Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

The Inheritance of Life Events: A Synopsis of Time Will Tell

Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

The Inheritance of Life Events: A Synopsis of Time Will Tell

Article excerpt

What were your parents doing at this age? Time will tell.


We read about the condition of outer space and about the dangerous "space junk" which is accumulating there-not only bits of dead stars but bits of dead satellites, and thousands of man-made rocket stages. And it is cold out there.

I write after thirty years of observations of what I call Inner Space, and of the dangerous collections of undigested experiences within the lives of families.

We read that "toxic wastes" which have been buried, or stored away out of sight, can always erupt and caused damage. We cannot get rid of them permanently; there is nowhere to dump them, forever, in the outside world.

I write of eruptions of "toxic wastes," of neglected and undigested experiences in families, which erupt as repeat performances, at anniversary ages. Observations that show these eruptions affect us at the very same ages that they were "buried" in our parents' lives. Our children are affected too by our uncomprehended experiences, and at the same ages at which we dumped our muddles.

Here are two examples of events "happening" when anniversary bells rang.

1. J. Robert Oppenheimer was aged eight when his brother Frank was born, in the second week in August, 1912. Their father, Julius Oppenheimer, was forty-one. When the "Father of the Bomb" (as J. Robert was called), reached forty-one, it was 1945, and in the second week in August, down went the bombs onto Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The first bomb was code-named "Fat man," the second one was "Little Boy," and the procedure was called "Baby is Born." Were they bombs? Or were they time-bombs?

2. Melanie Klein was a famous psychoanalyst, who lived from 1882 to 1960. In his play Mrs Klein, Nicholas Wright shows us the dramatic events in one day of the life of Mrs. Klein, as she prepares to leave London for Europe to attend the funeral of her son Hans. Mrs. Klein was aged fifty-two.

When her mother was fifty-two, her son, Emanuel, Melanie's brother, had been found dead.

I believe that by exploring our family histories, we find ourselves in our inner worlds where Family Time rules.

Family photographs stir our memories, and help us talk and explore and learn more.

"God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please-you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates." R.W. Emerson wrote this, in 1835. He also wrote, in an essay called "Love":

"It is strange how painful is the actual world-the painful kingdom of time and place . . . With thought . . . is immortal hilarity, the rose of joy."

How little time we take, just for thinking. Do we know how to think for ourselves?


We are all living in two sorts of time: Clock Time and Family Time. As children, we learn to tell the time by the clocks, but no one teaches us how to tell Family Time. We believe that we have time, but in a mysterious way, time has us!

Clock Time is consciously-agreed-upon time, it is the time of the Outside World-the "real" world. We divide up our days and nights, our months and our years, and we know where we are in Clock Time. If we do not attend to Clock Time, we may be in trouble-late for appointments, jobs not done, and other people upset. Babies, of course, do not know what Clock Time is, nor do some old people, whom we call "demented." "Mad" people too, are often lost in Clock Time, and cannot say what day it is today. When we are dreaming we are all out of Clock Time.

Family Time is the time which rules our Inside World-the world which we prefer to ignore. However, I believe that not attending to Family Time has far greater repercussions, and that Family Time is far more difficult to watch than in Clock Time. We take regular exercise for our physical health; the regular mental exercise required to keep ourselves oriented in Family Time means that we ask ourselves: "Did something significant happen to my parents, at my age, something which is influencing me now? …

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