Intergenerational Trauma from a Mental Health Perspective

Over the past few decades, intergenerational trauma as a nexplanation for the array of social conditions that exist within Aboriginal communities has been put forward by a number of researchers (Braveheart-Jordon & De Bruyn, 1995; Hodgson, 1990; Kirmayer, Brass, & Tait, 2000; Phillips, 1999; Waldram, 1997). Through in-depth interviews, this study explored the men’s personal and family histories, seeking links between personal homelessness and intergenerational trauma. An interpretation of the data from these interviews and from a focus group with other homeless Aboriginal men isolated the indicators of intergenerational trauma within four domains: individual, family, community, and nation. The indicators of intergenerational trauma within these domains are synthesized in the Intergenerational Trauma Model. This model is predicated on the assumption that public policies have disrupted relations among the four domains and the resulting trauma has incubated negative social conditions for Aboriginal people, making them significantly more vulnerable to a number of threatening social conditions. Subsequent refinements to the model provide the mental health professional with a generic lens to examine the relationship between intergenerational trauma and social systems that Aboriginal peoples come in contact with.

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Native Social Work Journal
Toronto, Ontario