Dr. Brave Heart, conceptualized historical trauma in the 1980’s, as a way to develop stronger understanding of why life for many Native Americans is not fulfilling “the American Dream.” Although, many Native Americans have adapted to an Americanized way of life and are healthy and economically self-sufficient, there is still a significant proportion of Native people who are not faring well.
The intent of this article is to examine the theoretical framework of historical trauma and apply recent research regarding the impact of trauma on an individual’s physiological functioning and cross-generational transmission of trauma.
The emotional trauma of separation from their parents also triggers subtle biological alterations—changes so lasting that the children might even pass them to their own offspring. That idea would have been laughed at 20 years ago.
This explains the epigenome as a type of software that runs on the computer-like cell. The epigenome can affect lots of different cells, just as a software program can be run on many different computers. He thinks this study might help explain why states in the southern United States—which had more severe food shortages during and after the Civil War—have worse health outcomes today.
In my own life, I couldn’t account for the dread that would sometimes descend on me for no apparent reason. It seemed to me there was something vaster, more amorphous and inexplicable at work than the usual psychological culprits. I needed to understand what it was. I began to wonder if the darkness I carried had its source in the suffering of unknown ancestors whose history of banishment and exile was in my blood.