Transgenerational Trauma

We are becoming familiar with PTSD, and we have no difficulty understanding the trauma of those who went through the holocaust. Now some are raising questions about what is termed secondary traumatization or transgenerational trauma, the trauma experienced by people who weren’t there, who didn’t undergo it themselves. Dan Glass, a 29-year old whose grandfather was a holocaust victim and whose father did nothing but relate his own father’s stories, has formed “Never Again Ever” a group addressing the difficulties of grandchildren of holocaust survivors. He did that after discovering that he wasn’t alone in feeling the heavy burden the role of the holocaust had left in his family. What researchers are looking into is not only the role of trauma in second and third generations, but realizing that it is not only the holocaust. The children and grandchildren of victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who also have endured similar traumas are affected. And if the theory holds, they think, then what about other genocides like Armenia? What about the transgenerational burden of African and Native Americans regarding how their ancestors were treated in the United States? Wouldn’t it explain much about the status of contemporary race relations?
One obvious issue this raises is how to handle this phenomena and what to do about it. Dan Glass’s group suggests switching from melancholic memorialisation to positive action which include mental health treatment and a kind of campaigning to make it better known. That is much like what the survivors of Hiroshima are doing in hope that the lessons learned from the trauma aren’t forgotten.
War and violence have long arms. Let’s hope that such ideas as transgenerational traumas whether they end up part of our everyday vocabulary or not, become incentives to think about the consequences of war and other acts of violence.