Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monsters, Cryptozoology and Genetic Memory

DNA and monsters
Monsters, are they written in our genes?

Today I read an interesting post in a blog (see [1]) on Genetic Memory. Which was defined as:

a process in which a memory is passed down through the generations without the individual having to experience first-hand the topic of the memory. [1]

So, for instance, the fear of snakes, which is virtually universal across mankind can be explained as follows:

Snakes are really dangerous and we evolved in the tropical climes of Africa, where snakes are abundant. If we were frightened enough to keep clear of snakes, our survival (and our species’) would be greatly enhanced. So, this fear was somehow (alas, no explanation is given for the hard-wiring mechanism) incorporated into our genes and thus transmitted to future generations. So, even nowadays, people who have never seen a snake are frightened of them, and get out of their way.

Genetic memory would be an evolutionary adaptation to our survival, and, snakes are not alone as part of this "memory"; the post mentions several other “ingrained” fears:
  • Ape men (apparently caused by the rival Neanderthal hominds)
  • Universal Floods
  • Incubus, Succubus and demons
  • Ghosts
  • Lake monsters, wild cats, werewolves and terror birds

To his credit, the author states in a rational manner: “ Personally I think [Genetic Memory] is a really flimsy idea, somewhat logical when discussing global phobias but lacking in logic when it comes to modern day sightings of global phenomena” [1].

However, if it was true, this storehouse of latent memory traces that we have all inherited from our long dead cavemen ancestors, could account for our deep fears towards “monsters”.

This theory of a genetic memory was first forward by Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961|), with his “collective unconscious”, which he said was made up of unconscious images or “archetypes”, inherited from our ancestors, images that help us respond to the world in a certain way, and survive. God, fear of dark, babies and mothers instant bonding, etc., all derive from it.

And its relationship with cryptozoology, dates back to 1982: “ In effect, myths support and impregnate all our thoughts, and seem to have their roots in the subsoil of our being, in what CG Jung called ‘the collective unconscious’. “ [2].

In October 2009 I posted on Belief in monsters and Patagonian cryptozoology, and gave several explanations for the universal fear towards monsters, but I did not include Jung's collective unconscious or genetic memory as one of them. Today's post rectifies that omission.


[1] Theophanes. Examples of Genetic Memory or Something Else?
[2] Heuvelmans, Bernard, (1982). What is Cryptozoology?. Cryptozoology, Vol 1. International Society of Cryptozoology, Winter 1982. pp. 9+

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2010 International Year of Biodiversity Copyright 2009-2010 by Austin Whittall © 

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