Genes Contribute Nothing To Emotional Health – These Are The Four Things That Do.


It is very common for those who have experienced severe childhood trauma to develop emotional problems in adult life and I have already written about that fact, extensively, elsewhere on this site.

Research, in particular, that connected to the Human Genome Project, now overwhelmingly supports the idea that our genes have nothing (or very little indeed) to do with whether or not we develop into emotionally healthy individuals.

This finding, based on the best science, contradicts what ‘the average man on the street’ believes.


The Human Genome Project has compared various groups of individuals with mental health problems to those who are mentally healthy and have found that they differ genetically by, at the very most, 5-10%.

This, of course, means that we must look for an explanation as to why some people become emotionally unhealthy and some do not elsewhere; this is because it follows from the statistic given in the paragraph above (and you don’t need to be a genius level mathematician to deduce this) that :

90-95% (or more) of the causes of mental illness/emotional unhealthiness, on average,  are NOT genetic.

(This is based on an analysis of the contribution of genes to a variety of mental illnesses, including extremely serious ones such as schizophrenia)


We can, therefore, conclude from the above that it is almost entirely our life experiences that determine our emotional health (ie. it is nature, not nurture, which is important. Or, to put it another way, it is our environment, not our genes, that leads to whether or not we develop into emotionally healthy people).


The psychologist James, a leading expert in this area, suggests the 4 vital life experiences (either individually or in combination with one another) that can lead us to develop into an emotionally healthy person are as follows :

1) Being loved, shown affection, and properly cared for when we are a babies, toddlers, and children.

2) Being given strong emotional support during childhood (particularly from parents) at times of difficulty (eg soothed when anxious, made to feel safe when frightened)

3) A dramatic event in adult life that causes the person to re-evaluate what they should do with their lives and how they should live it in the most fulfilling and rewarding way as well as causing the person to appreciate and value life in a deeper and more profound way than s/he did prior to the dramatic event has taken place (e.g. surviving a life-threatening illness)

4) A deeply meaningful therapeutic or spiritual experience e.g.mindfulness training, psychoanalysis, converting to Buddhism, etc).


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