Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma

Transgenerational Trauma or Intergenerational Trauma Transgenerational trauma is a conceptual framework for explaining how the effects of trauma can be transferred from one generation to another (Dekel & Goldblatt, 2008; Fossion, Rejas, Servais, Pelc, & Hirsch, 2003). As such, the proposition in the framework is that a survivor(s) who experience a traumatic event transfer the trauma effects to the next generation, and in some cases, subsequent generations. Similarly, historical trauma occurs when a group or population experiences trauma wherein the trauma was widespread, affected the group as a whole, and there was intent to traumatize as many members of the group as possible (Oneill, Fraser, Kitchenbaum, & McDonald, 2018). For example, historic trauma has been documented among Holocaust survivors, Native Americans, descendants of slaves, and other survivors of war conflicts.

Symptoms of transgenerational trauma may vary by group and include a variety of symptoms that present in families, i.e. communication, family conflict, and other family- related issues. The first generation of survivors likely experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and subsequent generations may experience any number of symptoms depending on group membership and the degree of dysfunction in the family. Within this context, family work and intervention in some form seem needed to prevent the transmission from one generation to others.

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