I’m reading Healing Trauma: attachment, mind, body, and brain (2003,Solomon & Siegel, W.W. Norton & Company) It’s a dense compilation of deep articles. The title of the chapter I just read completely describes the 50 page article: "Unresolved States Regarding Loss or Abuse Can have ‘Second Generation’ Effects: Disorganization, Role Inversion, and Frightening Ideation in the Offspring of Traumatized, Non-Maltreating Parents", by Erik Hesse, Mary Main, Kelley Yost Abrams, and Anne Rifkin. The point is that reasonably good, reasonably responsive, non-abusive parents can create disorganized attachment/dissociation in their kids, by scaring them when the parents 1. Space out in the midst of an interaction 2. Act scared of their kids (not in play) 3. Act scarily toward their kids (not in play and for no apparent reason) 4. Act scared for no apparent reason.
They didn’t discuss the treatment implications. Upon completing the chapter, I immediately thought of the work of Maureen Kitchur, April Steele . Both are EMDR therapists (Maureen in Calgary, April on an island off Vancouver Island, both have developed ways to work with adults who have very early trauma. Maureen Kitcur might have a client focus on a the idea of gazing into her mother’s eyes, as an infant. She’ll ask the client to notice body sensations and emotions, then will clear any distress with EMDR. Kitchur developed the Strategic Developmental Model for EMDR, which includes working with "develpmentally impactful" material from a client’s life. In some circles, her name has become a verb. I "kitchur" most of my clients, using her intake of "nosy, snoopy questions" to fill in develpmental and traumatic information, then "clearing off" the traumas in developmental order. I developed some of my cultural and generational trauma protocols as offshoots of Kitchur’s work. I’ll target things that happened to people’s great-grandparents, years before the clients’ births: "Think about the pogroms your family experienced in Russia. What do you notice in your body, now? What emotion goes with that feeling? Go with that." I’ve seen some anxiety disorders disappear when the generational traum goes away.
April Steele has developed Imaginal Nurturing, guided work that helps clients recieve internal attachment experiences, for their infant and toddler selves. She sells CD’s and a manual of the work (including solid, understandable information on attachment theory) on her website. I use a combination of Kitchur’s work (clearing the attachment-related trauma) and Steele’s work (putting in what clients didn’t get the first time.) on most of my attachment-impaired clients, to good avail.
Using straight EMDR, I’ve targetted people’s fear of their children (when the parents acted like appeasing kids around their little ones) and aggression towards their children. The processing always goes back to their own childhoods, sometimes to their own infancies. Not a big surprise.
It’s validating reading the painstaking research about "Unresolved States". It shows that my teachers, Kitchur and Steele, have been barking up the right trees, and so have I. It also shows that the parenting books and the teachers of basic therapy frameworks were right: consistency is important. Presence is important. Self-awareness is key. If you’re going to be a parent, or a therapist, for that matter: Show up, be consistent, and don’t let your own unresolved stuff roll over your kids or your clients.