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How Genetics Can Make You Moody

Recently, on the Dr. Phil show, there was a segment entitled: “Born to Rage?“. From the promo: “Scientists believe they may know why some people are quicker to anger than others. A new study suggests that inside a rageaholic’s DNA, ‘a warrior gene’ may be pulling the strings. Could today’s guests be genetically predisposed to fits of fury?”

The gene they are talking about is the Monoamine Oxidase A gene (MAOA) gene. The Monoamine Oxidase A gene (MAOA) has earned the nickname “warrior gene” because of its link to aggression in observational and survey-based studies. People with the so-called “warrior gene” exhibit higher levels of behavioral aggression when responding to provocation. 

In Dr. J. Dunn’s ebook, Genetic Compassion, she describes how genes, especially the MAO gene can play a part in a person’s reaction or mood. 

Grouchy People

Another genetic variant that allowed our ancestors to survive is the MAO gene, which is commonly referred to as the “warrior” gene.  If we examine how this genetic variant is perpetuated in our gene pool, we see that it is a result of the “survival of the fittest” theory.  Human ancestors who were stronger, faster, and smarter survived where their less-fit adversaries perished. They were able to survive to reproduce, and as a result, they passed on the MAO genetic variant to their offspring.  

The MAO enzyme works in the body by breaking down serotonin. People with variants in this gene don’t break down their serotonin as readily as those who inherit the normal gene.  If the serotonin level gets too high, it can cause irritability, anxiety, agitation, and aggression. This gene variant correlates with a person who exhibits a Type A personality and who is impatient and stressed, as well as with the stereotypical CEO-type who is always working and pushing to get ahead at the expense of health and relationships.  These individuals are more capable of making cold, hard decisions when it comes to business or money-making deals. As a general rule, they make good consultants, headhunters, soldiers, business executives, and professional athletes but they can be difficult to live with. 

This aggression comes across as cold and heartless.  Families may describe these family members as grouchy and irritable.  They can have ready tempers when things don’t go their way. However, we must realize that this gene has been selected for and that it isn’t a true character flaw but an adaptation that has allowed individuals to survive in adverse situations.  Realizing this makes some sense, and we can begin to have compassion for them. We can also go one step further.

When we begin to compensate for this genetic variant by making the enzyme work better to break down serotonin, these people become more balanced and easier going, more mellow and caring.  They still retain their ability to be successful and to defend themselves and their loved ones, but they do these things in a more balanced way, with less cruelty and coldness.

If we look at personalities like this through the lens of genetic variation, we can begin to have compassion for these mean, grouchy people.  Their bodies and minds are prepared for battle, and our modern-day world is not a comfortable place for them. “

Discover how your genetics affect your emotional health and learn how to get your genetic report.   

About the Author:

Dr. J Dunn, BS, DC, CWK  has been practicing natural medicine for over 30 years.  She is a Chiropractic Physician and certified in Functional Medicine. She began studying the connection between genetics and nutrition in 2013 when she stumbled across information about methylation, genetics, nutrition, and nutrigenomics that sparked her interest. She realized that this was the missing piece to understanding true underlying causes of disease. Her drive to understand the true causes and her passion for helping those who are suffering from depression, anxiety and attention issues lead her to create the MyHappyGenes program.