Transgenerational Trauma in Palestine: A Cycle of Suffering and Survival

Transgenerational Trauma in Palestine: A Cycle of Suffering and Survival

The people of Palestine have endured great hardship due to long-standing conflicts in the region. Transgenerational trauma in Palestine has emerged as a significant factor contributing to the psychological well-being of its citizens. This article seeks to elucidate the nature of this profound issue and potential ways to alleviate its impact.

What Is Transgenerational Trauma?

Transgenerational trauma—also known as intergenerational trauma—refers to the transmission of trauma from the first generation of trauma survivors to subsequent generations. This process may occur due to various factors, such as parenting behaviors influenced by trauma, stressors related to the trauma, and potential genetic changes caused by trauma.

Historical Context of Palestine

To gain a deeper understanding of the extent and nuances of transgenerational trauma in Palestine, a thorough knowledge of the historical context of Palestine is indispensable.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Palestine was characterized by a majority Arab population living alongside a smaller Jewish community. This landscape underwent a significant change following the Balfour Declaration of 1917, where the British government expressed support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine.

This led to increased Jewish immigration to Palestine and subsequently heightened tensions between the Jewish immigrants and the indigenous Arab population. The situation culminated in the United Nations proposing the partition of Palestine in 1947, resulting in the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. This event resulted in a mass displacement of Palestinians, with approximately 700,000 Palestinians becoming refugees.

Post-1948, Palestinians have undergone multiple displacements, military occupations, and conflicts, including the Six-Day War in 1967 and more recent hostilities. These continuous upheavals have marked the collective memory of Palestinians and led to a persistent state of instability and insecurity.

The Impact of Conflict: Transgenerational Trauma in Palestine

The enduring legacy of these conflicts and displacements significantly contributes to the presence of transgenerational trauma in Palestine. In this setting, the experiences of trauma are not isolated to individuals but permeate through generations, impacting the psychosocial health of communities.

Research reveals a profound effect on older generations who experienced first-hand the periods of conflict and displacement. These traumatic experiences don't simply disappear but are often unconsciously passed to the subsequent generations, even those who did not directly experience these traumatic events.

Children and grandchildren of original trauma survivors can internalize their elders' traumatic experiences through various mechanisms, such as narratives, behavioral patterns, emotional responses, and socialization processes. These can manifest in various forms, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In addition to these psychological symptoms, transgenerational trauma in Palestine has also contributed to a collective sense of loss, grief, and anger. This has implications not only for individuals' mental health but also for societal cohesion and the capacity for peace-building.

The impact of trauma can extend beyond the psychological to impact social relationships, community structures, and even political landscapes. In the context of Palestine, the collective experience of trauma has been a potent force shaping social and political dynamics, adding another layer of complexity to this deep-rooted issue.

In the face of such overwhelming adversity, Palestinians show remarkable resilience. However, without substantial change to the underlying causes of their trauma, the cycle of transgenerational trauma is likely to persist.

Addressing Transgenerational Trauma

Addressing the issue of transgenerational trauma in Palestine requires a multi-faceted approach:

  1. Mental Health Support: The provision of mental health services is crucial to help individuals cope with their trauma and prevent the further transmission of trauma to younger generations.
  2. Conflict Resolution: Peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is key to stopping the cycle of trauma.
  3. Humanitarian Aid: Ensuring the provision of basic needs and rights is crucial in alleviating the daily stressors that exacerbate trauma.

Interested parties can help Palestine by advocating for peace, donating to charitable organizations providing necessary resources, and spreading awareness about the Palestinian situation. Your contribution can play a significant role in mitigating transgenerational trauma and improving the lives of Palestinians.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) continues to provide humanitarian aid and medical relief to children and their families—many of whom are dealing with transgenerational trauma—through our pediatric cancer departments, humanitarian aid programs and projects, pediatric mental health initiatives, hospital infrastructure projects, orphan and refugee sponsorships, medical sponsorships, treatment abroad program, and medical missions. These efforts help to ensure that children in need get the vital assistance they require.

PCRF has a committee of volunteer doctors and specialists on our Medical Advisory Board who are dedicated to building up services through training, programs, and guiding PCRF to improve the quality of pediatric care in Palestine, Lebanon, and other areas in the Middle East.


PCRF is not a political or religious organization. Our mission is to provide medical and humanitarian relief collectively and individually to Arab children throughout the Middle East, regardless of their nationality, politics, or religion. We rely on charitable giving to provide medical treatment, surgeries, safety, shelter, and support to children and their families in Palestine and the Levant. Find out how you can get involved and help make a difference in children’s lives today!