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Berger, S.S. (2014). Whose Trauma Is It Anyway? Furthering Our Understanding of Its Intergenerational Transmission. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 13(3):169-181.

(2014). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 13(3):169-181

Original Articles

Whose Trauma Is It Anyway? Furthering Our Understanding of Its Intergenerational Transmission

Susan S. Berger

This article proposes that our understanding of the complex mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of trauma is enhanced by utilizing Wilfred Bion’s theory of group dynamics in looking at family dynamics, as they affect intrapsychic development. Family dynamics are viewed according to the Bionion concept of a “work group,” and its functioning in terms of task, authority, role, and boundary. Freudian and Ferenczi’s contributions to our understanding of identification with the aggressor are included as well. This multilayered and theoretically interwoven approach to the individual and the family group can increase our clinical effectiveness in working with children and families, especially when they are struggling with the effects of collective traumas. Clinical examples of the intergenerational effect of the experiences of the Holocaust on Jewish families and their offspring are explored in detail. The author maintains that this perspective offers potential for working with those whose family history includes collective traumas such as slavery and racism, war-related violence and homophobic reactions.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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