How do family traumas arise and how can you heal from them?

Traumas can not only arise because you experience a traumatic event yourself, they can also be passed on from generation to generation. We then speak of family traumas. Recognizing them is one thing, but also working on them is highly necessary to free both yourself and a possible next generation.

Jan Gerber, the therapist and CEO of the mental health clinic Paracelsus Recovery, knows everything about the origin of these family traumas. According to him, it is not easy to discover this type of trauma. They can constantly ‘run’ in the background, but in the meantime they are one strong impact have on your daily life. How do you find out if there is one in your family? unprocessed event do you also suffer from? And how do you deal with it once you discover the trauma?

This is how family traumas arise

To get answers to these questions, it is important to first discover how these traumas to arise. According to Gerber, there are two possibilities: “Traumatic experiences usually lead to mental problems. Children who grow up with mentally unhealthy parents often develop the same patterns. This can manifest itself in (psychological) abuse, but also, for example, in alcoholism.” The trauma is, as it were, passed on because the parents themselves do not know how to deal with it.

The other option is through epigenetics. Violent events can change part of the DNA. That new DNA is then passed on to a new generation. The therapist cites the Holocaust trauma as the best-known example: scientific research has often shown that children of Holocaust survivors had a clear change in their DNA. Both factors play a role in the origin of most family traumas, in rare cases only one factor is the culprit.

Difficult to recognize

An unprocessed family trauma would make you a assassin can name. While a self-experienced trauma is likely to have more profound consequences for your life, a family trauma is more dangerous because it difficult to recognize is. “When someone experiences something traumatic and then suffers from panic attacks or depressive thoughts, he or she knows where it comes from. As a result, the person is more likely to visit a therapist,” explains Gerber.

Someone who has received a trauma from a previous generation often does not know the cause of his mental problems. The problem identify and search for help is more difficult in this case.

Recognizing family trauma

What also does not contribute to the identification of a passed-on trauma is the old-fashioned view of it. Modern scientists have been showing for years that the origin of family trauma really exists, but generations have nevertheless not taken it seriously.

Recognizing a family trauma, according to Mark Wolynn, who wrote a book about it in 2017, starts with analyzing your emotions and mental wellbeing. According to him, we have to go back to the core of our feelings in order to place them better. Only when we know the cause of our feelings can we begin to act heal.

Healing yourself from trauma passed on

Conscience of the trauma is an important first step,” says Gerber, “but it is just the beginning. The healing process can be difficult and scary.” According to the therapist, it is important, if this is (still) possible, to talk to the generations above you. By talking about the trauma and the event acknowledge, that awareness is also being increased in that generation. However, Gerber has a caveat: “There is a chance that older generations deny the family trauma or do not see it as a problem.”

In that case, it is up to you as an individual to process the trauma. Gerber mentions that psychotherapy as a possible solution, using known methods for healing traumas. A healthy lifestyle – in which sufficient sleep, nutrition and exercise are important – can also contribute to the healing process, according to the therapist.

The last generation

By healing yourself, you are doing what previous generations have not done for you. You incorporated the family trauma and ensures that it is not passed on to the next generation. Gerber: “By consciously healing, you say the following: ‘I suffered through the trauma and now I know why. I don’t want my children and grandchildren to suffer in the same way and that is why I am now working hard to heal and transform.’ You owe it not only to yourself, but also to all future generations not to look away, but to break the toxic pattern.”

How do you make your own family constellation?

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How do family traumas arise and how can you heal from them?

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