University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Oct 5, 2013: The Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma

Jeffrey Prager: “The Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma: Recovering Humanity, Repairing Generations”

Saturday, October 5, 2013
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
20 Mondale Hall

In this presentation, UCLA Sociology Professor Jeffrey Prager explores the difficulties in overcoming a traumatic past: how psychic trauma restricts individuals from fully engaging their post-traumatic world and how, unless treated, the trauma gets passed on to the next generation, emotionally and often unconsciously. Transmission of trauma is possible over many generations and interferes with a healthy engagement in the present-day world. Prager considers specifically the South African case, especially their establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the end of apartheid, to describe the necessity of the public world recognizing the sufferer and collectively acknowledging various forms of private pain and suffering. Finally, he describes trauma as the severing of an implicit, taken-for-granted social contract, which, if it is to be repaired, requires the restoration of interpersonal trust and belief in a social world protective of the individual from psychological and physical harm.

Jeffrey Prager is Professor of Sociology at UCLA and a practicing psychoanalyst. He is a former Co-Dean of the New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, where he serves as a member of the Senior Faculty. He has published widely at the intersection of sociology and psychoanalysis, especially in the areas of trauma, recovered memory, racial conflict, intergenerational transmission of trauma, forgiveness and reconciliation. He is the author of Presenting the Past: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Misremembering (Harvard 1989) and several articles on how societies respond to their traumatic pasts. He currently participates in a working group in South Africa focusing on the disruption of traumatic transmission in post-apartheid South Africa. In addition, Dr. Prager is the co-editor (with Anthony Elliott) of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalysis for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Sponsored by the Department of English, University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and co-sponsored by AAPCSW, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights Center, and Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS). The event has been organized by Elise Sanders, Hal Steiger, and Regents Professor Madelon Sprengnether.


  • Name: Terri Sutton
  • E-mail:
  • Phone: 612-626-1528
  • Sponsored by: English, , Holocaust & Genocide Studies, Human Rights Program, Institute for Advanced Study

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