University of Michigan Professor Daniel P. Keating - Born Anxious
DANIEL P. KEATING is a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and received his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins. Keating has conducted research at leading North American universities; at Berlin's Max Planck Institute; and with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, where he was a fellow for two decades and led the program in human development. He focuses on developmental differences: cognitive, social, emotional, and in physical and mental health. He resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Why are we the way we are? Why do some of us find it impossible to calm a hair-trigger temper or shake chronic anxiety? The debate has always been divided between nature and nurture, but as psychology professor Daniel Keating demonstrates in BORN ANXIOUS: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity and How to Break the Cycle (SMP; April 11, 2017), new science points to a third factor where nurture rewrites nature through our earliest experiences, and where we inherit both the nature and the nurture of previous generations—with significant consequences.
BORN ANXIOUS introduces a new word into our lexicon: “methylated,” short for “epigenetic methylation,” the modification of our genes while we are still in utero and soon after birth, and as they are passed down from generation to generation. Introducing this groundbreaking research to readers, BORN ANXIOUS offers insight into behaviors we have all observed but never understood—the boss who goes ballistic at the slightest error; the infant who can’t be calmed; the husband who can’t fall asleep at night. In each case, exposure to environmental adversity in utero or during the first year of life, a key stress system has been fused to the “on” position by the methylation process, predisposing the child’s body to toxic levels of the hormone cortisol. The effect: lifelong, unrelenting stress and its side effects—from learning disabilities to early death.
An extreme stress response enabled our ancestors to survive in harsh climes with many predators, but in today’s Western world, the harshest environments tend to be low-income, high-crime areas. But high stress extends throughout the population as income gaps widen, amplifying deep concerns about our futures and our children’s prospects. Social inequality is fast becoming the new predator; in BORN ANXIOUS, Dan Keating demonstrates how we can finally break the cycle.