.
A research team at Mount Sinai Hospital conducted a genetic study of Holocaust survivors and their children and found epigenetic tags on the very same part of this gene in both survivors and children, whereas the same correlation wasn’t found in any of the control group or their children.
“If there’s a transmitted effect of trauma, it would be in a stress-related gene that shapes the way we cope with our environment.” Dr Rachel Yehuda
Another research team at Emory University, Atlanta was successful in training male mice to fear the smell of cherry blossom by connecting the smell with a small electric shock.
Eventually the smell alone was enough to get a shudder response from the mice.
The offspring of these male mice also had the same response to the cherry blossom smell, despite NEVER having encountered it before and some of their offspring also had the same reaction.
More and more studies and research are bound to give us even more knowledge and insight into epigenetic inheritance. Let’s stay tuned for that!