Naked Scientist: Are phobias hereditary?

Ever wondered where your phobias come from?

Did you maybe get them from your parents and did you inherit them?

READ: Naked Scientist: Why yawning is contageous

The Naked Scientist, Chris Smith says to answer the question one needs to answer the question of what a phobia is.

A phobia is an irrational fear of something and although most people develop a phobia probably because of experience in education, as in I might see a snake and I might react to it and say I am scared of it and I might do that in the presence of my children.

Dr Chris Smith, The Naked Scientist

And my children can learn that from me. We also know that animals can do this as well. An animal can catch a fear, from another animal, scientists have done experiments on rats where if you have got one rat which is scared of something, then it will pass on its fear to its offspring.

Dr Chris Smith, The Naked Scientist

Not because it is a genetic element, it's a behavioural and probably a smell element that transmits that fear.

Dr Chris Smith, The Naked Scientist

But that said, the predisposition towards catching a phobia, as in becoming scared of something from a parent or close associate could be genetic. We know that lots of psychiatric behavioural are mental behaviours and are underpinned genetically.

Dr Chris Smith, The Naked Scientist

He says so it may well be that perhaps you inherit from your parent a predilection or a predisposition to develop one of these conditions but you don't inherit the condition itself.

Listen below to the full interview and hear what else the Naked Scientist had to say...


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