Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide: Intergenerational Trauma And Therapy

Parents may transmit inborn genetic vulnerabilities triggered by their own traumatic experience or via parenting styles that have been impacted by their trauma.

By Dr. Fabiana Franco, PhD, DAAETS

The Armenian Genocide, during which the Ottoman Turkish Empire massacred 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, is an example of historical trauma that has often been either minimized or denied outright. In fact, the mass murder of Armenians, Assyrian, Greek, and other Christian and religious minority populations of the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923 has yet to be acknowledged as a genocide by the Turkish government (11). It can be especially challenging to cope with an injury while you are still fighting for its acknowledgment a century after it was inflicted. Additionally, due to this lack of formal recognition, Armenian survivors find it difficult to trust non-Armenian mental health professionals with their history and pain (12).

Dagirmanjian suggested narrative therapy as a treatment with Armenians (12). Narrative therapy allows survivors to embody and settle into their perception and view of themselves (11). Another important key to working with Armenians is understanding the way Armenians value family closeness. This trait has sometimes been misunderstood and even considered unhealthy by Western clinicians who have been trained to approach family therapy with the goal of promoting individuation (12). In general, it is crucial for the mental health professional to understand the cultural context of the person suffering from trauma, including intergenerational trauma, to provide the most effective and sensitive treatment.