- I liked the exercises. I felt they offered a good source of reflection
- I particularly liked the exploration of the links between family relationships and one’s relationship style in potential romantic relationships. Psychology has also shown there are strong links between both
- This topic provides another perspective in understanding ourselves and the source of our struggles in life. It can provide some form of closure which aids greatly in one’s personal healing
What didn’t work:
This isn’t so much of the author’s issue as it’s my own perspectives and feelings towards the topic of intergenerational trauma and the extent to which it can “heal” or “solve” someone’s issues. The thing is, EVERYONE suffers from intergenerational trauma. Everyone. Our ancestors went through alot in their lifetimes and these things are inevitably passed on. Scientists have found that depression can be traced to an inheritance of a specific gene. Even if our parents were perfect parents, we’d still grow up with some sort of “scar”. It’s all in the environment and how This is also why I’m quite skeptical about the author’s examples of how various patients found themselves reliving some sort of trauma at the same age their mother/grandmother etc experienced it at. I just found it too co-incidental a little hard to believe.
One question I had was – how does a baby/young child who was orphaned, abandoned, adopted/fostered, has suffered abuse and died young begin to do this work to help themselves? Seems impossible and they are the most vulnerable.
Another point and which many alluded to in their reviews – though my feelings weren’t as strong – is that you don’t have to heal your relationship with your parent in order to heal yourself. Some people will never make great parents and no matter how you try to fix your relationship with your parents sometimes, it’s just fruitless. You are better off just working on the healing yourself. Also, it’s not wise for people who have gone through any form of abuse at the hands of their parents to seek forgiveness and rekindle the relationship, it’s massively triggering and can leave the individual even more vulnerable and traumatised than before. I feel that this needs to be done under the guidance and advice of a trained psychologist or counsellor, not on your own accord. Some people are too dysfunctional and no amount of trying to repair those bonds with them will make us feel better, quite the reverse.
I’m also not someone very interested in getting to know my family tree beyond what happened to my parents and their experiences/perspectives of their own lives and their childhood. Their perspectives will shape who they are as people and subsequently, the types of parents they have become. I frankly could care less what happened to my uncle/aunt/grandparents etc as I’m close to my relatives and have no intention to find out more about their lives.
Another reflection I have about this topic – hmm. I’m of the view that whatever struggles or issues that you have in your life – yes, there are many environmental and genetic factors that can explain those. Your family dynamics, inherited genes, the culture you grew up in, your personality/temperament and as a result how you perceive things in life, stuff happening to you that is out of your control, having a great family life but meeting very abusive non-family members – teachers, romantic partners, friends etc.
Some of my emotional scars from my younger years were experiencing awful, uncompassionate and overly rigid and punitive teachers throughout my educational years. That combined with an awfully rigid and narrow-minded culture that I grew up in resulted in me hiding away parts of my personality and developing alot of anxiety and low self-esteem over the years. It took alot of courage and determination to reverse that, but I’m now a well-adjusted, rather happy adult, and I did all of that without having to speak to any of those awful teachers or leaving the country I’m in. The point is that Intergenerational trauma can explain certain things in your life, but at the end of the day, what you do with that information is important. Do you go on and take action to overcome that or do nothing? That’s the most important thing. We can change the present anyway, the past is already long gone.