Trauma Out Of Time

It is only fairly recently that the idea of transgenerational recovery has made its way into therapeutic fields. The critical need to look back, in order to move forward intelligently, consciously and innovatively, is becoming more apparent. Simply, we can say that in utero and in childhood, a child receives a certain number of messages. A child receives a role expectation that she will fulfill or avoid — projected on to her are incomplete wishes or goals of the lineage, emotional temperament, and cultural scripts — designing a future wrapped up in a weighty and somatic unspoken language that many times becomes a burden. This is what ‘programs’ the child. Her future will be entirely based on the full configuration of the family context — both said and unsaid.

What does a body do with this unspoken ‘programmed’ input? Christian Flèche, French author of The Biogenealogy Sourcebook, writes, “Everything that does not rise into consciousness comes back as destiny and it comes back as a symptom, as an illness, as an accident, as a failure, as a discomfort; and everything that rises into consciousness no longer comes back as destiny, as fate, as illness!”

Flèche expounds on the idea that an unexpressed, unconscious experience or internalized conflict finds meaning in symptoms. “If I am without an immediately satisfying solution and {this} emotion does not get expressed, this sense perception becomes a biological felt sense: ‘Its undigestible’ (which would affect the stomach); ‘its suffocating’ (which would affect the lungs); ‘dismantling’ (bones); ‘disgusting’ (colon); ‘a breakdown’ (kidney).”

Neuroscientist Dr. Robert Scaer, author of The Body Bears the Burden, validates the critical importance of discharging freeze response in order to complete an experience. The freeze response is the biological reaction that happens in the brain and body when an overwhelming fearful event is not addressed or relieved. Also called the biology of survival, fear causes our body to flood with endorphins, inducing a fight/flight/freeze response, facilitating survival. The dilemma of trauma is that old traumatic procedural memories are actually in the present moment and is the greatest precursor to post traumatic stress syndromes.

The freeze response occurs not only in the body, but in how we relate to our environment, and encapsulates one’s age, environment, maturity, the cycle of seasons, altitude, latitude, etc. We literally freeze in time and space – allowing a continuum of cause and effect. Held for many generations, trauma experienced out of time establishes somatization of DESNOS (disorders of extreme stress not otherwise specified), which can include: digestive complaints, chronic pain, cardio symptoms, alterations in systems of meaning, despair, hopelessness, and previous sustaining beliefs.

Jack Shonkoff, a Harvard pediatrician and director of the National Council on the Developing Child at Harvard University describes these [generational] physiological changes as part of a “subconscious biological memory” and says knowledge of them represents a major breakthrough: “Now we have a scientific understanding of the biology of adversity — how these bad experiences get into your body, under your skin, and into your brain.”

Ruby Gibson, ThM, is a Doctoral Candidate, international educator, author and Certified Somatic Therapist in private practice for 30 years, specializing in transgenerational healing.