The story of our family...for my sons

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Genetic Memory

Genetic Memory has a lot of definitions but today I'll be focusing on one view and definition of genetic memory, the one that states, "Genetic memory is a process in which a memory is passed down through the generations without the individual having to experience first-hand the topic of the memory." I believe this memory is stored in our DNA helix, just like a hard drive. It is a psychological and sometimes spiritual theory that can be best illustrated through our primitive fears.

Across the globe a good portion of people are afraid of snakes, even if a great many of them have never seen a snake. According to the Genetic Memory Theory this is because when our species was evolving our ancestors lived in tropical climates where snakes were often venomous and it proved to be wise to stay away from them. Apparently it was such a big part of our survival that it became hardwired into our genes, even long after people moved away from the danger. Genetic Memory is at best a controversial theory, but I'm really starting to believe that it is a valid theory. There's really no hard proof of it, just a collection of social observations that could be attributed to it, but also may have other explanations.

Most scientists believe fear of snakes is more inherited by watching the behavior of others around you in your formative years then in your genetic code. If a parent or authority figure reacts wildly whenever they see a snake then you're likely to grow up with the same fears, regardless of whether or not the snake poses any real threat anymore. None-the-less, I can truly say that my fear of large brown bears has nothing to do with observing my parents being afraid of brown bears, or myself have ever come into contact with them, so I think that deep in my genome I've been imprinted with the "fear" because of experiences with brown bears during my "past lives" living in northern Europe over many generations (I'm not afraid of being alone in the woods with black bears, mountain lions or anything else).

I think about how my father, myself and my sons are/were all given the ability to create art (drawing/painting). As I do my genealogy I try to understand how my ancestors lived, what talents they had and how they might have passed the good and bad to me and future generations. With the advances we are seeing in genetic research, I truly believe that we will see genetic memory go from a pseudo-science to theoretical-science to a proven science.

Looking back on my life I have many experiences that explain to me how genetic memory works. One example stands out the most: Up to the time of high school, I'd never been in a fist fight. At that time I had only seen a few black and white fights on TV, and never had seen one "live". I was in a class with an old girlfriend (her current boyfriend was a tackle on our football team), and was just talking to her, when he just came up to me (I was sitting in a school desk chair), picked me up by my shirt out of my seat. Now at this time I was probably 145 lbs. soaking wet, and he was probably about 210 lbs. What happened next was what can best be described as a "genetic memory episode". I don't remember a thing, but I was told that when he picked me up he said, "I going to smash your face in". Witnesses told me that I blocked the punch like a pro, and then proceeded to hit him with 3 punches to the face knocking him across two rows of chairs into a radiator. He was laying there stunned and bloody, I was being held back by two classmates who said that I was "crazy" with rage. Needless to say, we were both expelled from school for fighting. I can't explain it anymore than saying it was genetic memory from my Viking past (proven through genealogy) that "killed the giant".

Genetic memory has been tested on animals, too...and all in humane ways. One of the most famous tests is when a first generation group of mice were taught how to find their way through a maze. Initially, it took them weeks or months to learn how to get through it. A year later, the same scientists took the offspring of those mice and had them go through the same maze. They all seemed to find their way through it in half the time their ancestors had. The third generation was even faster. By several generations in--a new generation of mice had been created who knew how to get through that maze in less than 30 seconds without ever having seen it before.

Another example: why did my grandfather decide to change his last name from Stewart to Mason. He didn't know that years later that when I was following his genealogy back that we are directly related to George Mason (and many more Mason's). Why choose the name Mason out of thousands of choices? I believe that deep in our DNA we have information that links us to the "past". This is my spiritual side, not religious, that gives me hope and explains a lot about who I am.

Much more to come...

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