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Week in Dialogue with the Author:  Gita Baack 

The book: “The Inheritors: Moving Forward from Generational Trauma”

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See below for more details about the book.

How to participate:

1. Join the NING Taos Online Community Website.

2. Come to this page -

4. Read this chapter but also be sure to buy the book and read the whole book before this Week in Dialogue so you can fully participate.Download Now: Inheritors-Invitation

Also download other parts of the book  -Click Here for readings.

Buy the book - click here.

About the Week in Dialogue with the Author - Gita Baack

The history of man is one that encompasses both acts of kindness as well as acts of evil impossible to understand. Life often brings devastating events: victimization, displacement, marginalization, illness, injustice, economic and environmental disasters, and so on. The premise of the book is that our family legacies, both positive and negative, are passed down from one generation to the next in ways that are not fully understood. Further I have an alarming message that if the inherited trauma is not processed, the cycles of pain, hatred, and violence may be perpetuated for as many as seven generations or more. Imagine what this means for Native people who have suffered eight generations of trauma! Or imagine what this means for people who have inherited anger, hate and racist ideologies as part of their identity! No wonder history repeats itself.

This book, based on my Taos dissertation, follows my journey as an Inheritor of the Holocaust, trying to process the gaps in my family legacy and an exploration of the veracity of a knowledge I had since I was a young child without any way of knowing if it was true or not.  It is also a collection of stories and dialogues with Inheritors from different parts of the world, from someone who escaped Syria in the nick of time, to Vietnamese inheritors, to children and grandchildren of war vets to First Nations people’s inherited trauma. In the process of exploring the impacts of the trauma, the book is also a discovery of the many facets of resilience that we also inherited.

The book was written as non-academic book in the hope that it will help readers to uncover and process their own inherited stories and find their resilience finally claiming the whole life that we all deserve and stop the perpetuation of trauma. It is also intended as a resource for all helpers and activists.


RECORDING of the Webinar - Click Here. 

PowerPoint Presentation - 10-6-2017 Gita Baack


The book is intended for:

- Immigrants and displaced persons worldwide

- Holocaust Survivors and their descendants

- Indigenous People and African Americans

- Descendants of families in European countries affected by guilt and shame

- Persons who have experienced the impacts of devastating events

- Teachers, Counsellors, teachers, historians, activists, and helpers everywhere

Some of the questions we will explore:

Chapter 1 —“An Invitation to My Reader”, pages 3 - 8

-        After reviewing the rather long list of who are Inheritors of trauma, why do you think it is important for us as relational leaders to be aware of the impacts of inherited trauma?

-        How can this understanding help us in relational and peace work as Social Constructionists?

Chapter 4 —“Different Forms of Memory”, pages 39-59 and Chapter 11 —“Moving Forward”, pages 171-189

-        Memory work can be about an unknown past or even about someone else’s unknown past. Inheritors of trauma (and resilience) tend to become researchers of the unknown and/or of the un-discussable. After reading this chapter, do you have a memory or sense of knowing that you have not acknowledged or something that you want to research that your have not yet done.  How would knowing make you feel?

-        Validation of one’s legacy is important to help move forward. How can dialogues facilitate validation of traumatic legacies?

-        What would be important consideration when designing dialogues that would help guide Inheritors to move forward from their conscious or unconscious pain, sense of absence and deep seated feelings of betrayal?

-        What would be important consideration when designing dialogues that would help guide Inheritors of perpetrators, collaborators or bystanders transform their shame and guilt or their hatred and racism?

-        What would be important consideration when designing dialogues that would bring together diverse groups of Inheritors?

E-mail me when people leave their comments –


  •  I am looking forward to our discussions on helping inheritors from all sides of conflict to move forward and end the cycle of pain and anger.  Let us begin with the two questions: 

    -   After reviewing the rather long list of who are Inheritors of trauma, why do you think it is important for us as relational leaders to be aware of the impacts of inherited trauma?

    -        How can this understanding help us in relational and peace work as Social Constructionists?

    • I should actually have asked if you fit any of the descriptions. Many people are surprised when they discover that indeed, they have experienced in second hand way, the effects of loss, or pain, or outrage as well as the resilience to push ahead with compassion and a strong sense of moral justice.  So let me phrase this question like this:  Have you experienced a sense of unfinished business, a sadness that just won't go away?  

      Once you have gotten in touch with these conscious or unconscious feelings, then go on to think about and comment on, the question:  why do you think it is important for us as relational leaders to be aware of the impacts of inherited trauma (and/or of resilience)?

      • I am thinking about the horror out of Vegas and the terror of the people involved. The reverberations in their lives and the people in their lives will certainly be complex and individual. I hear sadness and shock and the eternal question "why". We too go inside ourselves as our own fears and thoughts swim in confusion.  Helpers cry 'we have to do something".  Here in this space we are asking how can we bring our awareness and our relational framework to do something.  

        • Unfortunately the cycle of reaction to a mass shooting of shock, sadness, recrimination or defensive reactions will roll out again and disappear when the shock recedes or another distracting issues/event occurs. Those directly and indirectly affected will stay in shock and, over time, will try to understand and adjust. Some, who cannot accept the enormity of the event will commit suicide while others will bury it and try to be normal. But normality will not return. They are affected, their lives are changed and their childrens’s lives will be changed. A new generation of Inheritors is being, has been created.&lt;br/&gt;<br/>
          I sometimes think our world is full of Inheritors. Few people have been “blessed” with a non-traumatic life. Often those “blessed”are insufferable in their smug lack of understanding. I believe that most traumas are “garden variety” traumas (like divorce, death of a loved one, career failures) and few are as heavy as the traumas of the Holocaust or ethnic cleansing (what a benign term that is - so sterile in impact and so horrific in reality). Most normal people experience trauma, strive to understand it and then work to minimize its impact. That works with “normal trauma” but, as you pointed out in your book, sometimes it is passed to the succeeding generations, incorporated as a form of collective unconscious.&lt;br/&gt;<br/>
          As a former soldier I have experienced traumas (snipers, being unarmed in a combat zone, divorce, and just being in the Army was enough to induce a trauma). I reacted through ignorance, not knowing I was in trouble, and took the soldier’s solution -alcohol. It was not until I talked to a psychotherapist that I was able to pull out of the dive to self-destruction and start work on becoming a stable (perhaps a more stable) human being. And that is what most people do when faced by concrete and “easily” discussed traumas. It is not easy but it is easier than the challenges faced by those who face benign, invisible second-hand trauma like Inheritors. That is why I appreciate this work you have done with the book. It helps to surface the problem and, once faced and identified, it can be addressed.
          • Thank you Dennis.  I am also thinking about how the media plays it out as though it is a passing event.  I even hear reporters language of "the healing has begun" when, as you say, those affected will stay in shock which will play out in various ways.  If they don't get the opportunity to process it, then their children will need to do the work.  I was not surprised to hear  that the shooter's father was violent and yet everyone is wondering why he did this.

            And yes, trauma comes in various ways, not only affecting a whole ethnic race or country.  Certainly at the family and individual level as well.  In the end aren't all the levels connected?

            • I do not think of inherited legacies of survival as requiring healing.  I don't consider us broken and as a Social Constructionist, I believe the pathological construct is not serving our society.  Indeed I see many fellow Inheritors as high functioning, compassionate people.  We will find many are in the helping fields. How can we help people explore their trauma as well as their resilience when working with people in conflict or in pain? 

              • You give me a headache. I developed a brilliant response to what I thought I saw and realized I was looking through the wrong end of the telescope! So I deleted my “brilliant assessment”. (Actually I kept it in an email to me)
                I will therefore be brief. I agree that there is a better way to deal with trauma. My understanding of Social Construction is limited but I think its base is “tell me who you are and I will tell you what you think” - if I am a policeman I see with the eyes of an forces of the law, if a criminal I see with the eyes of one dealing with the challenges posed by the cop. If I am an Inheritor I see the world through the eyes of my parent’s experiences and traumas and I am more vigilant about certain things in my environment.<br/>
                So... if the question is “how do we deal with the Inheritors in conflict?” the answer may be to let them talk, clarify what they mean, be patient, clarify their intent, and, over time, work together to find solutions. Then stay in contact (to the degree to which they are comfortable) to coach, counsel, maybe even cajole to get them to succeed at THEIR chosen goals which may be great or mundane - it is their choice.<br/>
                As a management trainer I was always told to not give them to their problems. As a coach my job is to help facilitate development with the understanding that I am not Dr Phil<br/>
                More tomorrow I hope
                • :-) Our inherent contradictory selves certainly can give one a headache.  Glad you went with the inversion.  That is itself a challenge because what one presents as their issue or their story isn't necessarily all there is.  There might be other things, even the opposite of what they present, underneath.  What makes it even more complicated is that we don't know that we don't know or the opposite, another contradiction -- and  I discuss this in my book -- sometimes we do know what is unknown and even unknowable but don't know how to get at it.  In my situation, I needed evidence about my knowing regarding how my brother and sister were killed by the Nazi régime.  I knew from the time I was four that they were shot in the back and it took me a lifetime to discover that the historical facts re the time and the place showed that indeed they were likely shot. But this kind of evidence isn't the only way. I explore  different ways of getting at the hidden pieces of our story and different forms of memory, inherited, body, daily habits or family practices that can serve as clues.  What does that mean for relational leaders? I think stay quiet, be present, don't make judgements or assumptions and let the process unfold.  As Alice in Wonderland said:  "nothing is as it seems".

                  • Yes! Alice had it right. "nothing is as it seems". And when we become aware of our own trauma and that others likely have their own trauma, we start to recognize the importance of being present, empathetic and compassionate to ourselves and others. And then we can start to see underneath the reality that we thought we were seeing. We start to see that there is possibly a "rightness" to it all........... We can love ourselves and others. And in that love, the healing can begin -- simply a perception shift that sees we are not broken. 

                    • Delicious Pamela.  I'm glad you brought in that we can see ourselves as not broken as opposed to our current obsession with seeing ourselves as requiring healing, self help books, drugs, alcohol, validation in the form of likes on our cel phones...I can go on.  It's all so exhausting and leaves no room for love.

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