The short answer is that TRAUMA CAN BE INHERITED.
There's two ways this can work. Way one is actually now the basis of a whole scientific field in and of itself known as epigenetics.
(Click the blue to go through to a simple explanation of what epigenetics is, in more detail.)
For the purposes of this blog, we can say this: only 2% of the information contained in our DNA is 'fixed'. The other 98% is changeable, and considerably affected by outside circumstances, especially traumatic or difficult circumstances that we - or close family members - experienced that wasn't processed, and got 'embedded' in the body somehow.
To give one example of this:
Say someone has a relative who went through the Holocaust. It's such an unspeakable tragedy, the person could never really access it or work it through. But their whole life can now be lived as a 'response' to what they experienced, i.e., they'll hoard food even if they're wealthy, they have a tremendous fear of bad things happening to people, they trust no-one, they are hyper-vigilant and always on guard for things to turn 'bad' or dangerous, etc.
These behaviours all trigger the stress response we've been discussing over the last few points, and very quickly, that person's physiology is 'hardwired' to react to the world as a scary, dangerous, horrible, traumatic place.
They then hand down these physiological 'reactions' to their descendants, who never went through the Holocaust but live their lives as though they did.
There's a great book called: "It didn't start with you: How inherited trauma can shape our lives and how to break the cycle" by Mark Wolynn that describes this phenomenon very nicely.
Here's the bumpf from the back of his book, which sums up what we're discussing here:
It Didn’t Start With You shows how the traumas of our parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents can live in our unexplained depression, anxiety, fears, phobias, obsessive thoughts and physical symptoms—what scientists are now calling “secondary PTSD.”
Documenting the latest epigenetic research—how traumatic memories are transmitted through chemical changes in DNA—and the latest advances in neuroscience and the science of language, It Didn’t Start With You is an accessible and pragmatic guide to breaking inherited family patterns.
WHAT IS INHERITED FAMILY TRAUMA?
Simply put, many of us relive the tragedies from previous generations and rarely make the link.
Examples from the book include:
It didn't start with you - blog
THE SOUL DIMENSION TO C-PTSD
So, the physical mechanism of epigenetics - where the expression of our genes is changed by our circumstances and inherited trauma - is one way you can inherit C-PTSD. But the other way is 100% spiritual, and we'll talk about that in the next post.