I wish I had known years ago that 99% of my fears I had borrowed of someone else.
Flip me my life would have been so different.
We were only born with two fears pre-programmed into our brains; Loud noises and danger (danger where a tiger tooth is going to eat me). Every single other fear has been learnt through observation.
Fears inherited from my parents, family members, teachers, friends, romantic partners, work colleagues, social media, television, films; the list goes on forever.
This inherited fear observation clicked with me yesterday when my 10-year-old daughter came running into me scared and crying after watching a cartoon.
After calming her down, she told me she was scared of ghosts and asked if we had any ghosts in our house that I knew off. I asked her why she wanted to know. Anyway, it turned out this anime cartoon had ghosts in it, and all the characters were scared out of their lives by the ghost. After watching the cartoon, I have to admit I was pretty scared watching it, myself.
I sat my daughter down, and I explained she was not scared of ghosts, the fear she was experiencing was not her fear; it was a fear that she had inherited through this anime cartoon. (Also as a good parent I band her from watching these types of cartoons.)
But it got me thinking, how many of my own fears have been inherited, rather than them being my own. And because I like science, I wanted to find out if my theory was correct based on science.
To my surprise, along with eye colour, height and dimples; the fears that our parents have can be passed down to us, through our DNA. In fact, there has been a lot of neuro research on this subject of inherited fear.
One of the white papers from these researchers who experimented in mice found that when the parent mice learned to associate the scent of orange blossoms with a shock. Their children and grandchildren also had this fear of orange blossom even though they had never smelt orange blossom before. When the children and grandchildren were tested, the scientists found they had more neurons that detected the orange blossom scent than their parents/grandparents did.
Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler of Emory University stated in this research paper that they found DNA in the sperm cells from the mice that were imprinted with a gene code that detects the orange blossom odour that may have changed their behaviour.
Of course, this information can be taken two ways; which is why at this moment in time, I am staying open-minded but at the same time, fascinated by this theory.
The first way we can interpret this information is that the information concerning fear that is past down through the generations in our DNA can be necessary for our physical survival, by knowing a particular scent or noise could do us hard without having to experience itself hand.
The second way we can interpret the information from these research projects is that; none threatening fear to our physical health that our parents, grandparents and ancestors have had, have been passed down to us through our DNA. For example, the fear of spiders, fear of heights, fear of specific colours, etc..
Although the science is looking mainly at our DNA, I still feel that we also inherit some of our fears from just observation alone as well as DNA.
So before I go, I am going to leave you with another personal experience which backs up my theory on inherited observation theory.
When my son out of nowhere decided he no longer liked mushrooms and refused to eat them or even have a meal cooked with mushrooms init (I was willing to pick them out of his dished up meal) because he did not like the feel of them in his mouth. Within a few months, my daughters become fearful of mushrooms to the point where they no longer can eat mushrooms and can not eat a meal that has been cooked with mushrooms. An inherited fear they observed and learnt from their brother.
What do you think, have I gone completely bonkers this time? I am really interested to hear your take on this theory. Are 90% of our fears inherited from other people due to a mix of our DNA and observations? Do you know where your fears started or stemmed from?