The Lingering Legacy: Examining The Realness Of Intergenerational Trauma

 / 

,
Intergenerational Trauma: The Impact Of Trauma On Family

Healing intergenerational trauma requires us to understand what is intergenerational trauma. If you want to know how to stop intergenerational trauma or overcome it, then you need to understand its realness and impact of it. Let’s find out how you can work towards healing generational trauma.

Intergenerational trauma is a theory that states that trauma can be transferred from the first generation of trauma survivors to the second and further on.

Intergenerational trauma

Some years ago, as I was reading a review of “Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma across Generations”, a compilation of essays edited by Gerard Fromm.

What caught my attention was the mention of a Fifth Avenue sidewalk Santa who had observed how the cheer of the holiday season was continuously being shrouded by a darker cloud, as parents gripped the hands of their little children with ferocious protectiveness.

While mentioning this, it’s also equally important to mention the context. This was right after 9/11 and Maurice De Witt, unusually observant even in his Santa costume, had caught on to a theme of stress and anxiety.

Related: Can We Inherit Trauma Genetically?

Fromm is known to have acknowledged “the astute observation” that De Witt made about how parents wouldn’t “let the hands of their children go. There is an anxiety, but the kids can’t make the connections.”

All of us realize the tragedy and the trauma that was unleashed during and after the 9/11 attacks, and how that might have long-lasting reverberations.

Another case in point is the trauma caused during the Holocaust and what that meant for survivors and their children. In 2018, the Bar-llan University released the results of research that they had conducted on the offspring of Holocaust survivors and the sense of obligation and anxiety they experience. 

Intergenerational trauma
The Lingering Legacy: Examining The Realness Of Intergenerational Trauma

The study, featuring 286 subjects, of which 143 were parent-child combinations, came to the conclusion that where there was greater post-traumatic stress, there was also a greater sense of filial duty and obligation.

There have generally been multiple views about Holocaust survivors being at the mercy of inter-generational trauma – one which suggests that this isn’t true because different contexts have revealed the resilience of survivors and their offspring, another that is of the belief that the trauma has been passed onto subsequent generations, in a subtextual way.

There’s yet another view that brings the above two together, suggesting that the survivors are indeed resilient and that their own trauma responses are triggered when they undergo continual stress. 

Across the world, indigenous tribes that have been displaced, disempowered, and disgraced from mainstream amenities and privileges, are also known to be distinct examples of inter-generational trauma.

Related: Broadening Our Understanding of Trauma: Why Context Matters

The “stolen generations”, or those children of Indigenous Australians who were snatched away from their families upon orders dictated by the Federal Government, have undergone severe crises in terms of health, financial stability as well as acceptance extended by mainstream society.

In fact, a study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Healing Foundation, reveals that there are more than 17, 000 surviving Indigenous Australians who were separated from their families.

The study also reveals that compared to other Indigenous Australians those belonging to the “stolen generations” are there times more probable to have been jailed in the last five years and twice as likely to have suffered violence and had to depend on welfare money. 

The question that I have often asked though is, do only those people with severe histories of violence and discrimination undergo intergenerational trauma? In my opinion, each one of us has a component or two of inter-generational trauma locked away in us.

Because trauma isn’t just what one suffers at the hands of a context or people, but also a phenomenon where expression and release get held up.

Intergenerational trauma
The Lingering Legacy: Examining The Realness Of Intergenerational Trauma

This results in symptoms floating up to the surface and showing up across generations. Let me take my own example here. On both sides of my parents, I know how many ancestors traveled far distances and kept settling and re-settling.

When I later got down to analyzing this, it occurred to me that some people in my family also carry this crazy love for travel.

However, when there is one thing, there also has to be its opposite, right? As I began to notice the underlying themes more and more, I realized these people also seem to carry a behavioral manifestation of “never being home”.

Related: Intergenerational Trauma: Can We Inherit Trauma?

I have experienced this push and pull within my own life experiences, and I can say that it was traumatic until I turned around and acknowledged it. 

So,

What does it take to get to the root of intergenerational trauma?

“Transmission” is the main mode of carry-over when it comes to intergenerational trauma.

It may take place through stories and narratives rampant in your family of origin and may even be handed down non-verbally, in terms of what is appreciated and what is not, what is acceptable and what is not, and what might seem like a “script” when you do get down to connecting the dots.

If this topic somehow rings a bell for you, it might just be that you’re wanting to go deeper into your own history and ancestry.

Here are a few ways that I found helpful:

1. Keep yourself central to the theme

Let me deconstruct this in different words. It’s not that the trauma you may unconsciously carry began with you or will end with you.

It’s just that you’re the one who is now choosing to look at it squarely and contemplating ways to work with it.

The first step I took was to really find out how I feel being part of my own family, what are my fears and my apprehensions and what triggers an abnormal amount of anxiety in me. I continue to ask these questions and get some answers.

2. Start connecting the dots

I remember the time when I first had the feeling that I am intrinsically connected with my family of origin and that some aspects that enrage me or confuse me, aren’t just my own, I took a notebook and sat down.

I got in touch with feelings in the context of my family that I have always found convoluted and alongside wrote down things that I have repeatedly heard my mother, father, and grandmother convey in passing conversation or even like they were the last word.

I also looked at my own triggers and began to make connections with the ones I saw in them too.

Connecting the dots to get to your family’s specific intergenerational trauma is often slow and circuitous. Curiosity and compassion towards the narratives you’ve been able to unearth.

Related: How Trauma Responses Can Hijack Your Life

3. Take help to acknowledge

The topic of intergenerational trauma is a tough one and tougher when you try to get to the bottom of it, all by yourself.

Please don’t hesitate to work with a therapist if you can afford one, because this will allow you more opportunities for exploration while a dedicated person “holds space” for you. You may even want to look at therapies that have thematic resonances to this subject.

The one I can instantly think of is Family Constellation therapy, a form that takes you deeper into family narratives through embodiment, helping you to make connections and glean insights. 

Intergenerational trauma
The Lingering Legacy: Examining The Realness Of Intergenerational Trauma

4. Make conscious changes

If you think about it, there’s one clear reason (amongst others of course) why trauma is transmitted from one generation to another.

When people stay unconscious of inherited patterns and are unable to access how their own narratives are linked to those of their family, the chances of transmission become higher.

If you get to the point of realizing what didn’t work for them and what of that you inherited as well, you can look at shifting from those patterns and moving into healthier patterns.

5. Accept you won’t be able to change it all

I have always believed I was born into the family I had to be born into. Now whether you are someone who believes in lessons across multiple lives or someone who swears by learn-all-you-can-it’s-just-one-life, one fact remains – you were born into this family and you had no conscious control of it (not that you know of).

So there will be aspects that will have been transmitted as part of your genetic code, aspects of which will never bubble up to your consciousness.

A part of healing is to accept that you went through certain circumstances as did your ancestors but that you now have the power to transform your life. 

Related: The 7 Kinds Of Hidden Trauma That Shouldn’t Be Ignored

As the field of epigenetics grows, it becomes clear that our molecular memory binds us to all those who went before us. With some patience and some compassion towards who we were given birth to and ourselves, we can go a long way in the journey of healing from intergenerational trauma.


is intergenerational trauma real pin
How Real Is Intergenerational Trauma?
how real is intergenerational trauma pin
The Lingering Legacy: Examining The Realness Of Intergenerational Trauma
healing from intergenerational trauma
The Lingering Legacy: Examining The Realness Of Intergenerational Trauma

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Up Next

Why Women Don’t Immediately Report Sexual Assault?

Why Women Don't Immediately Report Sexual Assault: 5 Reasons

When it comes to reporting sexual assault, many women find it difficult to report their traumatic experiences. Some women end up not reporting sexual assault at all.

So, why do women not report sexual assault, and even if they do, why do they end up reporting sexual assault years later? Let’s dive deep into the reasons why women don’t report sexual assault. 

Key Points:

Victims of sexual harassment and assault often delay reporting, with only one in five women reporting sexual abuse.



Up Next

Warning Signs Of Unresolved Trauma: Recognizing The Invisible Scars

7 Warning Signs Of Unresolved Trauma Shouldn't Be Ignored

Are the effects of trauma worse than the trauma itself? The following article will help to identify the signs of unresolved trauma and heal relationships.

In this blog, we will cover:

Unresolved trauma meaning

Unresolved trauma examples

Unresolved childhood trauma

Signs of unresolved childhood trauma in adults

Unresolved trauma and relationships 

Trauma is a deeply distressing experience that can have long-lasting effects



Up Next

The Impact Of Dads On Daughters: 15 Signs Of Daddy Issues

15 Warning Signs Of Daddy Issues In A Woman

Ever heard the term ‘daddy issues’ and wondered what it means? Well, it’s not just a pop culture buzzword. Signs of daddy issues can manifest in a myriad of ways, affecting how we perceive ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us.

From seeking validation to struggling with trust, these signs can impact both men and women and have roots in our deepest emotional experiences.

Understanding the complex dynamics of daddy issues is important, but it is crucial to approach them with sensitivity and without reinforcing stereotypes.

So, let’s dive in and explore the telltale



Up Next

The Haunting Of Our Minds: The 11 Types Of Psychological Ghosts That Live In Your Head

11 Types Of Psychological Ghosts In Your Head That Linger

Have you ever been haunted by the ghosts in your head? By a memory or experience from your past? Something that lingers in your mind long after it’s over, affecting your behavior and emotions in profound ways? Have you ever thought like “There’s a monster in my mind”?

Maybe it’s a regret, a missed opportunity that you wish you could go back and change. Or perhaps it’s a traumatic event that still sends shivers down your spine whenever you think about it.

These are the psychologica



Up Next

8 Types Of Childhood Trauma And How To Defeat And Heal From Them

8 Types Of Childhood Trauma And How To Heal From Them

Childhood is a crucial stage in our development, and the experiences we have during this period shape our personalities and worldviews in many ways.

Unfortunately, some childhoods can be traumatic, leaving deep emotional scars. There are eight types of childhood trauma that can have a profound impact on a child’s development and future life outcomes.

A traumatic childhood can have significant long-term effects on a person’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being, which can last well into adulthood. The childhood wounds suffered by someone can end up defining their entire life, including their choices, relationships, and values.

Before we d



Up Next

Invisible Wounds: 10 Ways Unresolved Attachment Trauma Manifests in Adults

Possible Signs Of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

Your childhood trauma wounds can haunt you for the rest of your life. Unresolved attachment trauma in adults is more common than you think, however, knowing the signs of attachment trauma in adults can help you understand yourself more and take the necessary steps to heal.

Key Points

Childhood trauma often refers to traumas experienced in the family of origin during the formative years of our development.

Although many traumas result from abuse or neglect, not all are.

Some childhood traumas, such as emotional neglect, were not done purposefully. Some parents might not even have known.

<



Up Next

Coping with Dysfunction: Understanding the 10 Unspoken Rules of Dysfunctional Families

Hidden Dynamics Unspoken Rules of Dysfunctional Families

Have you ever noticed certain patterns in your family that have made you think, “Maybe my family is dysfunctional”? This post delves deep into the signs your family is dysfunctional and the unspoken rules of dysfunctional families. Let’s find out more about how to tell if your family is dysfunctional or not.

Key Points

All families, as with all social systems, have some level of dysfunction. It does not mean they are all unhealthy or abusive, but some are.

Growing up in unhealthy environments can set children up for unhealthy or unsafe relationships down the line.

Developing and maintaining boundaries can help decrease trauma

AI Chatbot Avatar
⚠️ Liza is in training with WMHA and may not always provide the most accurate information.