Hidden Burdens: a Review of Intergenerational, Historical and Complex Trauma, Implications for Indigenous Families
Drawing on decades of work as allies with Indigenous families and communities in Canada, the authors present a review of literature on intergenerational, historical trauma and the effects of early trauma. Included in the review are critical considerations as to whether understanding of stressed human capacity, as described by family members of various generations affected by traumatic events, may be increased through exploring the developmental implications of complex trauma. Research on brain-based effects of early trauma and work from the field of epigenetics may contribute other components to the understanding of complex, intergenerational impacts of multiple trauma contexts. Informed support for individuals and families combined with political advocacy at a systems level is critical in intergenerational trauma work in order to break historic patterns affecting family development and interactions.
KeywordsIntergenerational Historical trauma Complex trauma Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) Residential schools Aboriginal
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.
Conflict of Interest
All authors declare that they have no competing interests.
- Anda, R. F., Felitt, V. J., Bremner, J. D., Walker, J., Whitfield, C., Perry, B. D., & Giles, W. H. (2006). The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood: a convergence of evidence from neurobiology and epidemiology. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 256(3), 174–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Archibald, L. (2006). Decolonization and healing: Indigenous experiences in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Greenland. Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation.Google Scholar
- Assembly of First Nations. (1994). Breaking the silence: An interpretive study of residential school impact and healing as illustrated by the stories of First Nations individuals. Ottawa: First Nations Health Commission.Google Scholar
- Bar-On, D. (1996). Attempting to overcome the intergenerational transmission of trauma: Dialogue between descendents of victims and perpetrators. In R. Apfel & B. Simon (Eds.), Minefields in their hearts: The mental health of children in war and communal violence (pp. 165–188). New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Blaze, J, Asok, A., Roth, T.L. (2015). The long term impact of adverse caregiving environments on epigenetic modifications and telemeres. Frontiers in BehavioralNeuroscience, 9(79). doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00079.
- Bremner, J.D. (2002). The lasting effects of psychological trauma on memory and the hippocampus. Retrieved from http://www.lawand psychiatry.com/html/hippocampus.htm.
- Briere, J. (2005). New frontiers in trauma treatment. Conference proceedings. Richmond: Jack Hirose & Associates Inc.Google Scholar
- Briere, J., & Scott, C. (2006). Principles of trauma treatment: A guide to symptoms, evaluations, and treatment. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
- Bright, C. (2008). Working with adolescent trauma survivors. Retrieved from www.hhs.gov/Opa/…/working_withadol_trauma_survivors.pptx.
- Chrisjohn, R., Young, S., & Maraun, M. (1997). The circle game. Penticton: Theytus Books Ltd.Google Scholar
- Corrado, R. R., & Cohen, I. M. (2003). Mental health profiles for a sample of British Columbia’s Aboriginal survivors of the Canadian residential school system. Ottawa: The Aboriginal Healing Foundation.Google Scholar
- Duran, E., & Duran, B. (1995). Native American postcolonial psychology. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Evans-Campbell, T., & Walters, K. L. (2006). Indigenes practice competencies in child welfare practice: A decolonizing framework to address family violence and substance abuse among First Nations people. In R. Fong, R. McRoy, & C. Ortiz Hendricks (Eds.), Intersecting child welfare, substance abuse, and family violence: Culturally competent approaches (pp. 266–290). Washington: CSWE Press.Google Scholar
- Feehan, M. (1996). Stories of healing from Native Indian residential school abuse. (Master’s thesis, University of Victoria, 1996). ProQuest Digital Dissertations, AAT MQ21907.Google Scholar
- Glavin, T. (2002). Amongst God’s own: The enduring legacy of St. Mary’s Mission. Mission, BC: Mission Indian Friendship Centre, Longhouse Publishing.Google Scholar
- Grant, A. (1996). No End of Grief: Indian Residential Schools in Canada. Toronto: Pemmican Publications Inc.Google Scholar
- Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and recovery. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Jaine, L. (1993). Residential schools: The stolen years. Saskatoon: University Extension Press, University of Saskatchewan.Google Scholar
- Kellerman, N. P. F. (2013). Epigenetic transmission of Holocaust Trauma: can nightmares be Inherited? Israel Journal of Psychiatry Related Science, 50(1), 33–39.Google Scholar
- Kinniburgh, K., Blaustein, M., Spinazzola J., & van der Kolk, B. (2005). Attachment, self-regulation & competency. Psychiatric Annals, 35(5), 424–430.Google Scholar
- Kinnon, D. (2002). Improving population health, health promotion, disease prevention and health protection services and programs for Aboriginal People. Ottawa: National Aboriginal Health Organization.Google Scholar
- Klorer, P. G. (2008). Expressive therapy for maltreatment and attachment disorders: A Neuroscience framework. In C. A. Malchiodi (Ed.), Creative interventions with traumatized children (pp. 43–61). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Koenen, K. C., Stellman, S. D., Dohrenwend, B. P., Sommer, J. F., & Stellman, J. M. (2007). The consistency of combat exposure reporting and course of PTSD in Vietnam War veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 20, 3–13. doi: 10.1002/jts.20191.
- Lester, P., Wong, S. W., & Hendren, R. L. (2003). The neurobiological effects of trauma. In L. T. Flaherty (Ed.), Adolescent psychiatry: Developmental and clinical studies (pp. 259–282). New Jersey: Analytic Press, Inc.Google Scholar
- Meaney, M. J., & Szyf, M. (2005). Environmental programming of stress responses through DNA methylation: life at the interface between a dynamic environment and fixed genome. Dialogues Clinical Neuroscience, 7, 103–123.Google Scholar
- Menzies, P. (2010). Intergenerational trauma from a mental health perspective. Native Social Work Journal, 7, 63–85.Google Scholar
- Mussell, B., Cardiff, K., & White, J. (2004). The mental health and well-being of Aboriginal children and youth: Guidance for new approaches and services. Chilliwack: Sal’i’shan Institute.Google Scholar
- Ogden, P., Minton, K., & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the body. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.Google Scholar
- Pier, P. (1998). An exploratory study of community trauma and culturally responsive counselling with Chamorro clients. Dissertations Abstracts International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences, (AAT 9841910).Google Scholar
- Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP). (1996). Report of the royal commission Aboriginal peoples Volume 1: Looking forward, looking back. Ottawa, ON: Canada Communication Group-Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscandada.gc.ca/webarchives/20071124125216/http://www.ainc.inac.gc.ca/ch/rcap/sg/sg1_e.html.
- Saakvitne, K., & Pearlman, L. (1996). Transforming the pain: A workbook on vicarious traumatization. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.Google Scholar
- Schore, A. N. (2012). The science and art of psychotherapy. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative content analysis in practice. London: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
- Sipahi, L., Wildman, D. E., Aiello, A. E., Koenen, K. C., Galea, S., Abbas, A., & Uddin, M. (2014). Longitudinal epigenetic variation of DNA methyltransferase genes is associated with vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological Medicine, 44(3165), 3179. doi: 10.1017/S0033291714000968.Google Scholar
- Smith, D., Edwards, N., Varcoe, C., Martens, P., & Davies B. (2006). Bringing safety and responsiveness into the forefront of care for pregnant and parenting aboriginal people. Advances in Nursing Science, 29(2), E27-E44. Retrieved from MEDLINE with Full Text Database.Google Scholar
- Stern, Z. (1995). The experience of parenthood among children of Holocaust survivors reworking a traumatic legacy. Ann Arbour: UMI Dissertation Services.Google Scholar
- Tafoya, N., & Del Vecchio, A. (1996). Back to the future: An examination of the Native American holocaust experience. In M. McGoldrick & J. Giordano (Eds.), Ethnicity and family therapy (2nd ed., pp. 45–54). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Teicher, M. (2000). Wounds that time wouldn’t heal: the neurobiology of childhood abuse. Cerebrum, 2, 50–67.Google Scholar
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (2015). Truth and reconciliation commission of Canada: Calls to action. Winnipeg: TRC.Google Scholar
- van der Kolk, B. (1996). Trauma memory. History of trauma in psychiatry. In B. Van der Kolk, A. McFarlane, & L. Weisaeth (Eds.), Traumatic stress: The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society (pp. 279–302). New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- van der Kolk, B., Pynoos, R. S., Cicchetti, D., Cloitre, M., D’Adrea, W., Ford, & Teicher, M. (2009). Proposal to include a developmental trauma disorder diagnosis for children and adolescents in DSM-V. Brookline: The Trauma Center.Google Scholar
- Waldram, J., Herring, D., & Young, K. (2007). Aboriginal Health in Canada (2nd ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
- Wesley-Esquimaux, C. C., & Smolewski, M. (2004). Historic trauma and Aboriginal healing. Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation.Google Scholar