Inherited Family Trauma: It Didn't Start with You

Zadius Sky

The Living Force
It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn

From Amazon:

Amazon Book Description said:
A groundbreaking approach to transforming traumatic legacies passed down in families over generations, by an acclaimed expert in the field.

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.

I read this book last month and I'm still working with it as I go through my family tree research (which is a funny timing as I begun earlier this year re-connecting with a number of family members, both estranged and distant, including those whom I never met). I found this book to be interesting and useful tool towards understanding/healing family "wounds", so to speak. It is also useful to have one's family tree history/genealogies handy while reading this book.

The author - Mark Wolynn - is a Director of the Family Constellation Institute, which deals with "inherited family trauma" and provides workshops on this subject. His website is _ and this book is a Winner of the 2016 Silver Nautilus Book Award in Psychology.

There's a SotT article by the author from last year: Trauma lost and found: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are - which is a full Chapter 1 from the book.

Here's a YouTube of one of his lectures:

In this book, the author talks about trauma symptoms that we couldn't explain or trace within our own lifetime, so we look to our parents, grandparents, and even beyond for traumas that they experienced and those can pass down to the present generations. We resolve them using Core Language Approach (which means the "idiosyncratic words and sentences of our deepest fears that provide clues leading to the source of an unresolved trauma" and it can be "expressed in physical sensations, behaviors, emotions, impulses, and symptoms of an illness or condition").

He provides us four tools of the "Core Language Map":

Core Complaint => Our main issue, whether internalized or projected outward, which is often derived from fragments of traumatic experience and expressed in core language.

Core Descriptors => Adjectives and short descriptive phrases that reveal the unconscious feelings we hold toward our parents.

Core Sentence => A short sentence that expresses the emotionally charged language of our deepest fear. It carries the residue of an unresolved trauma from our early childhood or family history.

Core Trauma => The unresolved trauma in our early or family history that can unconsciously affect our behaviors, choices, health, and well-being.

To understand how a Core Language was established, here is the Introduction of the book (bolded were mine):

pages 1-12 said:
The Secret Language of Fear

In a dark time, the eye begins to see...
- Theodore Roethke, "In a Dark Time"

This book is the fruit of a mission, one that has led me around the world, back home to my roots, and into a professional career that I never could have envisioned when this journey began. For more than twenty years, I have worked with individuals who have struggled with depression, anxiety, chronic illness, phobias, obsessive thoughts, PTSD, and other debilitating conditions. Many have come to me discouraged and disheartened after years of talk therapy, medication, and other interventions failed to uncover the source of their symptoms and allay their suffering.

What I've learned from my own experience, training, and clinical practice is that the answer may not lie within our own story as much as in the stories of our parents, grandparents, and even our great-grandparents. The latest scientific research, now making headlines, also tells us that the effects of trauma can pass from one generation to the next. This "bequest" is what's known as inherited family trauma, and emerging evidence suggests that it is a very real phenomenon. Pain does not always dissolve on its own or diminish with time. Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, even if his or her story lies submerged in years of silence, fragments of life experience, memory, and body sensation can live on, as if reaching out from the past to find resolution in the minds and bodies of those living in the present.

What you'll read in the pages that follow is a synthesis of empirical observations from my practice as director of the Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco and the latest findings in neuroscience, epigenetics, and the science of language. It also reflects my professional training with Bert Hellinger, the renowned German psychotherapist, whose approach to family therapy demonstrates the psychological and physical effects of inherited family trauma on multiple generations.

Much of this book focuses on identifying inherited family patterns - the fears, feelings, and behavior we've unknowingly adopted that keep the cycle of suffering alive from generation to generation - and also how to end this cycle, which is the core of my work. You may learn, as I did, that many of these patterns don't belong to us; they've merely been borrowed from others in our family history. Why is that? I strongly believe that it is because a story that needs to be told can finally be brought to light. Let me share my own.

I never set out to create a method for overcoming fear and anxiety. It all began the day I lost my vision. I was in the throes of my first ocular migraine. No real physical pain to speak of - just a cyclone of dark terror, within which my vision was obscured. I was thirty-four years old and stumbling around my office in the murk, fingering the desk phone for the 911 buttons. An ambulance would soon be on its way.

An ocular migraine is generally not serious. Your vision becomes muddled, but usually returns to normal in about an hour. You just don't always know that while it's happening. But for me, the ocular migraine was just the beginning. Within weeks, the vision in my left eye began to disappear. Faces and road signs soon became a gray blur.

The doctors informed me that I had central serous retinopathy, a condition without a cure, its cause unknown. Fluid builds up under the retina and then leaks, causing scarring and blurring in the visual field. Some folks, the 5 percent with the chronic form mine had turned into, become legally blind. The way things were going, I was told to expect that both eyes would be affected. It was just a matter of time.

The doctors were unable to tell me what caused my vision loss and what would heal it. Everything I tried on my own - vitamins, juice fasts, hands-on healing - all seemed to make things worse. I was flummoxed. My greatest fear was unfolding in front of me and I was helpless to do anything about it. Blind, unable to take care of myself, and all alone. I'd fall apart. My life would be ruined. I'd lose my will to live.

I replayed the scenario over and over in head. The more I thought about it, the deeper the hopeless feelings embedded in my body. I was sinking into sludge. Each time I tried to dig myself out, my thoughts circled back to images of being all alone, helpless, and ruined. What I didn't know then was that the very words alone, helpless, and ruined were part of my personal language of fear. They echoed traumas that took place in my family history before I was born. Unbridled and unrestrained, these words reeled in my head and rattled my body.

I wondered why I gave my thoughts such power. Other people had adversity far worse than mine and they didn't dwell in the depths like this. What was it about me that stayed so deeply entrenched in fear? It would be years before I could answer that question.

Back then, all I could do was leave. I left my relationship, my family, my business, my city - everything I knew. I wanted answers that couldn't be found in the world I was part of - a world where many people seemed to be confused and unhappy. I had only questions, and little desire to carry on with life as I knew it. I handed my business (a successful events company) over to someone I had literally just met, and off I went, east - as far east as I could go - until I reached Southeast Asia. I wanted to be healed. I just had no idea what that would look like.

I read books and studied with the teachers who wrote them. Whenever I heard that there might be someone who could help me - some old woman in a hut, some laughing man in a robe - I showed up. I joined training programs and chanted with gurus. One guru said, to those of us gathered to hear him speak, that he wanted to surround himself with only "finders". Seekers, he said, remained just that - in a constant state of seeking.

I wanted to be a finder. I meditated for hours each day. I fasted for days at a time. I brewed herbs and battled the fierce toxins that I imagined had invaded my tissues. All the while, my eyesight continued to worsen and my depression deepened.

What I failed to realize at the time is that when we try to resist feeling something painful, we often protract the very pain we're trying to avoid. Doing so is a prescription for continued suffering. There's also something about the action of searching that blocks us from what we seek. The constant looking outside of ourselves can keep us from knowing when we hit the target. Something valuable can be going on inside us, but if we're not tuning int, we can miss it.

"What aren't you willing to see?" the healers prodded, provoking me to look deeper. How could I know? I was in the dark.

One guru in Indonesia shined the light a bit brighter for me when he asked, "Who do you think you are not to have eye problems?" He went on: "Perhaps Johan's ears don't hear as well as Gerhard's, and maybe Eliza's lungs aren't as strong as Gerta's. And Dietrich doesn't walk nearly as well as Sebastian." (Everyone was either Dutch or German at this particular training program and seemed to be struggling with one chronic condition or another.) Something got through. He was right. Who was I not to have eye problems? It was arrogant for me to argue with reality. Like it or not, my retina was scarred and my vision was blurred, but I - the "me" underneath it all - was beginning to feel calm. No matter what my eye was doing, it no longer had to be the defining factor for how I was doing.

To deepen the learning, this guru had us spend seventy-two hours - three days and nights - blindfolded and earplugged, meditating on a small cushion. Each day, we were given a small bowl of rice to eat and only water to drink. No sleep, no getting up, no lying down, no communicating. Going to the bathroom meant raising your hand and being escorted to a hole in the ground in the dark.

The goal of this madness was just that - to intimately come to know the madness of the mind by observing it. I learned how my mind continually taunted me with worst-case-scenario thinking and the lie that if I just worried hard enough, I could insulate myself from what I feared most.

After this experience and others like it, my inner vision began to clear a bit. My eye, however, stayed the same; the leaking and scarring continued. On many levels, having a vision problem is a great metaphor. I eventually learned that it was less about what I could or couldn't see and more about the way I saw things. But that wasn't when I turned the corner.

It was during the third year of what I now call my "vision quest" that I finally got what I was looking for. By this time, I was doing a lot of meditation. The depression had mostly lifted. I could spend countless hours in silence just being with my breath or body sensations. That was the easy part.

One day, I was waiting in line to have a satsang - a meeting with a spiritual master. I had been waiting for hours in the white robe that everyone in line at the temple wore. It was now my turn. I was expecting the master to acknowledge my dedication. Instead, he looked right through me and saw what I couldn't. "Go home," he said. "Go home and call your mother and your father."

What? I was livid. My body shook with anger. Clearly, he misread me. I no longer needed my parents. I had outgrown them. I had given up on them long ago, traded them in for better parents, divine parents, spiritual parents - all the teachers, gurus, and wise men and women who were guiding me to the next level of awakening. What's more, with several years of misguided therapy under my belt, of beating pillows and tearing cardboard effigies of my parents to smithereens, I believed I had already "healed" my relationship with them. I decided to ignore his advice.

And yet something struck a chord inside me. I couldn't quite let go of what he had said. I was finally beginning to understand that no experience is ever wasted. Everything that happens to us has merit, whether we recognize the surface significance of it or not. Everything in our lives ultimately leads us somewhere.

Still, I was determined to keep the illusion about who I was intact. Being an accomplished meditator was all I had to cling to. So I sought a meeting with another spiritual master - one, I was sure, who would set the record straight. This man imbued hundreds of people a day with his heavenly love. Surely he would see me for the deeply spiritual person I imagined myself to be. Again, I waited a full day until it was my turn. I was now at the front of the line. And then it happened. Again. The same words. "Call your parents. Go home and make peace with them."

This time I heard what was being said.

The great teachers know. The truly great ones don't care whether you believe in their teachings or not. They present a truth, then leave you with yourself to discover your own truth. Adam Gopnik writes about the difference between gurus and teachers in his book Through the Children's Gate: "A guru gives us himself and then his system; a teacher gives us his subject and then ourselves."

The great teachers understand that where we come from affects where we go, and that what sits unresolved in our past influences our present. They know that our parents are important, regardless of whether they are good at parenting or not. There's no way around it: The family story is our story. Like it or not, it resides within us.

Regardless of the story we have about them, our parents cannot be expunged or ejected from us. They are in us and we are part of them - even if we've never met them. Rejecting them only distances us further from ourselves and creates more suffering. Those two teachers could see it. I couldn't. My blindness was both literal and figurative. Now I was beginning to wake up, mostly to the fact that I had left a huge mess back home.

For years, I had judged my parents harshly. I imagined myself to be more capable, far more sensitive and human, than they. I blamed them for all the things I believed were wrong with my life. Now I had to return to them to restore what was missing in me - my vulnerability. I was now coming to realize that my ability to receive love from others was linked to my ability to receive my mother's love.

Still, taking in her love was not going to be easy. I had such a deep break in the bond with my mother that being held by her felt like being squeezed in a bear trap. My body would tighten in on itself as if to create a shell she couldn't penetrate. This wound affected every aspect of my life - especially my ability to stay open in a relationship.

My mother and I could go months without speaking. When we did speak, I'd find a way, through either my words or my armored body language, to discount the warm feelings she showed me. I appeared cold and distant. Conversely, I accused her of not being able to see me or hear me. It was an emotional dead end.

Determined to heal our broken relationship, I booked a flight home to Pittsburgh. I had not seen my mother in several months. As I walked up the driveway, I could feel my chest tighten. I wasn't sure our relationship could be repaired; I had so many raw feelings inside. I prepared myself for the worst, playing out the scenario in my mind: She would hold me and I, wanting only to soften in her arms, would do just the opposite. I would turn to steel.

And that's pretty much what's happened. Embraced in a hug I could barely endure, I could hardly breathe. Yet I asked her to keep holding me. I wanted to learn, from the inside out, my body's resistance, where I tightened, what sensations arose, how I would shut down. It wasn't new information. I had seen this pattern mirrored in my relationships. Only this time, I wasn't walking away. My plan was to heal this wound at the source.

The longer she held me, the more I thought I would burst. It was physically painful. Pain would meld into numbness, and numbness into pain. Then, after many minutes, something gave. My chest and belly began to quake. I began to soften, and, in the weeks that followed, I continued to soften.

It was in one of our many conversations during this time that she share - almost in an offhanded way - an event that occurred when I was small. My mom had to be hospitalized for three weeks for gall bladder surgery. With this insight, I began piecing together what was going on inside me. Somewhere, before the age of two - that's when my mother and I were separated - an unconscious tightening had taken root inside my body. When she returned home, I had stopped trusting her care. I was no longer vulnerable to her. Instead, I pushed her away, and would continue to do so for the next thirty years.

Another early event also may have contributed to the fear I carried that my life would suddenly be ruined. My mother told me that she experienced a difficult labor while giving birth to me - one in which the doctor used forceps. As a result, I was born with extensive bruising and a partially collapsed skull, not uncommon with a forceps delivery. My mother revealed with regret that my appearance made it difficult for her even to hold me at first. Her story resonated, and helped to explain the feeling of being ruined that I knew deep inside. Specifically, traumatic memories from my birth that had submerged in my body would resurface whenever I "gave birth" to a new project or presented new work in public. Just having this understanding brought me peace. It also, in an unexpected way, brought the two of us closer.

While repairing my bond with my mother, I also began to rebuild my relationship with my father. Living alone in a small, ramshackle apartment - the same one he'd lived in since my parents divorced when I was thirteen - my father, a former marine sergeant and construction worker, never bothered to renovate his own place. Old tools, bolts, screws, nails, and rolls of electrical and duct tape were strewn throughout the rooms and hallways - just as they had always been. As we stood together in a sea of rusty iron and steel, I told him how much I missed him. The words seemed to evaporate into empty space. He didn't know what to do with them.

I had always craved a close relationship with my father, yet neither he nor I knew how to make it happen. This time, however, we kept talking. I told him that I loved him and that he was a good father. I shared the memories I had of things he did for me when I was small. I could feel him listening to what I was saying, even though his actions - shrugging his shoulders, changing the subject - indicated he was not. It took many weeks of talking and sharing memories. During one of our lunches together, he looked directly into my eyes and said, "I didn't think you ever loved me." I could barely breathe. I was clear that great pain welled in both of us. In that moment, something broke open. It was our hearts. Sometimes, the heart must break in order to open. Eventually, we began to express our love for each other. I was now seeing the effects of trusting the words of the teachers and returning home to heal with my parents.

For the first time I could remember, I was able to let myself receive my parents' love and care - not in the way I had once expected it, but in the way they could give it. Something opened in me. It didn't matter how they could or couldn't love me. What mattered was how I could receive what they had to give. They were the same parents they'd always been. The difference was in me. I was falling back in love with them, the way I must have felt as a baby before the break in the bond with my mother occurred.

My early separation from my mother, along with similar traumas I inherited from my family history - specifically, the fact that three of my grandparents had lost their mothers at an early age, and the fourth had lost a father as an infant (and much of her mother's attention amid the grief) - helped to forge my secret language of fear. The words alone, helpless, and ruined, and the feelings that had accompanied them, were finally losing their power to lead me astray. I was being granted a new life, and my renewed relationship with my parents was a large part of us.

Over the next few months, I reestablished a tender connection with my mother. Her love, which once felt invasive and grating, now felt calming and restorative. I was also lucky to have sixteen close years with my father before he died. In the dementia that dominated the last four years of his life, my father taught me perhaps the most profound lesson about vulnerability and love I have ever learned. Together, we met in that place beyond thought, beyond the mind, where the only deepest love dwells.

During my travels, I had many great teachers. When I look back, however, it was my eye - my stressed-out, beleaguered, terror-producing eye - that led me halfway around the world, back to my parents, through the morass of family trauma, and finally back to my heart. My eye was, hands down, the greatest teacher of them all.

Somewhere along the way, I had even stopped thinking about my eye and worrying about whether it would improve or worsen. I no longer expected to be able to see clearly again. Somehow, that stopped being important. Not long afterwards, my vision returned. I hadn't expected it to. I hadn't even needed it to. I had learned to be okay no matter what my eye was doing.

Today my vision is 20/20, even though my ophthalmologist swears that with the amount of scarring I still have on my retina, I shouldn't be able to see. He just shakes his head and postulates that somehow the light signals must be ricocheting and bypassing the fovea, the central area of the retina. As with many stories of healing and transformation, what started out looking like adversity was actually grace in disguise. Ironically, after scouring the distant corners of the planet for answers, I found that the greatest resources for healing were already inside me just waiting to be excavated.

Ultimately, healing is an inside job. Thankfully, my teachers led me back to my parents, and home to myself. Along the way I uncovered the stories in my family history that ultimately brought me peace. Out of gratitude and a newfound sense of freedom, it became my mission to help others discover this freedom for themselves.

It was through language that I entered the world of psychology. Both as a student and then as a clinician, I had little interest in tests and theories and models of behavior. Instead, I heard language. I developed listening techniques, and taught myself to hear what people were saying behind their complaints, beneath their old stories. I learned to help them identify the specific words that led to the origin of their pain. And though some theorists postulate that language goes missing during trauma, I've seen firsthand again and again that this language is never lost. It roams the unconscious realms, waiting to be rediscovered.

It's no accident that for me language is a potent tool of healing. For as far back as I can remember, language has been my teacher, my way of organizing and understanding the world. I've written poetry since I was an adolescent, and will drop everything (well, almost everything) when a surge of urgent language insists on being born. I know that on the other side of that surrender are insights that would otherwise be unavailable to me. In my own process, locating the words alone, helpless, and ruined was essential.

In many ways, healing from trauma is akin to creating a poem. Both require the right timing, the right words, and the right image. When these elements align, something meaningful is set into motion that can be felt in the body. To heal, our pacing must be in tune. If we arrive too quickly at an image, it might not take root. If the words that comfort us arrive too early, we might not be ready to take them in. If the words aren't precise, we might not hear them or resonate with them at all.

Over the course of my practice as a teacher and workshop leader, I've combined the insights and methods gained from my training in inherited family trauma with my knowledge of the crucial role of language. I call this the core language approach. Using specific questions, I help people discover the root cause behind the physical and emotional symptoms that keep them mired. Uncovering the right language not only exposes the trauma, it also unveils the tools and images needed for healing. In using this method, I've witnessed deep-rooted patterns of depression, anxiety, and emptiness shift in a flash of insight.

The vehicle for this journey is language, the buried language of our worries and fears. It's likely that this language has lived inside us our whole lives. It may have originated with parents, or even generations ago with our great-grandparents. Our core language insists on being heard. When we follow where it leads and hear its story, it has the power to defuse our deepest fears.

Along the way, we're likely to meet family members both known and unknown. Some have been dead for years. Some aren't even related, but their suffering or cruelty may have altered the course of our family's destiny. We might even uncover a secret or two hidden in stories that have long been laid to rest. But regardless of where this exploration takes us, my experience suggests that we'll arrive at a new place in our lives, with a greater sense of freedom in our bodies and an ability to be more at peace with ourselves.

Throughout this book, I have drawn on the stories of the people I've worked with in my workshops, trainings, and individual sessions. The case details are real, but to protect their privacy, I have changed their names and other identifying characteristics. I am deeply grateful to them for letting me share the secret language of their fears, for their trust in me, and for allowing me to hear what's essential beneath their words.

This 220+ pages book consists of 3 parts (with fourteen chapters in all): "The Web of Family Trauma", "The Core Language Map", and "Pathways to Reconnection". Throughout the book, he provides examples, especially from his clients' stories, and other studies as well as exercises for the readers to do.

So, this book can teach us to be our own family detective of sorts and construct a Core Language Map of our own to follow the clues to the source of a trauma, including a series of certain questions to "connect the dots", to discover a hidden "story" that lives in our family history that had been negatively affecting our lives. Eventually, we can aim to be free of being "unconsciously" connected to that cycle or "story", and our understanding might relieve this burden for future generations.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Wow, a lot of things seemed familiar to me, although his story is dissimilar to mine. I will be considering this one. In particular, I can relate to the freezing up feeling when my mom hugs me. It's like I close myself off. And that affects all other relationships as I maintain that emotional unavailability. It seemed like he patched up his relationship with his mother pretty quickly, and it took a bit longer over a few weeks of talking with his father.

I really liked this part too because I find myself in a similar position:

There's also something about the action of searching that blocks us from what we seek. The constant looking outside of ourselves can keep us from knowing when we hit the target. Something valuable can be going on inside us, but if we're not tuning int, we can miss it.

I think I sometimes look externally for answers when they may already be inside me. You know, "It's fun to see how much you can access." Thanks for sharing!


Dagobah Resident
Zadius Sky said:
My mom had to be hospitalized for three weeks for gall bladder surgery. With this insight, I began piecing together what was going on inside me. Somewhere, before the age of two - that's when my mother and I were separated - an unconscious tightening had taken root inside my body. When she returned home, I had stopped trusting her care. I was no longer vulnerable to her. Instead, I pushed her away, and would continue to do so for the next thirty years.

Wow. I can imagine Gabor Mate' nodding his head to this one were he to ever read it - another classic example. One adverse event, and BOOM!, that guy had avoidant attachment issues for decades.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thanks for sharing this, ZS. This is interesting, to say the least. Although, I wonder at what point one is simply going back to the poisoned well as opposed to really healing? In any case, I've started reading this today and so far it's been one of those books that I just can't put down. :lkj:


FOTCM Member
I keep telling people that doing genealogy and learning and writing your family history is tremendously therapeutic. And it is best to get busy on it while the people in your family who know stuff are still alive!!!


FOTCM Member
I too read this book a while ago, and found it to be very interesting! In my case, I can only try to deduce where some "legacy" comes from or what it is, from the very little I heard about my grand-parents (all dead now), and the little my parents know or remember. But the idea that it can skip a generation, or even be expanded to the entire family (uncles, aunts, etc.) is very interesting and added a possible dimension that I hadn't considered before. Like, for example, when certain traits you struggle with are not easy to pinpoint to the immediate family, yet you know you must have a lesson to learn there. That, added to possible past lives, other types of "interference", and the programs acquired in this life, and well, there are always lots of work to do!

trendsetter37 said:
Although, I wonder at what point one is simply going back to the poisoned well as opposed to really healing?

I think that going back to the poisoned well is more about when you let yourself become part of the old dynamics again, behave like a child again in front of your parents, etc. It's acting mechanically and with the same mechanisms you developed as a child. It's not letting go of the toxic relationships from the past, or letting them control you still, or not setting boundaries so that the same dynamics don't control you anymore. I believe it was the authors of The Narcissistic Family who used the term in that way, in the context of adult children of narcissists insisting to tell their parents everything, expecting them to change, etc..

This is different, IMO. It's about understanding or at least coming up with hypotheses about the root of some of your issues (just as you do when reading the Big 5), and then working towards not repeating them, letting go of trauma that leads to negative behaviors, etc. So, it's not a "poisoned well" per se, but more like trying to get to the core of things so that you understand and can apply will power to change. There is no "poisoned well", in the sense that the people involved are most likely not alive anymore. You can't go back to them. But if not acknowledged, the same issues could rule you over and over again because at a certain point, you choose to let them do so. FWIW.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
When asked "OK, I'm now conscious of that thing, so what should I do ?", Jung answered "Just know it !" ;)

Maybe he means to not over-intellectualize things.

Interesting thread, thank you !


Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I want to share my experience with Family Constellation therapy in this thread since I didn't find one of its own and it is related to the book in a sense. I have done one therapy many years ago but it didn't like the approach of that therapist. In this time I contacted a very experienced one and I have noted changes.

In one way this maybe can be a form of honor and work with the ancestors as the C's have pointed in the recent sessions.

What I liked of the approach of this therapist is that she used small wooden human figures of different colors to represent the members of the genealogic tree. I don't know how, but at first, I talked to her regard my issues and she did a legend assigning a problem with a wood figure. As I talked about 20 family members, she asked me to distribute 20 wooden figures in her desk as I please. I didn't know which figures represent what family member. Next, she did an analysis based on the closeness of the figure that represents me vs the other ones. It also depends on where I think is apparently looking each figure respect that one that represents me. With that information, she made a very accurate analysis of my issues in relation with the illness predominant in each family which she relates with a predominant emotion which is kind of "firm" of each family. The analysis is much complex. I just mention what I got. The close figure to me represented my father, it was behind me and backward. That was according to her is my principal issue, my father, as it is the case. She explained that the place he should occupy is not right in the unconscious.

Next is the part which I have to act on faith because I didn't know the origin of this explanation: she told me that the mother gives strength with respect the economy and the father regards the career and professional exit. So as I am next to change my location it is important to solve this issue to have better chances to got a good job and professional life. Another issue was the mourning my mother's death and an abort my mother had after I was born, which according to this practice has an important impact. In my case is reflected as insecurity.

What I wanted to report is that regard my mother's mourning I feel very well. I cried every day and this changed. Also, the relationship with my father changed, there is more patience on my part, we get along better. And this changed "simultaneously" in both of us. She used several techniques kind of semi-conscious hypnosis in which I was addressed to the image of my father and remembered events that made me harm from his part. I have raged on him and discharge that, telling him from an adult point of view what were my feelings, etc. On the other hand, the therapist led me to a chain of observations and visualizations which made me feel compassion toward him (similar to the book inherited trauma). This same pattern was repeated with other members of the family tree but related to other topics, honoring them and asking force to cope with life.

What I see is that it joined a good analysis with very good psychological/ neurolinguistic techniques to produce good results.

A clarification that the therapist made me: this not mean that you have to start to treat him differently or forgive your father, it is the place he occupies in your unconscious what is important. Anyway, that seems also to have an effect on the way we treat each other, subtle but here there is.

An oratory course classmate had also issues with his father which had not met since years, he was an absent father. After the therapy, the therapist told him that he needed to see his father and hug him if it is possible since he was still alive. The next day his father call him by phone and ask him to meet! how is certain that this moves "the field" and things start to happen.

I am still reading the book but not sure if there is there an explanation for the origin of that remarks about the influence of the role of the father and mother in the economic and professional exit chances of their offspring.

Windmill knight

FOTCM Member
I recently had a 2 hour Constellations session and I did find it useful. Although there weren't any big revelations about family dynamics or my own issues that I hadn't thought of before, there is something powerful about seeing them 'mapped' on a table with Playmobile figures (representing family members, the self and the 'child self'), and a stone to represent the main issue, and then talking to those figures to provide closure after the therapist's suggestions. It makes it all clearer in the mind and therefore easier to let go - or at least I did feel that those things bothered me less after the session. Maybe it works similar to those little 'rituals' we can create to leave stuff behind, like writing letters to people with what we would have liked to tell them and burning them. Perhaps it's like flushing out things hanging in the information field and a visual or material representation helps? I don't know, but I do think there's something to it.


Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I recently had a 2 hour Constellations session and I did find it useful. Although there weren't any big revelations about family dynamics or my own issues that I hadn't thought of before, there is something powerful about seeing them 'mapped' on a table with Playmobile figures (representing family members, the self and the 'child self'), and a stone to represent the main issue, and then talking to those figures to provide closure after the therapist's suggestions. It makes it all clearer in the mind and therefore easier to let go - or at least I did feel that those things bothered me less after the session. Maybe it works similar to those little 'rituals' we can create to leave stuff behind, like writing letters to people with what we would have liked to tell them and burning them. Perhaps it's like flushing out things hanging in the information field and a visual or material representation helps? I don't know, but I do think there's something to it.

Yes, maybe it is in that way, it could work as those little rituals, but I think that the fact another person drive the process is in my case acts like a more powerful influence to achieve the unconscious. I suppose it is what in psychology is called, "transference" which depends on the rapport with the therapist. I do see some things that I have not considered before. I will continue with this approach: doing the exercises that show this book and any visualization of affirmation I will make it in an alpha state. Why? According to my therapist and I will tend to agree, those affirmations and declarations won't work if you don't achieve the unconscious. This is why new agey people repeat like parrots affirmations and hardly see results. IMHO.
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