When we think of creating family legacies and preserving family traditions, we focus on positive connections and joyous occasions. But often joy is only part of the family story. Pain, while often ignored or even denied, can be passed down from generation to generation.
This legacy of pain, coined Intergenerational trauma (IGT) after World War II, results from a family member’s personal trauma, such as:
- Cultural attacks like the Holocaust or even 9-11
- Extreme poverty
- A natural disaster
- Violent crime
- A car accident or unexpected tragedy
Left unhealed, the wounds of traumatic events cause pain and produce ongoing, devastating generational family marks.
Several studies show that the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors suffer anxiety, generalized fear, behavioral problems, and depression. These symptoms reveal that the trauma experiences of parents and grandparents have far-reaching and long-lasting effects on those who did not experience the original trauma firsthand.