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do you inherit your personality. warts and all..

(18 Posts)
leonardodavinci Tue 12-Jul-05 22:58:49

question to ask here. I have a relative who says it's her disposition to be like this, she is depressed and lacks feeling about other people, laughed when told my sister had got divorced and interrogated people. Please tell me are things like people with little emotion and depression inherited or are they just not nice people? please talk about this as am confused here.

leonardodavinci Tue 12-Jul-05 23:24:23

ie. is depression inherited, do people bring it on themselves or are we not able to ordain our own destiny sometimes. can anyone say anything hear, would be pleased if so.

BadHair Tue 12-Jul-05 23:27:07

Apparently personality is learned behaviour, according to my dp (who often claims to know about such things). Traits which people claim they have "inherited" are actually copied from parents, siblings etc.
But don't ask me who worked that out - what I know about Psychology could be written on the back of a crumb.

wheresmyfroggy Tue 12-Jul-05 23:32:01

I think a persons personality is too complex to be a result of either nature or nuture alone, more a mix of them both. there are recognised conditions dealing with lack of empathy but i cant think of their names off the top of my head

HappyDaddy Wed 13-Jul-05 08:14:02

Badhair, that's interesting because my mum often tells me that I have loads of my dad's personality and traits. He left us when I was 4 and died when I was 6. I can barely remember him so that must mean that I'm subconsciously remembering stuff from when I was tiny. The brain is an amazing thing.

As for the depressed unfeeling woman, I think her condition is called "acute arseholitis".

basketcase Wed 13-Jul-05 08:22:44

I reckon it is a mixture - some inherent and some learned.
My friend has four children all brought up beautifully with manners and social responsibility drummed into them from day one. They have an immaculate home, intelligent, responsible and caring parents. The third child is a nightmare. He is rude, finds concentrating on work difficult, he is very possessive and immature compared with siblings, needs to be centre of attention and easily offended (he has plenty of good traits too but is a handful). He was adopted when he was only a few months old and is now a teenager. They have never had a big issue with the adoption thing, he is integrated and totally accepted, just clearly different emotional make up that goes beyond stemming from his adoption. I might be wrong and there might be other reasons but I know she feels strongly about this and seeing it with my own eyes, I think that a good deal of your pyschological make up is pre determined.
How many of us are told we behave just like a relative who we have had little day to day contact with or died before we were born? I am constantly told that my sense of humour and my laugh is identical to my great grandmother.

monkeytrousers Wed 13-Jul-05 09:42:57

I think depression can appear to be genetic because it emerges in individuals over generations. While there may be a broad genetic disposition, such genes would then need to be 'switched on' by environmental factors.

So, if a parent/carer is deeply and chronically depressed this will inevitably impair their parental skills. Any child in this situation may then grow up with attachment problems and depressed social skills. It's a mixture of both nature and nurture IYSWIM. There's no dichotomy between the two.

It's also an unfortunate fact that chronic depressives aren't great to be around. After so long the personality becomes subsumed with the symptoms of depression, namely rampant narcissism and lack of empathy for others, amongst other things. If you grow up with a person or persons with this condition, you're going to pick up some bad habits. You can break the cycle, however. I did.

I'd recommend Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhardt along with some Richard Dawkins.

fastasleep Wed 13-Jul-05 09:45:47

No no no no, everyone in my family is crazy... Don't tell me I'm doomed!

monkeytrousers Wed 13-Jul-05 09:47:04

Sorry, forgot to add - that's why it appears to run in families. It does, but it's not specifically genetic.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 13-Jul-05 09:48:11

Hmm, basketcase, there is some evidence that one's treatment in the first few months can make a real difference. Presumably your friend's adopted son wasn't very well-treated as a baby?

Oliver James did a really good book called "They F* You Up", all about early influences on personality. A good read, although likely to make parents a bit jumpy.

monkeytrousers Wed 13-Jul-05 09:55:02

OMG. Not Oliver James!!! Aggghhhh!!! Run for cover!!

NotQuiteCockney Wed 13-Jul-05 09:56:06

Um, sorry, didn't mean to start a fight. What's wrong with Oliver James?

<thinks> Oh, yeah, he has a whole "group care is bad for kids" thing. I tend to just sing to myself and cover my ears for that bit.

monkeytrousers Wed 13-Jul-05 10:00:04


monkeytrousers Wed 13-Jul-05 10:08:08

Whay you think Caligula? Am I talking out my ar*e?

At the very edge of my comfort zone here!!

Janh Wed 13-Jul-05 10:17:00

Isn't lack of empathy an autistic trait?

monkeytrousers Wed 13-Jul-05 10:21:41

Not exclusively, I think.

Sorry Caligula, don't want to drag you in to something you don't want to be part of - Am betting you have a more nuanced reading of Dawkins though.

Janh Wed 13-Jul-05 10:36:00

Oh, no, I didn't mean exclusively, it's just the only one I know of (I was thinking about what wmf said).

Bugsy2 Wed 13-Jul-05 12:41:59

Having read Oliver James and being adopted myself with two naturally born siblings, I definitely agree with the "some inherited and some genetic" argument.
I have learnt my adopted parents social behaviour and cultural aspirations but I am not like them at all in terms of emotional temprement. My brother & sister share characteristics which are very easily identifiable as from my birth parents.
I think you are born with your own personality, which is genetically inherited and that is then affected to a greater or lesser degree by your upbringing.

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