Category: Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma

A sketch of societal-based obstacles to transformation after trauma

In the preface to his book The Order of Things (1966/1973), Michel Foucault shared the following excerpt from an ancient Chinese encyclopedia: “… animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) …

Why do women have sexual fantasies of rape?

The United Nations describes violence against women as a “pandemic in diverse forms.”[i] Thirty-five percent of women have experienced sexual and/or physical violence, often in intimate relationships. In some nations, an unimaginable seventy percent of women have suffered sexual and/or physical violence in intimate relationships.[ii] In every country in the world, the threat of sexual and physical violence is …

The intergenerational transmission of recovery

Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (c. 1590) is a story of revenge and rape. Titus murders Tamora’s son. Tamora then has her other two sons revenge their brother’s death by raping Titus’ daughter Lavinia. Afterwards, they mutilate Lavinia, severing her tongue and hands to keep her from testifying against them. During Shakespeare’s era (and in some parts of …

Dreaming of a Safe America

The United States, perhaps like all nations and all people, is caught in unconscious, conflicting drives and denied vulnerabilities. In Dreaming Up America, historical novelist Russell Banks identified three dreams at the heart of America’s unconscious conflicts, dreams that originally drew people to America: “There was El Dorado, the City of Gold that Cortez and …

A meditation on violence against women and nature

“He says that woman speaks with nature. That she hears voices from under the earth. That wind blows in her ears and trees whisper to her. That the dead sing through her mouth and the cries of infants are clear to her. But for him this dialogue is over. He says he is not part …

Dismantling altars

A couple of years ago, I took a writing workshop with Dennis Slattery, PhD at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Among the writing “meditations” he had us do, one was called Dismantling the Altar. As Dr. Slattery wisely noted, we have a tendency to create altars, and other “as if” edifices. Although we create altars to support or even inspire …

The secrets in our silences

I began reading the book History Beyond Trauma by Françoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudillière during a turbulent time in my life — when deaths, losses, and uncertainties continually piled up. Despite my best efforts to remain optimistic and push forward with life as planned, traumatic stress was threatening to be more than a subject I …

Globalization: The age of psychological neoteny

Neoteny refers to when a species’ traits that are typically associated with juvenile stages of development are carried into adulthood. A common example is the Mexican salamander, or axolotl. At full maturity, the axolotl continues to look like a tadpole, which supposedly is more adaptive to its environmental niche than the adult salamander body. As the …

Trauma nation?

Medicine is where hope is alive and well in America. During the past fifty years, due to rapid advances in microbiology, many persons who once might have died prematurely, or suffered debilitating diseases or disorders, instead enjoy productive lives, albeit often with chronic illnesses to manage. Through its near-miracle successes, the field has engendered the …

“The Why Factor”: Cultural memory and PTSD

Screen Shot of BBCs "The Why Factor."

BBC’s The Why Factor posted two short podcasts (18 minutes each) on trauma — one on cultural memories of traumatic events and the other on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Cultural Memory” explores how societies respond collectively to traumatic memories, such as war and extreme human rights violations, which often involves silencing memories of the past as …

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I typically ignore national awareness initiatives saddled to particular months. There are simply too many of them. For example, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; Crime Prevention Month; Health Literacy Month; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender History Month; National Breast Cancer Awareness Month; National Cyber Security Awareness Month; National Disability Employment Awareness Month; National Family Sexuality …

Attachment and the intergenerational transmission of trauma

I have blogged about the connection between love and psychotherapy, and the topic is up again for me after a recent sensorimotor training. In part, the training focused on the relationship between early life attachment, character development, and later life patterns of relating. The gifted (and seemingly indefatigable) Dr. Janina Fisher led the training, tossing …