Hello Everyone and Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas),
Since my last post, I have been on Thom Hartmann's radio show in Portland, Oregon, which was really fun, since I got to speak for over an hour about Christmas depression. Then, an evening lecture at the New Renaissance Book Store in Portland. I'll be back in Portland, April 9-11, 2009, again on Thom Hartmann's show (April 10th) at the New Renaissance, April 9th, and speaking on Native American Health Disparities, Friday evening and all day Saturday.
Now I'm in Hawai'i. I got to sit at my new desk at Argosy University on Monday, which was fun, and I went surfing today, which was intimidating. I finished my new book, Narrative Psychiatry: healing mind and brain in a social world, and sent it to the publisher. I also got my papers graded for my last class at the University of Saskatchewan.
Today, I'm working on a book chapter about healing intergenerational trauma. I'm reflecting upon how children absorb the impact that events have upon their parents without ever having to experience these events. Residential schools had that impact. Generations of children who never attended residential school got the full impact through their parents. How does that happen? We learn the stories that our parents tell. We learn to perceive the world in this way. We then react to the world in this way and that resets our physiology.
Here's the abstract for the article:
Trauma to indigenous people has been more the exception than the rule during the era of colonization. Entire cultures were virtually decimated by disease (smallpox, hepatitis A, etc.) and forced to accept one sided treaties to avoid starvation. This phenomenon frequently occurs among Aboriginal populations who were forced to endure forced assimilation at the hands of European settlers. Among the British-derived colonies turned nations, the residential school phenomenon forged new waves of abuse that are still reverberating. The introduction of residential schools in the late 1800s emphasized the suppression of Aboriginal culture and institutionalized intergenerational trauma. The residential school experience led to increased feelings of fear, anxiety, helplessness, and increased maladaptive behaviors related to alcoholism, family discord, and high suicide rates (Bryant-Davis, 2007; Duran, 2006).
The concept of inter-generational trauma relates to trauma that is inflicted upon a subsequent generation by the behaviors engendered by the effects of trauma on the older generation. Intergenerational trauma results in the transferring of emotions related to a traumatic experience from one generation to another. This trauma can be direct through parents re-enacting the abuse they received upon their children. It can be indirect through the transmission of an expectation for being traumatized and behavior patterns that result from trauma without directly abusing the child. In this chapter, we will consider how inter-generational trauma arises, persists, and will ask how it has been healed and it can be further healed in aboriginal environments in North America and around the world.