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The stereotyped trope goes something like this: mothers and daughters have complicated relationships. A bond between a mother and daughter is most sacred. Sadly, that bond is often riddled with flaming hot fights, intense emotions, and an endless battle for control. Media, fiction, and nonfiction alike has tirelessly sought to illustrate and expose the dynamic between mothers and daughters. Underneath all of the turmoil there is an irreplaceable bond. That bond is what makes the trauma of the mother-daughter relationship so tragic.

Not all relationships between a mother and daughter are so volatile. Many mothers and daughters are able to have happy, healthy, functional relationships. For everyone else, however, there is always an element of struggle. New research focused on children of World War II in Finland has found that part of the strain in the mother-daughter relationship may be due to generational trauma. The study found that trauma is genetically passed on only in females, not males.

Published in JAMA Psychiatry, the study took a trip into history. Over 45,000 Finnish children were studied who had been evacuated to Sweden during World War II between the years 1940 and 1944. Researchers then followed over 90,000 men and women, the children of the evacuees, between 1950 and 2010, tracking their health. The New York Times reports that “…female children of mothers who had been evacuated to Sweden were twice as likely to be hospitalized for a psychiatric illness as their female cousins who had not been evacuated, and more than four times as likely to have depression or bipolar disorder.” Interestingly, “…there was no effect among male children, and no effect among children of either sex born to fathers who had been evacuated.” Researchers even controlled for the presence of psychiatric disorders in parents, which creates a four to five times higher likelihood of offspring being born with a psychiatric disorder. However, the findings still maintained.

Though the researchers are unsure of the exact effect trauma has on genes, like causing a change in gene expression, they do feel confident in their finding that trauma can be passed on genetically and seems to be, according to their study, gender specific.

Often, our trauma is not our own. Our trauma can be passed onto us directly from the way our parents related to us. Trauma is a deep and complex issue which takes a highly customized clinical treatment program to heal. If you are seeking to heal from trauma and any of its manifestations, call The Guest House Ocala today for information on our private residential treatment programs. 1-855-483-7800