Intergenerational Trauma


This site is about asking questions about who we are, where we come from, and what our relationship to collective/historical trauma might be. Clear or definitive answers are not likely to emerge from our exploration of these questions. A more likely possibility is that what does emerge is an understanding that there are new directions we might now begin to look to seek possible answers to age old questions of our human identity and our human nature. This site is dedicated to furthering thought and discussion related to how collective trauma has played a vital role in shaping Western civilization, and therefore in shaping our present world. This initial post will outline some of the “questions” to be more deeply explored and examined in future posts.

As a starting point, some basic questions about trauma must be explored. We must ask how trauma impacts the individual human being? What do we know about about the neurobiology of trauma? What do we know about the relatively new field of epigenetics and its potential for helping us better understand intergenerational trauma?

Starting with this basic foundation in examining the current science of “trauma” knowledge, we can begin to consider much broader questions. For example: What is the epigenetic trauma heritage of those of us from Western cultures, such as Europe and it’s “settler” colonies – the U.S., Canada, Australia, etc. Does that epigenetic heritage in some way continue to impact us today, and if so, how?

How has collective trauma “shaped” and been “shaped by” our most prominent Western myth systems? What might be the epigenetic impact of century upon century of Europeans experiencing collective trauma through endless wars, the crusades, five centuries of the Holy Inquisition, the witch burnings, Protestant versus Catholic wars, and more recently through two world wars? Is it possible that such events have sent trauma’s epigenetic impact on a time travel mission through generations? Is it possible that our very conception of, and understanding of our own “human nature” has been irrevocably shaped by our collective European trauma history?
What is the relationship between the collective intergenerational “trauma experiences” of Western peoples, to our own “traumatizing behavior” exhibited over the last five centuries as we have engaged in the colonization of the rest of the planet? As we examine the historical trauma legacies of colonized peoples throughout the world, we can then ask if: “our (Europe & her colonies) past collective trauma” – has been transformed into – “their current collective trauma?” What are the most common methods of collective trauma transmission, historically speaking? Do they continue? If so “why?”

How might exploring the relationship between historical trauma and collective violence equip us to better envision and create a more humane world? What could replace the current “trauma based” Western paradigm of human nature? What could “violence” be replaced with as a method of “problem solving?”

What alterations in current Western myth systems would need to occur for us to be able to leave the trauma based paradigm that threatens our collective survival? What stands in our way? What pushes us toward a new world in which collective trauma is finally seen as the devastating force that it is and has been in our world? How do the “values” inherent in such a new paradigm fit within the scientific framework of our understanding of trauma and collective trauma?

The questions are endless. Our time left to answer them is not.

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