Warning: If you are reading because you like my fluffy kid’s say the darndest things pieces or my blessed-to-be-a-mom, tug at the heartstrings posts, skip this one. It’s a little darker than my typical post.
Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am utterly and completely fascinated by the study of the human mind. Not the mapped out brain, it’s cortex’s and functions, but the mind. How is processes, absorbs, what it forgets or represses, how it adapts. What role genetics play in, the role of trauma…everything about the human mind gives me chills. It is an amazing organ capable of more than we have the technological abilities to even begin to study. In each person’s variations of thinking and accepting and handling you will find that the brain is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
I could go on all day like this.
Being a person that has studied -extensively- the human condition, you would think that I would not be a someone inclined to the commonplace and very much (mostly) treatable conditions such as phobias. This is just not the case, however. Though my fear is not one that treated with gradual exposure therapy. My fear is of something that cannot be changed. I fear the past. Or more accurately, my genetics.
Sounds absolutely loony tunes, right?
Give me a moment to explain further. Psychology is ALL theory. Nature versus nurture being the number one argument in the field since the field of Psychology was created. As a quick and overly simplified recap: nature versus nurture is the question of what the driving force is behind our actions. Is it how we were raised combined with experiences? Is it encoded someway in our genetic makeup? Is it a combination as the “vicious cycle” of negative emotions of the father is passed to the son by experience since it is in the genetics originally? I have spent more hours than most people have spent exercising or bathing into studying case after case study of examples with compelling arguments for both ideals. There is no facts when it comes to the mind, which is why the subject is so enthralling.
Though in this day and age it is easy to see that chemical imbalances and sincere forms of mental illness are very capable of being inherited. While I am not going to go into a long and drawn out -pity the poor girl with the messed up family- tirade, these are just some simple facts that make me fear for my mental health in the sense of nature over nurture.
Dad-severe, dibilating alcoholism
Uncles x 3- Suicide
Grandmother- Thyroid condition resulting in Mental care facility.
Uncle- Severe alcoholism resulting in Death
Cousins x 4- Incarcerated (all had several children removed from their care)
Grandmother- Anxiety, paranoia. Addicted to Valium whole life, incapable of loving more than “one child at a time”, admittedly.
Aunt- Married 9 times, incarcerated several times for various offenses, grown children won’t speak to her.
Cousin- In prison for child neglect and grand theft auto. 2nd Conviction.
Cousin- In prison for domestic violence and assault. 3rd conviction.
Grandfather- Arrested for putting guns to his family’s heads-more than once- while intoxicated (it was the 70’s, things like that weren’t as frowned upon in small towns). Picked up in an investigation of the “suicide” of his second wife, which they believed to be a murder with him as the main suspect. Nothing came of it. I have never met him.
Hello, Family Tree! This was not my favorite project in the 6th grade, let me tell you. But that is it. In black and white. Out of the whole lot only my mother seemed to get out mostly unscathed. But she was guarded and cold. Can you blame her?
The fact that I am terrified of my genetic makeup seems odd to people. One professor of mine stated that I have the general fear of madness (above mentioned in the title) though I wouldn’t say that is correct. My fear is that there is something inside of me that is dark -for lack of a better term- and that I would be incapable of controlling. I have never been prone to depression though I was an angry kid. And one that has always been prone to repression. I think of myself as a happy person, as a well rounded and balanced individual but I wasn’t always that way.
What if one day I wake up and I am crazy just like the rest of my family?
I went into the study of Psychology solely based on that fear. That the idea that one day I could be just like them might arise and I wouldn’t have the mental faculties to understand what it was. I excelled in school not for the GPA but the unwavering desire to be as knowledgeable about “madness” as I could be. What caused it, how it affected people, what the early warning signs could be.
I have seen terrible parenting on every branch of my family tree.
I was petrified when I was pregnant that I was going to be just like them. That I would be someone that my child hated just like most of my family has been. There is truly only a handful of exceptions. Like 3 out of 100. I have come to realize that I am not them, that I don’t know what made them that way. But that doesn’t stop me from fearing myself every time I lose my temper or raise my voice.
I find myself afraid of me.
I suppose I was just wondering if there was anyone else that is like me? Even in school it was a struggle to “classify” my fears. Fear of ones own genetic makeup. Fear of becoming mad. Fear of who you COULD be.
Has anyone else fallen off of the “crazy tree” and blossomed into a beautiful oak?
Photo Credit: common-phobias.com
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.