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Emotional Inheritance: Moving beyond the legacy of trauma

Galit Atlas

6 Reviews

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Family psychology

This fascinating book vividly recounts, through a psychoanalytic lens, stories of buried traumas in a bid to locate and confront the ghosts of the past that hold us back and interfere with our lives.

"Galit Atlas deftly shows why the hurts and stuckness that can plague us can be faced and, yes, dissolved. Contemporary psychoanalysis at its best." - Susie Orbach, author of Fat Is a Feminist Issue

Past family trauma can keep us unconsciously connected to the past. It shapes our lives in ways we don't always recognise, and can keep us from living to our full potential.

In this transformative book, award-winning psychoanalyst Dr Galit Atlas draws back the veil on the legacy of intergenerational trauma. Entwining the stories of her patients, her own stories, and decades of research, she shows how the people we love and those who raised us live inside us - how we take on their emotional pain - and she helps us identify the links between our life struggles and the 'emotional inheritance' we all carry. For it is only by following the traces those ghosts leave that we can truly change our destiny.

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Praise for Emotional Inheritance: Moving beyond the legacy of trauma

  • A truly wise and daring book, Emotional Inheritance is an utterly compelling account of how the unconscious passage of trauma from one generation to the next is revealed in psychotherapy. With her special gift for evocative narrative, Dr. Atlas makes us present as witnesses to powerful stories of sorrows held in secret, of children who carry those sorrows forward, knowing without knowing what darkens their lives.

  • Galit Atlas takes up Tolstoy's assertion-'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way'-as she narrates the ways in which traumas are uniquely held within families. Atlas tells the layered stories of her patients, as their traumas reverberate with her own history of trauma and loss. The intimacy of the storytelling captures the recognition and repair that Atlas undertakes with her patients. Together they exhume the secrets and the ghosts that carry and bury trauma, pulling the reader into the present through the past, in order to break into the potential that is the future. Such potential is not a simple, sunny vale. Unhappy families are not made unthinkingly happy. But as Atlas demonstrates through her graceful generosity, bringing secrets and ghosts into the daylight offers the potential for new stories, more life, and the liberation called happiness.

  • With warmth and compassion, Galit Atlas shows us the ways in which our present challenges could be linked to our inherited past. Using patient stories and her own experiences, she gives us a glimpse behind our own curtains and helps us understand that if we are open to the possibility of hope, now might be the right time to break the silence our ancestors have held for so long.

  • An illuminating book. The stories Dr. Atlas shares reveal the potency of our inherited wounds, showing how the experiences of our ancestors shape our lives in quiet but far-reaching ways, and how we all have the potential to heal.

  • This book is full of great wisdom, expertise, and humanity. An important, terrific, gripping read.

  • With elegance, Galit Atlas explains the troubling and nourishing aspects of our emotional inheritances. She deftly shows why the hurts and stuckness that can plague us can be faced and, yes, dissolved. Contemporary psychoanalysis at its best. And good storytelling, too.

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