Several researchers found that trauma from one generation can pass down to another generation. Each generation is affected differently and reacts to it in a different way. Families who suffer generational trauma could have experienced traumatic social, physical, or emotional effects that have shaped their perspective, hopes, ideas, and personalities. How did the brains and personalities of the survivors evolve after the event and continue to shape the generations to follow?
Intergenerational trauma can be experienced through the loss of family members or the inability to connect with them, affecting relationships with children and grandchildren. Generations to come not being able to emotionally connect with the reality and people around, caught in the web of the trauma. Or a grandfather losing his father in the war, therefore never being able to connect with other male members of the family, can cause a wounded relationship between him and his son. It may negatively impact his sons and grandsons relationship in the future.
Intergenerational trauma affects a family in a variety of ways:
- Families that avoid discussing feelings and ignore topics relating to them emotionally: isolate people emotionally.
- People who think it is weak to discuss their feelings and emotions.
- Some families might have trust issues with outsiders and could not trust someone until they prove trustworthy.
- People who are overprotective of the kids and children in the family even when there are no signs of danger.
- Families that don’t have healthy boundaries among themselves or in other relationships.
Generational trauma can be passed down through genes and isn’t limited to the behavioral conditioning they experienced as a child. Children who have experienced secondary trauma may also feel depressed, guilty, and rage. The intergenerational trauma of childhood should also be considered when assessing adolescents with addiction issues.
Generational trauma may be transitioned in four ways:
- Children identify their suffering with their parents.
- The burden of compensating for their parents’ suffering in various ways.
- A particular pattern of parenting demonstrated by survivors to their children.
- The communication style between a survivor and the child who suffered trauma.
How to heal Intergenerational trauma?
Intergenerational trauma treatment is cultural and less generic than other trauma treatments. The first step towards regaining your health is to learn how to identify your triggers. It includes trust issues, anger issues, nightmares, addiction problems, etc. Mariel Buruqe, PhD, Trauma Therapist, recommends practising mindfulness protocols, staying in the present, and becoming aware of where trauma is stored. For this, you can take help of a mental health professional, or you can try doing it on your own.
You need to identify your triggers, so you don’t pass them on to the next generation to heal. As you move forward, here are some questions to consider when healing intergenerational trauma:
- When you go through life changes or stressful situations, who is part of the family system?
- How does your family cope with difficult emotions, mental and physical challenges?
- How can you be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy for your family?
- Which stories or situations did you grow up hearing about, and how do you and your family feel about them?
It takes time for cycles to be broken, but it is essential to prevent similar patterns from being repeated, as it will be detrimental to future generations.
Don’t be afraid to analyze yourself and take steps to lead a healthy and happy life.