According to the new insights of behavioral epigenetics, traumatic experiences in our past, or in our recent ancestors’ past, leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA.
The DNA remains the same, but psychological and behavioral tendencies — stemming from life experiences — can be inherited. In the case of Colombia, three generations later, a child may inherit a predisposition toward depression caused by her grandmother having witnessed a massacre.
But chemical drugs to alter the brain can alter the DNA. Epigenetic medications might succeed in treating depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Or there is meditation. MRI scans documented how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter. Meditation thickened the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.
With Colombia’s hope for a post-conflict society, healing traumatic experiences is a challenge to think about.