What would happen if more awareness of could be had on how and why intergenerational trauma takes place? For example, can you imagine what would happen to a 3-month old infant if he or she were accused of wanting to control his or her mother?
"'One mother, for example, perceived her 3-month-old baby daughter as so `cunning' that, according to the mother, the baby jumped from her crib to the adjacent parental bed to sneak a feeding at the breast while the mother was asleep and then jumped back to her crib. This was the only explanation the mother could find for her breasts feeling rather empty of milk when she woke up in the morning'. ... the mother was unable to relate to her own inner feelings of emptiness, rooted in her own childhood deprivation and to her fear of not having enough to give her daughter. Instead, she experienced her emotional emptiness in a concrete and behavioral way, as breasts empty of milk, and decided that the baby's actions must be the cause, even though such behaviour would clearly be impossible for a 3-month-old baby. Although this mother's attribution of negative intentionality to her infant has a psychotic quality, parent-infant psychotherapists do often see mothers who regularly attribute negative meaning to their infants' attempts to communicate." Pg 202
If the infant in the above example grows up to become a therapist herself, this kind of dynamic (negative attribution) between mother and infant could also later on take place between her and a client. The example given is about a client who baked a nice loaf of bread and offered it as a gift to her therapist who "simply let it drop on the floor between them, treating the gift as a manipulative seduction."
The author says that the most important characteristics of an emotionally mature adult are the ability to self reflect, to self regulate one's emotions (affect regulation) and to have a sense of self agency. She emphasizes the third one and since they are all interconnected, development in one leads to development in the others. If these three aren't developed sufficiently then addictive behaviour may develop as an attempt to meet long lost unmet needs, in particular, the need for symbiosis with mother. The person may also, for a period of time, be unaware of what their metaphors mean. For example:
"A supervisee had been seeing a female patient who presented with a ... belief that she had a ... demon inside her, ... The patient was contemptuous of any of her friends, family, or doctors who did not believe [her]. She could not think about [it] in psychological terms, as a symbolic expression of some aspect of her mental state, her belief that her thoughts were ... destructive, but was convinced that demon really existed. She believed that she could therefore never have children herself, that the demon inside her meant that she would not even be able to give birth to a healthy child or to be a good enough mother if she did ... the patient felt that her mother had always been strongly ambivalent toward her and might not even have wanted her to be born....The patient could make sense of her experience of a demon inside her by seeing it as an image of her mother's unconscious hostility toward her and her implicit awareness of that hostility. Following these sessions, the patient tried to talk to her mother about her past. Her mother ... did describe her own mother's indifference toward her, including one occasion when she was sent to school while suffering from acute appendicitis, which resulted in a ruptured appendix and emergency surgery. The patient could see that her mother had also been the object of [hostility] from the patient's grandmother, and this again helped to lessen her delusional beliefs by recognizing them as a reflection of parental anxiety, abuse, and neglect handed on from one generation to another." Pg 172
The first half of the book describes the biological/brain aspects of how self agency develops and in the second how it gets expressed in its various forms which this brief review is in reference to. "Consciousness is curative." A clearly written book which focuses on the concept of self-agency as a key trait of the true self as a path for awareness and inner repair, healing and creativity.