I’m going to share something that might seem a little “woo-woo,” but I believe in it wholeheartedly and find it fascinating…
Yesterday, my therapist and I were talking about trauma and how it affects not only the person who lived through it, but also their children. And not just in the way you might think. A traumatized parent doesn’t just teach their children to be fearful through their words and actions. Children of traumatized parents are actually born with fear inside their DNA.
In 2013, a study was published in which scientists trained male rats to become fearful of a smell by pairing exposure to the smell with an electrical shock. Later, they ran an experiment on the offspring of these male rats and found that the babies were also afraid of the smell even though they had never been previously exposed to it. Not only that, but they were also born with more neurons in their noses and more brain space devoted to detecting that particular scent.
The implications of this are widespread and, to be honest, frightening. This means that I am not only dealing with fears and anxiety related to my own trauma, I am also dealing with the results of trauma passed down to me by my parents. This is shocking enough on it’s own, but last night my therapist told me that the woman who pioneered a method of brainspotting dedicated to generational trauma has discovered that trauma—and the healing of trauma—does not only affect the future, it can also affect the past.
(This is where it’s going to get really woo-woo.)
She shared the story of a client she’d been working with who suddenly broke into heart-wrenching sobs and kept repeating “This isn’t mine. I don’t know how to explain this, but this sadness isn’t mine.” My therapist then explained to her how generational trauma works and asked her to stay with the experience and tell her what she was thinking and feeling and allow herself to feel it. As the client continued to sob, she started seeing visions of bombs exploding and people running and realized she was in Germany during the war. As it turns out, the memories belonged to her grandmother. But the most incredible thing? As the granddaughter began the work of healing, the grandmother (who suffered from extreme depression and PTSD) also began to heal.
The idea that the healing of one generation could affect the trauma of a past generation sounds crazy, right? But many of those who have spent their lives working with this type of trauma have seen this multi-generational healing take place time and time again. They have seen entire families become healed from disfunction on both sides of the family tree when just a single member of that family heals. And if that seems too crazy to be true, consider this: in an experiment called The Double Slit Experiment, scientists have found that the simple act of observing something changes it. If that weren’t fascinating enough, it was also discovered that this change happens regardless of when the observation takes place. In other words, even if the detection happens AFTER the event, the mere act of observation changes the results.
There are energies that govern this Universe we cannot begin to understand. We are all connected.