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Generational Trauma

information, resources, support, healing

Generational trauma, often referred to as intergenerational or transgenerational trauma, refers to the psychological and emotional effects of trauma experienced by one generation that are passed down to subsequent generations. This can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and dysfunctional relationship patterns. Understanding and healing this trauma is crucial for personal well-being and breaking the cycle for future generations.


Top 5 Movies on generational trauma

1. “The Godfather” (1972) - Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this classic film delves into the impacts of organized crime on multiple generations of the Corleone family, examining how power and violence shape their lives and relationships.

2. “Precious” (2009) - Directed by Lee Daniels, this film follows the harrowing journey of an abused teenager who confronts the generational cycle of trauma within her family while striving for a better future.

3. “Hereditary” (2018) - Directed by Ari Aster, this horror film explores the sinister secrets of a family and how inherited trauma and mental illness affect each member in devastating ways.

4. “The Joy Luck Club” (1993) - Directed by Wayne Wang, this film, based on Amy Tan’s novel, explores the lives of four Chinese-American immigrant families and the generational conflicts and traumas between mothers and daughters.

5. “Moonlight” (2016) - Directed by Barry Jenkins, this Oscar-winning film chronicles the life of a young black man growing up in Miami, addressing the traumas passed down through his family and community as he struggles with his identity and sexuality.

Top 10 Books on Generational Trauma

1. “It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle” by Mark Wolynn

Explores how the traumas of our ancestors can affect our lives and offers guidance on how to break the cycle.

2. “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk

Examines how trauma affects the body and mind and presents strategies for healing.

3. “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem

Focuses on how racial trauma is passed down and offers practices for healing.

4. “Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror” by Judith Lewis Herman

Provides a comprehensive look at trauma and its effects, along with pathways to recovery.

5. “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma” by Peter A. Levine

Discusses the nature of trauma and presents somatic experiencing as a method for healing.

6. “Family Secrets: The Path to Self-Acceptance and Reunion” by John Bradshaw

Explores how family secrets contribute to generational trauma and provides steps for healing.

7. “Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse” by Shannon Thomas

Addresses the hidden trauma of psychological abuse and outlines the recovery process.

8. “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction” by Gabor Maté

Examines addiction through the lens of trauma and offers insights into healing.

9. “The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self” by Alice Miller

Looks at how childhood traumas impact our lives and how we can heal and rediscover our true selves.

10. “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing” by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry

Combines personal experiences and scientific insights to explore trauma and healing.

These books provide valuable perspectives and tools for understanding and addressing generational trauma and fostering healing.

Healing Generational Trauma: A Path to Personal and Collective Liberation

Understanding Generational Trauma

Generational trauma can be rooted in significant historical events such as war, genocide, slavery, colonization, and systemic oppression. It can also stem from personal and familial experiences of abuse, neglect, and other forms of trauma. The effects of these traumatic experiences are not limited to the individuals who directly experienced them but can ripple through families, communities, and entire cultures.

Psychologists and researchers have found that trauma can be transmitted through various mechanisms, including:


1. Behavioral Patterns: Parents and caregivers who have experienced trauma may unconsciously pass on their coping mechanisms, fears, and behaviors to their children.

2. Epigenetics: Some studies suggest that trauma can cause changes in gene expression, which can be inherited by subsequent generations.

3. Family Narratives: Stories and narratives passed down through families can carry the emotional weight of past traumas, influencing how descendants perceive themselves and the world.

Steps to Heal Generational Trauma

1. Acknowledge the Trauma

The first step in healing generational trauma is to acknowledge its existence. This involves recognizing the signs of trauma in oneself and understanding the historical and familial context. It can be helpful to learn about family history and the experiences of previous generations.


2. Seek Professional Help

Therapy can be a powerful tool in addressing generational trauma. Therapists trained in trauma-informed care can help individuals process their experiences, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and break harmful patterns. Modalities such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), somatic therapy, and family systems therapy can be particularly effective.

3. Cultivate Self-Awareness

Developing self-awareness is essential in recognizing how generational trauma manifests in one’s life. Mindfulness practices, journaling, and meditation can help individuals become more attuned to their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, allowing them to identify and address trauma-related patterns.

4. Foster Resilience and Self-Care

Building resilience involves developing the ability to adapt and thrive despite adversity. This can be achieved through self-care practices that nurture physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Activities such as regular exercise, healthy eating, adequate sleep, and engaging in hobbies can contribute to overall resilience.

5. Create New Narratives

Challenging and reframing family narratives is a crucial step in healing. This involves creating new, empowering stories that honor the past while emphasizing strength, resilience, and the capacity for change. Sharing these new narratives with family members can help shift collective perceptions and promote healing.

6. Build Supportive Relationships

Healing often requires a supportive network of family, friends, and community. Surrounding oneself with understanding and empathetic individuals can provide a sense of belonging and emotional safety. Engaging in group therapy or support groups can also be beneficial.

7. Embrace Cultural and Spiritual Practices

For many, cultural and spiritual practices can offer a sense of connection, identity, and healing. Engaging in rituals, ceremonies, and traditions can help individuals reconnect with their roots and draw strength from their cultural heritage.

8. Educate and Advocate

Educating oneself and others about generational trauma can foster greater understanding and compassion. Advocacy efforts aimed at addressing systemic issues that contribute to trauma, such as racism, inequality, and violence, can also play a role in collective healing.


Healing generational trauma is a complex and ongoing process that requires commitment, patience, and support. By acknowledging the trauma, seeking professional help, cultivating self-awareness, fostering resilience, creating new narratives, building supportive relationships, embracing cultural and spiritual practices, and educating and advocating, individuals can break the cycle of trauma and pave the way for a healthier, more empowered future for themselves and future generations. Remember, healing is not just a personal journey but a collective one, and each step taken towards healing contributes to the well-being of the larger community.

Resources and Support

1. National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) -

2. American Psychological Association (APA) -

3. Sidran Institute (Traumatic Stress Education and Advocacy) -

4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) -

5. International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) -

6. Therapy Aid Coalition -

7. The Trauma Foundation -

8. Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) -

9. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) -

10. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Alliance -

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