It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle is a book that explores this concept of epigenetics and how we may carry our ancestors stressors and traumas in our genes. The book does a good job of explaining how this happens and provides some examples. I thought some of the examples seemed a bit “out of this world” and unimaginable but interesting. I think this phenomenon plays out more in the not so obvious ways the book provided. When we start digging deeper in our family history, we are bound to find stressors that play out in our lives as they are our own. The book uses “core language,” “core complaint,” “core sentence,” and “core trauma” development to help the reader discover their greatest fears and help possibly connect to an ancestor who had a similar experience.
“When entangled, you unconsciously carry the feelings, symptoms, behaviors, or hardships of an earlier member of your family system as if these were your own.”
Many chapters including the “core” ones have writing exercises to help with discovery and ways to process well as release our stressors and traumas. I believe the writing exercises are beneficial and give the reader ways to work through what they have found. The author goes into areas that are traumatic that we may overlook including in utero and early childhood attachment issues.
Overall, the book was intriguing for me personally as a therapist as it provides another avenue for self-discovery as well as understanding possible reasons why we struggle with what we struggle with. I would suggest having the support of a mental health professional while diving into these topics.
Read this book if:
You are interested in epigenetics
Believe your ancestors may provide more insight into your own struggles
A mental health professional and want to help your clients dive deeper into their past
The Heart Speaks by Mimi Guarneri is written by a cardiologist who lost several family members to heart disease. She began her career as a cardiologist inserting stents in her patients to aid in blockages. She began to notice that the same people continue to return for the same issues. Simultaneously, a few of her patients began utilizing alternative medicine in conjunction with the western medicine she was applying. Dr. Guarneri was skeptical at first but began to see progress in her patients who were using these methods. She then founded the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego where holistic healing methods such as acupuncture, group therapy, biofeedback, and yoga were combined with conventional methods to aid in healing.
The book is divided into 3 parts and the second part was the most appealing to me as it went into the emotions of stress, anger, depression, and grief and how they affect the heart. Dr. Guarneri noticed that when people began to open up and share themselves as well as what they are carrying around, the healing can truly begin. Lastly, Guarneri states that “compassion, patience, and empathy” have shifted in the medical field and are desperately needed from doctors to their patients.
This book is fairly quick to read and not geared towards medical professionals so it can benefit the lay person.
Read this book if:
You are interested in more information on the intersection of conventional and complementary medicine with a focus on heart disease
You are a practitioner of conventional or complementary medicine
You have been diagnosed with any type of heart disease, high blood pressure, or experienced a heart attack