Biology Buries the Lead

They’ve found genes, alleles that are activated in response to adverse environments, and I think they’re finding epigenetic changes specific to abuse, that is, social abuse or abusive social environments as well as ones for drought, famine, cold, that sort of thing. I’ll try to find a few of these for examples, just to be sure I’m not assuming too much, but I don’t plan to get into biological detail at that level; first, I know nothing, and second, there are plenty of good folks doing that who do.

For me, the salient point is this: the environment is in our DNA. Our genes know about drought, famine, cold, UV light – milk – etc. – and abuse.

Abuse is in our DNA.

If having or developing the genes to lose melanin helped us to live in the snow and the cold, then we can express that as us, wanting to expand or remain when the weather moved over us, leveraging our genetic options for pigment, to better access that environment’s resources, right? Is that a valid evolutionary or biological way to view things? If you’ve read me this year, you know where this is going.

Abuse is in our DNA.

I don’t have the heart to bludgeon anyone with the ‘abuse’ side of that analogy. My whole thing is hostile enough with a light touch, and for that I’m sorry, but, truth if we can find it, I guess.

When some brilliant researcher identifies the AMYGDLAXXX#1 “warrior allele” (kidding, I hope that’s clear), and it makes the journals and National Geographic or something, that’s scientifically terrific. Maybe we ultra-liberals hear the voice of eugenics in it and we start to argue about determinism or some established debate, and sadly, the biologists I see are arguing back at nearly that level, like, ‘so what, “determinism,” this is science, it is what it is’ and so it is, we’ve buried the lead, which was far bigger than biology, bigger than either ‘side’ of this conversation. The lead, one more time,

Abuse is in our DNA.

That’s the headline. The meat of the paper needs to be that abuse is in our life, in our development, in our evolution. If there are ‘warrior alleles’ (and there are), then the associated behaviour, creating the abusive social environment that activates them is in our life’s DNA, our lifestyle’s DNA. This “environment” is us. We grew up with abuse, in the evolutionary sense, it’s part of us. So.

This is what it means to biologists: it counts. YOU came to US with this data, genes for abuse, this is the nature/nurture connection, this is how you fit behaviour into your worldview: alleles for abuse proves the existence of abuse, no? And the biological power of abuse, therefore the “power of nurture,” right?

This is what it means to social scientists and psychologists: it counts. Not in some cases, not in extreme cases. Abuse is the baseline for humans, there is no ‘normal human development’ path that doesn’t include abuse, abuse is “normal” for us, it’s not a pathological condition, unless we can think that we all have one. To assume some silent majority of unabused people as some ‘norm’ is missing the point entirely.

Biologists, you’ve found it, the Holy Grail, you just can’t seem to look up from your microscopes to see it! You proved nurture while trying to disprove it, built the bridge from social to biological science, but you seem to be protesting, telling us there’s no good reason to cross it. But that’s OK, that’s just your biology, the ol’ us and them mindset creeping in as it always does, no blame there. I basically have no ‘us,’ anymore, so . . .

I’ll take it from here, if no-one else will.

 

Jeff

July 3rd., 2017

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