fashionable pseudoscience

A “ new human science “in” extension of psychoanalysis »? The “Les nuits de France Culture” program re-broadcasts every Monday, from 31 October, a series of episodes on a pseudoscience that is very fashionable today: psychogenealogy. The theory is interesting because it involves looking in one’s family history for traces of distant and forgotten traumas that could explain today’s fears, neuroses and wounds. “ The idea that our destiny can be guided by the history of previous generations “,that the events happened fifty, a hundred years ago they can determine the choice of a life, determine vocations, trigger illnesses and even accidents “Says the presenter. A pseudoscience as exciting as it is promising “, He gets carried away. Just that. A statement that must have delighted the public radio host, who is none other than the creator of this pseudoscience: psychotherapist Anne Ancelin-Schützenberger. A reply that comes when the Interministerial Mission for Supervision and Combating Sectarian Abuses warns of an explosion of reports of deceptive and dangerous practices in the health field.

From the first seconds the tone is set: ” It is written in the Bible: “Parents ate grapes that were too green and the children’s teeth were sharp” (excerpt from Jeremiah 31, 29), explains the latter. The therapist cites loose Eskimo beliefs, European folklore or Jewish legends … As much evidence for Anne Ancelin-Schützenberger as psychogenealogy, ” it has always been known! For the other “expert” interviewed by Nuits de France Culture, a certain Didier Dumas, psychoanalyst and acupuncturist, everything is also announced in the Bible: “ You have a universal cycle, which is the three-generation cycle, which is found in the heading of the ten commandments. ” And to quote: “I am the responsible body, says God, […] because the sins of the fathers are transmitted in three or four generations ». So that’s just the way God presents himself in the ten commandments, so it’s nothing! This concerns the theoretical foundations of psychogenealogy: the Old Testament and the word of God.

The epigenetic excuse

In the field of “well-being” and personal development, many are those who have invested in psychoanalysis to treat their clients with a great strengthening of psychogenealogy. The most famous? Natacha Calestrémé, former journalist converted into personal development and pseudo-therapies that combine shamanism, psychoanalysis and transgenerational concepts. Interviewed this summer by Mariannedefended his theories tooth and nail, such as the “ energy recovery “:” It is a memory of the soul. All these ancestral therapies are based on the principle that when we experience a trial, our harmony is fractured. The shaman must re-harmonize the body through these practices. As for psychogenealogy, Natacha Calestrémé quotes Anne Ancelin-Schützenberger herself: ” I didn’t invent anything. The transgenerational aspect is something that has been around for a long time, theorized by psychotherapist Anne Ancelin-Scützenberger. And what corroborates this view of things is the scientific notion of epigenetics. We know that certain events create markers in our body that can be passed on to the next generation.

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A truly scientific field that studies the mechanisms that modulate the expression of genes without modifying the sequence of their DNA, in short: epigenetics is the field of biology that studies how certain genes will be active or not in individuals. Asked by Mariannedoctor of biology Christophe de La Roche Saint-André, author of the book When Epigenetics Is Involved – Inheritance Above Genes … Really? to the Book-e-Book editions, he explains: ” There is an epigenetic inheritance, that is, that an event experienced by the parents can be transmitted to the descendants in a transgenerational way, which affects several generations. This has been shown in particular in plants, we also find patterns in some worms or in the Drosophila fly. These are mechanisms described and understood at the molecular level.

“Correlation is not causation. “

It is not surprising, therefore, that psychogenealogy is running for this scientific field which offers it a somewhat more solid theoretical veneer than the verses of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, ” these epigenetic patterns cannot be transposed to all organisms recalls Christophe de La Roche Saint-André. In mammals in general and in humans in particular, the data in favor of epigenetic inheritance are extremely limited. Even if we consider two successive generations, we must remain cautious “. The scientist takes the example of a series of studies focusing on the descendants of Holocaust survivors:” In the latter, there is an increased risk of developing anxiety. But there are two interpretations: the first is to say that there is an epigenetic transmission of this risk. The second, more likely, is simply that the children of Holocaust survivors develop this anxiety in response to their interaction with their parents. This would change the way some genes related to the stress response are expressed. In other words: ” Correlation is not causation.

Cyril Vidal, president of the Fake Science collective, also knows Natacha Calestrémé’s theories and psychogenealogy. “ The first time I heard her speak, she explained to me that endometriosis was linked to miscarriages of ancestors. It is a rather unhealthy way of dealing with the disease “, Explains a Marianne. Christophe de La Roche Saint-André agrees: “ Miscarriages are extremely common in the population and many go unnoticed. We admit that transgenerational theories are well founded: we should be able to analyze all ancestry and not just choose to take into consideration only the one that suits us. From a scientific point of view, it quickly becomes disclosed.

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But if pseudotherapists like the theory so much it is because they win every time: by tracing a family tree far back, in a necessarily complex and trauma-studded family history, the charlatan will find something to drink and eat to explain the pathologies – sometimes seriously disabling, like endometriosis – of its clients. “ We are on generalities, on what is called the “barnum effect” (the fact of presenting general and vague statements in which everyone can identify with), even erroneous memories that we will look for in the past. It’s just manipulation, no more, no less “Says Cyril Vidal.

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