Genetics have a very important role in how our personality is formed. In this case we will talk about epigenetics and how traumas can be inherited through chromosomes.
The relationship between genetics and trauma
We are going to see better what epigenetics is in order to understand how it can affect people's inheritance of trauma. Epigenetics is a regulation system that controls gene expression without affecting the composition of the genes themselves.
Well, this system too It is studied in the field of social psychology. Thus, some experiments have been carried out to see and verify how traumas can be inherited through genetics. And of course, the results have been very surprising.
If we go back centuries of our history (even decades), we can see how in reality almost all generations, in one way or another, have experienced some tragedy in the world.
Wars, famines, economic crises and other historical events have hit entire generations. These people have been affected by these events, living on many occasions irreparable traumas.
The consequences of these tragedies are terrible for those who experience them, but also for future generations, since most often they represent a before and after in terms of the functioning of society.
What could not be known or imagined is that this type of experience also left a mark on our genetics. Thus, people who suffer from these traumas can transmit them to the following generations, according to animal studies.
It is difficult to take this to the human sphere, as research has its limits, so the exact measure cannot be known. But it is possible to affirm that this fact occurs and that we inherit the tragedies of our ancestors in a way.
Knowing this has been possible thanks to some experiments in the field of social psychology. It is there where scholars in these types of subjects have more room to conduct experiments and obtain more data on how and why we function in a certain way.
These studies have been carried out through generations and have been able to show that we can inherit the tragedies. What can not be known is the genetic mechanism, how genes mutate or are altered, but there are very obvious inherited patterns.
Studies conducted after World War II
World War II has been one of the most decisive historical events for many reasons: the magnitude of the war itself, the cruelty never seen before and the traumas and consequences that it left in millions of people.
This fact definitely marked a before and after in the whole world and in many aspects. Psychology has been one of the fields that has most studied this phenomenon, its causes and consequences, establishing very interesting conclusions about human behavior.
These studies have also been carried out to know more about the consequences of an event of the magnitude of this, as it is normal that a war of such cruelty and in which there were so many millions of people affected has also had consequences in later generations.
One of the studies that were carried out was at the Uppsala University of Finland. A team of researchers warned that the children of children who were evacuated in this country during World War II had later many more problems of hospitalization for psychological disorders.
But if there is a fact that left some sequels still incalculable it was the Holocaust. Regarding this tragedy, a study was carried out at Monte Sinai Hospital in New York where the genetic composition of a group of Jews who had experienced the tragedy of concentration camps was verified.
Later, this genetics was compared with that of their descendants. The study focused on a specific region of a gene associated with the regulation of stress hormones.
The results were quite revealing and left no doubt. Survivors to concentration camps and their own children had that gene affected due to trauma who had lived during the Second World War.
To ensure that the results were valid, parallel genetic analyzes were carried out. Thus it was ruled out that the children and the second generation had this gene modified by their own traumas.
As you could see, a trauma can even survive us and pass our children through the chromosomes. However, there is no reason to be alarmed, since this happens rarely and in cases that are very, very specific.
Epigenetic transmission of Holocaust trauma: can nightmares be inherited? Kellermann NP.
Jaenisch R, Bird A. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression: how the genome integrates intrinsic and environmental signals. Nat Genet 2003; 33
Inversion of behavioral, neuroanatomic and germline influences of intergenerational stress. Hadj S. Aoued, Soma Sannigrahi, Nandini Doshi, Filomene G. Morrison, Hannah Linsenbaum, Sarah C. Hunter, Hasse Walum, Justin baman, Bing yao b, Peng jin, Kerry J. Ressler, Brian G. Dias.
Persistent epigenetic differences associated with prenatal exposure to famine in humans. Heijmans BT, Tobi EW, Stein AD, Putter H, Blauw GJ, Susser ES, Slagboom PE, Lumey LH. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2579375/