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On the Nature of Instinct

by Melanie Anne Phillips

Much has been written about our "genetic memory". But if such a thing exists, what is the mechanism by which personal experience is transmitted from one generation to the next? How do instincts function? And, how do personal experience and instinct interact?

Mental Relativity provides the following perspectives:

Genetic Memory does, in fact, exist. In truth, it is one and the same with instinct. Instinct is commonly seen as a driving force which causes a creature to display a particular kind of behavior. It is often assumed (and correctly so) that the creature may not even be aware of the benefit or purpose of the behavior, but merely responds to the inner drive which turns out to be of benefit. Of course, should a habitat change, instinctual behavior may come to function as a detriment instead.

Another aspect of Instinct, much more akin to the common understanding of Genetic Memory, is the internal presence of thoughts or feelings which do not derive from personal experience, but rather from the common experience of all of us together. This is partly true, and partly incorrect.

We do not share the experiences of others in our own time, but share the collective experience of our ancestors as imprinted into our DNA. DNA, in fact, is the medium through which Genetic Memory/Instinct is transmitted through time to each individual.

Here is how it works in a simplified description of the Mental Relativity model.

Before birth, DNA determines the shape of our bodies and our brains. One of the things it determines is the arrangement of the neurons in our brains, which (although similar from person to person) is unique to each individual. It is that arrangement which creates a built-in influence of all the past experiences of all previous generations.

In our own lives, our personal experience runs that same system in reverse. When we become so familiar with a pattern in our lives, either of our own activity or of something we observe, it affects the biochemistry which surround the neurons in our brains. This change in biochemistry encodes the mean average, or sum total of our experience.

There is a pathway from this biochemistry through the glands to the DNA contained in our reproductive systems. Sperm is created continually, making it more susceptible to large, immediate personal experiences. Eggs are always there, waiting to descend, and therefore are more responsive to the long-term and consistent experiences.

Both Sperm and Egg are like little "smart" missiles", each being programmed right up to the moment of firing with the latest data available. So, when we reproduce, all of our personal experience up to the moment of conception is carried on to the next generation.

Of course, Sperm and Egg also contain the influence of generations as well. Here is how that works:

The information based on experience which is contained in DNA has a great inertia. It favors the average of all the previous generation's input. Each individual adds a drop in the bucket of experience, so that like a boat turning on the ocean, it takes several generations of consistent effort to change course.

Information encoded in DNA has a half-life, meaning that each generation's addition to the encoding gradually fades away until it has virtually no influence (though it will never actually reach completely none). This gives a certain uplift in importance to each generations additional experience.

Those personal experiences which fall in line with previous genetic experiences boost the signal of those drives. Those which do not, allow those drive to lose strength, even while establishing a weak, new drive based on the new personal experience.

Over time, the genetic memory collection of instinctual drives fluxes and undulates in a slow pattern as the sum total of experience in a given lineage gradually adapts to a changing environment.

Before we had developed the ability to travel great distances, our environment remained relatively stable, as we stayed in the same valley, for example, for all of our lives. The genetic influence from our ancestors was strong, and in procreation, both mates' genetic memories/instincts were more or less identical.

But as we developed forms of transportation - horses, ships, and especially the constructions of the twentieth century, we moved out of our heritage environments and into something our genetic memories could only perceive as chaos. In other words, our instincts and inner feelings were no longer at peace with the world in which we found ourselves.

Due to our ability to travel, we began to procreate with mates from far different genetic backgrounds, creating a dilution and sometimes shattering of influences from our past. Generations that followed found themselves with either less instinctual influence, or with contradictory feelings and drives, leading to the displaced feelings and confusion over one's purpose in life that seems to affect modern generations much more than those in the past.

But this is a good thing. Why? Because the creation of transportation co-incides with the creation of a much more volatile world of quickly changing scenarios. In the past, a strong genetic memory was important, for it carried a wealth of survival information which was a real strength in that unchanging valley. But in today's rapidly changing environment, a strong genetic memory/instinct base is a detriment, causing an individual to be sluggish in responding to immediate needs.

It is a natural progression of evolution that when a species becomes capable of long-distance travel, the genetic memory is diminished and fragmented to allow for greater responsiveness to a more volatile world.

Now, the unfortunately side effect is that we feel at home nowhere. Also, there are those peoples who still live in the same closed environment and cannot understand the minds of more modern people any more than modern people can understand theirs. The manner of thinking is truly disparate between the two.

We should also keep in mind that evolution is not always a good thing. Sometimes a species can evolve to fill a fragile niche which may vanish quickly, leaving the more evolved species cut off on a limb, while the less evolved variety fares much better in the original habitat. There is no better or worse, no good or bad, except objectively judged in retrospect, or subjectively judged by the fulfillment experienced by the inhabitants of a niche. Often the Objective and Subjective evaluations are in conflict, leaving no answer as to which way of life is better except by personal determination.

Clearly we can see why there is such a strong urge in many modern people to seek out their roots, to adhere to the traditional not from inner drive but conscious decision, to halt progress or return home. And yet, for those who have so little influence from the past remaining, there is a drive to increase the level of volatility, live fast, put the past behind, and break with tradition.

Keep in mind, these are influences that occur below the level of consciousness. They filter our perceptions of our world, but are not accessible to conscious alteration.

In conclusion, we might surmise that as a whole, the world is far better off with a whole range of outlooks, extending from those who are still firmly genetically anchored to the lineage of the past to those who are completely responsive to the present. No matter what chaotic form of catastrophe might befall our planet, by covering the scale we best insure our changes for survival as a species.

Now, for those of you who want a little more technical data about all this, read on...

DNA is not really a double helix, but a quad helix. The two strands of the familiar double-helix represent the spatial and physical information that determines how the part of a body will be formed, and where the parts will go. The other two strands which form a second double-helix contain the temporal and mental information such as how growth and aging will proceed, and what influences from the past will be imprinted through the brain onto the mind.

The second helix is not actually side by side with the first, but is a spiral OF the first. In a sense, the second helix is perpendicular to the first in hyperbolic space, but is physically invisible in normal space.

This means that the second helix represents processes, rather than objects. It cannot be seen under a microscope, but only mathematically, by the relationships it engenders.

A simple way to visualize these kinds of relationships is to look for connections between different levels of the familiar, physical double-helix. For example, imagine a point on the typical double-helix model. It is well documented how the DNA sequence from one point to another, linearly along the helix, determines much of what will be physically.

Now, imagine we pick a point on the traditional double-helix and go around a strand until we reach a point directly above (or below) the first point. This connection is the first sequence of the non-physical DNA strand. As we continue along this path, it would simply be a loop or a circle to go to the point just above (or below) our point of origin. But if we shift a point to the left or right of "just above" we begin to describe a second double helix (one strand to the left and one strand to the right) that exists only conceptually in normal space.

The two strands of this second double helix are encoded into the physical make up of DNA as strongly as the linear sequence along the physical strands, but contain the genetic memory and timing information instead.

Those of you even more interested in this mechanism should investigate the method by which proteins fold themselves. The most recent models which include "entropy wells" are very close in dynamics to the model of Mental Relativity which was used to create the interactive psychological "story engine" in the Dramatica software for writers.

As a final speculation, let me leave some open questions...

Could not this same system of dilution and fragmentation be also applied to our physical genetic code as well?

Would that not be a good model for the intermixing of the gene pool, even while some indigenous people remain genetically unaffected?

Could both the mental and physical dilution and fragmentation be seen as a natural part of evolution?

Might we not reach a point where we dilute through procreation but fragment through genetic alteration (such as curing diseases through gene therapy) that there no longer exists any creature who can claim an unaltered human lineage?

Might we not fragment to the point where procreation between different branches of humanity might no longer be possible?

Might this not lead to wars between factions, each of whom claims to be "more human" than their adversaries?

Could this not be a precursor to our eventual expansion into space, so that our species might evolve to fill specific environmental niches elsewhere in the galaxy?

Well, as I said, these are just questions. I don't think we can ever truly know the answers, but remembering to ask the questions once in a while may be the best survival trait of all.

Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips

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