There is Something to Intergenerational Capitalist Trauma

My colleague Rachel Yehuda studied rates of PTSD in adult New Yorkers who had been assaulted or rapes. Those whose mothers were Holocaust survivors with PTSD had a significantly higher rate of developing serious psychological problems after these traumatic experiences. The most reasonable explanation is that their upbringing had left them with a vulnerable physiology, making it difficult for them to regain their equilibrium after being violated. Yehuda found a similar vulnerability in the children of pregnant women who were in the World Trade Center that fatal day in 2001. Similarly, the reactions of children to painful events are largely determined by how calm or stressed their parents are.
? Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Oh, I know I sometimes blithely say, “Violence is in the DNA of Americans.” Or, I say, “Americans are colonized, in constant fear, flight, freeze mode because of their intergenerational trauma put upon so many millions here and tens of millions outside the border of U$A.” Or, yep, “Collective Stockholm syndrome brought upon the masses through Disneyfication, McDonaldization and Infantalization.” I am serious, though, about epigenetic trauma, and if a child witnessing pain, hate, parents shooting up, violently attack each other, poverty, drug use, all of that “stuff,” well, the DNA is in fact changed for the babe, the juvenile, as all those stress hormones — there are dozens and hundreds in concert with all sorts of other bodily functions tied to the gut and brain and cortisol interplay — they morph child into hyper-vigilant and hyper-reactive and possibly hyper-mentally disjointed teens … And then what happens to them in adulthood?

You have to wonder what is in the water, meat, air, soil, Cheetos when we see this in Greece but nothing of the sort in Palestine, Ohio. I am looking at how collectively traumatized Americans are, in so many ways, from education, TV, militaristic leaders, lynchings, the entire reservation and internment and hateful Gilded media Class shitting on us. Two trains, two countries, two derailments, two different collective responses.

Police said 12,000 people had gathered by the large esplanade in front of the parliament to demand accountability for Tuesday’s head-on collision near the central city of Larissa that has sparked widespread outrage.

At least 57 people were killed and dozens were injured when a passenger train with more than 350 people on board collided with a freight train on the same track in central Greece.

Yikes. This says a thousand things and draws upon a hundred topics in one photo: Freemont, OH protesters?

Vinyl chloride train cars were derailed and then the company just burned the tankers, instead of paying for a slow pumping out and transfer, releasing PCBs, dioxins, you know, the stuff of Agent Orange. Into the air, all over the place. And so, if this isn’t vitally important to everyday life, to the crimes of Nuland-Kagan Family-Blinken-Garland-Yellen-Albright-Sherman and what occurred in their parents’ and grandparents’ lives, and then passing on those morphed genetic traits to THEM, and now we pay the price for their trauma and misanthropy, well, we are a completely blank society if we can’t get into the streets daily and fight for our rights to NOT look deeply into this, and connect the dots — and there are so many dots, as in why so much hatred of Russia is coming from those Neocons, those people whose family lines were in the Holocaust — we are missing a great opportunity to see what motivates these elitists.

A person’s experience as a child or teenager can have a profound impact on their future children’s lives, new work is showing. Rachel Yehuda, a researcher in the growing field of epigenetics and the intergenerational effects of trauma, and her colleagues have long studied mass trauma survivors and their offspring. Their latest results reveal that descendants of people who survived the Holocaust have different stress hormone profiles than their peers, perhaps predisposing them to anxiety disorders. Yehuda’s team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., and others had previously established that survivors of the Holocaust have altered levels of circulating stress hormones compared with other Jewish adults of the same age. Survivors have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that helps the body return to normal after trauma; those who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have even lower levels.


A variety of studies, many using long-term medical records from large populations, have found that certain experiences affect future descendants’ health risks. 
— Victoria Stern

Look, these are highly complex studies, if we just use biologic-genetics-endocrine studies. We do not ALWAYS have to rely on DNA material and long-term studies with petri dishes and billions of points of data to UNDERSTAND what happens in a household where parents are criminals, neglectful, mean, violent, unattentive, poor and struggling, never there, always in turmoil. The Nazi Holocaust? The wiring of the brain man is going to be the hardest to pin down, whereas diabetes is the easiest to connect to parents passing on those traits. But truly, the brain — that gut-serotonin-reuptake connection “thing” does determine brain functioning, cognition, disposition, outlook and personality as well as the deeper psycho-biological formulations of what it is to be a human under a thousand points of stress, both in the womb and under a kitchen table shivering from fear. What sort of Complex PTSD will ever be held to account for those children and parents and all the people bombed by Ukraine in Donbass? In Syria? All those witnesses to / survivors of war, and those who wage war, wage crimes against humanity? Alley of Angels in Donbass, erected for those victims of the Nuland-Obama-Kagan war on Russians, i.e. Maidan Coup onwards:

So what happens, then, with American Society, whereupon the media and politicians deny history, context, stories, points of view, and necessary peaks into other people’s struggles and lives? What collective amnesia, confusion, memory hole worshipping occur in a society hit with both sides of the invented liberal-conservative line, one that never existed until The Man, The Corporations, found it necessary to make the Asian, Latino, African-American as enemy, as the drain on the Majority’s lives, their concept of peace and neighborhood, their belief in myths. The Majority being The White Man/Woman! How much early childhood and juvenile and peer trauma can we attribute to a Biden or a Trump or Pelosi or any of these elites who go to elite finishing schools, prep schools, colleges, entering the dungeons of law schools, MBA programs, International Scam institutes? Does an Albright, with her own odd biography tied to her family, get a pass, get some sort of human compensatory feeling for her belief system?

Do we see the pain and the struggle and the conflicting views and her own ego lined up in those wrinkles of life?

“It’s one thing to find out you’re Jewish… but another to find out that relatives had died in concentration camps. That was a stunning shock.” Madeleine Albright first learned of her Jewish identity when she was 59, two weeks before being sworn in as the first female Secretary of State in U.S. history. “It was a complicated family story,” she said in an interview. Investigations by the Washington Post revealed that, although Albright was raised Catholic, her parents were born Jewish. She also discovered that 26 of her family members, including three grandparents, had been murdered in the Holocaust. Madeleine Albright was born Marie Jana Korbelova in Prague on May 15, 1937, the oldest of three children of Josef and Anna (Speeglova) Korbel. In 1937, Josef Korbel was serving as a press-attaché at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Belgrade. He worked for Czechoslovakia’s first democratic president, Tomas Masaryk, who retired in 1935, and his successor, Edvard Benes.

What sort of triple epigenetic trauma lurked in her brain? Ed Bradley interviewed America’s first female secretary of state in 1997. Albright died at 84.

Albright, the first female secretary of state in United States history, made the remarks during a 60 Minutes interview. Correspondent Lesley Stahl discussed with the then-United Nations ambassador how Iraq had been suffering from the sanctions placed on the country following 1991’s Gulf War. “We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima,” Stahl said. “And, you know, is the price worth it?” “I think that is a very hard choice,” Albright answered, “but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”

I could go deeply into epigenetics, and this Adverse Childhood Events, a tracking system (unfortunately, on the digital data dashboard tied to performance) that does in fact take into consideration the huge uphill battle many youth have growing up in stressful and dysfunctional and non-attentive and violent and poor homes:

Of course, most of my life as teacher, mentor, journalist, social worker, activist has been entwined with the people I teach-mentor-serve-report on-advocate for and where they came from. What about my homeless female veterans? What got them to join the armed services? What caused them to use drugs and end up homeless and end up in my office talking about supports and other avenues of healing and getting a better footing I might have? All my female clients both civilian and military were sexually assaulted, abused and raped. That trauma is complex because it is never just one blow to the head, one violent forced rape. So many things tied to the context of how and where and who it happened with, and then, the failure of our society to deal with this trauma, the failure of courts, cops and politicians. Unfortunately, the elite, those Albright kind of folk, except younger and into tech-data-tracking-social impact investing, they are using ACEs for PROFITEERING:

A red flag for me in Gavin Newsom’s “child-friendly” proposed budget was the $45 million he allocated to screen children and adults in Medi-Cal for ACEs. I’m writing this post to express serious reservations I have about the process of developing ACE (Adverse Early Childhood Experiences) scores for people. ACEs are getting tremendous media exposure of late. While I believe this to be a crucial pubic health concern, my fear is that ACE prevention and mitigation interventions will become vehicles for “innovative” finance and will expand profiling of vulnerable populations.

I want to make it clear from the outset that I acknowledge childhood trauma does result in long-term negative health consequences for individuals. I’ve seen it in my own family. I also recognize that systems of structural racism have inflicted stress and violence on communities of color and indigenous peoples for generations, resulting in high rates of chronic illness that make them attractive targets for “social impact” schemes. People have a basic human right to treatment and care, which should not be conditioned on surveillance and having data harvested to line the pockets of social impact investors.

What concerns me about ACEs is the “scoring.” Why should a standardized rubric developed under the auspices of one of the largest managed healthcare systems, Kaiser Permanente, label clients and structure the way a doctor, therapist, social worker, or educator can care for them? How did this tool come to have such a far reach, and whose interests will it ultimately serve? Is a reliance on “scores” an intentionally-constructed framework that allows providers to limit their scope to “fixing” individuals and families rather than advancing a more radical approach whereby systemic causes of community trauma, trauma rooted in our country’s deep racist history, can be acknowledged, holistically assessed, and begin to be ameliorated? And finally, will this “scoring” system be used to transform the treatment of childhood trauma into a machine for “pay for success” data speculation? I believe it will. (“ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Scores: Part of the “Pay for Success” Plan? Feb. 5, 2019, Wrench in the Gears, Alison McDowell)

So, this level of exploitation for profit has flooded the American landscape generation after generation, until we are here, in that GAD moment for many — generalized anxiety disorder. Chaos, inertia, cancel society, trigger warnings, up is down, racism is okay sort of thinking. Until someone like me who has been witness to other people’s direct trauma and who has been a trauma navigator and of course been a teacher too, within gang programs, tied to low income communities, prisons, elsewhere considered “on the other side of the railroad tracks” writes about it as a way of making sense of what I have seen and heard, and some of it has been horrific, beyond belief, and in one sense, some of it can’t be repeated even in a Dissident Voice newsletter. I’ll finish this very superficial treatment of collective trauma and epigenetics with my own flipping through Showtime’s offerings, or what have you. I was attempting with open mind and heart to get into the documentary on Chelsea Manning, XY Chelsea.

Look, I am a friend to many communities within the LGBTQA+ grouping, and know the story of Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, born Bradley Edward Manning; December 17, 1987. A whistleblower. This documentary, however, was so self-indulgent, so steeped in a sort of dumbed-down look at a person in constant struggle that it was filled with affectations and was difficult for me to get any traction on it. I have read good accounts about Bradley-Chelsea. I know Chelsea also got on the Podcast Circuit in March 2022 and said the most idiotic things about Putin, Russia, the SMO, Ukraine. Very very sad case of misinformed person. I won’t link one of those shows here. So, to get through the midnight hour of insomnia, I found a gem:

Here, the YouTube blurb: Raw and unflinching examination of the courageous and remarkable life of basketball star and social justice activist Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Born Chris Jackson, he overcame tremendous adversity to reach the NBA and found his true calling when he converted to Islam. His decision not to stand for the national anthem, however, turned him from prodigy to pariah. Told candidly by Abdul-Rauf himself more than 20 years later it’s the remarkable story of one man who kept the faith and paved the way for a social justice movement.

Look, I just came back from coaching the Special Olympics basketball team, and we have one more practice before a March 18 out-of-town state tournament. I work with these amazing young adults, and I was not about to tolerate at the end of my night this Manning self-indulgence.

ACEs — Manning had boozer parents, in Oklahoma, violent, and of course, poor. Abused and neglected, Bradley was a lost soul, and decided to join the military to get some meaning in his life. Chelsea states in the flick that there are many transgender folk in the armed services. Many reasons. Definitely worth looking into.

Then, well, I knew some of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s story, Chris Jackson growing up in Stars and Bars, KKK, Mississippi, dirt poor, no father, and a mother who never told him who is father was. His older brother shot squirrels and doves with a pellet gun for food, not fun. They were always hungry. You have to watch this film, man.

It will uplift you, and it will deeply solidify in you, I hope, why this country is so traumatized, deeply spiritual lobotomized, inertia bound in terms of real history, and so so disassociative around who the real enemies are. So many incapable elite human failures pounding the war drums, so many in high and middle office stealing from us, and yet no boiling tar and pokey features and sharpened pitchforks. Abdul-Rauf, a true hero. The best basketball athlete Shaq ever saw:

He shared how his turning point came one day when he visited his mother’s home. He opened the refrigerator and it was empty. He went to the restroom to wash his hands. When he leaned on the sink, it collapsed on the floor. That was it. After playing for two years at LSU, he told his LSU coach he wanted to play in the NBA. “My mother is everything (to me)…I got to take care of her,” Abdul-Rauf emotionally said. His coach’s response surprised him. He told him it was the best decision he could make. He knew if he went pro, he would be able to take care of his mother. So he did. In 1990, Abdul-Rauf was the third overall pick of the Denver Nuggets during the NBA draft.

It is a tough one, since I will not be standing for the national anthem this coming March 18, which I have always shown as my own deeply enmeshed protest of the stars and stripes, my own military trauma, and of course, like Mahmoud, my education through Fred Hampton, the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and ten thousand others.

His views about America changed, and he found that his beliefs no longer aligned with what he observed. People he looked up to changed, he noticed. To protest oppression, he refused to stand for the American national anthem. It stirred controversy, and some say his stance was the blueprint for what would come 20 years later when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem to protest racial injustice. Kaepernick kneeled at a preseason game against the Chargers for the first time on Sep. 1, 2016. “It sounds cliche, but when I say I was so comfortable with my information, I was so comfortable with my faith and my position. I was so comfortable with my belief in God and how things are going,” Abdul-Rauf said. His faith was bigger than the game, he said. This was not the first time he had chosen not to stand for the anthem, but it was the first time someone had noticed. It cost him his home, which the Ku Klux Klan burned down, and his NBA career.

Shit-dog, the deeply ingrained trauma of growing up, and in both Manning’s and Johnson’s cases, an absent father in variations on a theme. Chelsea struggled with identity in Oklahoma, and Mahmoud struggled with a neurological condition, a mind draining and body pounding condition that in fact made him into a god-like basketball player.


Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.