My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:
Historical or Intergenerational Trauma
I recently took a workshop where we discussed intergenerational (also known as transgenerational) trauma. Meaning, in very simple terms, trauma that is passed down from one generation to the next. I have been doing a lot of research and reading on it this week, and I thought I would share some of it with you. This is very introductory information, it is a complex topic. But I hope you enjoy dipping your toe in. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out, I would love to continue the conversation with you.
A Slightly More In-depth Definition: Intergenerational trauma is when the trauma experienced by an ancestor (this could be many generations ago, grandparents, or parents) is passed down onto the offspring. This could be culturally wide – as we have seen through colonization and racism – or, this could be more isolated. Perhaps a parent experienced neglect or poverty as a child, then they have the strong potentiality to hand down trauma to their child through their daily habits and epigenetics (scroll down the E-mail for more information). “Hurt people, hurt people”- original speaker unknown.
How The Trauma Is Passed On: This quote from Professor Helen Milroy, an Indigenous psychiatrist specializing in child psychiatry, describes how trauma flows through to Indigenous children: “The transgenerational effects of trauma occur via a variety of mechanisms including the impact of attachment relationship with care givers; the impact on parenting and family functioning; the association with parental physical and mental illness; disconnection and alienation from the extended family, culture and society.
These effects are exacerbated by exposure to continuing high levels of stress and trauma including multiple bereavements and other losses, the process of vicarious traumatisation where children witness the on-going effects of the original trauma which a parent or care giver has experienced. Even where children are protected from the traumatic stories of their ancestors, the effects of past traumas still impact on children in the form of ill health, family dysfunction, community violence, psychological morbidity and early mortality. The transgenerational impacts of trauma also challenges us to shift our thinking on the distinctions drawn between perpetrators and victims as we understand how offenders are often victims of trauma or transgenerational trauma themselves.”For more information on transgenerational trauma and how it presents in racism and colonization (specifically with the aboriginal people of Canada in this article), please click here.
Fact From The Article Above: “The concept of historic trauma was initially developed in the 1980’s by First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in Canada to explain the seeming unending cycle of trauma and despair in their communities.”
Holocaust Survivors Alter The Genes of Their Children: Epigenetics: “the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” In other words, our responses to our environment might be passed down to our children through our genes. This article is a few years old, but I think it does the best job of articulating the exciting research out there.
How Trauma Affects The Brain: I think it can be helpful to note that when talking about trauma being passed down, the trauma literally changes the neurology of the brain. A traumatized person cannot always help how they respond to the world, or help themselves from becoming an addict. Addiction is a sign of something, it does not stand alone. I believe it is helpful to ask ourselves: Why is this person dealing with addiction, with violence?
Please check out the two videos below fore more information on the connection between the brain, transgenerational trauma, and addiction.
Addiction and Intergenerational Trauma:This video is one of my favorite talks I have listened to this year. It features Dr. Gabor Maté. A Hungarian-born Canadian physician with a background in family practice and a special interest in childhood development and trauma, and in their potential lifelong impacts on physical and mental health, including on autoimmune disease, cancer, ADHD, addictions and a wide range of other conditions. You can check out his website here.
The Body Keep The Score interview: For a short, and beautifully articulate description of how trauma manifests within us, please check out this video here. It features Dr. Bessel van der Kolk MD. He has spent his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences, and has translated emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of potentially effective treatments for traumatic stress in children and adults. You can check out his website here. And access his award winning book “The Body Keeps The Score” here.
Update on my Show:
Feedback: I got some delightful feedback from a mental health professional this week on the content of the script, and have begun editing away happily!
Also, working out the details of my contract with Hope For The Day! Very excited!
Lastly, I had a lovely conversation with the owner of Transistor in Chicago today. They support Hope For The Day, and help to break the stigma on mental health in our culture. If you are looking to support an amazing local business that truly gives back to the community please check them out here.
More About Transistor: What is Transistor? It’s a shop and gallery, with work and wares from 100+ artists, many based in Chicago. It’s a recording space and screening room, with live performance events, movie nights, and a webcast. Time Out Chicago likens Transistor to ‘your coolest friend’s apartment … and just like that apartment, you’ll want to hang out here a lot.’ If you’re in Chicago, in the Andersonville neighborhood, check it out at 5224 N. Clark Street, just north of Foster Ave.
Please check out the One Woman Hamlet Website:
AND! my update Video.
Many, Many thanks: Margo Siwak and Joe Siwak for the design of the logo, and to Jillian Best and Bill Best for the Website creation and Design! I feel very blessed to have such beautiful humans in my life.
Thank You: Thank you VERY much to all who have donated thus far, making this project possible.
Ways to Support: If you would like to donate to my show, share this project with a friend, or find out more about it please check out my gofundme here: https://www.gofundme.com/one-woman-hamlet
All my best and heart to you,