Immigration And Loss Handed Down To Later Generations

In my class, we were talking about immigration and acculturation so I began to read more on the topic. Here is an interesting idea.

Collective experience that has been powerful and defined a group of people (Holocaust, wave of immigration, the Gr

eat Depression, war) may be handed down from generation to generation. It doesn’t stop at the generation that experienced the events.

The collective experience that has happened to “our people” finds a home in the identities of people not yet born.

Immigration provides one example of the losses and gains that are passed along. It will be affected by whether the immigration resulted from loss (persecution, famine, genocide) with little choice or whether immigration resulted from freedom of choice and was planned in order to find new opportunities. Choice and opportunity provide gains that mitigate losses. Usually, there is some of both – loss and gain. No one leaves home, culture, family, and familiarity without some loss.

What is transmitted to the next generation and to those that follow? The story? The triumphs? The failures? Is it all one big secret? Is the previous culture abandoned or assimilated?

Whatever grandmother/grandfather passed down to mom/dad will reach son/daughter in some form. The version may be diluted or distorted, it may be dressed up or minimized because time passes but some story gets passed along.

There is a practical point to this post. To me, the implication is that we are all being influenced (in career choice, partner choice, values, conflicts and more) by the past and we all do better if we try to remain aware of our inheritance.


some ideas from: R. Ainslie, Ph.D. Immigration and the dynamics of class. Psychoanalytic Psychology 2011, Vol.28#4, 560-568


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