Depression. Anxiety. Chronic Pain. Phobias. Obsessive thoughts. The evidence is compelling: the roots of these difficulties may not reside in our immediate life experience or in chemical imbalances in our brains—but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. The latest scientific research, now making headlines, supports what many have long intuited—that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations. It Didn’t Start with You builds on the work of leading experts in post-traumatic stress, including Mount Sinai School of Medicine neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda and psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score. Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on. These emotional legacies are often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language, and they play a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than has ever before been understood.
As a pioneer in the field of inherited family trauma, Mark Wolynn has worked with individuals and groups on a therapeutic level for over twenty years. It Didn’t Start with You offers a pragmatic and prescriptive guide to his method, the Core Language Approach. Diagnostic self-inventories provide a way to uncover the fears and anxieties conveyed through everyday words, behaviors, and physical symptoms. Techniques for developing a genogram or extended family tree create a map of experiences going back through the generations. And visualization, active imagination, and direct dialogue create pathways to reconnection, integration, and reclaiming life and health. It Didn’t Start With You is a transformative approach to resolving longstanding difficulties that in many cases, traditional therapy, drugs, or other interventions have not had the capacity to touch.
Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
Childhood adversity that is severe enough to be harmful throughout life is one of the biggest public health issues of our time, yet health care systems struggle to even acknowledge the problem. In Damaged, Dr. Robert Maunder and Dr. Jonathan Hunter call for a radical change, arguing that the medical system needs to be not only more compassionate but more effective at recognizing that trauma impacts everybody’s health, from patient to practitioner.
Drawing on decades of experience providing psychiatric care, Maunder and Hunter offer an open and honest window into the private world of psychotherapy. At the heart of the book is the painful yet inspiring story of Maunder’s career-long work with a patient named Isaac. In unfiltered accounts of their therapy sessions, we see the many ways in which childhood trauma harms Isaac’s health for the rest of his life. We also see how deeply patients can affect the doctors who care for them, and how the caring collegiality between doctors can significantly improve the medicine they practice.
Damaged makes it clear that human relationships are at the core of medicine, and that a revolution in health care must start with the development of safe, respectful, and caring relationships between doctors and patients. It serves as a strong reminder that the way we care for those who suffer most reveals who we are as a society.