You Inherit Your Parents Trauma: Quote Explanation

Bojack Horseman, a popular Netflix show, has been praised for its candid depiction of mental illness and the effects of trauma. One quote from the show that stands out is “You inherit your parents’ trauma but you will never fully understand it.” In this blog post, we will explore the meaning behind this quote, the science behind intergenerational trauma, and the steps we can take to heal.

The Origin of the Quote:

The quote “You inherit your parents’ trauma but you will never fully understand it” comes from Season 4, Episode 2 of Bojack Horseman. In this episode, Bojack visits his mother, who is suffering from dementia. Throughout the episode, Bojack struggles to understand his mother’s behavior, and the audience is shown glimpses of his mother’s traumatic past.

This quote is particularly powerful because it speaks to the reality that many of us carry our parents’ traumas without fully understanding them. It can be difficult to comprehend why our parents act the way they do, especially if they are suffering from mental illness or have experienced trauma in their past.

What is Intergenerational Trauma?

Intergenerational trauma, also known as transgenerational trauma, is a concept that refers to the transmission of trauma from one generation to the next. This trauma can be the result of a variety of factors, such as war, genocide, slavery, or colonization. When individuals experience trauma, their brains and bodies are altered in ways that can be passed down to their children.

The transmission of trauma can occur in several ways. For example, parents who have experienced trauma may be emotionally distant or unavailable, leading to attachment issues in their children. Additionally, trauma can affect the way that genes are expressed, leading to changes in behavior and physiology that can be passed down through generations.

Understanding the Effects of Intergenerational Trauma

The effects of intergenerational trauma can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Individuals who have inherited trauma from their parents may experience a range of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and difficulty forming relationships. They may also have a heightened stress response, making it difficult for them to cope with stressors in their lives.

Research has shown that trauma can also affect the physical health of individuals. For example, individuals who have experienced trauma may be at an increased risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Healing from Intergenerational Trauma

Healing from intergenerational trauma is possible, but it requires intentional effort and a commitment to self-care. Some strategies for healing from trauma include:

  1. Therapy: Seeking the help of a mental health professional can be a powerful tool for healing from trauma. A therapist can provide a safe and supportive environment to explore and process past traumas.
  2. Self-Care: Engaging in activities that promote self-care and well-being can also be helpful for healing from trauma. This might include activities such as exercise, meditation, and spending time in nature.
  3. Education: Learning about the effects of trauma and how it can be passed down through generations can also be empowering. By understanding the ways that trauma has affected our lives, we can begin to take steps towards healing.


Inheriting our parents’ trauma is a complex and difficult experience, but it is not something that we have to carry with us forever. By understanding the science behind intergenerational trauma and taking intentional steps towards healing, we can break the cycle of trauma and create a better future for ourselves and future generations. As Bojack Horseman reminds us, we may never fully understand our parents’ trauma, but we can work towards healing and creating a better future.

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