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Does Crime Leave a Genetic Trace? 160

gallifreyan99 writes "Scientists have spent decades trying to understand and fix social problems like violence and alcoholism, usually focusing on the poor and disadvantaged. But now a small band of researchers is claiming that biology plays a vitally important role — because trauma can change you at a genetic level that gets passed on to kids, grandkids, and perhaps even beyond." Part of the research involved testing the effect of stress on the genetics of mice. A number of mice were subjected to stressful situations and then allowed to raise their children. The children, when later subjected to stress, were more vulnerable to it than normal mice (for example, they would stop struggling in a potentially fatal situation earlier than 'happy' mice). This was expected. What's interesting is that when those children were later bred with normal mice, and that third generation was raised by normal mice (so that parental neglect wasn't a factor), they still showed the same vulnerability to stress. A subsequent generation showed the same.
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Does Crime Leave a Genetic Trace?

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  • "crime" (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:17PM (#46280285)

    Let's not put judicial labels on psychological behaviours, eh? C20 liked doing that rather too much.

  • Re:Curious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ramirozz ( 758009 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:39PM (#46280453) Homepage
    In theory as many as possible... but one thing to remember... that predisposition (not predetermination) can be corrected if the ofspring is given the opposite that caused that epigenetic change... meaning with that: love, empathy, education, safety. I always wonder why studies do tests with the most harming techniques and not the opposite.
  • Not so complex (Score:1, Insightful)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:39PM (#46280457)

    Violence happens when otherwise friendly people are provoked. In the case of the poor, it's usually when they are goaded by someone in a position of power. We've all seen the peculiar attitude rich and powerful people develop when they feel free to jut out their chin and say "what are you going to do about it?"

    Alcholism happens when powerless people have nowhere else to hide.

    People who are powerless become destructive: either to themselves or others. The reason this situation persists is because there are people in this world who are never held accountable for their single-minded pursuit of making other people powerless.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:58PM (#46280627)

    And what's wrong with eugenics? Hitler gave it a bad name with his fancifully eugenic atrocities, but it's not like we don't already apply the principles to every other species we domesticate. We even do it to ourselves - all else being equal, I assume you would prefer a beautiful, healthy, and probably smart and/or strong reproductive partner. Eugenics just requires doing what we're already doing to ourselves bit more consciously.

    As for biological psychology, I'll admit it can be abused in fanciful ways, just as Social Darwinists abuse the principles of evolution. But ignoring it leads to such patently ridiculous claims as Tabla Rasa and the sameness of the sexes.

    Meanwhile in this case we're talking about epigenetics anyway, extrapolating the results to humans (always dicey, but...) the results suggest that subjecting people to traumatic or other high-stress stimuli will harm not only their own well-being, but also that of at their children and grandchildren. In other words - working that horrible high-stress job so that you'll one day be able to bring your children into a better life may actually be counter-productive, because while you're providing them with more luxuries and opportunities, you're also saddling them with a genetic disability.

    Not to mention the implications of having children with somebody with PTSD - you're potentially saddling your children with not only an emotionally damaged parent, but also a genetic predisposition to follow in their footprints. On the other hand, as we come to understand the mechanisms involved we may well learn how to reverse such epigenetic changes, and that could have enormous benefits for our society.

  • by Sabriel ( 134364 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:09PM (#46280719)

    Um, just curious: if you don't believe, why are you self-censoring?

  • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:23PM (#46280833)

    I am fucked up beyond all repair.

    No, you're not. The fact that you're you are alive proves that you're a tough survivor.

    Kids do not have power over adults who bullied them. As a grown adult you do have the power over screwed up, bullying controlling types. Power to not allow it to happen to you again, at least not without one hell of a good fight from you. You are now stronger than you might realize right now, but strong you are. That strength may come in very handy as you go through life. While your growth as a child was changed, you are not 'fucked'. You would not do the things that were done to you to another human being. That makes you way better than the cowards who harmed you back then. I salute you. Keep on moving forward, maybe just so the bastards don't ''win''.

  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:34PM (#46280937)

    Yea, and whats wrong with Communism? All of those mass genocides just gave it a bad name. Surely we can do it right if we try again.

    Sorry, some ideas are poisonous, and can be identified as such from the results of every time they were attempted. How many times should we attempt eugenics before concluding that it just leads to genetic discrimination, forced euthanasia, and forced sterilization?

  • by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @08:19PM (#46281369) Homepage
    Everybody is fucked up in one way or another. The great lie of society is that there is such a thing as normal. Yet this is impossible. It is each person's task - given to him by nobody other than himself - to do the best he can so as to make his way through this fucked-up-ness and figure out why it is so endemic and how he can help himself and others around him out of it. You clearly value your own life as you avoid alcohol because it would harm you. This is a good trait! Use it well. Life gets better the more you work at improving it - this is the joy of being an intelligent animal.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein