It Didn't Start with You

  • by Mark Wolynn
  • Narrated by Mark Wolynn
  • 8 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking approach to transforming traumatic legacies passed down in families over generations, by an acclaimed expert in the field.
Depression. Anxiety. Chronic Pain. Phobias. Obsessive thoughts. The evidence is compelling: the roots of these difficulties may not reside in our immediate life experiences or in chemical imbalances in our brains - but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. The latest scientific research, now making headlines, supports what many have long intuited: that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations.
It Didn't Start with You builds on the work of leading experts in post-traumatic stress, including Mount Sinai School of Medicine neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda and psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score. Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on. These emotional legacies are often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language, and they play a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than has ever before been understood.
As a pioneer in the field of inherited family trauma, Mark Wolynn has worked with individuals and groups on a therapeutic level for over 20 years. It Didn't Start with You offers a pragmatic and prescriptive guide to his method, the Core Language Approach. Diagnostic self-inventories provide a way to uncover the fears and anxieties conveyed through everyday words, behaviors, and physical symptoms. Techniques for developing a genogram or extended family tree create a map of experiences going back through the generations. And visualization, active imagination, and direct dialogue create pathways to reconnection, integration, and reclaiming life and health. It Didn't Start With You is a transformative approach to resolving longstanding difficulties that, in many cases, traditional therapy, drugs, or other interventions have not had the capacity to touch.

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What the Critics Say

"Mark Wolynn does a masterful job of illuminating the ways in which our ancestors' unresolved suffering, often unknown to us, disables us and binds us painfully to them. He gives us the tools and skills - an approach that combines understanding, imaginative dialogues, and compassionate reconnection - to free and heal ourselves." (James S. Gordon, MD, author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey out of Depression)
"It Didn't Start with You takes us a big step forward, advancing the fields of trauma therapy, mindfulness applications, and human understanding. It is a bold, creative, and compassionate work." (Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness)
"This groundbreaking book offers a compelling understanding of inherited trauma and fresh, powerful tools for relieving its suffering. Mark Wolynn is a wise and trustworthy guide on the journey toward healing." (Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Valuable insights one big flaw

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The book is a very mixed piece of work, valuable as a manual on Hellinger family trauma work and very doubtful when it sets as an ultimate goal for adult children to understand the limitations of the parents, take responsibility for the break up in a relationship with their parents, and repent. The book recommends to all listeners as a resolution to contact their parents and tell them "Mom/Dad I miss you, I am sorry for not being more loving and pushing you away". The approach seems to work for the cases presented in the book. A serious flaw that I see comes from applying this advice to cases of child abuse that can and should be classified as criminal offence - rape, molastacion, severe/systematic beating. The author dose not talk about such cases but by coaching all childhood trauma survivors toward loving their parents and expressing remorse/responsibility for the break up in the relationship with them he inadvertently sends the victims down the path where they ae responsible for their rape/torture etc. The reason I think it's a very big flaw of this book is because it takes a lot of courage and coaching for such victims to overcome shame and properly direct their anger on the abusive parents and not on themselves and here the book can be potentially very misleading.


Would you recommend It Didn't Start with You to your friends? Why or why not?

No, I would recommend something else on Hellinger therapy


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- Victor

New approaches to self discovery and healing

Wolynn's basic theory is that we sometimes inherit trauma from people throughout our family tree, not just in our immediate family, but from people in our extended family, maybe even from previous generations. Pain and psychological issues can be passed down from one generation to the next even when the source of that pain has been shrouded in silence. You might have a fear of being suffocated, for example, because of the trauma experienced by a great-grandparent who died by asphyxiation, even if you can't recall ever hearing about his or her life and death. The process by which this happens is somewhat mysterious, but Wolynn presents it in a very eloquent and articulate way. Whatever the mechanism, these traumas can block us off from our own vitality and happiness, causing all kinds of psychological issues and health problems. The way to reclaim that vitality is by healing the divide between ourselves and disowned family members, by reaching out to them for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation. Wolynn's techniques for doing that are effective. I've gone through the exercises and have had some amazing insights.

I do share some of the concerns expressed by other reviewers of this book; namely, that it's not necessarily a good idea to attempt reconciliation with a parent (or other family member) who's abused you in the past, or is actively hostile to you in the present. So many of Wolynn's examples are of people who inadvertently harmed us due to circumstances out of their control--you may have fears of abandonment because your mother was hospitalized while you were a child, and so on. What about people who have inherited trauma from family members who inflicted pain and abuse on the people around them? I think the ideas in this book are still valid, but I would like to hear the author speak more directly on the topic of abuse and neglect. It would be a GREAT subject for a follow-up book.
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- Michael

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-26-2016
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio