Intergenerational Trauma

It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished.
–CG Jung

We carry the experience of our ancestors—we are extensions of them, of their bodies and spirits, and their joys and sorrows live on in us. When our ancestors have been traumatized in some significant way, often their wounds remain unresolved in the deepest layers of the psyche.  This is what the emerging field of epigenetics is now beginning to explore from a biomedical perspective, but which has been understood in Daoist cosmology and Chinese medicine for centuries in the concepts of jing, prenatal qi, and the eight extraordinary meridians.

Whether these intergenerational wounds are the result of historical trauma and oppression, or of the experience of a particular individual or family, often these injuries are at the root of the ways in which we remain stuck in shame or repetitive patterns, obstructed in our sense of forward movement, or locked into other circumstances that seem impenetrable and unresolvable.

This is what is often referred to as intergenerational or historical trauma, and there are many possible manifestations of this phenomenon in our psychological, physical, and interpersonal lives–including ‘typical’ symptoms of PTSD such as anxiety, startle response, hypervigilance and arousal; depression and other mood and emotional concerns; chronic feelings of shame, isolation, alienation, and emptiness; feelings of stuckness or obstruction in work, relationships, and other areas; excessive hunger and addictions of all kinds; a broad range of chronic health concerns and chronic pain; and many other possible emotional and physical manifestations.

These concerns can often be addressed through psychotherapy, through Chinese medicine, or through a variety of integrative possibilities.

For more on my understanding of an approach to intergenerational trauma, please feel free to call. You may also want to explore my book, The Trusting Heart: Addiction, Recovery, and Intergenerational Trauma.