According to therapist and clinical social worker Susan Pease Banitt, “PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.”
That being said, perhaps it should come as no surprise that it is possible for us to inherit trauma from the generations before us. The term used to describe these effects is intergenerational trauma, and it is also linked to physically living with someone who has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, there is conclusive evidence that this and other forms of trauma can be passed down without the effects of direct exposure to behaviour, or by way of behavioural learning.
The most well-known instance of this involves the children (and even the grandchildren) of holocaust survivors inheriting the trauma of those survivors themselves. To remedy this, those affected must accept the trauma and pain as opposed to rejecting it and attempting to ignore or deny it. In theory, accepting trauma can result in its eventual release, whereas rejecting it can only result in the trauma resurfacing later on, usually in a more intense, painful, and damaging form.
Moreover, in the case of PTSD, experiencing or observing anything that is minutely connected to the initial trauma can easily cause re-traumatisation. And, as mentioned, this re-traumatisation is often even more detrimental than the initial experience. However, although these circumstances seem dire, there is still much hope for those suffering, or for those at risk of suffering.
Author and professor Judy Atkinson wrote a book pertaining to helping indigenous peoples overcome intergenerational trauma, and these techniques can certainly apply to and aid virtually all human beings in need: some of the methodologies are outlined in a fairly recent Uplift article. Methods such as breathwork and vipassana are tried and true, but the worst cases of PTSD may need to be treated by way of psychedelic means (i.e. MDMA or Ayahuasca).
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here: http://upliftconnect.com/intergenerational-trauma/.