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Generational and Historical Trauma

By Nour Suleiman

Generational and historical trauma are rooted in the past, but their impacts reverberate through time. The basic gist is that trauma is transmitted through generations, evolving into an inherited trait. It is passed along through generations, impacting the lived experiences of descendants of both collective and individual trauma. The victims may not have even been present for the traumatic event itself.

Substantial research has focused on the fallout of events linked to Native American colonization or slavery in the U.S., revealing that successors of collective trauma suffer increased rates of depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD related symptoms. The result is that the cycle of trauma becomes a silent and potentially unavoidable barrier to mental health for many marginalized folks.

Let’s break this down

1. A group or individual faces a traumatic event(s)

2. Symptoms of that trauma (e.g. expecting the worst or feeling on edge) become embedded in the group or individual psyche, learned behaviors, or even their genes

3. This shift in relating to the world is then passed down through generations – It’s not the traumatic experience itself that’s passed on, but the response to stressors

Generational and historical trauma are rooted in the past, but their impacts reverberate through time. The basic gist is that trauma is transmitted through generations, evolving into an inherited trait. It is passed along through generations, impacting the lived experiences of descendants of both collective and individual trauma. The victims may not have even been present for the traumatic event itself.

Substantial research has focused on the fallout of events linked to Native American colonization or slavery in the U.S., revealing that successors of collective trauma suffer increased rates of depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD related symptoms. The result is that the cycle of trauma becomes a silent and potentially unavoidable barrier to mental health for many marginalized folks.

Let’s break this down

1. A group or individual faces a traumatic event(s)

2. Symptoms of that trauma (e.g. expecting the worst or feeling on edge) become embedded in the group or individual psyche, learned behaviors, or even their genes

3. This shift in relating to the world is then passed down through generations – It’s not the traumatic experience itself that’s passed on, but the response to stressors

Generational and historical trauma are rooted in the past, but their impacts reverberate through time. The basic gist is that trauma is transmitted through generations, evolving into an inherited trait. It is passed along through generations, impacting the lived experiences of descendants of both collective and individual trauma. The victims may not have even been present for the traumatic event itself.

Substantial research has focused on the fallout of events linked to Native American colonization or slavery in the U.S., revealing that successors of collective trauma suffer increased rates of depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD related symptoms. The result is that the cycle of trauma becomes a silent and potentially unavoidable barrier to mental health for many marginalized folks.

Let’s break this down

1. A group or individual faces a traumatic event(s)

2. Symptoms of that trauma (e.g. expecting the worst or feeling on edge) become embedded in the group or individual psyche, learned behaviors, or even their genes

3. This shift in relating to the world is then passed down through generations – It’s not the traumatic experience itself that’s passed on, but the response to stressors

It’s a cycle…

Reflecting on history and the atrocities that have resulted in cross-generational trauma captures the pattern that got us to where we are today. That pattern might look as follows: A traumatic event takes place, there is a reaction to cope with the suffering inflicted, oftentimes more suffering ensues, finally, successive generations absorb the trauma through prejudice, discrimination, and environmental and psychological factors, and so on. So, then we are left questioning: where does the cycle end? And how? There is likely no one answer to this question but a helpful place to start might be with talking about the work required to heal.

From Collective Suffering into Collective Healing

Therapy is healing for more than the one person participating in it. While our intention is to work with the individual (or group, couple, or family), the reach of therapy goes far beyond what happens in the room – or the laptop screen. If trauma has found a way to permeate generations, can resilience too? Can collective joy and healing be as impactful as collective suffering and trauma?

If you feel you may be grappling with generational trauma, reach out to a professional now.

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Drop us a line.

Questions, concerns or need support?


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(917) 426-1521

© 2023 EXPANSIVE THERAPY | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Stay in the Know

Join our newsletter to get mental health tips and promotional offers delivered to you weekly.

Drop us a line.

Questions, concerns or need support?


info@expansivetherapy.com

(917)426-1521

© 2023 EXPANSIVE THERAPY | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Book your intro session with a therapist

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