Breaking Generational Cycles: Healing Trauma and Dysfunction in Families

Generational healing is a very long and exhaustive journey in which many individuals try to break the chains of trauma and dysfunction that have been passed down through their families for generations. It involves a deep understanding of one’s family history, understanding how past experiences have shaped the present, and actively working towards healing and transformation.

I recently finished listening to the groundbreaking book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” by renowned psychiatrist and trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. In this book, the author delves into the intricate connections between mind, body, and trauma. He explores how unresolved trauma can manifest in physical and psychological symptoms and how traditional talk therapies may not be sufficient for healing deep-seated wounds. Through a combination of neuroscientific research, case studies, and personal anecdotes, Dr. van der Kolk offers insights into innovative therapeutic approaches that address trauma on a holistic level.

Generational healing – The body stores trauma

One of the key concepts in “The Body Keeps the Score” is the idea that trauma is not only experienced by individuals but can also be transmitted across generations if not addressed earlier. This intergenerational transmission of trauma can manifest in various ways, including patterns of behaviour, emotional responses, and even physiological changes. Dr. van der Kolk emphasises the importance of recognising these patterns and actively working to disrupt them through interventions such as therapy, mindfulness practices, and somatic experiencing.

Generational healing requires a willingness to confront the pain and suffering that may have been buried within the family system for years, if not centuries. It involves acknowledging the impact of historical traumas such as war, colonisation, and systemic oppression, as well as the more personal traumas experienced within the family unit. By shining a light on these hidden wounds and offering compassion and understanding, individuals can begin to break free from the cycle of dysfunction and create a healthier, more resilient family dynamic.

One powerful anecdote from “The Body Keeps the Score” illustrates the story of a woman who experienced chronic anxiety and depression, which she traced back to her grandmother’s traumatic experiences during World War II. Through therapy and exploration of her family history, the woman was able to uncover the roots of her suffering and begin the process of healing. As she worked through her own trauma, she noticed a shift not only in herself but also in her relationships with her children and grandchildren. By breaking the silence and shame surrounding her family’s past, she opened the door to healing for future generations.

Breaking generational trauma is not easy but by acknowledging the impact of past traumas and actively working to break the cycle of dysfunction, individuals can set examples of resilience and healing for themselves and their descendants. As Dr. van der Kolk writes, “The body keeps the score and stores trauma, but with understanding and support, it can also find a path to healing.”

I am participating in #BlogchatterA2Z 2024 and will be writing one informational post almost every day for you. 🙂 Keep reading!

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2 Responses

  1. This is a wonderful topic. You have dealt with it very nicely, explaining it with real-life examples. Generational cyclic things have deep roots in our past, which needs to be first explored and then worked on. It is easier to write than do. When we sit to observe the patterns, the first is the denial. After a lot of efforts, we accept, and then healing starts.

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