Rachel Yehuda —
How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations

Genetics describes DNA sequencing, but epigenetics sees that genes can be turned on and off and expressed differently through changes in environment and behavior. Rachel Yehuda is a pioneer in understanding how the effects of stress and trauma can transmit biologically, beyond cataclysmic events, to the next generation. She has studied the children of Holocaust survivors and of pregnant women who survived the 9/11 attacks. But her science is a form of power for flourishing beyond the traumas large and small that mark each of our lives and those of our families and communities.

Share Episode

Shortened URL


is Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and the director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Pertinent Posts

For the world-weary, cynicism may feel safe. But, in our efforts toward self-protection, what might we be missing? A Millennial reflects on the doubt and distrust he sees in his generation, and suggests a courageous counterpoint: sincere and hopeful optimism.

Episode Sponsor

Share a Reflection



Thank you

I just want to thank you for having such a great guest. This information is exceedingly helpful in once again providing new language for us to use in a positive way to understand our experience and behavior. I was trained in stress management 9 years ago and conduct programs to support people in dealing with stress. This program was a great addition to my understanding of stress.

It was good to hear how rituals can be helpful for people in handling big stresses in their lives. It will be interesting to see what new rituals emerge in this time of increasing trauma and stress. Bernadette

I would very much like to have the lecture notes on How rituals can be helpful for people with Stresses I their lives.
I am a Second Generation and organizing a group to share family histories, Diane

I believe your guest misattributed authorship of scripture on this morning's broadcast in saying there was a tradition that the author of the book of Lamentations was also the author of Song of Songs. The former is attributed to the prophet Jeremiah and the latter to King Solomon (who is also credited with writing Proverbs and Ecclesiastes). What Jeremiah is known from the eponymous book is to have done was to purchase a plot of land in the land of Israel on the eve of the expulsion of the Jews by the Asyrians in about 586 BCE. This was a striking and amazing expression that the exile would have a limit and the Jews would return to their land. In the context of this program, the trauma would have a boundary.

I misspoke and apologize. I meant To say Ecclesiastics not Lamentations. You are totally correct and such are the pitfalls of unedited radio. Rachel

Hi, I want start by saying how much Speaking of Faith/On Being has meant to me.. I love the show including the piece that talks about the contributors religious experience growing up.
I remember it well in the past and then it seemed to not come as much and now it is asked in a way that is outside of context and meaning. It's as if it has to be asked to satisfy something like research or funding and has to be "checked off and gotten out of the way". This happened not just on this show but happens on many lately and it's awkward and counter to the shows purpose, I often wonder why Krista doesn't notice and or allows this.
Exploring this question should have relevance and make sense and it doesn't.
I think that the way it is asked now pushes contributors to answer in a perfunctory way rather then enabling exploration and discussion..
I remember when there were quests on who seemed inclined to be resistant or annoyed at this question but were somehow "brought" into it so that they ended up give it substance..
This is one small part of the shows hour but I notice it and it obviously means something to me..

I actually have appreciated that singular ritual at the beginning of each conversation.Later on in the podcast I am able to reflect back on the guest's answer and reflect on how their spiritual/religious past has integrated (or not) into their present work or exploration.
And it's my own opinion that guests are very natural as they answer as well. I wouldn't expect less of such reflective guests who plumb depths daily.

I worked surveying kids in an after-school program in the "projects" in Chicago. 98% of the kids had either had someone close to them die or had witnessed significant violence. Over 60% had both. The program had to shut its doors several times during the year because there was gunfire and while the center was safe, the route to get to it was not safe.
The foundation shut the program down because it had a higher per child cost than the suburban programs.
I believe schools, and children's programs should have funding that takes into account issues the children have to deal with: divorce, death, violence, poverty, lack of other resources, trauma, etc.
There might be some schools in wealthier areas that would get extra funding because there was a high divorce rate, or school violence, but inner-city schools would get the proportionally higher school funding they need.

I first heard about epigenetics several years ago and little since. I began to wonder if traumas such as parental loss in childhood could bear on psychological/addiction issues of their descendents. I'm glad to know that this field is being actively studied and look forward to hearing more about it. I was beginning to think I'd imagined the whole thing.

Thank you for a very fascinating broadcast that raises so many questions!
1- I am always amazed at the contemporary tendency to make scientific pronouncements the hallmarks of « hard » truth as opposed to the « soft » truths of human wisdom. Yet, the gentle and humble way your guest presented her remarkable scientific findings and even ventured into broader humanistic and sociological considerations made me hopeful that the day will come when science is recognized as one (and only one) of the many possible projections of Life on a conceptual plane. With the discoveries in neuroplasticity and epigenetics, « hard » biological sciences are slowly shifting towards a much fuzzier, softer and hopefully humbler worldview not unlike what happened initially in quantum physics with the « parable » of the cat whose position is influenced by the mere attempt to measure it. Truth in never in “absolutism” but in “(absolute!) relativity and impermanence”.
2- What epigeneticians discover and conceptualize in the 21st century has been known (and conceptualized) for ages in the spiritual traditions and, one could argue, constitutes the very framework of myths and cosmologies. The Bible is no exception with its traumatic events (the Flood, exiles and other manifestations of God’s wrath) that serve as behavior modifiers in thefollowing generations until « epigenetic » memory of the trauma fades out and the next « teaching » is dispensed… It is also worth mentioning that transgenerational healing processes did not wait for their epigenetic explanation to be active and real … (the Adult Children of Alcoholics movement, the perinatal matrices of Stanislas Grof’s holotropic breath work and the Transgenerational Psychotherapy of Anne Ancelin Schutzenberger come to mind).
3- The overall dynamics of today’s conversation with Rachel Yehuda clearly points to the archetype of the « wounded healer » or the shaman, the individual who has transmuted the lead of traumatic wounds into the gold of initiatory stigmata. Epigenetics, as presented by your guest, echoes the stories of wounded heroes like Osiris, Orpheus, Chiron, etc. and their subsequent healing powers. Healing is contagious and one can only dream of the day when medicine becomes more driven by such a perspective than by its current morbid paradigm.
4- Hearing the profound insights drawn from studies of children of the Holocaust and of 9-11 survivors, I was touched by your guest’s recognition that, at a personal level and making abstraction of the terrifying political and sociological dimensions of genocides and terrorism, trauma is trauma and represents a “personal holocaust” for the victim, with comparable personal and transgenerational consequences. One can then better appreciate the scope of the tragic impact of current conflicts around the world on generations to come. I recall a TV program, several years ago, where a prominent Israeli psychiatrist was expressing his conviction and dismay that his country’s policies amounted to the serial manufacturing of generations of deeply wounded Palestinian souls that would be acted out into endless cycles of violence. One could say that it was epigenetics at work without the name. Dispensing with the « gene(t) » part, « epigenetic » becomes « epic » and evokes the epic struggle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, the forces of trauma and the forces of healing, the forces of death and the forces of life. Each of us must decide on what side he/she wants to be counted.

Thank you again!

How wonderful to hear this programme. As an Air Force dependent; we moved more than 18 times in 12 years. Completely uprooted each time into an unfamiliar country or state with little or no familiarity, there is/was no homeostasis for us. Unfortunately, without understanding, I continued this lifestyle after I was no longer a dependent.

Thank you for this extremely important program. Understanding and awareness of epigenics can change the world. Imagine the progress we can make if traumas were transformed and harmful life patterns identified and redirected.

Re: How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations
The interview reflected on the research and science as applied to victims of atrocities, grief, stress, and other crisis. I wonder what the findings might be for the perpetrators of trauma, and their descendants.
(The story also reminded me of the generational work of therapies such as Family Constellations.)

Regarding your question on the transgenerational impact of trauma among children of perpetrators, the extraordinary work of Dan Bar-On and colleagues with children and grand-children of holocaust survivors AND of Nazi perpetrators provides the answer. I had the privilege to attend one such healing session some 20 years ago during an international gathering on suffering and healing and it became crystal-clear to any witness of that meeting that trauma travels through generations on both sides of the coin. There are many links to his work on the Web. See also

I am saddened to learn, as I write this, that this great healer passed away in 2008. What a giant and a gift he was and still is through his legacy!

What a timely program, for me, and one of substance as well as grace. Thanks to both Rachel (Dr. Yehuda, by title, but so friendly and engaging that she seems more of a Rachel, that is, conversationally similar to an acquaintance) and Krista.

Just as a short note on epigenetics. A PBS program on this topic within the last couple of years noted that it was kickstarted by studies from Scandinavian countries that had excellent family histories going back more than just one or two centuries. It seems that in the past when droughts or extreme cold weather caused crop failures and famine lasting more than one or two years, that the health effects of famine could be seen to act epigenetically not just in children, but in grandchildren, great grandchildren and more. In fact, this was one area outside the mental health arena (namely, diabetes and such diseases) that really pushed the relevance of related genetic tests that moved science beyond nature versus nurture dichotomies.

A wonderful, hopeful, helpful program in a great series. Thanks again.


I made sure that I had time in my day today to listen to today's program on NPR. I and my three sisters are the children of terribly abused parents, and sustained extensive emotional abuse from our father, along with tenuous financial stability. I've done some amount of research on the physiological effects of trauma, and always appreciate hearing more about it at any moment to better understand the situation I have to work with.

The idea of epigenetic transmission of trauma and resilience is deeply fascinating, and further helps me understand the implications of having had abusive parents who themselves had been abused, in more than just a continuation of conditioned behaviors to the abused parent's children. I wish more had been discussed on the mechanisms of epigenetics, the 'hard science' of this phenomenon, but I understand that this program is more on the emotional and less concrete aspects of the mind, so am not too put off. I am an atheist, but understand that religion has a large impact on most individuals, and it is helpful to understand other people's perspectives on these matters.

Thank you so much for having this guest on your show - it was a real treat!

This was a really fascinating episode. When Dr. Yehuda stated that how we behave towards one another (and how we behave towards ourselves) can make a really big difference in the effects of environmental events on our molecular biology, it struck me that this sounds almost like the biological mechanism behind karma.

The study of the field epigenetics may be new to academia, but the concept has been discussed over decades by Native American and African-American communities. It is my personal opinion that environmental trauma and its effects on the psyche are the basis of instinctual behaviors. If memories are stored electrochemically, could not these experiences change individual body responses to extreme stimuli (e.g. increased adrenal responses to specific situations, subconscious reactions to stressful societal situations etc.). It is known that some chemicals both biological and synthetic can pass through normal biological barriers such as the blood brain barrier and the placental sac. Could not neurotransmitters also pass memories in the same way and affect fetus development (similar to maternal passive immunity), and in turn become normal instinctive mechanisms for the next generation?
After birth, these instinctual mechanisms would be reinforced by cultural norms eliciting positive or negative reactions. It is just surprising to me that a discussion so similar to societal judgments of the negative generational emotional and intellectual capabilities by minorities are only considered now based on observations of Holocaust victims. The culture of African-Americans have been sanitized and replaced with new cultural norms that favor psychological control. Instinctual formation based on this theory can be a basis of reason for the perceived intellectual and moral inferiority’s of minorities from those whose generational predecessors who had either imposed or had never been exposed to these environmental stressors.

I live in Baltimore. I want everyone to hear this. Thank you.

I thoroughly enjoyed this segment on how the effects of trauma on a human may transmit biologically to their next generation(s). The story cited holocaust victims, and victims of 9/11 - both human-created trauma. Question - did your studies see any difference between human-created trauma (e.g., the holocaust, 9/11), and naturally-occurring trauma such as a hurricane, typhoon or earthquake.

For example, do your findings also apply to the next generation of the victims of the tsunami in Banda Aceh, or Katrina in New Orleans?

I am the eldest grandchild of holocaust survivors and recently returned from a trip to Germany and Poland where I revisited some of the sites my Grandfather survived during the war. I joined my grandmother, aunt, uncle and my cousins on this trip. Our reactions and responses ranged immensely, but it was clear that we have inherited and stored something of this trauma transmitted through the generations. The trip for me was something of a pilgrimage for release and healing and I was pleased to learn of the science behind the rewiring of wounded genes. Needless to say the timing of this episode was perfect for my processing. I do believe, especially two generations removed, that recognizing this stored trauma is a signal to work for positive transformation and that the potential for healing around these ancestral wounds is immense. We all share in this work and must engage in it for the benefit of future generations. If trauma can be transmitted through the genes I believe it is safe to assume that so can healing. Deep Gratitude, Joshua

Hi Joshua,

I am a child of 2 holocaust survivors and have 2 boys in their 20s. It took me well into midlife to start putting the pieces of my parents and grandparents trauma together and in the last 4 years I have been going to Auschwitz to bear witness to the atrocities that occurred there. My mother was in Auschwitz my father a Schindler Jew. I am a psychotherapist and have been giving talks about my personal experience growing up and my own legacy burdens. I would love to put together a group for 3G in Boston or online. I really appreciate the work you are doing the the way you articulate your thoughts.
thank you.

I would like to really thank you for this episode of "On Being". Im a USMC veteran and have toured to Iraq. Coming from a family that has also history of trama and symptoms of PTSD, I have found this episode really eye opening. I must share this with my family members of trama and with those who know persons dealing with PTSD or other tramas. My favorite idea i believe from this was that something like.. "you ignore your past and try to run away from it, you pick it up and carry it with you... you set aside a time and remember those emotions, you allow them to have their place in your lives but not take over your life." just.... wow. Beautiful. Thank you again --- Michael Morentin USMC Veteran 2004-2009

There is a growing awareness of an expanding social problem related to computer access to pornography, and the study and treatment of sex addiction. Partners of sex addicts (in its many forms) experience a very real trauma when the life and relationship they thought they had is revealed as something different. Trust in their primary relationship - marriage or 'partnership' is broken, and a new reality is experienced. This trauma as described in work by sex addiction researcher, Patrick Carnes, PHD, CAS, CSAT, is similar to PTSD. A great deal of what is said in this interview speaks to the trauma experienced by partners of sex addicts. I would heartily agree that recognition of partner sex addiction trauma, naming it, sitting with it, and grieving over it is prerequisite to building resilience and recovery. CSATs (Certified Sex Addiction Therapists,) and various sex addiction support groups play a significant role in helping partners of a sex addicts to build resilience. Good interview and insight into a broader look at the impact of human trauma. Thank you.

A very interesting program, but I am wondering why there was no mention of the enormous number of Palestinian children (more than 350,000 according to the UN relief and works agency) who need mental health services because of severe and persisting psychological trauma. If you want to study the effects of stress and trauma, the Palestinians would be a perfect group to observe.

Makes so much sense, lines up with my perceptions of family, of history, personal history, historic social change, personalities, history of race relations, and on and on. Thank you.

Wonderful show, great guest, fantastic interview.
Epigenetics really holds a lot of promise for understanding how environmental conditions impact gene expression, and how these impacts can be transmitted to the next generation. I feel that the surface was barely scratched in the hour, and that certainly reflects the state of the field. They touched on some very interesting observations and implications that I hope we here more if in the future. Dr. Yehuda expressed the view that epigenetic inheritance trauma-induced changes are most likely adaptive, expanding the range of responses that these can have to adverse circumstances. It seems that the current state of the science is such that we can observe that epigenetic changes have occurred in response to trauma and are transmitted to the next generation, and we can in many cases point to specific molecular mechanisms that bring about the changes in response to the trauma-induced physiology (stress hormones, perhaps metabolic enzymes, etc), but we don't yet understand the adaptive value that such changes have. And our understanding is clouded by the fact that the same or similar molecular/behavioral responses can promote positive or negative outcomes, depending on the circumstances surrounding the individual.
I liked Rachel Yehuda very much, and I appreciated her need to connect her work to human experience. I loved her freedom to speak openly about such non-scientific topics as religion and spirituality. I've read her recent publications, all experimental studies. I do hope that she takes to writing more for lay audiences, as she expresses herself so well. She has great capacity to ground biology in human experience, and explain lived experience in the language of biology.

I hope as well that in the future we will come to a better understanding of resilience. Much of the conversation seemed to focus on inherited harm. That's important, and I loved how the conversation connected these biological observations to cultural wounds, and stressed the need to think about how to build compassionate communities in light of this knowledge. But I can't believe that these mechanisms evolved to make us less fit. So perhaps it is an article of faith that if we keep trying to understand this biology, we will hit upon how it is that inheritance of molecular markers of our parents' trauma makes us more likely to come through adversity and thrive.

I want to thank you for bringing Dr. Yehuda on the show. I first heard of epigenetics in a magazine article a few years ago, and it actually referenced her work with Holocaust survivors. That article helped me to decide to return to school to study this growing area of science. I held a biochemistry degree, but I was teaching high school until I figured out what area of research I wanted to pour myself into.

I am now a molecular biology student, and I am beginning to study some regulatory pathways which lends itself to these kinds of studies. I am so excited to hear that epigenetics is becoming more common knowledge, as it has such great implications in our lives.

I may have missed it, but why was the stress hormone lower for the PTSD and Holocaust survivors and why was this a crisis. I am a trauma trained therapist working with kids.

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, therapist and poet and all of those have been influenced by my history. Both of my parents are Holocaust survivors and I knew that the world was a dangerous place but I didn't know why.
So I appreciate your writing and research.

Krista, thank you for your willingness to include with regards to contemporary implications for Dr. Yehuda's epigenetics work: particularly race relations in America right now. Below Alonzo touched on this a bit, and I don't know that this was Dr. Yehuda's field of expertise, but I think it's important to discuss how these epigenetic findings have very different contexts for Jews and Blacks.

I agree that it is reason for hope that the mere information of epigenetics could help us to be more aware of our actions and to contextualize our stress responses. However, I'd imagine that given how current events, social and economic structures, and media influences all display their own anti-black messages, that if anything, in African American communities, these soul scars are just being re traumatized and re wounded, and deeper embedded in our DNA. A couple of years ago Jason Silverstein wrote an article called "How Racism Is Bad for Our Bodies," that talked about short term "embodied racism," or stress that has physical effects. If this sort of stress is still being experienced today (and circumstances have only become more dire with the recent wave of police violence), I'd imagine it's unlikely that impacts on genetics would be lessened or reversed.

Jews (American) have, but they currently do not, experience the sort of systematic racism that African Americans do. Atrocities have been acknowledged, memorialized, and repaired in completely differing ways than they have been for blacks, in part because systematic racism against blacks is far from over, on both national and global scales.

What if racism has changed African Americans on genetic levels? How do we heal? And how do we manage that information in the face of really ugly dialogues about "pathologies" of the black community?

On the other side of the coin is an equally horrific plausibility: that after centuries of inculcation, of fear mongering about blacks and blackness, is it possible that many whites Americans have racism indented in their DNA? Even some of the most liberal whites would describe the automatic fear they have upon seeing particularly "menacing" black folks. The engineers of racism (perhaps more for mystical reasons), the "grand wizards" if you will, already know that by manipulating a stress response you can ensure that racist systems endure. This is why criminalization of blacks has played such a key role in maintaining an America that underserves and sometimes outright disadvantage black Americans.

Bleak, yes: but if there is evidence that epigenetics may play a role in our ability to heal racial divides in this nation, then let it be said plainly! Might racism have impacted large swaths of America's genetic code? If that's the case, then any real attempts at healing will have to be extremely aggressive. [For example, if we know that black students are going to have increased likelihood to be distrustful of authority (some sort of mangled stress response developed overtime given black community's relationship with cops, teachers, etc.), and we know they're more likely to come from low income households, don't we need to be responsible for having more counselors and wraparound health services on school sites?] Knowledge holds us accountable.

I think most of us are beyond ready for such invasive procedures (and policy).

Thanks again for bringing up the discussion, Krista. I'm looking forward to researching more about epigentics and race in America and I will keep you posted on what I find and resources for you and your listeners.

At this time, more and more, we have been touching by this kind of information. We need to heal and doing so, we help our descendent.

I was struck by this episode and the wisdom it made me see in the Jewish fasting/feasting cycles. It also pointed out how those cycles help keep the Jewish people in state of preparation and release from generation trauma.

The timing of this episode - coming right after Tu B'Av and Tisha B'Av is really powerful, but it's also making me think about Passover in a whole new way.

The episode also got me thinking that in the USA we need to reclaim Memorial Day as an actual day of remembrance - and that we need some kind of true day of remembrance for the generational trauma inflicted on the American people through treatment of Native Peoples, African American Slavery, and even the internment of Japanese during WWII. To release it, and all of us, we need contained -- but powerful -- experiences to release it.

Memorial Day is a great idea for a time! I was excited to think about schools as spaces for this sort of education and interaction to take place, and then remembered they're so segregated, and can be slightly banking model (Friere) oriented. Where do you think this sort of healing happens? Inter/intra community?

My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh talks a lot about how we carry the suffering of our ancestors. He advises us to get in touch with it, and that when we do, we can heal not only ourselves, but our ancestors as well. He also teaches that the people we love - are in us - so though we may separate, they may die, they don't die within us. We have a wonderful ritual called touching the earth, in which we send our heartfelt gratitude to our genetic, land, and spiritual ancestors, and we "release" to Mother Earth all the sh*it they handed down to us. Mother Earth - actually physically laying down on her, is a kind of grounding I suppose, but a powerful metaphor: Earth transforms everything. even nuclear and toxic wastes. she takes her time. she can be covered in excrement and the next day the same place is clean and fertile. Pretty powerful stuff and if somewhat esoteric, your work really brings it from metaphor or ritual into physical reality. (we always think the two are separate - but spiritual teachings at their best are really designed for the human organism to heal and thrive) Thank you!

If dogs and other animals genetically pass down personality traits; it makes sense that humans can do the same thing. I know I have received genetic traits of both my parents personality, and even of my grandparents experiences and reaction from my grandparents.

Thank you for your research and the stories that it illuminates. The adaptations of stress and trauma are not isolated to certain kinds of people or experiences. This awareness of the the human experience is critical to our healing- not only as individuals, but of entire communities.

I loved this program, and it really spoke to me. Thank you so much. I have PTSD and I often do live in the past. What I really liked is how you said, Dr. Yehuda, that "Though you cannot change what has happened in the past, there's this whole future that you might be able to do something about."

I am curious about this research. I feel that there is trauma in my body but I am not sure where it comes from. My grandfather was in WW2 and my father was born on the day that the war ended. I have a feeling that such things can go further than one generation. What are your thoughts on this?

I've often thought of the connection. My mother was a prisoner of war in WWII and returned to Japan after. There she faced starvation and humiliation by the American troops. She ended up marrying a soldier and moving to Atlanta where she worked very hard, lived a productive life, and had one child who loved her (and misses her). Me. I ended up hardworking, smart (Mensa), and focused on those with less than me becoming a Legal Services lawyer representing DV victims. I also ended up fighting obesity all my life. This is the first time that I've heard anyone (other than me) connecting her trauma and my struggles. Interesting. Thank you.

As with all the onbeing programs, this informed and enlightened me in profound ways. I would love a followup interview/discussion that gives voice to the Native American generational traumas: exploring current impacts and the cultural, spiritual, and scientific discussions that could inform a story forward. It feels as though many people in the US are invisible - not included in these wonderful conversations.

well if genes can be turned on and off and if they are subject to environmental changes like the rest of the body we can postulate A Gene memory bank-which is capable of changes-in the form of alteration in sequences-If that is so Darwin was perhaps right when he conjectured-transmission of acquired characters-almost.Memory bank of mother couldbe transferred(inherited) down the line if not in toto-modified and modifiable in the future af the offspring grows

Rachel Yehuda's work is fascinating, this has tremendous meaning for many, including African Americans. Brave to Krista for her excellent questions.

Thank you so much for this program "On Being" and for the topic with Rachel Yehuda on epigenetics and trauma/resilience across generations. I have listened to this episode three times because it really resonated with me, linked with the sociological work of Dr. Joy DeGruy on "post-traumatic slave syndrome". I very much support the recommendation of acknowledging the trauma--ritually where possible--but not being defined/haunted/disempowered by it. Yet, how does one do that when the trauma continues though it has mutated, e.g., the African-American, First Nations, Aboriginal realities in the countries of residence? How do we disrupt this generational transmission? And Christian religion, being so complicit in the destruction of indigenous people, how could those leaders or that community be trusted to heal the trauma?

Hi Rachel, Not only am I a child of a survivor who suffered from horrible PTSD, but my name's Simone YEHUDA. Wow. I'd love to get in touch.

I am a 59 year old female who lost her mother at the age of 9, now in the 4th year of primary progressive MS. That explains my interest in this topic. I applaud Krista and will listens several more times.

As of today, I've listened to the interesting interview between Krista Tippett and Rachel Yehuda about how trauma and resilience are passed down through our genes/DNA. A friend and I have spoken several times about this - believing it true - without ever hearing this interview. I had a difficult childhood back in the 50's and 60's. Lots of death, trauma through violence and abuse and abandonment. No one was there to lean on, to talk one-on-one about the trauma and so all my life, every day, I 've endured the feeling that 'the other shoe was about to drop.' Everyday, the daily dis-ease is there which, I know now was inherited in the womb and continued until I began to 'work with myself' to understand these uncomfortable feelings that begin and end the day. Listening to the On Being podcasts, being able to save the especially important ones that resonate with me, such as this interview with Ms. Yehuda, is something I wish I'd had decades ago, before I now. Thank you for this interview and all the interviews I have so loved while listening in the studio or at the gym. Thanks so much.

It is so wonderful to have trauma being talked about more and more. I want to share a resource with people who are wondering if it is possible to heal from generational trauma. I have personal experience healing from generational trauma through Somatic Experiencing, a technique created by Dr. Peter Levine. His work is truly revolutionary and there are many practitioners all through the world. You can find a practitioner and read books about Somatic Experiencing on his website here: www.traumahealing.com May we all find peace and reclaim the resiliency of the human soul that is our birthright. In Peter's words "Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence."

I believe I mis typed the web address for my previous comment. It should be www.traumahealing.org Thank you.

I want to thank you for bringing this interview about. Rachel Yehuda brought clarification to my personal theory that we not only passes transgenerationally our physical strength and weaknesses but that what i called our psychological inheritance has also basis in sciences. Being of a child born of holocaust survivors myself it explained a lot.
Best wishes for your continuing research in trauma and ptsd.

Thank you for this interview. As the grandchild of immigrants from Prussia/Poland/Germany, this work strongly resonates with my experience. I'm so relieved to know I am not alone. This interview gives me the language and concepts necessary to take another step forward in learning and healing both myself and the family story.

I have not listened to the show yet, but I will. A friend sent this site to me because of the work I do. I am trained as an Energy Medicine Practitioner, Expressive Arts Therapist and a Family/Systems/Nature Constellation Facilitator. I've been in this work, more or less, since the late '80's when I used Energy Medicines to cure my 2nd and 3rd cancers. In the past 29 years I've been working wit a plethora of modalities trying to find THE thing that would heal trauma quickly and as effortlessly as possible. In Expressive Arts training there is much catharsis, which gets old after awhile. When I bumped into the Constellation work everything changed. The level and depth of trauma that this work clears is astounding if not mind boggling. We have no real words for this as yet but slowly and surely they are emerging. I want to leave you with on example: I worked with a 60 year old woman whose father and grandfather fought wars in Italy. One with Mussolini fighting against fascism and the father in WWII. The father hid in a cave for 4 years during the occupation with people being killed by gun shot and disease all around him. The men in that cave stayed and watched their fellow soldiers die from all manners of things. This woman had severe structural problems in her back and hips accompanied by lingering pain. In one 90 minute session we released from her all the pain she carried from both her Grandfather's war experience and her father's war experience. She had several days of intense emotional grief, guilt and anxiety, which had always plagued her. Slowly but surely she was able to let it all go and is now pain free. In her Pilates class her instructor mention how much her physical structure had changed and wondered what she had done to create this change. This is a new woman today. Not all experiences are as dramatic. It seems to depend on the level of trauma. Another client whose father was born in Germany and came to this country as young boy was drafted during WWII and had to go back to Germany and kill his country men. He left there a very troubled man, depressed and without the ability to regain his zest for life. He died feeling the same way. His daughter and her daughter all carried his trauma. His trauma was released from the daughter who had been suicidal several times in her 50 some years. This is no longer a problem for her. She has mentioned several times to me how she never new what happiness and joy felt like...and know does. In Constellation work we work directly with the field that intersects all of us, especially the family and its ancestors. Biologist Rupert Sheldrake calls this The Morphic Resonance Field. It is profound work and I see people's lives changed daily. I am just as impressed at the release they get from their ancestral lineage as they are. Healing is profound and permanent and does not take years often one session does it.

It's nice to see this being recognized in an established manner. We need to be looking, always, to the unknown for answers we have not yet uncovered. I am honored to be involved with these people, this work and their healing.

I am of Jewish extraction, but know very little about my Jewish heritage and ancestry. I have always been inexplicably drawn to stories and movies with Jewish themes, as well as feeling compelled to visit synagogues and Jewish cemetaries wherever I travel. I can't seem to help being drawn into and touched by their trauma and have often wondered why that is. Is there something in my DNA that is connected to them causing me to be affected emotionally. I have experienced my own trauma and wonder if there is a compounded effect and now I am concerned as I witness the same effects of seemingly generational trauma being played out in my adult daughter. Just how far does this generational effect go?

Interviews are much better and easier to listen to without all the extra commentary by the interviewer. The "Mhm's" and "Yeah's" and "Yeah right's" and "OK's" while the interviewee is talking, makes it difficult to listen for me. I unfortunately could not get through the first interview here because of that. I found the transcript, so maybe I'll read through what Dr. Yehuda was saying.

Interviewers should ask a question then stop saying anything at all until it's time to ask the next question. Breaking in to clarify something important here and there is understandable but the rest is unnecessary and is distracting.

Sorry if this comes off as rude. I'm not trying to be rude or mean. I'm sensitive to distractions and this is one main one for me.

I really don't know what's going to happen next.

My son's brain injury after having an allergic reaction was a traumatic experience.

After listening to this program which is approximately only about 10 minutes, I felt a connection to the Professor Rachel Yaheda. It was magical. I couldn't explain why. But, I could totally get what she was talking about and she made me appreciate how much true it is when she says, money can't buy a urin sample and how if her father asked for it, they would have just given it to him. She is innocent and resilient at the same time - when she decided that she can do this research out of her parents home and she following through it by setting up a lab in the basement. She is a real american hero who stands for all the american values and I felt like, one day, I should be so privileged to meet her and get her autograph. I wish my kids get professors like her when they go to college and get inspired by her and by professors of her calibre. She is the embodiment of the fabric that builds human societies and make us thrive. God bless her with a long life and my gratitude for service to society by being herself and her teaching and research!

My God, if this is true, decedents of the worst crimes against humanity, Chattel Slavery, most be the most resilient human beings in history, don't you think?