What is psychogenealogy?
The field of psychological research recognizes that human beings receive not only the biological and genetic heritage of their ancestors, but also a psychological heritage; traumas, successes, failures, accidents, even illnesses sometimes have their origin in the remote history of one’s ancestors. Thus, seemingly like a chain of transmission, one often comes across puzzling facts that may find their explanation by going back to the events of the past and accessing the family tree. Psychogenealogy, as a method of investigation, is an aid not only to avoid reading such happenings from a purely individual perspective, but to inserting them into the larger fabric of family history, recognizing events of the past that continue to affect the present in a negative way, hindering the realization of one’s plans and desires.
This approach to personal and family history was developed during the 1970s by Anne Ancelin Schützenberger (1919-2018), founder of the Transgenerational school. Drawing on the research of Françoise Dolto (1908-88), Jacob Levi Moreno (1889-1974), Gregory Bateson (1904-80) and Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy (1920-2007), Anne elaborates a therapeutic program that can help understand events and wounds of the past. As she proceeds in this work, she notes, in line with the approach of depth psychology, the importance of nonverbal communication and family history in shedding light on certain dysfunctional phenomena that are at first sight unexplained but seem mysteriously to manifest a kind of script from the past that frequently repeats over successive generations.