Genetic Memory: Is there a way to know what my great-great-great grandfather was thinking?

22 Aug

I’m hungry. Always hungry. And I eat fast.

I sometimes think my ancestors must have been starving peasants and that I inherited their hunger. Now it seems there is growing evidence such a thing could be true.

It’s called genetic memory. The theory is that a person can actually receive the memory of past generations in his or her genetic code.

Doreen Carvajals wrote on the subject recently in the science section of the New York Times. She was raised Catholic but learned that centuries ago her family was Jewish, living in Spain and forced to convert during the Inquisition. She seeks to find the facts to all this in her own DNA.

A journalist and author, Carvajals discusses some of the research on the theory and even mentions a video game – Assassin’s Creed  — that employs the concept.

Her piece mentions Dr. Darold A. Treffert, a psychiatrist with a list of 300 people who, after head injury or dementia, became musicians, artists and mathematicians. His belief is they taped into genetic memory to learn these skills. He calls it “factory-installed software.”

The animal world shows great evidence of this. How, for example, does a tiger raised by humans develop all the traits of a tiger? Animal behavior always stick with the animal, whether or not there is learning and instruction. We used to simply call that “instinct.” But what is “instinct?”

Maybe it’s genetic memory.

Maybe we’ve all got it, in a mostly unconscious form. It’s there for our survival and keeps us alive by telling us to avoid this danger and embrace that solution. Genetic memory seems like a wise thing to include when building life forms. Why make each generation of a species learn something over and over again?

Once is enough.

For too many people, it is easy to imagine that in a former life they were queens of Egypt or heads of European dynasties.  Genetic memory, if it exists, probably is much more subtle, almost imperceptible. It must work like background noise.

Like the noise in my stomach?

Probably not.

My sister is a disturbingly slow eater who is not really drawn to food, yet she has the same ancestors as I. When placed under mild scrutiny, the theory of my hunger and rapid eating habits is just an excuse for unenviable behavior. More plausible is that some kind of chemistry drives it.

Still, I would like to know if anyone reading has had an experience with genetic memory. The more restrained the better. Bold tales are hard to believe. More worthwhile is a recollection of some unexplained conduct that surfaced from nowhere but proved worthy if not prescient.

I look forward to hearing from such a person.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going for a sandwich.

One Response to “Genetic Memory: Is there a way to know what my great-great-great grandfather was thinking?”

  1. David September 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    I am naturally good at painting but I have never taken art classes only when I began learning properly. I am also very amused by science and it turns out as I did research on genetic memory that on my dads side almost all his family was born with a talent to paint and in my moms side there is a connection with a spainiard scientist who wasn’t famous but gifted


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