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“Inheriting Stress”: Article Summary

“Inheriting Stress”: Article Summary

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Current paper examines the main ideas from the article “Inheriting Stress” by Inna Gaisler-Salomon (2014). The author says that the harmful effects of stresses during pregnancy are recognized, but the influence of stresses before pregnancy is often neglected. It may seem that there are no direct effects in such cases because stresses at that period do not affect mother’s DNA. Moreover, the development of the fetus is not changed, as well. However, scientific research shows that all changes experienced by the mother during her lifetime are closely correlated with the subsequent psychological state of her child. The authors provide the children of Holocaust supervisors as the relevant examples of this thesis. Statistical data demonstrate that such children have much higher frequency of stress factors and even psychiatric illnesses. These levels are much higher than average ones and may be considered as being statistically significant.

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There are a number of other examples that show the same principle. The offspring of survivors in Yugoslavia, Cambodia, and Nigeria have similar symptoms. The actual causes of these tendencies are not specified yet. It is possible that traumas do not allow realizing the optimal parenting strategies. It is also possible that stresses may be biologically inherited in some way. Rcent research in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry shows that stresses of female rates that were experienced before pregnancy influenced their offspring, and these effects were clearly independent of any parental care. Even third generation may demonstrate substantial behavioral instability.


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Scientists often believe that only genetic information is transferred to children, but the author demonstrates that “soft-wired” one (including that related to past stresses) may affect the molecule and the gene. Thus, the ultimate probability of stress factors in the adult life depends on the stress experience of parents, as well as of that of offspring themselves during earlier periods of their lives. Thus, the entire process is much more complex than it was considered before. These findings may have a number of further implications as various psychiatric illnesses are directly related to stressful factors. A better understanding of the process of inheritance of these factors may help develop more effective methods of dealing with numerous illnesses.

Current article examines the problems of stress and mental health that are covered in Chapters 1, 2, and 4. The article influenced my position on these issues as I understood that the effects of stressful factors had much stronger and complex effects that I beelieved before. It seems that people should pay additional attention to the development of the friendly and stress-free environment because it affects not only their own lives but their children and grandchildren, as well. I think that additional studies are needed in order to specify what factors may counter-balance these negative influences as I suggest that some natural response and defense should exist. Thus, it is reasonable to determine the existing correlations between various independent variables and the subsequent impact of stress. Those factors that reduce the degree of stress and are statistically significant should be selected and applied accordingly.

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I have known that it also directly relates to psychiatric illnesses that are largely influenced by the negative impact of stressors. Although this article is useful for the entire population (as all people are subjected to the influence of stress factors), but people with psychiatric illnesses may especially benefit from it. However, in order to reach positive results, it is necessary to improve treatment and address not only current or recent experience of the individual but his/her inherited stressors, as well. In this, the health of the population may be significantly improved. I think that the reduction of the general stress levels should be one of the priorities of the global scale.

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