How Does Trauma Affect a Person’s Interaction with Their Child?

Trauma can change the brain . . .

. . . but the person who experienced the trauma may not be the only one whose brain changes.

In the video below, Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD describes what we’re discovering about the connections between a parent’s trauma and their child’s developing brain.

Take a look – it’s about 4 minutes.

How have you seen trauma affect a person’s interaction with their child? Please leave a comment below.

For information on how to help clients reclaim what’s been lost to trauma, please click here.


Please Leave A Comment



  1. Yes, I’ve seen it; my mother, who died in 1991, crushed me psychologically and also almost strangled me to death when I was 7. I thought I was dying.
    She died age 67 and two years before that shared with how she had had traumatic and abusive experiences herself around the age 11 to 13.
    She said it was the first time she had spoken about them.
    I’m almost 67 myself now and am fortunately working through the horrors I went through.

    Robert Lingley
    Colchester in the UK

  2. Kerry says:

    I grew up w/ a mother that was abused as a child & therefor had trouble attaching to my needs. I also had a father who was abused by the church when he was an aged boy- so that affected his maturity as well. My 2 (7 yrs old than me & identical twins) brothers were extremely abusive to me as well.
    I’d like to know where I might go to uncover what state my brain is in, in terms of processing emotions etc, I do feel I’m at a disadvantage to my peers when it comes to processing things like: social events, deep connections & many other situations.
    Thanks for any direction.

    Sincerely, Kerry
    (I live just outside chicago il.)

  3. my family would always like to go on ski holidays because it is very enjoyable::

  4. phumelela says:

    great stuff to date scientific info

  5. Mike kelly says:

    Truamatic experience ,especially forgotten ones from when child acts out. Parent goe’s into a rage because child brings memory back of trauma. Parent unknowinly react to behavior. It is their own hurt in which child brings out

  6. I have seen patients total disengage from their children and enter a cycle of addiction, homelessness, and mental health crises that lead to intermittent psychiatric hospitalizations and more permanent dysfunction as time progresses.

  7. Yes, I have experienced with with my mother, how she reacts and responds to things is heightened and how she is affected me. I feel she has a difficulty regulating her emotions and being close physically and emotionally and trusting a bond and relying on it. Her tendency is to control in relationships and need to be in charge. I feel she as well as trauma did not have probably a secure attachment with a parent and this was passed down to me and I have needed to heal, learn and grow in many ways.

  8. Debbie says:

    I ‘ ve seen three generation of women hurting each other due to their circumstances. The adolescent that I was trying too help was developing a behavior and used drug during parties after work. Her mother decided to cut off the disruptive relationship. My client did not get along with her step father. Recently she became pregnant. Without any skills she is unable to care for her baby daughter. I was surprised by how fast trauma can spread in such a relative short time.

  9. Cynthia Sharp says:

    How does a parents childhood trauma affect how they parent their adopted child who also comes to you with developmental trauma? How does a teachers childhood trauma effect how the teacher responds to a child in their classroom who has been impacted by developmental trauma? When a child comes to you who was in toxic stress, profound neglect, for the first 3 years of development what lens are looking through? These are all questions professionals need to ask when staring the journey in wanting to help this child. Perhaps you, the adult needs to heal first. Re-traumatization looks like many of the disorders in the DSM. Can we as adults ask the hard questions? Are we helping this child or are we sending them on a path of mental illness?

  10. Rebecca Goodrich says:

    I was aware that I wasn’t able to connect with my children the way I wanted to, that I was at an emotional remove much of the time. Motherhood was difficult. Additional to my own trauma burden was the sheer number of hours per day necessary to keep the family fed and clothed and washed and supervised, on top of too little sleep nearly every day, was a dangerous combination to my physical and emotional health.

    I was happy that I did keep them fed and clothed, and that I wasn’t a drug addict as my mother had been, that I hadn’t neglected to feed them, and was good about giving them books and clothes, and some wide variety of experiences.

    Trauma is generational, and I did achieve improvement over my mother’s parenting of me, in which I had been taking care of her and taking care of my younger brother and sister. I’m not a narcissist, either, thank God, and rather than imitating my mother’s demanding and high-volume, anxious self-centeredness, I erred to the other side of the spectrum.So glad to know that many therapies exist now to help people regain their joy in life, and glad I’ve taken advantage of some. I hope my children someday improve themselves with good, brain-based modalities.

    • Suzy says:

      Thank you Ruth, Ruth.and Rebecca
      Im beginning to put the pieces together…
      Buried childhood trauma
      It feels good to let the pain go….
      Thank you

  11. Carolyn Martin, LISW says:

    I see mother’s responding with hypervigilance or overraction to mildly distressing situations or shutting down amd giving little to no response when one is warranted. Also, in my experience of practice they often have issues with transferance and projecting their childhood experiences on to the unrelated experiences of their children.

  12. Prithwiraj Sinha says:

    I have noticed a child who didn’t receive much love and attention from his / her mother do not tend to form relationship easily.

  13. Mary says:

    I am in my 40’s and kind of isolated from everyone. just can’t get along. It has always been hard for me to stick to a one group, like family. Always disliked being seen. But gets better with practice. In many ways it is no doubt any kind of external support like this one is really appreciated because if it’s richness. Thank you again.

  14. Marsha says:

    Hi Ruth, thank you for setting this blog. It is the most interesting I have participated to. I really enjoy the sharing.

  15. Kristin says:

    As a parent who suffered deeply traumatic experiences between child number two and child number three, I can say that I was a very, very different mother to child number three, alternating between checked out and dissociated to extremely anxious and bypervigilant. My eleven-year-old daughter bears those scars. While I am biologically, cognitively nor psychologically the same person as before, with intensive treatment I am improved. I don’t need the neuroscience to validate the effects of trauma on my child to know its impact, but the evidence is deeply validating.

  16. Susan D. Gorman, MA, SEP says:

    Yes, I have seen parental childhood developmental trauma affect our grandchildren, the lives of my AL-Anon friends, and personally because I experienced chronic, violent trauma at the hands of several abusers in my family of origin. My practice is with the 12-Step program of AL-Anon for families and friends of alcoholics; I have been a faithful member in recovery for more three decades as I have lived my own life successfully “on the outside,” yet having amnesia over most of my childhood. When I began the Somatic Experiencing training in December 2014 after an EF 4 Tornado destroyed our home and our daughter’s home on November 17, 2013, I have found a new pathway of service to help other trauma survivors heal, grow, and thrive through post-trauma growth. I graduated in September of 2017 in San Diego, CA as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and I have finished one four-day module of the Integral Somatic Psychology 12-day certificate program. Two of our daughters are currently in the process of divorce after living with childhood trauma survivor husbands for twenty years trying to make their marriages work. There was no way because our two sons-in-law have no self awareness of their trauma and became both victims and abusers. There are five granddaughters that we are having to watch suffer now in a new way. I feel like their pain is my pain, and I am using all of my SE and AL-Anon tools to detach and to live my own life without the suffering that I am currently feeling for them. I have spent my whole life working to heal, grow, thrive and serve others. This is a particularly difficult challenge in our family right now. I am up for the challenge because of all of “the work” – reading, therapy, research, writing, crying, rising, psycho-education, and AL-Anon’s spiritual 12-step program. All of my tools help me to live each day with a sense of joy, happiness and freedom. I am currently checking into PhD programs, a goal I have had for twenty years. The closest fit so far is the Psychology and Health PhD program at Walden University. Thanks to all of you are working on post-trauma growth in the service of others as I am doing.

  17. Bev Sesink says:

    Thanks for the information provided.

    My childhood trauma – physical abuse and family dysfunction played havoc in my marriage with my wife and children. At year 7 everything started coming apart. My wife said I either go for help or … And my son was becoming like me – something I didn’t want as I didn’t like the person I was and I didn’t want him to become like me.

    So I began a long road of personal counseling and healing which overall took 10 long years off and on with various counselors. After a number of significant breakthroughs with a trusted friend and gifted counselor I came to a significant measure of wholeness which has permeated my marriage and the lives of my children.

    While I can’t change the past, sitting down individually with each of my adult children, apologizing in depth and making amends where needed as they shared the pain of their experience of me as a father, this has had profoundly positive impact on them and me.

    Now my wife and I lead an inner healing course called Freedom Session which has helped untold numbers of people to receive the needed healing much faster and in a much more systematic manner than anything I had experienced on my healing journey.

    It’s never too late to go for help and never too late to try to address the past both for your personal benefit and that of others, especially those closest to us.

    • Bev Sesink says:

      I should mention that the Freedom Session course is neither short nor easy but intense and long (30 weeks in total) but well worth the effort. It is presently primarily in Canada but now migrating into the United States. I do hope it gets needed public attention and acceptance as it is such an excellent course which we have facilitated for the past 5 years with a recent excellent update.

      • Bridget says:

        Do you have to be Christian to participate? I have a belief in God but don’t consider myself Christian.

  18. Kirsteen says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Truly fascinating and very confirming of what I have observed – where can we read more about this research on the ‘idling circuit’?

  19. L D Pratt says:

    Too emotionally reactive.

  20. Irene Marie Erckert says:

    than you for these videos. informative
    I see a client with horrible developmental complex trauma and she was unable to be there for her child as she was replaying her trauma over and over again and it was all consumin

  21. Glenda says:

    I have seen a parent get their first born taken away nd ten years later became a parent again but didn’t want to love or become too close to their second born

    • Glenda says:

      In fear of the second born to get taken away… because they feel everything that they love ,care for nd want gets taken away

  22. Christina- operating room theatre nurse- UK says:

    I wonder how a 18 month old toddler will develop now that his mum – my niece – was a victim in a recent Terror Attack in Stockholm. When he hears the doorbell he runs to the door, when mum doesn’t appear he opens cupboards and drawers and tries to find her. His grandparents help out with care so that his daddy can go to work, but there is an emptiness in the gaze of the grandparents/ parent even if they smile to him, play with him.
    This inflicted trauma spread over the whole family, everybody was affected and still is today…….how do you engage with this particular type of trauma so that live can resume and yet have purpose, meaning and fullness. Does this type of trauma affect the brain in the same way as neglect, abuse, illness?
    I wonder ……….

    • Rebecca Goodrich says:

      What helped me the most and the most quickly was EMDR, followed by DNRS. For the little one, lots of fun, and some neuro-feedback in the form of professionally programmed video games that reward calm brainwaves would help. Also, talking about the trauma would help, even with a toddler. Just because the child’s not speaking in complete sentences doesn’t mean there’s a lack of understanding of the language.

      I think it’s better to say, “I’ve been very sad, and I’m sorry I’m so sad around you, because I love you. I will get better, and things will be happier one day.” Then it’s up to parent and grand-parents to follow through and GET better and be happier.

  23. Hannah Sherebrin says:

    I heard the talk, and it is indeed relevant. Thank you for sharing these important notes.

  24. Jane McKann says:

    Our daughter-in-law was sexually abused by her father as a child. Her relationship with their daughter has been fairly hands off, as far as I have observed. Our son carried and cared for their infant all the time. He is home with PTSD from deployment in Iraq, but was not traumatized as a child. He is our 5th child, born after the sudden death of our 18 mo 4th child. So, I was traumatized as a parent for him. But I was a stay-at-home mom and was there physically for all my children. My emotional involvement was different for each child, naturally.
    Trauma is a result of living on this planet.

  25. Elaine Dolan says:

    With respect to how my mother handled herself after my initial trauma–I think she felt very remorseful and tried to make up for it–but ONLY after she realized I was quite far from intellectually- delayed. What the doctors told her was simply not true…they were hiding the part they played in my birth injury.

  26. Elaine Dolan says:

    With complex trauma, *arrested development* I am sure happens in PARTS of the brain, but in saying this- simultaneously, other parts continue to grow and do develop before during and after trauma release.

    There were two areas (at least) which have been problem-children for me….the amygdala, in the challenge of somatic recapitulations, BEFORE the many effective release modalities, in my case, ending in SE and Homeopathic meds.

    One exception to these experiences being fully processed is this bizarre *feeling like a baby* which happens seldom now because I am not required to be particularly mature or public–but rather relaxed, day to day. The baby thing is debilitatingly sudden and vulnerable when it occurs…all confidence falls off a cliff and I recognize other adults have authority, but I do not. Being short and small does not help either. I makes me speechless and afterwards, humiliated. I may have just said something brilliant and eye-opening and suddenly feel smaller and less important than a grain of sand. Smack- and I probably leave my body, dissociate.

    The second *place* which is clearly problematic is the hippocampus. This is very difficult and deeply frustrating to explain to those who have a fully functional hippocampus. Brain injury is worse than injury that you can see…people cannot relate to it. From my reading, I get that the hippocampus holds images and holds feelings of images in the mind. This function is bigger and better than most people understand.

    To manifest good things (winning in life)…we must first be able to see and feel these actions, accomplishments, acquisitions. How you *manifest what you want* is by holding that desire and image in your brain…you know…we draw into our lives what we hold in our feelings/thoughts, right? A runner doing hurdles sees herself clearing each hurdle before she does it physically.

    This manifestation function is missing in me–I close my eyes and try to think of a steaming delicious bowl of lasagna, and what do I get? BLANK FLAT COLOR. In guided meditations—big ZERO. NADA. NOTHING. My brain is the dreaded AUDITORY-DIGITAL (is that also what autism is?). So, concerning brain trauma, it made me debilitated, unable to manifest positive things and kept me chemically repeating ACTH, the negative memories somatically….pain, paranoia, anxiety, heart palpation, sense of rejection, until that was released. But now that the release is done, I still cannot visualize, even though I’m an artist! I would call that developmentally arrested in a very different way.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Elaine for articulating so much of my own experience with C-PTSD, knowing this info on which parts of the brain process feelings, body sensations & executive functions that we are learning from neuroscience is really liberating to me! It helps me to release a lot of the SHAME of having an inferior personality, or ego. Thank you NICABM for sharing the wisdom from leaders in this field.

  27. Dianna V. Luna says:

    Dr. Ruth,
    As a survival of childhood trauma and raising my children; I must say I experienced detachment. I wanted to touch my son, the touch a mother should be able to do. But I was afraid to hurt him. I believed I loved my eldest so much that I kept myself away from him for about two months of his life. Once I realized I could not hurt him, I showered him with the love he rightfully deservered.
    Thank you for this video as it allowed for reflection.
    Dianna V. Luna MFT-I

  28. Brenda Rowe says:

    Difficult to listen too. The narrator seems to be reciting from memory with cue cards. “chronic childhood trauma” doesn’t make sense, childhood doesn’t re-occur. I think the more accurate terminology would be chronic developmental trauma, or C-PTSD.

  29. Anna Rickell says:

    Parents I’ve observed may be too reactive and less able to sit back and assess what the child needs fostering a miss match between parent and child.

  30. This is wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing light on this issue. I suffered for years diagnosed with PTSD. I knew something was wrong with me but I didn’t know what it was until I was able to put my soul on paper as an author who speaks for those suffering PTSD, domestic violence aftermath, sexual abuse especially molestation. One of the main points I make is a person can only give you what he or she has. If you have been damaged by trauma, you will eventually come up short somewhere simply because of the need to survive. I really appreciate the comments on this page. We all need to communicate our journey to strengthen and encourage one another. I knew I was damaged merchandise early in life and when I had my children, so much of myself was shut down, I worked it daily within myself to not give them the worst aspects of myself but to push the better part of myself to the surface because I knew their development depended on it. In the end, I lacked for myself but they were well provided with what they needed to be amazing people.

  31. Joanna Dalton says:

    I had a traumatic brain injury aged 28. I was told I could work & I gave it my best shot, because I loved my job & wanted my life back.
    My husband & I started trying for a baby when I was 30. After 2 years of trying without success, we realized that I my menstrual cycle had completely stopped. We saw a fertility specialist who said that I was too stressed for my brain to tell my ovaries to release eggs.
    After a series of injections I became pregnant with twins which we were so happy about. Sadly I got listeriosis & the babies arrived at 28 weeks. The first survived only 6 hours, but the second is now 12 & doing well.
    However, I feel that the bond we initially had has been altered/removed & she is much closer to her dad. She grew up with a mum that was a depressive insomniac suffering neuro fatigue, who wasn’t allowed to stop work as my TBI was not recognized. I think we both suffered immensely from the lack of comprehension of TBI. I wasn’t able to stop work until an epileptic seizure in 2015, 15 years after the accident which caused my trauma.
    My daughter now has a phobia of blood & injury. She & I are seeing a psychotherapist to try to deal with it all.
    I would love our bond to be restored.

  32. Cyndi Fonda says:

    I was a child and early adult when I had severe trauma. One of the symptoms when I had my children was the lack of oxitocin for let down response for breast feeding. I had great difficulty with breast feeding both of my children, and it compounded my stress around breast feeding.

  33. Ruth says:

    As an adult child of Holocaust survivors, I didn’t realize how their experiences affected me until much later. My parents were caring and loving but we are a very “enmeshed” family. I carry a lot of guilt and anxiety. My problems were minimized and mostly it was difficult to differentiate. I didn’t realize how much anger and anxiety this caused, but there’s no doubt that my mother who had me when she was 23, just 7 yrs after losing her entire family, was carrying sadness and anxiety. my parents are so resilient that it was hard to see. But I guess I got some of that too.

  34. I’m happy there are so many comments and people who have shared this blog/video.

    I admire the work of Dr. Ruth Lanius and recent developments showing how promising neurofeedback might be for those of us with developmental trauma who are parents and advocates.

    Over at Parenting with ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) we have a group where we hope parents with ACEs and professionals who work with us (and many of us are both) can work together to strategize real and helpful supports.

    For those who find a video like this speaks about us, more than to us, it might be helpful to work together as peers, professionals and in community together. The hope is that working together outside of clinical practice helps us learn more from more diverse groups of people to learn what is and isn’t most beneficial, helpful and healing and what those of us with children and who are breaking the cycle find most challenging and helpful.

    We have a monthly chat series and rotate parents speaking and professionals sharing. It’s free for anyone wanting more insight to what parents experience, want and need.

    Chat guests next month are Parenting with PTSD anthology editors Dawn Daum and Joyelle Brandt.

    I look forward to more here on this topic from varied perspectives. It certainly a topic deserving of far more attention given what we know about the lifelong and long-term impact of ACEs and the power parents have to shift and change things for generations and generations.

  35. Alex Jones says:

    I have had the opportunity to experience this issue from both sides of the question. My mother displayed significant trauma issues herself (including dissociation) and my father was at worst, a sociopath, so there was endless trauma from infancy on. Attachment was simply a word, not an event. Sadly, I had no concrete memory of my childhood until my parents died when my children were 10 and 11. Over my 30-plus years of recovery, I have explored the ramifications to my two children, who are now parents themselves and trauma issues are an ongoing discussion. When I became a parent, I was dissociative, with chronic depression and anxiety. My attachment to my first-born son was never secure and further complicated as he got older by my automatic negative reactions to males. Because of my own trauma, I kept everyone at an emotional distance, including myself. Today my son is a loving dad who is very involved in positive ways with his two sons. But he is emotionally explosive, very much a perfectionist, suspicious of others, highly intelligent and very, very funny. My daughter was lucky enough to experience far more of my recovery and has been more open to frank discussions of trauma and its impact. So my attachment to her was more secure – but still not the best. Yet she has evolved as a wonderful, loving mother of two girls. She has an ongoing struggle with depression which she manages well and both my kids admit to having little memory of their past, or else significant issues with memory storage and later access. Both my adult children are very successful, in good relationships – but more importantly, they are very close to their own children and light years ahead of my parenting skills. I am wildly grateful to see the openness of my grandchildren, the lack of fear, the great eye contact, their ability to touch freely and hug without shame, and how easily they turn to their parents for love, assistance and comfort. None of that was present in my own childhood. When I committed to recovering from my childhood so many years ago, my sustaining motivation was to end the family pattern of abuse with my own generation so my grandchildren and great grandchildren would never know what it felt like to be unloved and abused. It is amazing how we continue to evolve as a family.
    I have worked with families and children for over 30 years, so I am very sensitive to parent/child interactions, lack of connection, trauma and attachment issues, etc. That’s another complete discussion. But most often I see an inability for parents to connect to their child’s internal emotional experience. And as truly hurt children themselves rather than as complete adults, it often becomes a demand by them for their children to meet the parents’ needs.

  36. Margaret Rose de Cruz says:

    With harshness and an inability to relate to emotions of the child. Very little soft kindness, very little affection. Sternness. I did not have a child because I treated my inner child the same way and felt I would be harsh towards my own children. Sad story.

  37. Cathy says:

    It is difficult to work with people who have had this trauma in their infant stage and upward. Especially since they do not receive the love, bonding, and attachment they needed when they were very young. They learned to smooth themselves in unhealthy coping ways. They also have learned to disassociate from reality, depend on their own unhealthy coping, and not really deal withthe world they live in today. They have minimum memories of the trauma and they are unable to rationally understand why they cannot live their life in a healthy brain. No matter how much help and therapy they receive they still at time go back to their disassociated life. I would love to be able to learn more about working with these types of clients. Thank you for this interesting topic,
    All my best,

    • Cathy,

      Please check out the National Conference on Integrating Yoga into Mental Health Care in Dallas, PA June 30-July 1st. I will be giving a presentation on working with clients in a dissociative state, which will include information on trauma and the brain and how to work with trauma survivors.

  38. Michelle R. says:

    I guess I was one of those babies…my mom was traumatized by being in the Marines at age 16. (She forged her parents’ signature) She was mentally discharged because she broke down after playing the accordion for young boys with no arms and no legs. She became an alcoholic later and by the time she had me, I would say she was suffering from PTSD and borderline personality disorder. (She was verbally and emotionally abusive). In those days, no one went to a Mental Health specialist or a psychiatrist. Very sad. I forgave her and wrote her a ‘no send’ letter after she died. I raised my son with lots and lots of love and hardly used the word ‘No’. (Only when it came to safety issues.) He’s a great kid and hopefully I broke the chain of abuse.

  39. Ilene says:

    I think trauma affects parenting in part due to the unmet needs during the parent’s childhood. If a person did not get their needs met as in abuse or neglect then they can be triggered by another being i.e. their child, needing something from them. The infant’s crying can trigger anger or dissociative symptoms in the traumatized parent.

  40. Marion houghton says:

    Very helpful.

  41. This important information adds to the growing understanding that little can be as important as supporting pregnant and new parents in order to reduce the stress and trauma they carry into the environment their children develop in. Support and therapy for those becoming parents is like preparing the earth for new plants. If you are not familiar with the research in this field, you can learn more at, the website of APPPAH, the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health.

  42. Annette says:

    Hello,My dad left my mother anfd six of us children when we were little and he wasnt much in our lives as we were children my mother;s Mother had died young leaving her brothers and sisters to be spread all over New Brunswick some with developemental issues as my Grandfather was quite cruel to her Mother and Mom had rickis,needless to say she would never have conversations with us kids she would be talking to herself in the kitchen while we where in the living berating one of us for doing something and she would beat us with my twin and I crib stick when she was angry…Anyways besides that she parade men in and out of the house no interaction with us kids>I was molested at an earlier age and i find as an adult i tend to be a hermit although i have friends I tend too when there is conflict go into my shell and stay away ,i spend allot of time by myself….and I was also emotionally abused as a child from my siblings and Mother and grandmother ,I was told i was the devil because kids should be seen and not heard and i always had an opinion which i was always in trouble…

  43. Peter Scheer says:

    this all seems of minimal value. I don’t see how this helps the ongoing victims of abuse. Yes, it is important to understand more about the full range of effects of trauma, but I cannot help to think that it is much more important to focus on prevention… That is where our scientific, and sociological effort should be focused.

  44. Carol steinberg says:

    I was abused physically and emotionally neglected.
    I see that my 4 children who r now adults with their own
    Children were affected.
    As I got healthier from therapy etc I was and am a better mother.

  45. there is no point in saying much of anything until a way is devised to separate the … oh how do they say, the wheat from the chaff, the frauds from the real Sybil’s of the world, the raped, the abused and neglected of the world from the spoiled rotten melodramatics. I keep thinking the neurons themselves must leave behind some kind of evidence besides of course to the hiring surviving victims of atrocious acts committed against their bodies and minds. I have been in and out of therapy and I doubt any of the doctors believed for a single moment that I was actually from Germany and Long island originally or had ever suffered any neglect worse than being told I could not have any candy or any worse abuse than being smacked on the shoulder and scorned at for coming home late from playing. And how kind of my stepfather to go through such trouble to make it look just this way. I see it all now retrospectively.
    The ironies! My GOD!

    • I meant to say, surviving victims of atrocious acts…. in the above statement and also need to clarify that where I came, where my mother came from, had nothing to do with what was done to my mother and me however it nevertheless made us much more vulnerable and easy pickings and apparently I was a very pretty little one he could barely resist and yet resented. Too late now to catch him. He died of an apparent heart attack just this past October 31st 2016. I just hope I was wrong about his appetites and pleasures besides his very public one of being a pillar of the community and just an all around nice guy and regular joe schmoe working class hero type.

  46. Terry says:

    Very relevant in helping parents to learn how to understand their infant’s signals through modelling and parenting the parent/

  47. It would be tremendously helpful, and in fact ethical, to be more specific regarding the types of (parents’) trauma you’re speaking of in this video. Also, severity, lack of treatment or extent of treatment (for parents with trauma) who participated in the studies that are referred to here. This is tender terrain for parents who already rightly feel tapped and taxed. As a therapist, of over 25 years, working with personality disordered folks, many of whom are parenting, clarity of facts and statements and empirical steps are essential.

  48. Paula says:

    I seen children impacted by trauma because of a parent who died, or parents who have gotten a divorce,or if a parent has physically hurt the children. I see the reaction as similar in all three cases, because these three things are all something to grieve. It was a a good little video. Thank you for sharing.

  49. Marcia Harms says:

    I think when you are stuck in the sympathetic nervous system you are an excellent parent for those early years. It is when the healing of that trauma brain begins that problems arise. My children benefitted from my early traumas coupled with a degree in psychology.
    But for the layman, I cannot say. I have seen a total disregard or empathy from parents who experienced trauma. I suspect that postpartum depression plays a role in this early poor attachment. Observed mother and infant dyads in my graduate research internship and saw this often. Lack of education of parenting and attachment issues should be taught at the onset of pregnancy. Parents as Teachers is an excellent program to educate parents. I highly recommend for all pregnant families if the program can get adequate directors as that seems to have fallen down in some areas of the country. I agree with Lucy, trauma victims are often so much more vigilant to assure it does not continue in multigenerational transmission. If anyone was traumatized I highly recommend counseling along the way to help with issues that arise. We get medical checkups frequently and the mind needs more of these checkups if you have been traumatized early on.

  50. Dee says:

    In many of my clients it’s appears to be an inability to attach not only to their children but to others as well.

  51. Lorena Snyder says:

    Some of the insights in this video are not novel but useful in creating the evidence on the biological level of what we see in child-adult attachments difficulties. Working within first nations in Canada we see a clear line of trauma, most of which is related to the intrusion of state and mistreatments of indigenous people. This resulted in a surge or apprehensions of children and destruction of the social fabric. We see this now as a we attempt to heal trauma, thousands of mothers were never parented and where raised by social services and abused , have children and are left with no foundation from where to begin creating healthy bonds. Thank you for this continued discussion.

  52. Lucy says:

    As a mother, trauma survivor, and daughter of a trauma survivor, I can relate to this. I am also a professional who works with children, and I see I interact differently with my own daughter than other children. I constantly worry about whether or not my interactions with her will cause the same kinds of harm I experienced as a child. I can know exactly what my clients need, but my insights and intuition are clouded when it comes to my own daughter. I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for over a year now to try and cope, and to see an opportunity to give my daughter what I didn’t get. I often feel disconnected from her, and have anxiety over that. I wish this video gave more direction on how a mother with a trauma history can change this kind of experience.

    • michelle deeb says:

      Yes I need that too. I would like to break the chain, exact same scenario as you. I have worked as a school psychologist for 20 years but yet all these subconscious behavior patterns emerge when I’m interacting with my six-year-old daughter. If we could learn tools we could share to.others. That will be my future passion because there are so many parents who are adult survivors of trauma contributing to the generational trauma that we want to break.

      Whatever that neural pathway was that is likely 7 to 9 years old, any professionals here that can share how to increase those to adult level?

  53. Tobias Schreiber says:

    Wonderful questions about adaptive attachment and its effect on adaptive functioning. Thank you for sharing.We need to keep in mind that the observer impacts and is part of the observation.

  54. This is a great snippet of what’s in store for certain traumatised people. I agree with the person who wrote that privileged homes do hide abuse and neglect and siblings can be highly successful professionally but mentally ill just as parents can be. This links in with my thesis on an unacknowledged trauma and, yes the GRIEF was not overlooked in this research (See: I liked William’s questions.

  55. sarah boggs says:

    Your comments have had quite an impact on me-I have been dealing with a rape that I experienced in my 20’s, my experience of attachment growing up with based on dissociation from both parents- (anxious attachment now) and I’ve always described my childhood as empty/hollow-I dissociate in my relationships and within myself-when I am truly present it is overwhelming-I attach to food with my eating disorder–I also am a sex and love addict (strong attachment issues there!!) and I have a financial disorder-(strange attachment to money and what it means to me-I derive a lot of meaning from it)–anyway, attachment has always been the number 1 issue in my life and knowing my mom’s behavior and my grandparent’s behavior I can see why– I never knew anything about them as people just their lousey parenting– Sarah

  56. Margarete says:

    Trauma – it is necessary to be aware of it and to heal the damage , the consequences, which are not so easy to be “seen”. It infects the life not only in a gross, but in many very subtle ways,. A traumatized person is not aware himself. And in almost all people’s experiences there are traumas, . So the effects also can be seen in society as a whole.
    And if you consider- as mentioned in the video above , how traumaparents are multiplying the effects, most times beeing unaware of it ….. This makes me think, all ! psychotherapy, is only helplessly dealing with the symptoms, within an unending story. Trauma is part of human life, which cannot be removed, no matter how diligently brainchange … and so on, is applied in so very few humans.

  57. Laurie says:

    As an adult child of an alcoholic from an emotionally abusive environment, I have not only childhood trauma, but have experienced much trauma as an adult. Both of my brothers died tragically, one from severe alcoholism. I can see the effects of my trauma on both of my sons. I have over parented them and have been hyper vigilant. I need to keep seeking healing for myself, so I can in return be whole for my boys.

    • Gertrude van Voorden says:

      Stop expecting that of yourself and be as and who you are, have become. My favorite mantra is things are as they are. Some trauma leads to permanent changed brainwiring and showing up as whole forever impossible. Then again what is whole and what is normal. As for teens going off the handle. I had an oldest son who lived all the problematic issues in our western society, possibly showing that was no good for his siblings that came after him, who are all stable and well, and all have a good job. Then again this oldest was beaten up inutero by the man who sired him, when i was 3,5 months pregnant. It often felt though that through his negative actions he was a wayshower for the rest.

    • Moira says:

      Same here. I think I’ve been over protective and it comes across as controlling and hyper vigilant and now my teen is going off the rails.

  58. Nicole Esplin says:

    Having experienced trauma myself (after i raise my child.) I can say yes of course it s relevant. I have not seen my daughter for over a year she is 18 now, in a state of trauma due to her fathers breakdown and illness. They think he is normal, we are all effected when a member of a family is in trauma. If it is not acknowledged swept under the carpet. the trauma continues. The disassociation is taught to the child and it is very destructive

  59. Arch Tibben says:

    Self reflective procrastination and the uncertainty of moving forward is uniquely human- even more so for those who have experienced trauma.. Moreover,what implicit messages are sent to the infant. Can they be undone,or, need to be overcome.Early Trauma and resulting coping strategies infect individuals with life long stress and anxiety . The implicit nature of trauma affects the whole being. Cognitive strategies are helpful, but not enough if a child has been subject to trauma. I believe that “the risk to have new experiences” aided by cognitive strategies has a part to play in overcoming defensive avoidance and continuing procrastinative misery. Risk and trust (in an uncertain environment) I believe, are important components towards restoration and a higher quality of life- as irksome as it might sound. Life is about swimming upstream I am not sure if this journey can be made easier..Maybe a supportive community is essential in this quest

    • Kathryn Ladd says:

      Wow, that really helped me. Defensive Procrastination… I am IN it.

      • William says:

        Hi, I want to know what’s overcoming defensive avoidance procrastination is as well. I saw myself doing this often for fear to make wrong choices, which I do anyway. People tend to get irritated about this. But I don’t. Thank you.

  60. Thank you. As a therapist, I see these affects in my practice. It is so important to work on these effects so our children are not impacted.

  61. sue-kaye says:

    I have lived with inter-generational trauma in my family for fifty years. I had my first child at 16 in the 1960’s during the baby scoop era. My legal rights to my child were never acknowledged and unmarried mothers had their children taken at birth. I was drugged, bullied, physically abused and prevented from ever seeing or touching my daughter in an atmosphere of punitive judgement, shame and cruelty in the hospital. The trauma was such that I disassociated from the whole thing to the point that I wondered if it really had happened and if it was a terrible nightmare. A nightmare that has disturbed my sleep for decades. I did go on to have two more daughters, however, many unmarried mothers who survived this era never formed another relationship and remained childless for the rest of their reproductive lives. I believe that the only reason that this was not me, was because I dissassociated. I believe that my development from the moment of that trauma, was arrested in many ways. I have never truly come home to myself, as myself did not matter at the time of the trauma, I have developed obsessive behaviours in some areas which seems to calm for a little while and ease my anxiety. I have also self harmed under certain circumstances when stressful; events beyond my control occur in terms of their severity and how many opccur at one time. I swung between being an over protective parent to one who was physically present but totally emotionally removed. At those times I was fighting with a deep seated instilled belief that I am not fit to be a parent, as was indoctrinated in me through the first trauma and an incredibly strong instinctual urge to protect my children, as I was unable to protect my first born baby from being taken from my body and care. I find it hard to trust, fear authority, have attracted partners who end up abandoning me either emotionally or physically, so I do not get involved anymore. As I have aged I have become more and more reclusive. I was reunited with my daughter in her early twenties. We have had a relationship on and off for thirty years. I have observed the effects of losing her mother at birth from a trauma perspective. At times she is an infant again, afraid and very alone searching to find the security of that first and vital bonding with her mother. It is real and it is very hard for her and the two children she has, whom of course are my now adult grandchildren. To say that her parenting has been affected is very observable and my heart breaks when I see the aftermath of inter generational trauma in their lives. Australia has apologised to the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters of that era. I have knowledge of the suicide of many affected and a lot has been achieved however, what has come home to me is that the level of trauma is not truly understood by health professionals in relation to the fallout from what was government social policy. The lifetime detrimental mental health outcomes from this era are huge and have attracted a high social cost. I cannot put all that I would like to say here now as I can feel the triggers in my words making me feel sick and uncomfortable. Thank you and best wishes.

    • Gertrude van Voorden says:

      I can relate to that. That said i feel i gained much wisdom about life, about the world, that i also share with my, now adult children. And personnally i do acknowledge i was not fit to be a mother. That said my children would not have been born and nor my grandchildren. And possibly it is all blueprint from my soul perspective, meant to be exactly the way it was. It also meant and means i can relate much better to the world at large, to intergenerationally traumatized people/peoples, ptsd veterans, etc. etc. As a clear empath i knew stuff before it happened and tried to protect my children against that. Possibly overprotective but at the same time i once had a picnic in nature with my 9 year old daughter and younger son, when discovering coming home. that in that surroundings a girl of the same age had been raped and murdered. Most of all i am glad they are all still alive, which gives chances and opportunities to heal further as a person and as a family. With the focus on trauma and traumatherapy we have ignored what Chronic Stress does to the body. These days it is known that ultimately all cells will stop functioning and the detox system is not working. The entire methylation process does not work. I am 66 years old. No doctor, no healthprofessional, no psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, informed me about this or knew how to proceed. The last weekend i heard an entire lecture on the subject at a congres for alternative healthprofessionals. Shame to all people i consulted for more then 60 years and possibly too late. My failing health as debilitating as my CPTSD/DID and now i am informed it is possibly too late.

    • Moira says:

      I was adopted by a narcissistic emotionally abusive man and neglectful mother with a low IQ.They tried to put me back in care when I developed emotional problems. They caused me terrible trauma and due to the impact had my baby taken away. I fought for him but the way I was treated by social services has left me with post trauma 14 years later. So often happens. Social services don’t screen the dysfunctional family you are placed with them and then are vicious when you have your own family. I too don’t bother with relationships. I feel dead inside and just cope on survival mechanism. My birth mother confounded all this by being nasty and rejecting me.
      The trauma through the generations just goes on and on. It needs addressing.

    • Lisa says:

      Dear Sue-Kay,
      Your story touches me. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I hear your pain, and also your wisdom. I agree with you that society doesn’t understand the devastating effects of intergenerational trauma. Wishing you and your family lots of comfort.

  62. Very interesting and very true. Childhood trauma can result in arrested normal developmental growth, impacts seen in adulthood. Thankyou for sharing the video.

  63. Debra says:

    I am an adult child of an alcoholic and been married to a narcissist for 40 years I was diagnosed bipolar after 10 years of marriage I am very codependent We have 2 daughters with children of their own . One daughter is very impatient with her children . Seems to love her children , but will push them away many times when they come to get close to her . My daughter has a video of her 3 yr old saying what she’s heard her mama say to her. ” Go away , leave me alone , be quiet ! ” My daughter doesn’t see what she is doing . Our other daughter has had 3 abortions , on her 2nd marriage and does not like to be affectionate. . She doesn’t want to hug anyone . My daughters are suffering from a terrible childhood . They don’t know that yet . Just in the last 2 years did I learn that my husband is a narcissist and that I’m codependent . I ‘be been in therapy for 30 years and couldn’t get any better . Now with this newest info from 2 years ago I’mhoping for some real help . I talk to my daughters a lot keeping them posted on what I’m learning . They are interested and I know they love me . Hope I’m not doing wrong by sharing with them . Will discuss that with therapist . I’m 62 yrs old .

  64. I have seen extensive dissociation in the parent, to which the child responds by acting up.

  65. Sara says:

    I never thought of myself as having had trauma, but it is becoming clearer now that I have had and that it has negatively affected all my relationships. I have had three marriages to men who kept an emotional distance. My mother was a prescription drug addict and several times experienced insulin and electric shock therapy. After treatment she would look right through me without even seeing me. She was manic at home. I was so afraid of her in my teens that I slept with a knife under my pillow. When my son was born I loved him dearly but did not form an intimate bond. Or I did but I broke it off because feeling that close to another person frightened me that something was wrong. Many were the times I looked past him wishing the day would wear on. I thought I was raising him to be independent but I would withdraw support before he was ready. He, of course, never established bonds with others. He lost touch with his children. He learned to find solace in drugs with the other disconnected souls. Eventually he overdosed. I am depressed and dissociative and am losing touch with my granddaughters. Only now, after listening to your video, do I realize that my failure to be the parent I should have been may well have been beyond my conscious control. I would add here that my mother herself was never parented, having been removed from the home of an alcoholic mother and an absent alcoholic homeless father. There is no telling how many generations back the dissociation began. I recognize my place in this chain and do not have the strength to stop it. A traumatized parent will produce a traumatized child who will as a traumatized parent produce a traumatized child who . . . . So, there you have it.

    • Martha Hyde says:

      Your last sentence is close to the one I use for children who have suffered early childhood trauma. As Perry et al (1995);2-B/abstract says (and Bessel van der Kolk acknowledges), early childhood trauma changes the entire trajectory of that child’s life. Children who were neglected during those first 3 years of life never get the chance to develop the brain’s baseline for social interaction as children who were wanted at birth and have a mother who forms that attachment with them do. Instead, they become “throw-away” children. Throw-away children become throw-away adults. The ones you see on the street homeless and/or living in poverty, constantly needing help, who lack resilience or the ability to get themselves on their feet again after any kind of trauma as an adult. Throw-away adults tend to have throw-away children…. ad infinitum.

      Obviously, not forming an attachment with that infant will prevent the mother’s brain from making the changes in her brain that allows her to consider that child as a member of the family. We hear a lot of stories about women who left their child in a hot car and the baby died. Sometimes the father does this. If the mother never got the time to form that bond (that will include those who have to delegate the baby to child care facilities), then it is more likely she will forget about the child left in the car. However, that bonding has to take place during the first 3 years of life and cannot happen later on, no matter how hard the mother tries to do so. The most she can expect in the relationship is “friend.” More importantly, men are not exempt from the attachment problem. If it affects the mother, it also affects the father. I am of the generation for whom most men did not interact with their chidren until the child could talk–too late for a bond to be made between father and child, no matter what happens later. So the myth of the 2 parent family was just that for most of us.

      • Sara says:

        Martha, Thank you for your thoughtful reply and the link. I have located the Perry abstract and will pull the article and read it. You have also reminded me of van der Kolk, whom I respect. I attended a talk by him in relation to military PTSD when I came to see my son as having PTSD himself. I will look him up as well. Interesting take on the myth of the two parent family. My father didn’t speak a sentence to any of his children until we were in our teens. I always thought I was raised by two absent parents, but perhaps it was really an absent single parent. I now have a different perspective and perhaps a reason to forgive myself, but certainly another angle to consider for healing.

  66. Mary Marschik' says:

    I was in an orphanage until age 2. My adoptive mother abused me anally for the first few years. I was also very ill with asthma and because of steroid use, had severe untreated yeast infections up into high school.
    I have obvious attachment disorder and now, at age 68, I have no issue walking away from anyone. I love my children and grandchildren. When they were small I took great care to let them know they were loved. Now that all are grown, I seldom think of them enough to call them or fly them out here. I’m detached from everyone. I truly don’t believe there’s anyone I can’t walk away from

    • Marsha says:

      Hi Mary, my heart will be with you, always. Although I had many people I my surrounding who seemly cared for my well-being, I also felt very distant from them. But being married and parenting, I learn to trust again and stay optimistic.

  67. M. H. says:

    I had a secure emotional attachment with my mother, but she was killed in an accident when I was ten. A lot of instability and negative experiences followed. When I had my son in my early 20s I was extremely protective of him. I felt afraid for him all of the time, like one of us could be gone at any moment. I gave him a lot of affection. He was a securely attached infant and in ways that part of our lives was very successful. He was a happy baby, he thrived, met milestones effortlessly and I had never loved anyone more. However parenting got harder. I was a single parent with a lot of stress in my life. I was reactive. I was always afraid for him. I had too high of expectations for both of us. At times I did attend therapy to help me be a better parent and have had him see a counselor when I thought he needed more than I could give. I noticed a year or two ago he has stopped wanting to be hugged and cuddle like he did as a child and I can’t help but think it could be because I smothered him-but it could be puberty related too. I have no doubt that my history of trauma has hurt my child and that makes me very sad. I would give a lot to re-do some of our years together.

  68. R.Y says:

    Both my parents traumatised. My bro and I severely emotionally neglected,
    Somewhat saved by a wonderful nanny for 15 yes.
    Both parents high achievers, father a high functioning alcoholic, but he was at Belsen.
    I had a lot of therapy and I think have turned out well.
    Home was v privileged to outsiders looking in.
    Brother highly successful professionally but is a sociopath.

    Please note privileged homes hide abuse and neglect

  69. JOSE NAVARRO says:

    Neuroception bias towards trauma experience systems react to children’s attempt to engage. Trauma as a result transmits from parent to child.

  70. Beverley Ross says:

    Very interesting. I would really appreciate a less scholarly talk and just get down to it and say it. You dont have to be a brain surgeon about this. It is so important to get the message out.

    Beverley Ross

  71. Kelly says:

    Increasing our understanding of chemical and sociological dynamics re trauma and human brains is awesome.

    In addittion to the hypotheses that traumatized, mothers,( parents) are not ideal 100 percent of the time, compared to normal folks, need also be balanced by a compassionate perspective, and the power of nature and spirit in offering resiliency and gifted traits as creative methods of coping.

    Caucasians fled europe by thousands on very risky ships. They arrived on foreign soil at the risk of hard weather and no civilization that they formerly functioned in. That set the stage for intergenerational PTSD as one example. Research is important, contol studies are what research understands best as evidence based practices value. We are heading into quantum mainstream expression. Our heart cells function independently of brain management, 6 th sense is key to avoiding danger, the enteric gut system now known to have 100 times the neural input capacity than our brains, validating premise of following the gut.

    Yes. By all means Research/Study. Also stay close to the ideal that research subjects are humans first. Complex individuals doing their best each day, whether that is quantifiable or not. Thanks for sharing and listening!

  72. J. Dragon says:

    The affects of trauma in an adult effecting their child/ren are just so many. The dissociation piece and the reactivity are like the opposite ends of the same coin–lack of presence for the child’s needs and care. Even overprotection of the child is what I consider reactivity, because the child’s need for autonomy and learning discernment about their environment is hyper-controlled. Like the doctor mentioned, missing the clues.

    There can be the continuation of violent patterns w/in the family structure–the child taking the blame or responsibility for their parents being out of control (internalizing); or the child acting out in being unable to express what is going on (externalizing).

    I’ve worked in the field as a alternative healing Instructor/practitioner and hypnotherapist for 30 years specializing in childhood trauma healing and am grateful how the field is changing to discuss more of the neural patterns and somatic reactions. In my personal healing journey, I actuallly trained my therapists how to work with me years ago in discovering what made the difference. I felt like a pioneer. It was my deep connection with my spirituality that allowed these awareness to become clear to me and applicable for my clients.

    I have gratefully completed that journey on myself last year after 29 years of very deep work and the support of many caring souls who witnessed me and with me. But my children have yet to go through their own journeys to heal from parents who couldn’t be fully there for them and of being abused outside the family structure in daycare situations. No guilt now, just awareness that each person has a choice in what it takes to be present for themselves and for others in being adults by going through the healing process.

    • Nstar says:

      What a thoughtful, kind and thorough response! Thank you so much for sharing.

  73. Totally agree with Dahna Berkson

  74. Francine says:

    Thank you for this brief explanation. I have never had a loving relationship with my mother, in fact, it was always quite volatile. A week before she died (age 94) she told me that she thought I had “mellowed” over the years and we had finally learned to “get along”, as I attended to her needs while she was in a care facility. She confessed that she had never bonded with me as a baby. Ruth’s comment that trauma victims brains are often frozen at a level of a 7 – 9 yr old is so revealing!! My mother was severely traumatized, emotionally and physically, as one of five children born to teenage parents. As my parent she was emotionally cold, sarcastic, and often used ridicule and shame to control her children. Her remarks and rebuttals were very much like a child’s retorts when engaged in school yard bickering . . . She also expressed jealousy over my achievements and even the opportunities I had to enjoy life, participate in school activities, and go to college. SO SAD, but so filled with GRIEF, never expressed for herself! I vowed to be a much better parent, and have certainly done so!

    • Good for you & I am sorry you had to endure this growing up- but I DO believe it makes us decide to be a better parent to our kids. It helps to realize our parents were doing the best with what they had and didn’t have the tools (consciousness) to do better or they WOULD HAVE! Glad you are focusing on the positive and trying not to repeat these patterns! You will help others by setting a good model and have already I am sure! Aloha!

  75. What I have seen is that the parent who is a survivor of childhood physical abuse as a toddler and neglect as an infant be very controlling of their infant child, over protective and implores the use constant rewards to insure the child’s affection for themselves. This is in place of genuine emotional connection with the child.

    • Gertrude van Voorden says:

      I was never like that. But your words make me think of someone i know, who never, as a child, suffered trauma. Maybe not overgeneralize and project more shit on mothers already struggling.

  76. Carol says:

    Has anyone heard of or used a technique called LifeSpan integration? I have suffered severe childhood trauma complicatied by the generation waterfall effect she described and wondering a couple things:
    1. Where do I find more information on the studies she refers to
    2. I know my daughter has suffered and want her evaluated. She is 25. Who/where can we both be evaluated for the type of attachment problems we have. I have been told so many different things and given so many methods to help it’s so confusing I begin and stop bc it doesn’t seem to work or the therapist is not educated enough.
    3. Case in point the comment from the therapist working with the teen. She seems to be in way over her head. I recognize it is probably BPD and anyone so emotionally dysregulated a therapist should know about DBT. Therapist have to recognize when they are not trained enough to meet the needs.
    4. There is an online DBT Course endorsed by Marsha Linehan that is affordable given by Debbie Corso.

    • Gertrude van Voorden says:

      I think to recognize that is up to clients and mothers of clients and cannot be expected of therapists, unless it is very clearcut, which it mostly is not. Recognizing the inadequateness of therapists has made me weary. The same goes for doctors who have no clue about foodallergies or the effects on the body of Chronic Stress, alternative doctors/naturopaths included. Few people have that biochemical knowledge and keep updated to have any idea. Most in the healingmodalities mean well, most likely and many really have no clue about that they do not know or are able to admit that. My now retired doctor did. Always aid that my questions were too difficult for him. not taught at university when he studied and the articles he was meant to keep updated with all sponsored by Big Pharma. I felt heard but otherwise left in the dark, without any help for decades. Am not at the end of my rope, mainly physically.

  77. Evelyn s jordan says:

    Yes definitely. My family and I are the living research. I wasn’t raised in trauma or domestic violence but I’m married a sociopath and now three generations are suffering. Really four plus generations on his side.

  78. Sarah says:

    I’ve been an early years educator for over 5 years, and love my job, I find it so rewarding. This video has been a huge eye opener for me, validating things I have noticed about myself but been afraid to talk about. I care so strongly for each of my students, and I am much loved in return, but frequently throughout the day I would notice myself feeling detached, emotionless, and suddenly unable to find the energy to connect with children who were trying to share a moment with me. This caused a huge amount of stress, but now knowing that it probably has a lot to do with my childhood traumas, I feel less that there is simply something wrong with me.
    I would be very interested in finding out if there are treatments for this state, or ways of overcoming the developmental issues that have resulted from my trauma.

  79. Karen says:

    I totally agree with Dr Lanius, I pray that this wisdom becomes the standard basis of knowledge for training in the field of psychotherapy. I have been trying to share the pain I feel in my heart to my psychotherapist when I witness my own children over reacting with such anger when my grandchildren, ages 8-2, make a mistake or misbehave. I know my own childhood traumas, & subsequent PTSD (untreated) is having an affect on my grandchildren. The advice given to me in therapy is to remain silent, do not interfere with my kids parenting. This approach is leaving me in the pain & helplessness of the bystander.

  80. Marianne says:

    I wish I had known what was going on with me and had done the trauma work before I had children. But maybe I would never have known I needed this work if I hadn’t had children.

  81. Dahna Berkson says:

    This subject welcomes an entire encyclopedia! I’ve seen patterns, for example, where the child of a traumatized parent becomes a parent of sorts, is “parentified.” Also, the child of a traumatized parent can be vulnerable to trauma themselves; I’ve often seen the absence of secure attachment as described, leads to seeking that attachment elsewhere and/or seeking to “pseudo-parent” elsewhere … many layers and inter-related factors to this trauma tragedy. Thank you!

  82. Shae says:

    I think it’s great to have articles about how trauma affects a child’s development by an adult suffering from trauma.But I would like to see many more articles about how affected children grow up and as adults can restore themselves to wholeness. This is possible. I am doing it.

    My mother was raped and had my sister (and I was raped as well as an adult by a work colleague),so clearly I was not ever going to have a childhood without attachment and developmental issues, but I am now experiementing with re-parenting myself and I cannot believe how well it is working. I have a very clear goal: I will not spend the rest of my life “managing PTSD” and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking for someone to fill me up, or make me feel better about myself. So I am going back to basics, and yes it is an intuitive process, but I just wish I could read more about what could be done to restore our wholeness and less about what has gone wrong.

    • Sarah says:

      I need to do what you’re doing, could you give me some advice?

      • Please look at Inner Engineering program by Sadhguru! There are many resources for healing and yes we don’t know in the west how to understand ourselves but we know more about how to manage a company or our computers/iPhones, etc.! His program offers mastery over our body,emotions,mind & energy systems to experience what our friend has found- inner resilience instead of victimhood! A desire to always seek and focus on gratitude are simple practices that help! (He’s on YouTube too!) Blessings to you all! I too experienced childhood trauma & work with kids with special needs & can see on a daily basis how the trauma exhibits in their bodies even as infants! Feldenkrais is also a technique of relearning developmental movement patterns that are very gentle, safe and reorganizing to the nervous system – nice if one has pain in the body! At 43 I too have overcome negative thinking towards myself and no longer have pain! I have more vitality and verocity than at 20! Finally I practice Reconnective Healing – amazing way to tap into our true potentiality using concepts of the quantum field for rebalancing and returning to awareness of our Wholeness! You have many resources now! YOU CAN DO THIS! One day at a time but you will be free again to be the self you came here to BE! Aloha!!

        • Nstar says:

          Thank you so much Shelley! I really find it so helpful that you are thoughtful and generous in offering us guidance to where to find some of the resources that helped you! I think that it is helpful for people to know where they can find what would help. And if someone finds something helpful…please share the source like Shelley did! Thank you all

    • Dahna Berkson says:

      Good point! Focus on the resilience and path to recovery!
      …I believe the science helps us develop approaches to treatment
      by understanding how trauma affects the brain. Thank you !

  83. Gail Russ says:

    This is so interesting to me. Lately I have been investigating, on my own, connection and belonging. I am 74 years old, have had many years of therapy, tend to be introspective and still have problems with connection and feeling I belong even to myself. I have thought for quite some time that my brain was not completely whole, for lack of a better word. I have a BA in psychology, started grad school for counseling therapy, dropped out because of recurrent chronic low grade depression (for lack of a better word). I have wished I had a sociology degree so I could better investigate connection and belonging because I really don’t have the educational tools to do so. My background consists of a mother who was placed in an orphanage when she was 3 years old for a year because her mother had died,and this is in 1911, then taken back to her father’s house where there were older siblings, had a step mother who disliked children, etc, etc. my father was “on the streets” since age 14 and, although funny, was extremely sarcastic. I have 2older sisters and we were, what I term, emotionally malnourished. I am so happy to see this study being done!

    • Kelly says:

      Hi to you and this forum… thank you. The trauma experts I know of follow:, Dr Bessel Van De Kolk, Dr. Gabor Mate,wrote “in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts”, and “When the Body Says No”, Dr. Marsha Linehan, founder of DBT, researcher Dr. Brene Brown, Steve Stoke of South Pacific Treatment from Australia, see his youtube video Complex PTSD! Best I have seen for most info offered in 90 minutes

      Everyone mentioned can be accessed on you tube. When seeking relevent research data re PTSD or DID BPD , etc. Type in search bar what you wish to know, eg MD article PTSD treatment … you can type in year as well. Not much available historically. More these last 20 years. Also somatic therapist Irene Lyon offers online info, videos, courses, much of it free, meatier depth is 1500.00 bi annual online course. Enjoy!.

  84. Jennifer St Jude says:

    Attachment, or lack there of, seems to be the biggest impact I have noticed. Severe trauma certainly impacts the developmental process that is necessary for functioning but it’s the impaired attachment abilities that impact ones life the most. Since a child, who is wired for attachment, cannot attach to an attached impaired parent, the child becomes impaired too. The cycle continues until someone or something breaks it. Since attachment issues aren’t about close relationships and connection, the odds of finding help repairing attachment diminish as well. I also see that the therapy community even the trauma trained therapy community seem to not be trained in attachment so therputic relationships suffer and often fail before real therapy begins. Lastly most survivors have limited resources and insurance companies seem to get away with not covering trauma treatment in the adult. There is so much standing in the way of successfully healing from trauma and not passing it on to ones children. Knowing how much trauma impacts functioning and productivity I cannot believe that society and the treatment community doesn’t see this epidemic as a crisis worth funding and addressing. So does it effect parenting and eventually the children, absolutely. What you don’t heal you will pass on. To the survivor (my fellow survivors) Heal! Find any way you can. Break this cycle. Heal and then go back for the others. “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

    • Carol says:

      Can you further explain the comments that attachment is not about close relationships and connection. I am very interested on this bc it’s the only way attachment has been explained to me. I have been told I have preoccupied attachment and learning there are so many more types. What are the types and how do I find out? So what does it mean “attachment “

      • Kelly says:

        Ask irene lyon. Somatic therapist. Get her email. Also so much on you tube. View steve stoke Complex PTSD

  85. karen degraaf says:

    I mostly see parents who have suffered the trauma of neglect–emotional usually, but at times also physical. Of course this affects their own ability to connect with their children and to provide the emotional, physical, cognitive, social, etc. security that kids need.

  86. sue hemphill says:

    Have you explored when parent and child become extremely unusually close (not necessarily unhealthy) and the connection to shared trauma when the child is preschool age?

  87. Mira Carroll says:

    Thank you for this! My own mother had several traumatic childhood losses, including a fire that consumed a highly valued gift (piano) and the death of her father, all during the Great Depression. As an adult, I witnessed what I see as a demonstration of her parenting style with my late father, who had dementia. She cared for him religiously, but was mostly non-attentive while tending to him and rigid. Rather than tuning in to him for cues about what he might want or need, she seemed to perform caretaking tasks in a rote manner while she focused her mind on something more interesting to herself. She has little capacity for self-reflection. She is also easily triggered into an alarm state, i.e. “high strung.” This, I believe, is an indication that part of her brain is essentially stuck in the age that her traumas occurred (6 and 8) and her default mode network is probably not fully developed. She excelled in intellectual pursuits, however. As you might expect, the effects of her traumas caused discord in her adult family relationships with both children and spouse. I see now that I absorbed the energy of trauma from her, and have focused my post-sobriety personal healing on being more present and less reactive. As an adolescent and young adult, I attempted to cope through addictive patterns and using substances.

  88. James Christensen LCSW, Bethelpark, Pa says:

    I have noted that children who were adopted from the Russia some times have difficulty in later life. One child, for example was not touched or held until she was adopted by an American family. This child had sensory issues. Another person adopted at age one, is having troubles as an adult.

  89. Lisa says:

    I am not a therapist. I was abused from a very young age. Began alcohol/drugs when I was 11. Got clean/sober in my late 20s. Married my soulmate and began a family. Our first child(son) died from suffocation when he was 33 days old. I found him. We had a daughter a yr later then twin daughters 2 yrs later. Our oldest daughter was 4 and twins had just turned 2 when my husband died from cancer 2 months after being diagnosed. Panic attacks began. Tried to kill myself. Self injury when I realized that I couldn’t leave my children or take them w/me. Learning to meditate saved my life and made surviving possible. That was almost 20 yrs ago. The children are grown and I’m still in therapy. I hope my children will have more normal lives. One of my twins had stress induced seizures her sophomore yr of high school. I am almost 53 and I have not had a serious relationship since my husband. I have been in survival mode all my life. I’m tired of just surviving. I want to thrive! I am willing to do any testing or whatever is ask of me. I am available for research!! I have studied psychology from about age 9 trying to figure out why people behave the way they do. I find this very interesting. I live in NW Ohio in my sisters basement. In isolation most of the time. I have come a long way in the last 20 yrs but there has to be more to life than surviving. I hope someone can help me. (765)543-8581

    • Please look at Inner Engineering program by Sadhguru! There are many resources for healing and yes we don’t know in the west how to understand ourselves but we know more about how to manage a company or our computers/iPhones, etc.! His program offers mastery over our body, emotions, mind & energy systems to experience what our friend has found- inner resilience instead of victimhood! A desire to always seek and focus on gratitude are simple practices that help! (He’s on YouTube too!) I too experienced childhood trauma & work with kids with special needs & can see on a daily basis how the trauma exhibits in their bodies even as infants! Feldenkrais is also a technique of relearning developmental movement patterns that are very gentle, safe and reorganizing to the nervous system – nice if one has pain in the body! I practice Reconnective Healing – amazing way to tap into our true potentiality using concepts of the quantum field for rebalancing and returning to the awareness of your Wholeness! You have many resources now! YOU CAN DO THIS! One day at a time but you will be free again to be the self you came here to BE! I would offer you a RH session if you like? Please can you message me on Facebook or I can text you? It is nice to do it when you are aware so you can ‘notice’ what is happening for you. for more info – Please lmk, Aloha!!

    • Kelly says:

      Hi wow….seek out

    • Jennifer St Jude says:

      My heart hurts reading your comments. I am a survivor as well. I have seen many friends who have never received proper treatment to heal. Healing is possible. It’s never too late. I would suggest finding a therapist that specializes in Trauma and/or complex PTSD or attachment. With so much loss and abandonment on top of trauma, I can only imagine how hard it has been too attach and connect to others. You deserve better than to be someone’s research project!!! You deserve a therapist who cares and reaches out to help. Be careful of all who respond. Find a person who doesn’t set off your safety alarm inside yourself. There is a website: The international Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation or something close to all that. Grin. You can find a therapist through there as well as other info. There is a website forum that’s safe and very good to find others. Pandys dot org (but write it correctly). This is a forum for survivors that is known to be excellent. I’m sure there are others. But learn others thru safe referrals. Stop isolating. It won’t help you heal. You can do this. Someone like you with all you have been thru has to. Imagine all the people you can help who society has forgotten. Pm me on Facebook if you want. You are not alone. Sadly there are tons of survivors out there who can not find help or healing (yet) who need to. Something has to be done!! If no one else cares, we must!!
      Search Face book jstjude and pm me. Tell me who you are though.
      Ps My story is quite similar but with healing. Healing is possible. Never give up. We must move beyond survival and Heal!!! Then we must go back for the others.

    • Emma Chase says:

      Hi Lisa,

      I am an ongoing trauma counselling student and psychiatrist’s wife living in Toronto, Canada. (I got sidetracked by a serious mystery illness, and I’m now getting back to school.) I also spent about 8 years in university and 4 years in college studying courses related this topic.


      As in your situation, I often read stories of people desperate for help and information, so I will post this info publicly, hoping that it helps other.s

      #1. If you have ongoing access to internet and websites, you may find the trauma information website called to be helpful.

      #2. Sometimes trauma at certain *sensitive* periods of development and particularly Attachment (AKA parent-child ‘Bonding’) can cause kids to become ‘stuck’ in their development, as Dr. Lanius says in this video above. Learning about the types of Attachment can help people understand what is going on with them, regarding certain behaviours and emotions and problems in their lives.

      #3. There are also a number of childhood PTSD and C-PTSD support and educational groups on Facebook.

      #4. If you are unable to tolerate the powerful emotions that come up when reading or in talking about feelings, some people benefit from FIRST learning to tolerate Distress and Overwhelm. Did you know that some people are “triggered” by even hearing the word “BODY”? So, we have to first help people feel SAFE, so they can get onto the learning and healing part.

      #5. This can be done by learning a set of emotional coping and ‘calm down’ tools called DBT Skills. There are websites and Facebook groups to learn this. One is and another is

      #6. Do you have access to a public library? Libraries often have books on healing from trauma, and your Librarian is a huge resource of knowledge and referrals. They can order in books from OTHER libraries. This is called Inter-Library Loan.


      • Jennifer St Jude says:

        Excellent advice!! Thank you for sharing that. Stay on your course. I don’t think you were side tracked. I think life added to your skills and experiences to help others. (((Hugs))) You will be a great counselor.

  90. Michelle Shiloh says:

    Personally, there have been two TBI’s in my life of importance. My mother had brain trauma as a child. I think this affected her being there for me emotionally. Of course as her child, it’s unclear to me as to the cause, if it was indeed the brain trauma or not. I do believe the brain trauma caused her to erupt at times out of the blue.
    Then when I was a young mother I too had a brain injury from a bicycle accident resulting in a 5-day coma. This greatly affected my energy level and my ability to process and to take things. I was much faster frustrated. I had and still have little reserves of energy or to take stress. Ultimately, this led to our divorce and split up of the family. On the other hand, I believe my heart was opened up as a result of the brain injury and I became more spiritual. The split up of the family I believe is the worst my children experienced from this. The split up was quite major as we were living in Germany at the time. I ended up coming back to the US. At one time 3 of my 4 children were here too. Now Three live with their own families in Germany and one here in the US.
    May this be of use to you. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.

  91. Deidre Jewers says:

    As a parent that has experienced childhood trauma, and that has recieved assistance in parenting my children and u nderstanding how this trauma impacted my parenting and children. what happened for me was that i put them at risk, and often i was triggered by them and either disassociated or got angry which derailed me emotionly. i just often just did the motions and was not capable of being available to them i often work with mothers that have a similar story to myself and i see many similarities in the women and there children. lack of availability, confidence and are so triggered they cannot think of appropriate parenting strategies. Like me these women have also suffered with chronic alcohol and other drug addiction, getting clean, using the 12 steps, intense family therapy and sexual assault counselling we have discovered that change is possible

  92. Marta Luzim says:

    The research is only first confirming for those who knew for decades that parents trauma effect the relationship with their child. This is generational. Epigenetics! Research is unfortunately at least 100 years behind what those of us affected by trauma and abuse always knew. fortunately for me I am a seeker, healer, therapist, artist and survivor that has worked diligently on myself and made sure that I developed a deep intimate relationship with my daughter and heal whatever affects I have had on her.

    I traveled, studied and been a student, teacher and therapist for over 35 years. My journey started when I was 16. Personal experience is the best teacher and wisdom guide. Research and academics gives a container for experience. But it is not the healer. Healing is not cure. It is the journey to ongoing growth, self examination, deeper emotional connection, intimacy and self-knowledge. When I was six no one identified that I was suffering from trauma and abuse. I identified myself at age 16 and that began my journey into the psyche for my recovery. Both my own personal healing and recovery and my academic training has given me deep compassion and passion. However, personal recovery is the best teacher….I am now 67 and all of my dedication and drive to heal has helped many I worked with. I am first emerging into the woman I want to be and continue to be.

    • Michelle Shiloh says:

      Thank you for your words. This is helpful and I feel the same. We need to work on ourselves. I have wanted to work with other TBI survivors but have not ye had the opportunity. Now that I’m retired maybe I can find a way.

  93. Deb Johnson says:

    I am a Therapist who has worked with a 15 year old female, whose mom was dx with Bi polar. Her mother has been in and out of her life. This young girl has had issues of anxiety, depression, longings for attention, affirmation, a tendency to cling to anyone who will show attention. She longs for an intact family. I have worked with her for over a year. She has daily meltdowns. She pulls mom close and pushes mom away. She has difficulty finding and maintaining friendships at school. She always expresses how she has no friends, and feels like an outsider. She wants to leave school and be home schooled. She has constant angry demands about getting her needs met. She is binge eating to push her feelings down. Her grandmother is raising her and is frequently frustrated with her behaviors. There is constant conflict and tension between them. I believe this youg girl has been deeply affected by her mother’s trauma. This is an interesting study. thank you. Deb Johnson

    • Emma Chase says:

      re: teen in distress. For issues of Emotional Dysregulation and Distress Tolerance (intolerance), consider using DBT Skills. It can help teens learn to ‘re-regulate’. There are some good short books on the topic. “Don’t let your emotions run your life” and ‘calming the emotional storm’ are two titles. The DBT workbook by Dr. Matthew McKay is another good resource. Helpful websites include and When people are emotionally overwhelmed, they are not able to listen or process information adequately in therapy, so these skills are essential. e.g the Triumvirate/Reptilian brain is focused on Flop/Friend/Flight/Fight/Freeze of survival, vs ‘listening’.

  94. liesl says:

    I am 81 and still trying to connect intimately with my 2 daughters in their 50s. This makes a lot of sense now. I will stop beating myself up for being a ‘not good enough’ mum. I was raped at 9.

    • Jennifer St Jude says:

      Never give up. My mother is 79 and trying. I realize that she might not live long enough to deal with everything but I don’t care about that. The trying says I love you enough to try and you are worthy of my trying and THAT speaks volumns and matters most. I tell her it’s not what you did in the past that matters it’s what you do today. So yes guilt is a waste but what you are doing now will heal and transform them and their children. Sometimes we can’t undo our trauma but we can focus on breaking the cycle. Blessings to you.

  95. Bea Schild says:

    The early traumatized mothre being really helpless in trying to get the adolescent child to obey the compulsive behavioural rules, she set up to control life around her.

  96. William says:

    Even though the speaker, Lanius, is MD it sounds like pseudo science. I’d like more details: what exactly are these “networks” she talks about? Are they neuronal? and if so are they doing autopsies to see the networks? cat scans? How are these networks interacting? Inter or intra regions of the brain? Can I send clients for a scan (hopefully not an autopsy!) to pinpoint early development age of traumas that need addressing?

    It sounds like a great “theory” but how does it help the client if all you can say is “you’ve got trauma in various parts of your life that keep you stuck.” Sounds like help on the level of a placebo effect. A temporary relief of stress relating to “I don’t know what’s going on”. It still doesn’t address the underlying issues.

    • JM says:

      fMRI has been used to see which brain areas are activated, It might be less important to know those
      specifics than to work on mindfulness skills like DBT. EMDR can also be helpful “rewiring” connections
      that did not happen at normal development points.

    • Emma Chase says:

      The ‘networks’ she is talking about are ‘neural networks’. It is from Neuroscience. I would suggest picking up an introductory neuroscience textbook and reading about brain development. Particularly how neurons form and then prune. She is talking about the pruning and hardening, and how it is happening too early, if I understand her correctly.

    • judy silvan says:

      AEDP therapy, developed by Diana Fosha is a working model to heal the effects of both childhood trauma, and the neural pathways affected in the offspring of those traumatized individuals. The practice is an experiential psychotherapy (vs an interpretive, analytical, movement, or insight-oriented dynamic protocol) which works by helping people experience an exquisite sense of being “gotten” and deeply understood via careful dyadic attunement. The model works with slowed down emotional processing of the intra and inter-personal experiences of havoc which complex-trauma creates in a person’s later or current life (as in the case of a child or adolescent). It is based on helping people experience and process emotion found through careful somatic experiencing in the safety of the dyadic interactions, along with explorations of other avenues of pure experience in the here and now moment of the therapeutic session. It typically softens defenses in an accelerated way, allowing previously occluded emotions to surface under the care and safety of the therapeutic dyad. The therapist works to find and unfold glimmers of possibility amidst the defenses and pain that maintains the trauma loop within the person. The resultant depth of healing and ‘un-doing’ the aloneness– which is one of the most painful effects of this type of inter-generational complex trauma (which at times we refer to as ‘little t’)– is remarkable; within each session deep transformational experiences occur on a level which is relative to the patient or client’s capacities in conjunction with the therapist’s skills.

      • David says:

        Beautiful description – feeling of good therapy , when it’s happening

      • Denise says:

        Hello, I am a mom of teenaged boy suffering from anxiety, depression OCD tendancies, and angry outbursts. I was always interested in understanding people and behaviours, but only pursued to undergraduate level. I struggle with anxiety and depression myself (childhood emotional trauma of parent’s nasty custody battle when I was 5, my sister, 2). My mom and uncle died 3 months apart when I was 18. How does one find a therapist who can best help my son with the philosophy and strategies you described? We have been with psychiatrist (as outpatient) at children’s hospital for over two years, on meds, tried neurofeedback, had social worker work with us for 5 months in home, but he is still struggling, as am I. Marriage is struggling as well. Any guidance is much appreciated.
        Ottawa, Canada

  97. I have seen this in many clients and have experienced it personally As a therapist
    I use Kepner’s understanding of child hood trauma: where states that a child’s emotional growth and development becomes arrested and survival strategies come into play. Kepner comments that it has a profound affect on attachment. This dovetails into the dissociative coping strategies and st some level an unavailability of the mother for her child and also can include the profound impact of shame. The very that the desires is the very she cannot manage. I have also noticed one thing missing in many client’s is the lack with their child. When I have checked it out many have agreed.

    • Stuart Gilboord says:

      huh? typos, words missing, etc.
      we get the idea though

      • Kris Plummer says:

        I thought the same thing ^

      • Kris P says:

        I thought the same thing ^

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