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Behavioral Genetics Essay

When I’ve learned about Behavioral Genetics in Chapter 8, the first thing that came across my mind was the fantasy of having a twin. It’s crazy but it occupied my mind for quite some time. What if I had a twin? Would she be like me? I’ve always believed that identical twins share the same qualities and traits. So I surfed the net and came across Minnesota Twin Family Study (MTFS). Conducted at the University of Minnesota by competent researchers, it is by far the largest twin study in the US.

One particular case of the MTFS caught my attention: ‘The Jim Twins Study’. The twins were separated four weeks after birth to different adoptive parents who live 45 miles apart. Reunited 39 years later, the twins (both named Jim) find uncanny similarities. This incident, among many others, supports the theories of Behavioral Genetics. It couldn’t have been mere coincidence that the twins married twice, left love notes to their wives, and even suffered from migraine. Because they were raised in different adoptive families, it couldn’t have been the environment that shaped the Jim twins to have the same preferences and behavior, even ailments!

Time magazine cites that in a study of 44 twins reared apart, “a high of 61% of what they call ‘social potency’ (a tendency toward leadership or dominance) is inherited” (Leo & Taylor, 1987). The biological aspect of the Jim twins’ personality has played a great part in the development of these resemblances. If I had a twin separated from me at birth, I’d like to think that she is compassionate and enjoys music and golf as well as I do. It’s in the genes, as they say. However, as much as I believe on Behavioral Genetics, I must also note that the environment also plays a central role in the development of personality.

With regards to my own, it is a blend of nature and nurture. I want to be a nurse since I was a kid because I want to help people. I always thought it’s innate in me…that compassion for other people. But later on as I learned things in Psychology, it made me realize that it could have also been the environment I’m living in. I remember my mom taking in three extra homeless people into our household during the economy spiraled down. I am surrounded by loving and compassionate people. Another would be my love for golf and technology.

My father does too, and I think he must have influenced me unconsciously to develop these preferences. Now I understand that yes, it might be the genes but likewise, it is the things that I see and observe in my everyday experiences that made the desire to help people a trait in me. Both nature and nurture have been working in me. I believe personality in general is a mix of both genes and environment. Meanwhile, there is this one particular line from Chapter 11 that I need to quote. It goes, “A joke is not funny when the forbidden impulse it disguises is not shared, or the disguise is insufficient. It is written technically but gives me a learning I will remember.

Sometimes, when we joke about things, we have to make sure that the forbidden impulse must be known and shared by the listener because we might end up either sounding a loser or hurting the person concerned. I must also point out one last thing about the controversial Sigmund Freud. Sir Freud, as I’ve known him through researches and from the discussion in class, should be given due credit for his accomplishments in the field of Psychology.

His theories may be controversial but there is no denying that these same thoughts helped shape, in one way or another, modern Psychology. We also have to understand that the controversy behind his sexually-oriented theories can be justified because the psychological problems of his time (early 20th century) mostly had association to sexuality. From what I’ve learned, apparently most patients who came to him had marital problems of infidelity and sex life. His encounters with these patients perhaps helped shape his theories. It would be very unfair to refer to him as an ‘ancient history well forgotten’.

In fact, I find it surprisingly interesting to read about his theories that contradict some things I believe in because it opens me up to possibilities and good learning. I even think that the idea of using Freud’s theories and techniques in present day will be much useful and less controversial if there is more emphasis on the human personality rather than sexuality. The techniques of psychoanalysis, concepts of ego & id, and life & death drives, among many others are major contributions in the field of Psychology and no matter the controversies and all, we all should be thankful for Sir Freud.


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