I am reading The Survivors: A Story of War, Inheritance and Healing by Adam Frankel. A former Obama speechwriter takes us through his emotional journey of who he is, where he came from, and how the trauma of the Holocaust alters generations to come.
Frankel digs deep to find research around children of trauma victims. How does that trauma pass down from grandparents to grandchildren? Many people have wondered whether the children of Holocaust survivors have mental health problems, Dr. Yael Daniele who began research on inter-generational trauma, said “For me, it was never a question of whether. It is a question of who, how and how intensely.” Next generations embrace life as victims.
Epigenetics is the changing of the DNA in our body through expression. Children of Holocaust survivors have low levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in their bodies. It is tied to PTSD, chronic pain and fatigues systems. The offspring are exposed to this traumatic event not by living it but through osmosis.
Pregnant birds that have high predation habits are likely to be prey. The mothers inject their eggs with corticosterone, bird cortisol so that the birds will be more fearful, and more cautious to survive. Kids who are shy and inhibited growing up in violent neighborhoods tend to be the most successful because they fear taking risks growing up. In their case it makes sense. Rats who lick their pups less frequently product pups who are more fearful and wary.
Frankel’s writing is raw as he tries to uncover himself through his past. He wants the trauma to stop with him
Epigenetics is fascinating. We are still continuing to evolve so as the world changes so, do we. Our DNA works. It takes time to prove the model and supposedly takes four generations. But if you look around knowing people who grew up with any type of trauma in their family past, you can absolutely connect the dots.