Intergenerational trauma is a term used in psychology to describe when trauma is passed down through the generations. This can happen to anyone from any culture, around the world.

When someone in our family lineage has experienced trauma they are unable to come to terms with or process, it stays with them throughout their life, and then passes down through the generations.

Trauma is described as a person’s response to a major event that is overwhelming and difficult to handle. The person often experiences emotions such as shock, trauma, horror, helplessness, despair, amongst others. Trauma can have with a variety of degree depending on the person’s belief system and mindset in the moment. What one person might consider normal, could be traumatic for another.

Generational trauma can be anything from experiencing the violence and shock of war to moving house in a depression, sexual abuse, being sold as a woman, being a slave, seeing people die, torture, manipulation and control, cultural shame, loss of business, miscarriage, divorce, sickness in the family, amongst other things. Many people across the world have experienced trauma. If your generations have experienced trauma of any kind, then you could be carrying the side effects.

In Emotion Code, Dr. Bradley Nelson coined a term called “Emotional Inheritance” to recognise the emotional trauma a person can have stuck in the physical and energy body, passed down through your family line.

When we inherit emotions through our family lineage it is is something we often don’t want to think about or acknowledge because sometimes it is too dark for us to handle. But emotional inheritance and the trauma that was experienced might be affecting you and your children.

Some examples of what your family lineage could be carrying.

  1. Your Grandmother was raped when she was 12 years old.
  2. Your Father is Tibetan and had to walk for months to escape the Chinese invasion,
  3. Being Indigenous and watching your family being slaughtered by “Christians”,
  4. Your Great Great Great Grandmother was skilled at healing people with herbs, but was hung as a witch,
  5. In the year 1700 your ancestor had to kill her new born child because everyone was starving and they only had enough food to feed her one year old child.


From what I’ve seen through my practice as an energy healer it seems that the level of severity of what one carries from generations is determined by how much personal development, emotional healing and spiritual development your family lineage or yourself has done.

The more healing one has done, the less the trauma is to be carried down… until eventually there is no more trauma to pass down to the next generations. Therefore, everyone experiences various levels of the following identified patterns of intergenerational trauma and emotional inheritance:

  • Narcissism
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Toxic Relationships
  • Struggling to move forward in life and business
  • Feeling angry inside for no reason
  • Not feeling safe
  • Cancer
  • Behavioural problems
  • Harmful substance abuse
  • “Poor me, Pity me” patterns
  • Too self-critical
  • Constantly critical of others
  • Hating oneself
  • Never felt loved or love
  • Have never felt joy this lifetime
  • Caught in toxic patterns
  • … as a few examples

Imagine your Grandfather, who experienced trauma during war times, came home in shock and didn’t want to talk about it because it hurt too bad. The system of support that was available to those people on a wide scale – even society and families – didn’t recognise this or how to heal them – because the pain is on the inside, it’s emotional. We tend to only acknowledge the physical pain because we can see it. So, the emotional pain is passed down until it gets to you, and now you are carrying trauma and shock from the war. You might have anxiety and/or be fearful to go outside the house, and so much more. The levels of severity vary from person to person. Even your children could be suffering from intergenerational trauma – emotional inheritance.

Summing up, intergenerational trauma is a term used in psychology to describe the unhealed and unresolved emotional effects of trauma that is passed down through the generations. In Emotion Code Dr. Bradley Nelson suggests that this trauma is trapped in the body in the from of emotions called: Emotional Inheritance.

We are often unaware of the origins of our pain, and generational healing is not commonly known in the Western society; although many ancient cultures are aware of this.

The problem of identifying our own lineage problems is that people have been taught to go into denial, create defenses and excuses to defend the family honour, wounds and intergenerational pain.

It is difficult to acknowledge what someone in your family did, it just feels too dark to recognise, honour and heal. Yet, stuffing the wounds deep down in secrecy, denial, blame and shame keeps it festering for generations. I believe this is why the world is the way it is, and why Ho’oponopono should be a necessary practice for everyone.

Emotion Code recognises that some of the trapped or stuck emotions in your physical body and energy vibrations is emotional inheritance. There is a particular method we use to identify and release these, and the depth of healing administered is determined upon the practitioner’s abilities.

➜ I’m a Certified Emotion Code Practitioner and work with clients on a variety of levels, including shadow work. Almost always I am finding stuck emotional inheritance that is causing physical pain, mental imbalances, emotional instability and even diseases and illness.

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