Friday, 11 February 2011

It's All In The Genes

As a child I was a sleepwalker. The most serious incident was when I was discovered trying to get out the back gate and, because my father had placed the dustbin there for collection, the noise of me trying to open the obstructed gate woke him.   Even today I can remember waking up sitting on a chair in the living room having my foot bathed because I had trailed blood back into the house.  My father explained I must have stepped on something sharp but it was my mother's irritation at having to clean up the mess which has embedded the incident deep in my mind.

Another occasion I remember waking up sleeping on the cold springs of the bed.  Where were the mattress and bedclothes?  All rather neatly piled in the middle of the living room floor.  My parents couldn't understand how I'd managed to carry them past their bedroom door - but I was never a noisy child.

Many years later I was talking with my father and sleepwalking drifted into the conversation. It an inconvenience to the family because they had had to remember to remove keys from external doors, switch off the cooker (I'd been trying to cook a boiled egg one night) and do their best to make the house safe, he said.

At one point I think I was taken to the doctor who labelled me "highly strung" - a description which upset me.  Thankfully no medication was given, although if it was today, I'm sure I would have been bunged full of chemicals. "She thinks too much," was my mother's explanation.

My sleepwalking diminished as I reached my middle teens and stopped completely when I left home.

However, scientists have discovered I didn't think too much.  It was all the fault of chromosome 20.  Carrying even one copy of the defective DNA is enough to cause sleepwalking they say.

No longer can I be labelled as highly strung or an incessant thinker.  I'm only a carrier of a faulty chromosome 20. Or was.  Can a faulty chromosome correct itself? Science can be interesting.


Richard said...

Interesting that it stopped when you left home. A relative (distant) of mine had a severe stammer which disappeared when his father died. Behaviour is a strange thing. Genes can account for some of it, but in my understanding they can only predispose you to something, not make you do it.

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Very nice post, and I concur with Richard above.

I knew a friend of mine that had a stammer when he was younger but now works for the MOD and it has disappeared.

That's not to say that the MOD had any reasons for this action, but it may be due to something behavioural when he was younger.

I was quite Vulcan-like when I was younger - no emotion, no expression and proud of my impenetrable shield. But as I've grown older and maybe a little wiser, I have become more expressive and more emotional and hell, I’ve even bawled my eyes out upon hearing the wondrous compositions of John Barry’s Out of Africa theme.

Gah, I’m such a girl... :)

Jo G said...

"She thinks too much," was my mother's explanation.

Love it Subrosa! Something else we have in common. My mum used to say that about me all the time.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Totally chauvanistic comment SR, but it must be obvious that the right 'sleeping remedy' has not been proscribed" - or is that "prescribed" - whatever!

Now, where you to consult Dr. WfW....

And no, all it entails is good conversation, mental stimulation and the occasional alcoholic stimulant and you would sleep like the proverbial baby - with the proviso that it may be necessary for the additonal, secret WfW ingredient......!

Amusing Bunni said...

Subrosa, I'm glad you weren't seriously hurt while sleepwalking, that is very scary! Glad it stopped too, that could be dangerous.

subrosa said...

With hindsight, I put it down to a very domineering mother who could barely tolerate her children Richard.

subrosa said...

Bottling up emotion is bad for you GIFs and I'm glad you've found that out.

Naw you're not a girl, you're a sensible laddie.

subrosa said...

Jings Jo, did it make you feel as if you were slightly strange? It did when my mother said it to folk. I used to feel so embarrassed.

subrosa said...

WfW, as I've said before if only you lived down the road. ;)

Your secret ingredient doesn't involve chemicals does it?

subrosa said...

No Bunni I was quite lucky because it was a regular habit of mine. I only clearly remember the above two incidents but my father could relate hundreds more. Oh, I've just remembered one. I was about 15/16 and he woke wondering what a noise was. I'd opened my bedroom window and was hanging out. When he asked me what I was doing I said 'Eating cream cookies'. They're a sweet bun filled with cream.

Life's funny. I must have been feeling hungry. :)

Tcheuchter said...


And if this were to have happened now, you would have been taken into "care" and your loved ones would have been spied on for the rest of their lives by the "authorities".

I m old, and say the lord be thankit.

Hamish said...

As Amusing Bunni said, that is quite scary.
You have made me (slightly) revise my view about the man recently acquitted of rape because he was sleepwalking at the time. I still think he should have been convicted, but his condition should have been taken into account in sentencing.

I think your mother's view 'you think too much' was off the mark.
The problem was that you thought too intensely and enacted your thoughts.

Sleepwalkers enact their dreams.

I have dreams in which I do ridiculous things and make a fool of myself. Others in which I put myself at risk of serious self-harm. (I can't really fly).
I also have nightmares, where other are out to get me.

But I do not dream about harming someone else.

subrosa said...

Tcheuchter, that's what my brother said a few years ago.

subrosa said...

Hamish, I remember that story. I can't judge that case from my own experience because mine never involved others.

Isn't it lovely to make a fool of yourself in dreams? These days I enjoy those. Nightmares wake me up now possibly because they involve people I know/have known. I wonder if they're some way or resolving issues that I never knew were there?

No I've never dreamed of that either.Not that I can remember anyway.

Anon said...

Some people claim they can leave their bodies when they are asleep. I knew one lady who reported that, during her slumbers one night, she went to visit some distant relatives on a far away island.

- Aangirfan

Jo G said...

Subrosa........she would also add another bit..."and has far too much to say for herself!" ; )

subrosa said...

Aangirfan, I've read about that but never met anyone who has experienced it. Would be interesting to hear the story and if there were the normal emotions.

subrosa said...

We're not related are we Jo? :)

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