#2 Epigenetic Phenomenon

Julie/ May 3, 2024/ Paul Brenner, MD, PhD

(Original Post from Dr. Brenner’s personal Blog, April 3, 2013)

For the past ten years, I have served as a Psychosocial Oncologist at the UCSD Health Systems/San Diego Cancer Center.  I have found that the childhood emotional pain of cancer patients is most often similar to that of their parents.   Recently, in rodent studies, it has been found that early stress is cared to the next generation on the X chromosome.

It has become evident to me that most of our negative, self- flagellating thoughts are related to our earliest, childhood unmet needs.  Negative self- thoughts are the progenitors of our internal beliefs of being unworthy of love.  These inner mental processes inform the brain, which in turn release neuropeptides and hormones that trigger responses needed to protect us from immanent danger.  Over time, chronic fear- filled stimulation adversely impacts the immune system.

By revealing to the patient that their parents had a similar childhood and suffered with similar emotional patterns, there is an “Ah ha” moment.  This is usually followed by forgiveness of oneself, as well as compassion for their parents.

I believe that trans-generation emotional patterns serve as epigenetic phenomenon and are handed down serially from one generation to another with either a resultant increase or decrease in the immune system towards pathological levels.

Individuals who presents with chronic illness are not responsible for creating their disease.  They have taken on their historical emotional past.  Therefore, treatment should involve traditional medicine.  But I also feel, appropriate medical therapy can be enhanced through a simple form of psychotherapy and assessment.