In Part 1 – Mind, Behaviors and Epigenetics: Unlocking the Potential of Epigenetic Behavioral Therapy , I introduced the background on epigenetics and how it affects us. In Part 2, below, I delve into further explanation on the concept of epigenetic behavioral therapy.
The epigenome and genetic markers
Genes can be thought of as the blueprints that provide the design for the human body and for how it develops. The word genome — a combination of the words gene and chromosome — refers to the genetic information of any organism. The human genome is often called the “map” of our DNA.
However, genes don’t make decisions about what they do or whether they’re turned on or off.
The gene follows instructions that aren’t in the genome, they’re in the epigenome, a word that means that it’s above the genome (‘epi’ meaning above). The chemical compounds of the epigenome tell a gene what to do. They’re also called “gene markers.” An article in Discover magazine suggests that we “think of the epigenome as a complex software code, capable of inducing the DNA hardware to manufacture an impressive variety of proteins, cell types, and individuals.”
Scientists once thought that the patterns of the human epigenome were set during early fetal development. More recent discoveries show that the epigenome can and does change during your entire lifetime. Alterations are made in response to your environment, which includes your surroundings, experiences, diet, and personal behavior. These changes take place without affecting your DNA.
In other words, your epigenetic markers can be rewritten, which means that you can modify the instructions your genes receive. Proteins in the epigenome act as the building contractor that does the work of building the organism. You can change those proteins with epigenetic signals, including beliefs and perceptions. That’s because your perception of any given thing, at any given moment, can influence your brain chemistry. That influences the chemistry of your blood, which in turn influences your cells and controls the expression of your genes. In other words, your thoughts and perceptions have a direct and significant effect on the genes and their proteins in your cells.
Our modern culture gives us the opportunity to modify those caveman behaviors that were effective in their time but sometimes not to our benefit today. A case in point is aggression. Without aggression our prehistoric ancestors, like other animals, would not be able to survive by protecting themselves and their turf. But today aggression is out of style, and our culture imposes severe penalties against it. However, unrestricted by our culture’s legal restrictions, aggression again rises to caveman standards in some countries at war.
Epigenetic Behavioral Therapy
Epigenetic Behavioral Therapy (EBT) is unique in that it makes research findings available in the form of a self-help program. It brings together reliable information and proven therapies that you can use on your own. With EBT techniques, you can free yourself from the negative effects of the genetic heritage that causes problems with your emotional well-being.
Epigenetics is a relatively new science and the implications of it are staggering. The remarkable discoveries in this field are familiar to many scientists and therapists, but they’re little-known to the general public. For the most part, people don’t think about their lives in terms of epigenetics. Instead, they continue to rely on responses that were adapted from our ancestors to solve problems they faced back in prehistory, and their life experiences. Therapists may consider an EBT approach for their patients as a way to modify the clauses of undesirable behavior. Information about the key components to an EBT program can be found in my new research presented in Behavioral Genes-Why We Do What We Do and How To Change.
 Ethan Watters. “DNA Is Not Destiny: The New Science of Epigenetics,” Discover, November 22, 2006 http://discovermagazine.com/2006/nov/cover