While not widely accepted in psychiatric circles, C.G. Jung’s theories about “racial memory” (more commonly known now as “genetic memory”) became a popular trope in the writings of writers like Robert E. Howard, Jean Auel, and Frank Herbert, all of whom used it to introduce things into their stories that their characters might not otherwise know. Now it seems that a couple of scientists may have proven that there is at least some truth to the idea that we can inherit memories of a sort from our ancestors.
Geneticists were especially surprised to find that epigenetic change could be passed down from parent to child, one generation after the next. A study from Randy Jirtle of Duke University showed that when female mice are fed a diet rich in methyl groups, the fur pigment of subsequent offspring is permanently altered. Without any change to DNA at all, methyl groups could be added or subtracted, and the changes were inherited much like a mutation in a gene.