Psychological and Ideological Aspects of Cloning
In the article ‘Psychological and Ideological Aspects of Human Cloning: A Transition to a Transhumanist Psychology,’ Morales (2009) states that human cloning and related technology can be used to enhance physical and cognitive abilities. For this reason, Morales argues that psychologists need to change their approach towards their responsibility of helping individuals and society. According to Morales, psychologists need to follow the progress that humans are taking towards a transhuman stage of development, as a transition to a later posthuman stage (p. 20).
Morales explains that critics of human cloning having been arguing that human cloning has many negative implications. For instance, they state that a cloned individual may have problems interacting with naturally produced family members and may face possible discrimination. Morales also observes that some reports have indicated the need to study the possible psychological and emotional effects on individuals produced by cloning, their family members, and the society in general.
However, Morales argues that individuals produced through cloning or any other form of genetic manipulation, do not possess donor’s characteristics to an extent that their uniqueness as human beings are compromised. He says that creation of genetically identical individuals does not result into duplication of the donor’s experiences. Moreover, Morales states that human experiences are dependent on time or space. For this reason, Morales states that every human clone is born in a unique context. Therefore, individuals produced through cloning have their own unique characteristics just like other individuals produced through natural procreation process. They have their own uniqueness, identities, and personalities. He, therefore, argues that human cloning has a potential of enhancing the physical and cognitive abilities of individuals produced through the technology, as well as enhancing their life spans. Due to this possible development, Morales states that it is important for psychologists to adopt a new approach, to assist individual’s cope with the profound changes in the concept of human nature and in the society.
For psychologists to be able to develop and adopt a new approach to their responsibility of helping individuals and society, Morales points that some issues surrounding human cloning may need to be addressed (p. 21). For instance, he says that the question of ‘when is cloning wrong?’ will need to be addressed. Morales refers to the three types of harm, that critics of human cloning argue that individual clones are likely to face. They include harm by the negative attitudes people may have towards them, harm by the expectations and demands that their parents and genotype donors may have from them, and harm caused by their own awareness about their origin (p. 21).
Moreover, Morales observes that the society will need to resolve questions about human cloning, which relate to social, ethical, therapeutic, and reproductive aspects. An example of social aspect issue surrounding human cloning is that “cloning might challenge the social responsibility of parenthood and the nature of the family” (p. 22). Cloned individuals are also said to have a possibility of suffering psychological problems of individuality and identity. Morales also points that the concept of uniqueness among cloned individuals is yet to be solved because critics of human cloning state that individual uniqueness in cloned individuals may be diminished if such an individual discovers that he/she is a product of transfer of an adult’s nucleus (p. 23).
In order to help to resolve the underlying issues concerning the human cloning, Morales refers to the numerous studies, which are related to the concept of uniqueness. He observes that numerous studies emphasize that every human being is unique in his/her own way. Studies indicate that even in monozygotic twins who are expected to be genetically identical since they have the same genes they are not the same (p. 26). The same case applies to the cloned individuals. They have different psychological features as well as different behavioral traits. Morales refers to the observations made by Pence’s (1998), where it was observed that a human brain cannot be duplicated through the cloning technology or any other form of genetic manipulation. Based on this observation, Morales argues that experiences of human beings cannot be duplicated through cloning. He states that poorly informed scientists, journalists, and politicians should stop misguiding the general society by making unfounded remarks concerning lack of uniqueness in cloned human beings (p. 26).
Morales also states that those critics saying that human cloning interfere with the identity of human beings are wrong. He refers to the previous scientific studies which provide evidence that human identity is acquired during the numerous stages of life of all humans’ experience (p. 31). Studies indicate that every individual experiences different stages of life in a unique manner. He, therefore, states that identity is a continuous process which cannot be duplicated in individuals through cloning. For this reason, he maintains that individual’s uniqueness and identity are independent of the creation method used.
Morales says that it is important for the society to understand that similarities in human’s behavior and personality result from out interactions with the environment, and not from genetic manipulation (p. 32). By environmental interactions, Morales refers to our daily interaction with our cultures, parents, family members and neighbors, and the type of social institutions, the form of education, religion, government, and economic systems an individual experiences. From a psychological point of view, Morales points out that culture, religion, government, politics, and media play a great role in influencing the society’s perception of human cloning. He states that psychologists can assist to bridge the gap between natural sciences and behavioral sciences by gaining a greater mastery of the field of genetics. This way, they will assist the society to understand the positive aspects of human cloning, as well as gain knowledge on how to tackle the profound human changes brought by human cloning.
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