The Effect of Intergenerational Trauma

I have just completed both a podcast and a book that feature what I would consider to be examples of intergenerational trauma.

The first was a podcast called “Finding Cleo;” featuring Connie Walker, a journalist for CBC Radio, who explores cold cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Although the podcast is primarily about trying to find answers, and therefore closure, to Cleo’s family, it also themes the damaging effects of both residential schools and the 60’s Scoop; times in Canadian history in which the government attempted to strip Indigenous people of their culture in an attempt to assimilate them.

The second was a book entitled “We Were the Lucky Ones” by Georgia Hunter. Based on her own family’s story, Hunter brings us to a devastating time in Poland’s history where during the Second World War Jewish families were persecuted for their culture. Hunter writes about her ancestors, the Kurc family, and what they were forced to endure due to the atrocities of the darkest war in our world’s history.

Intergenerational trauma is what happens when the effects of trauma in one generation affects the next one (and sometimes the ones after that.) Unresolved trauma can often lead to self-destructive behaviours, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress symptoms, addiction, and a decreased ability to securely attach. What happens intergenerationally isn’t the actual traumatic experience itself, but rather the effects that accompanies it.

Understanding intergenerational trauma is important when considering the effects of persecution to a people or a culture; especially in examples we continue to see in our present society. Compassion, kindness and empathy can help support those who are navigating through the quite often rough waters of intergenerational trauma.

To check out “We Were the Lucky Ones” by Georgia Hunter:

To check out “Finding Cleo” at CBC Radio:

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