Did Your Troubled Child Inherit Family Trauma?

How you can help break a generational cycle

For more than a year, starting at age 19, “Jesse” suffered from insomnia, chills and a fear that if he fell asleep something terrible might happen. The insomnia forced the college baseball player to drop out of school. Depressed, he sought help from San Francisco therapist Mark Wolynn, who found out that Jesse’s uncle had died 30 years ago of hypothermia in a blizzard — at age 19.

Wolynn, who specializes in family trauma, was not surprised at the similarities between Jesse’s problems and the conditions that led to his uncle’s death decades ago. He calls it an “epigenetic inheritance,” the effects of stress and trauma that can be transmitted genetically from one generation to another.

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