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In Nature Versus Nurture, Chalk One Up for Nature

by Katie Leo 


Tags: Science and Technology, Health, Psychology, behavioral molecular genetics, temperament, Psychotherapy Networker,

psychotherapynetworkerWhen Marian Sandmaier heard the sounds of strange young women’s voices in her front hallway, she dove for the floor, crept upstairs, and hid in her bedroom. What would cause this perfectly functional, successful, and outwardly confident adult to run from her daughter’s friends in a spasm of anxiety?

In this month’s Psychotherapy Networker, Sandmaier explores the lifelong power of one’s temperament. For many years, modern clinicians rejected the idea that one’s temperament was inborn. However, a long-term study by Harvard researcher Jerome Kagan, along with the work of various behavioral molecular geneticists, suggests that our natural inclinations may be hard-wired into our DNA.

Kagan’s study of over 400 children from infancy into young adulthood revealed that roughly half of those who were prone to anxiety, or "high-reactors," shed their early shyness and transformed into extroverted talkers around the age of 15. However, when studied more closely, Kagan found that these seemingly transformed individuals still maintained the same neurological reactions to stress that they exhibited as toddlers. They simply got better at overcompensating for it.

For someone like Sandmaier, who has managed to overcome innate introversion to build a successful career and healthy relationships with others, this means that although she has managed to cultivate a functional “persona” that enables her to navigate the myriad pathways of public life, her “anima”, or private reality, has remained unchanged.

Source: Psychotherapy Networker

raza_2
6/9/2009 2:05:18 AM

Nature are the genes. Nurture is the epigenome and its influence on he genes. The first for millions of years and the second for hours and days....


claire_4
6/8/2009 1:27:44 PM

The wording of the article suggests that introversion is a disability to be overcome, or an unfortunate personality trait that prevents one from functionally normally in the world. Perhaps you meant extreme shyness. Introversion simply means that one's energy is restored from solitude, not endless extroversion. Introverts are society's most reflective and thoughtful members, responsible for much of our best literature and scientific breakthroughs. A list of the world's most innovative and productive thinkers would be heavy with introverts. This preference for extroverts and the ignorance of introversion is an Americn fallacy and harmful to the quiet, introspective folks among us who have rich inner lives, who enjoy deep and meaningful relationships, but who have no need for constant interaction or small talk. You should know better.


tom hendricks
6/2/2009 12:43:49 PM

There is some new evidence that will greatly add to our understanding of people under stress. Biologists used to group all people into a single group that reacted to stress with 'fight or flight' response. Seems these were mostly male biologists. When females did a study they found that females react differently. They react with a 'tend and befriend' response. That changes everything we know! So perhaps the biggest difference is the difference between males and females. To learn more google the term "tend and befriend'. Once we see that male and female react differently we can open the door to a lot more discoveries in the behavior of all humans.