Inherited trauma, sometimes referred to as historical trauma, is the trauma that is passed down from generation to generation. In other words, the trauma your grandparents faced can have an effect on your own response to trauma. Consequently, you could be experiencing the effects of trauma you never personally faced.
In this article by Kelly Hoover Greenway, she gives examples of how historical trauma has affected people such as Prince Harry as well as how the Nazis in World War II restricted food to the Netherlands (known as the “Dutch Hunger Winter” resulting in the deaths of 22,000 people) which had an effect on the survivors' offspring decades later.
Why is it relevant for us today? From Ms. Greenway's article:
"For parents and caregivers who believe past trauma may be playing a role in their children’s lives, Bolton emphasizes establishing a safe and secure environment, with soft, physical touch playing a critical role. “As adults, we can mentally soothe ourselves by rationalizing or planning, but for young children, hugs, rubbing backs and snuggling can help them regulate their emotions. If we can use safe, loving touch to help children bond, regulate emotions and ultimately overcome inherited anxieties, then we can shift developmental trajectories in really positive ways.”
I recently found myself driving to Orlando, Florida to give a presentation at a national conference. I know driving sounds crazy (it was about 12 hours total one way), but I find driving relaxing. I also find that it's a good time to catch up on podcast episodes.
One of the episodes I enjoyed listening to was from Mayim Bialik's Breakdown. If her name doesn't ring a bell, she played Amy Farrah Fowler on the Big Bank Theory. She also holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California. So, when she talks about trauma and brain science, she has the pedigree and experience to back up her opinions.
In this episode, she interviewed Moshe Kasher. There is occasionally some "adult language" from Moshe, but they have a fascinating and insightful conversation that I believe sheds light on the need to build trust and be psychologically safe.
From the show notes: "Moshe Kasher, stand-up comedian and author of Mayim’s favorite memoir ‘Kasher in the Rye,’ talks about his experience through childhood growing up with deaf parents and the mixed emotions of independence, embarrassment, and rage that came with it. Mayim and Moshe explore the idea of the chicken and the egg when it came to his therapy early in life; whether he was exposed to therapy because of exhibited behaviors or whether that exposure fed into those behaviors. We close the episode by coming full circle with a callback to Rick Doblin’s MAPS and the idea that the only way to truly heal from trauma is to go back through it."
Listen on Apple Podcast: Moshe Kasher: Nature vs Nurture, Growing up CODA, and Rebuilding Trust.
Kaiser Permanente has a website dedicated to the need for trauma-informed care in schools. The website provides information on the original ACEs study as well as information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Harvard Unversity Center on the Developing Child, and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support to mention only a few. From their website:
"Given just how common childhood adversity and toxic stress are, it’s important that schools develop universal trauma-informed principles in their educational spaces and structures to reduce overall exposure to adversity and enhance resilience for both children and adults. All school personnel can be trained to understand “disruptive” behaviors and school difficulties as possible symptoms of toxic stress and to respond with compassionate, protective interventions rather than punitive actions."
To continue reading the article: Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools