Read this article, it is short, and interesting.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological condition whereby people who have been exposed to a trauma suffer anxiety, depression, and vivid hallucinations that sort of “re-enact” the trauma. It occurs most often in military veterans, victims of crime and so on, and it can be completely debilitating.
The article is about a study that showed that people with PTSD tend to have changes in their genetic code.
The implications of this are staggering because it is yet more evidence that events in our lives can actually change us on a genetic level.
You see, up until very recently (like literally a few months ago) it was generally accepted that your genes are determined before you are born, that they impact on your life in certain ways, and they can never be changed. It was believed that the interaction between “nature” and “nurture” was a one way street; things that happened in your life were affected in certain ways by your genes, but the opposite was not true.
Now it seems we have been wrong all along because it looks like things that happen to you can change your genetic code and impact not just on your life but on the lives of your children and grandchildren!
This new field is called “epigenetics“.
Anyway, the article shows how one traumatic event can lead to PTSD and also changes in one’s genetic code. What the researchers seem to be implying is that these changes somehow cause PTSD.
If I’m reading the article right (which I may not be since this isn’t my field) it means that the traumatic event happens, and then less methyl is added to the persons DNA, which means that certain aspects of their immune system, and the production of brain cells, get turned on.
This implies that the person’s body is somehow trying to activate more of their immune system, in order to better deal with what it perceives as some sort of violent attack.
Whatever the cause this is yet more evidence that the whole “nature vs. nurture” distinction is actually almost meaningless; both impact on each other.
It also raises uncomfortable questions about how the gap between rich and poor is impacting on the genes of both.
Think about it…