Friday, November 13, 2015

I am multitudes, and so are you: The latest science

In Perspectives on Psychological Science:

Humans as Superorganisms

How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes, and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior

  1. Peter Kramer
  2. Paola Bressan
  1. Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, Italy
  1. Peter Kramer, Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, Università di Padova, Via Venezia 8, 35131 Padova, Italy E-mail:


Psychologists and psychiatrists tend to be little aware that (a) microbes in our brains and guts are capable of altering our behavior; (b) viral DNA that was incorporated into our DNA millions of years ago is implicated in mental disorders; (c) many of us carry the cells of another human in our brains; and (d) under the regulation of viruslike elements, the paternally inherited and maternally inherited copies of some genes compete for domination in the offspring, on whom they have opposite physical and behavioral effects. This article provides a broad overview, aimed at a wide readership, of the consequences of our coexistence with these selfish entities. The overarching message is that we are not unitary individuals but superorganisms, built out of both human and nonhuman elements; it is their interaction that determines who we are.

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