Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 187 – Dr. Galit Atlas

This week on Metta Hour, Sharon sits down with Dr. Galit Atlas to discuss trauma and emotional inheritance.

Sharon welcomes Dr. Galit Atlas for Episode 187 of the Metta Hour.

Galit is an author, psychoanalyst, and clinical assistant professor at New York University. She has published numerous articles and book chapters that focus primarily on gender and sexuality. Her New York Times published “A Tale of Two Twins” won a 2016 Gradiva Award, and her latest book “Emotional Inheritance” was released in January of 2022. In this conversation, Galit and Sharon discuss:
• What drew Galit to therapy
• The stigma and shame around mental health
• How generational trauma shows up
• The effect that secrecy has on trauma and healing
• Post Traumatic Growth
• What we must accept versus what we can change
• The epigenetics of family trauma
To learn more about Galit’s work, you can visit her website at

A Focus on Trauma

When Dr. Galit Atlas was a psychological patient in her early twenties, her therapist asked her, “why are you here?”. This question shocked her and made her curious about her mind and motives. She realized how important it was to study oneself through questions. Instead of fixating on finding the “right” answer, she wondered why she had not thought about her motive to be in therapy before. This realization inspired her to become a psychoanalyst. Now, Dr. Atlas specializes in trauma. She discusses how as a therapist, she noticed that she sits with multiple generations (not just her patient). 

 “Underneath many emotional struggles there is an emotional inheritance.” – Dr. Galit Atlas

For more on this topic listen to Ep. 400 of Mindrolling: Intergenerational Healing w/ Dr. Sará King
What Defines Us (20:25)

Sharon and Dr. Atlas discuss how trauma can be seen as shameful in some families, cultures, or groups. It is hard to heal from something when it is shoved away to fester. Trauma does not have to be shameful. It is almost a given that we will all experience trauma at some point. Trauma must be acknowledged for people to move forward. Finding a balance between over-identifying with trauma and admitting that it exists and affects us is key in the healing process.

“There are things in life that we can not repair, we can only accept and mourn.” – Dr. Galit Atlas

Tune into Ep. 59 of ReRooted to learn more about Healing Trauma
Epigenetics (32:35)

Dr. Atlas and Sharon get scientific and talk about how trauma can affect our genes in profound ways. Epigenetics is the study of how our psychological environment can change the way certain genes are expressed. It is almost like our genes have a memory; they remember what trauma happened so that the next generation can adjust to the environment and survive better. What if our genes are adjusting for a trauma we did not experience, but our grandparents did?

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