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Can Trauma Be Inherited?


Inherited trauma is a psychological term that asserts that trauma can be transferred between generations. After one generation undergoes trauma, they can share their trauma with their children and further generations via complex post-traumatic stress disorder. The way to curb this cycle of trauma is by seeking assistance from a professional.


One example of inherited trauma is children of World War Two soldiers or those in Prisoner-of-War camps. When they returned to society with poor health, worse job prospects and a shorter life expectancy. The impact of these hardships didn’t stop with the soldiers who had experienced it but affected their children and grandchildren as well. Their trauma appeared to be passed down the male line of these families. Therefore, these soldiers’ children would have inherited the effects of the PTSD that their parents and grandparents had experienced.


Another example of inherited trauma is the historical trauma indigenous people face, which is passed down from generation to generation. This trauma can come from:

  • The loss of spiritual practices

  • Language and culture

  • Forced relocation and land dispossession.


Inherited trauma can manifest as anxiety, PTSD and substance abuse as a way to cope.


Generational trauma can be treated with multiple different therapies such as parent-child interaction therapy or family systems therapy, but the critical thing to note is that it is curable. With generational trauma, it’s essential to think about the problem being something you were born into, not necessarily a problem that they have created for themselves.


To learn more about our services at RD Psychotherapy, please contact us today!


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