Intergenerational trauma is when the effects of trauma pass from generation to generation in one family through compromised beliefs about life, self, safety, love, and normal behavior. This can result in second- or third-generation family members carrying trauma responses for a trauma they did not actually suffer or witness. Intergenerational trauma can occur both from a family member’s single traumatic incident and from a communal trauma, in which many or all members of a local community experience a singular sustained trauma, such as a pandemic, war, or natural disaster.
At the individual level, the psychological effects of trauma can be acute or long term, depending on a person’s experience and access to care. But at the community level, a complex and collective experience of trauma can lead to irreparable harm that lasts for generations.
Trauma therapist and author of My Grandmother's Hands talks honestly and directly about the historical and current traumatic impacts of racism in the U.S., and the necessity for us all to recognize this trauma, metabolize it, work through it, and grow up out of it.