The Author

MARK WOLYNN is a director of The Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco, He is a world leader in the field of Inherited Family Trauma. A bestselling author and sought-after lecturer, he teaches at hospitals, clinics, conferences, universities, and teaching centers around the world, including the University of Pittsburgh, JFK University, Western Psychiatric Institute, Kripalu, The New York Open Center, The Omega Institute, 1440 Multiversity, and the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Mark provides education and training to trauma therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, mental health professionals, coaches, counselors, educators, physicians and other health practitioners. He specialises in working with depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, fears, panic disorders, self-injury, chronic pain and persistent symptoms and conditions.


It Didn t Start with You builds on the work of leading experts in post-traumatic stress, including Mount Sinai School of Medicine neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda and psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score.

Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on. These emotional legacies are often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language, and they play a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than has ever before been understood.


It didn’t start with You supports a revolutionary thesis framed by Mark Wolyn and others: that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations.

This is a revolutionary concept which still requires further research to substantiate it. But if true, it explains why toxic anxiety, depression, melancholy, obsessive thoughts and other emotions and behaviours can be triggered by events beyond our conscious control and awareness.

The reason for this is the role played by trauma in triggering biochemical and even genetic responses that lead to repetitive behaviours. In some cases, these can even result in a genetic impact.

Rachel Yehuda, a researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, studied Holocaust survivors with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. She found that levels of the hormone cortisol were atypically low in the bodies of Holocaust survivors and war veterans.

In general, the body increases cortisol levels following a traumatic event in an attempt to “normalize” the body’s systems. Yet people with PTSD often have chronically low levels of cortisol and, as a result, they can potentially pass this trait on to offspring.

All in all, trauma doesn’t just impact one person, but potentially an entire family. So when it comes to identifying and overcoming trauma which we are not aware of (or did not personally experience), we must examine our history as well, including that of our parents and grandparents.

The key ideas of this book are that:

  • Severe trauma can lead to negative behavior and feelings, even when the trauma isn’t your own.

  • Personal traumas can be passed on to successive generations via genes as well as through behavior.

  • Resolving parent-child relationships is key in breaking the cycle of trauma.

  • Discover underlying fears or trauma by finding the right language to shine light on their true nature.

  • Our deepest fears can help point you toward the source of trauma in your family history.

Free yourself from inherited trauma by making peace with your past and your family’s past.

In one of his interviews, Mark Wolyn shared his thoughts on Trauma: "I find it when a trauma happens, there is something else that goes on; trauma language is left which we also carry with us. Clues after a trauma are left behind in the emotionally charged words and sentences. This leaves behind a bread crumb trail and if we know how to follow it, it’ll lead us to the missing piece of the picture that finally gives us context for why we feel, think, and act the way we do”.

If you read one book this year, make sure this is the one. The research and the lessons passed on by Mark Wolyn are incredible.