“I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there were an impersonal Karma within a family, which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to … compete or perhaps continue things which previous ages had left unfinished.”
– Carl Jung
Throughout history individuals have been plagued with psychological and mental problems: depression, phobias, chronic pain, anxiety, obsessive thoughts and behaviors. In spite of efforts to deal with these obstacles, it is unlikely that they found relief, resigning themselves to comparisons with older relatives. “I’m depressed just like my mother!” “Grandpa was obsessive about many things, I’m just like him!” “I’m a victim of my genes.!” They lived out their lives thinking that nothing could be done to resolve their afflictions, feeling damaged, abnormal, and inadequate.
In recent years, leading experts in neuroscience and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have advanced the theory that some stubborn psychological problems have their roots in the traumas of our parents, grandparents, and a long line of ancestors. Inherited family trauma and inherited emotions promote the concept that trauma can be transmitted from the first generation to second and later generations. This theory is bolstered by the study of epigenetics, a term first introduced in 1942. Epigenetics is the study of the change in DNA expression without changing the structure of the DNA. According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, researcher and cell biologist, “The environment in which the cells live control the genes.”
A recent article in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry relates the story of a research study led by Dr. Rachel Yehuda, director of Mt. Sinai’s Traumatic Stress Division. Dr. Yehuda and her team interviewed and drew blood from 32 sets of Holocaust parents who suffered trauma by being interned in a Nazi concentration camp, witnessed or experienced torture, or who had to go into hiding during World War II. They also interviewed and drew blood from the children of these survivors.
Researchers were specifically investigating the FKBP5 gene, a gene that contributes to depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The parents’ FKBP5 genes all had a change in the chemical marker of the gene, not in the gene itself. This is an example of an epigenetic alteration in which environment changed the expression of the gene without changing its structure. Dr. Lipton compares DNA to a set of blueprints. A contractor can read the blueprints and make changes. In epigenetics, we are the contractor and we control how our cells read our genes.
These epigenetic changes to the FKBP5 genes of the Holocaust survivors were also found in the children of the survivors. The implications of these findings show that life experiences modified the body chemistry of the parents, leaving an imprint on the genetic material in sperm and eggs. These modifications were transmitted to their children at the moment of conception. Along with the body chemistry modifications, the emotional energies corresponding to the parents’ life experiences were also transmitted. It should be noted here that during the interviews of the children of the survivors, they were screened to insure that they did not have horrible or adverse circumstances in their own backgrounds that could affect their results.
The study on Holocaust survivors and their children was a small study; however, similar results were found in other studies. Dr. Yehuda and her team organized a longitudinal study of pregnant women who were at or near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Thirty-eight women were chosen to take part in the study. Researchers took saliva samples and measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They then followed these women to determine which ones would develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those women who did develop PTSD had noticeably lower cortisol levels than those women who had not developed PTSD.
A year later, after all the women had delivered their babies, researchers measured cortisol levels in all the children. Those babies born to women with PTSD had lower levels of the hormone than babies of mothers without PTSD. Children of mothers with PTSD in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, showed the most significant changes in cortisol levels.
Yehuda’s research team followed these children of women traumatized by the World Trade Center collapse. When shown disturbing stimuli, the children demonstrated an increased distress response. Those children who exhibited the greatest stress response were those children born to mothers with PTSD who were in later months of pregnancy at the time of the bombings. So, children can inherit a parent’s red hair, blue eyes, or a cleft chin, but they can also inherit emotional energies from their parents.
Scientists have done hundreds of studies on the subject of inherited trauma, not only Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, but, also on survivors of hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Studies have also been done on survivors of the Rwandan genocide and other such atrocities. One study examined data from the Civil War to compare longevity of male children of POW survivors to sons of Civil War veterans who were not Prisoners of War. In spite of the numerous studies that have been done, paradigm shifts among members of the scientific community come about slowly. So it is with epigenetics, inherited trauma and inherited emotions.
We are still living in a world based on Newtonian physics where matter and the physical are primary. Doctors view the body as a splendid machine which is controlled by the brain and the peripheral nervous system, a machine made out of chemicals and controlled by our genes. According to Newtonian physics, we are victims of our genes.
A new paradigm is on the horizon. A change in the understanding of the dynamics within the body has come about by the discovery of Quantum Physics. For many years, atoms were viewed as a physical structure. When quantum physicists wanted to find out what the atom was made of they were surprised by what they found. They expected to find physical particles but discovered that the atom was made of vibrational energy. If matter is made out of energy, then everything in the universe is made out of energy. Thus, it becomes important to understand that energy is very powerful in influencing what we call matter.
Concepts of Newtonian physics state that matter can only be influenced by other matter. Quantum physics states that matter can be influenced by invisible energy fields. It views the body as an organization of intricate energy fields that interact upon physical and cellular systems. Therefore, a new kind of healing is available to us using energy vibration rather than physical chemicals.
Our bodies respond to positive thoughts and a perception of life filled with love and acceptance. Dr. Lipton states, “The moment you change your perception is the moment you rewrite the chemistry in your body………. If the perception in your mind is reflected in the chemistry of your body, and if your nervous system reads and interprets the environment and then controls the blood’s chemistry, then you can literally change the fate of your cells by altering your thoughts.”
At the same time, our health improves every time a negative emotion, a heart wall, or negative frequencies from our ancestors are released. In short, increasing the positive environment and reducing negative frequencies in the body increases health and well-being. However, if we have subconscious programming in the form of inherited emotions from our parents and ancestors, we may have some counter-productive dynamics influencing our future, our goals, our potential, and our health.
One example in my own life supports the theory of inherited trauma and negative emotional frequencies. My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Clem, grew up in Switzerland, one of the oldest in a family that eventually included fourteen children. Times were hard and they were very poor.
At the age of fourteen, Grandpa, accompanied by his thirteen-year old sister, were sent to the United States by their parents. Grandpa spoke no English. He went to work at a very early age delivering milk in the City of New York.
Homesickness was always uppermost on Grandpa’s mind. He missed his parents, his homeland, and his siblings desperately. Returning home to Switzerland was not an option. He and younger sister Amelia were in the United States because his parents were too poor to feed everyone in their large family.
I’m surmising that many of those trapped emotions settled in the upper part of his torso around his heart and lung area. He died at the age of 72 of pneumonia having suffered for several years with congestive heart failure. Grandpa’s sadness and feelings of abandonment were passed down to some of his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great great-grandchildren.
I watched my mother deal with feelings of abandonment when my older siblings began leaving home. Night after night she would sequester herself in a bedroom as she wrote letters to them, sobbing uncontrollably for hours. She died of congestive heart failure at the age of 90.
I was afflicted with these same feelings of abandonment and they surfaced frequently throughout my life. As an insecure six year old, I started first grade never having been away from home without my mother. The day that I started school, I said good-by to my dad who was being sent away to a hospital 200 miles away. I did not know if I would ever see him again. The terror and fear of a six year old who thought she might never see her father again plagued me throughout life, far into adulthood.
As older siblings left home the abandonment surfaced. As a high school graduate, the thought of leaving home to go to college was entirely too frightening, even if the college was less than two hours away. Parting with my own children as they moved out of state brought on waves of grief and hysterical sobbing that lasted for days. I married a man who lived only sixteen miles away from my parent’s home. No doubt, inherited emotions of abandonment came into play when I made the decision to marry. Some of my own children and grandchildren displayed similar evidence of inherited emotions of abandonment.
Grandpa Clem’s experience of being sent to a different country at the age of fourteen was an extremely stressful and overwhelming situation that was life altering. He did a remarkable job of coping: looking after his younger sister, securing employment and lodging, learning English, and saving money to come out West. Grandpa did eventually move out West, obtained land, married my grandmother and raised a large family. Two of their children died in infancy. Grandpa never had the opportunity to full resolve the grief he felt over leaving his parents and homeland, nor the grief over losing two children.
Over a period of several years, Grandpa was able to help eight of his siblings come to the United States. He devoted his entire life to his family. Grandpa was resourceful, he had a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty to family, he lived his life with a tremendous amount of courage and determination, and showed true grit when money was tight and spirits were low.
My job as his descendant is twofold: recognize and release emotions I inherited from him and acknowledge with gratitude the positive traits that I inherited as well. I am grateful to have had a grandfather with such strong character traits. I am also grateful for the Body Code. I have worked on clearing this inherited emotion and have noticed a peace whenever I have to part with a loved one for any length of time.
Do you identify with a family member or their story? Have you ever “overreacted” in a situation and wondered where those intense emotions originated? Do you have puzzling psychological problems? Could you be reliving an ancestor’s trauma as if it were your own?
Your subconscious mind will guide you in your efforts to heal. Consider consulting a body code practitioner to get to the root of the problem. What you heal within yourself benefits you physically and emotionally as well as your relationships with everyone in your immediate circle. When you release an inherited emotion you are insuring that your children will not inherit it, benefitting not only your own children, but, generations to come! May God guide you on your healing journey!