Four generations ago, in the early thirties, a misfortune happened in my family: my great-grandmother, then a young woman, drowned. And in each subsequent generation – and there are already four of them – children are sent to learn to swim. What looks like a healthy tradition is an echo of a long-standing family trauma.
Genus history affects us, whether we like it or not. It is impossible to exist only in the present moment, because all life, including human life, is woven from cause-and-effect relationships. The past affects the present. There is no future yet, but the present and the past can determine its scenarios.
Sometimes, even before birth, the burden of parental expectations falls on the child. Maurice Poro’s book Replacement Child describes the phenomenon of babies being born to “take the place” of a previously deceased sibling. Salvador Dali was born after the death of his parents’ first child. “I had to prove to myself that I am not my dead brother, but myself – alive,” the artist wrote.
The child is influenced by the emotional state and health of the mother during pregnancy, not to mention genetics, which transmit a lot. When we are born, we invade the family system, significantly changing it.
A meeting from the hospital in many families is a solemn event for which all relatives gather. This becomes the ritual of accepting a new member. Each of the loved ones places certain hopes on him or, conversely, projects negative expectations.
Psychiatrists Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and others investigated the mechanisms of the unconscious transmission of family psychological “heritage”. By bringing these problems to a conscious level and working through them, a person can change the scenarios received from the family.
Psychologist, gestalt therapist Natalya Abalmasova notes: “Every family has its own myths and values, unspoken instructions regarding lifestyle, professional activities, life choices. Family values and support can be a great resource for a person, but they can also limit their individual growth.
The family system affects its members significantly and sometimes implicitly. It can be difficult and fraught with the loss of family belonging to her in defiance of her, to risk violating accepted norms. For example, in the family of hereditary doctors, a young man who has chosen the profession of a cook may meet with harsh condemnation.
Or, if the family believes in the myth “we are heroes,” it is considered worthy to “burn at work”, be sure to conquer mountain peaks or jump with a parachute. And if a person is not ready in the process of performing labor exploits right from the office to leave by ambulance, then among his relatives he will be considered a weakling and an extra link.
Or, certain feelings may be prohibited in the family – for example, one should not be sad or angry. And then a person is forced to “put on a smile” in the circle of relatives and artificially switch to fun, when there is sadness in his soul ”.
In some cases, the historical situation affects a huge number of families, and then we can talk about the trauma of generations. You can read more about this from the psychologist Lyudmila Petranovskaya. Explaining how causal relationships work here, she gives the following example. During the period of great upheavals at the beginning of the 20th century, many families in our country experienced famine – this is a serious trauma.
Their children read their parents’ anxiety, the topic of food for them was linked to fear and stress. And the next generation was faced with the fact that they were “fed”, sometimes reaching the point of violence. Children resisted the pressure, grew up and became capricious and picky in their choice of dishes. And then their young children could hear from their parents that they were eating too much and would get fat. This is an echo of a trauma passed down unconsciously through generations.
“Stick to the roots”
Just as the root system allows the tree to remain stable, so knowledge of the origin can give a person a sense of support. We are social creatures, and the closest part of society to us is the family.
Knowledge of ancestors can provide a sense of belonging, which is very important for self-identification. In any family, there were those who are worth being proud of, and this can be encouraging. Ancestor errors when judged intelligently can indicate what to avoid. And knowing about hereditary diseases and patterns will help you take care of your mental and physical health.
“The influence of the clan, the family on the individual in a traditional society for centuries was very strong, decisive,” adds Natalya Abalmasova. – Gradually, this influence and connections weakened, and today individualistic tendencies dominate.
The family hierarchy has also undergone significant changes; modern parents listen to the opinion of children as equal family members. And in the field of digital technologies, we have a unique situation where the younger generation is often more competent and knowledge is passed from the younger to the older, and not vice versa. “
From the photographs on the wall, those whose role in my life was really important are looking at me. Ancestors live in me with bright memories or grievances, words of support or silence. They appear in the shape of the nose and hair color. And they give the feeling that behind me are many generations of those who, just like me, lived, searched, loved and left something in this world after themselves.