• It Didn't Start with You

  • How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle
  • By: Mark Wolynn
  • Narrated by: Mark Wolynn
  • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 04-26-16
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (219 ratings)

Regular price: $28.00

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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking approach to transforming traumatic legacies passed down in families over generations, by an acclaimed expert in the field. 

Depression. Anxiety. Chronic Pain. Phobias. Obsessive thoughts. The evidence is compelling: the roots of these difficulties may not reside in our immediate life experiences or in chemical imbalances in our brains - but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. The latest scientific research, now making headlines, supports what many have long intuited: that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations. 

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. 

As a pioneer in the field of inherited family trauma, Mark Wolynn has worked with individuals and groups on a therapeutic level for over 20 years. It Didn't Start with You offers a pragmatic and prescriptive guide to his method, the Core Language Approach. Diagnostic self-inventories provide a way to uncover the fears and anxieties conveyed through everyday words, behaviors, and physical symptoms. Techniques for developing a genogram or extended family tree create a map of experiences going back through the generations. And visualization, active imagination, and direct dialogue create pathways to reconnection, integration, and reclaiming life and health. It Didn't Start With You is a transformative approach to resolving longstanding difficulties that, in many cases, traditional therapy, drugs, or other interventions have not had the capacity to touch. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2016 Mark Wolynn (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Mark Wolynn does a masterful job of illuminating the ways in which our ancestors' unresolved suffering, often unknown to us, disables us and binds us painfully to them. He gives us the tools and skills - an approach that combines understanding, imaginative dialogues, and compassionate reconnection - to free and heal ourselves." (James S. Gordon, MD, author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey out of Depression)
" It Didn't Start with You takes us a big step forward, advancing the fields of trauma therapy, mindfulness applications, and human understanding. It is a bold, creative, and compassionate work." (Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness)
"This groundbreaking book offers a compelling understanding of inherited trauma and fresh, powerful tools for relieving its suffering. Mark Wolynn is a wise and trustworthy guide on the journey toward healing." (Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Valuable insights one big flaw

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The book is a very mixed piece of work, valuable as a manual on Hellinger family trauma work and very doubtful when it sets as an ultimate goal for adult children to understand the limitations of the parents, take responsibility for the break up in a relationship with their parents, and repent. The book recommends to all listeners as a resolution to contact their parents and tell them "Mom/Dad I miss you, I am sorry for not being more loving and pushing you away". The approach seems to work for the cases presented in the book. A serious flaw that I see comes from applying this advice to cases of child abuse that can and should be classified as criminal offence - rape, molastacion, severe/systematic beating. The author dose not talk about such cases but by coaching all childhood trauma survivors toward loving their parents and expressing remorse/responsibility for the break up in the relationship with them he inadvertently sends the victims down the path where they ae responsible for their rape/torture etc. The reason I think it's a very big flaw of this book is because it takes a lot of courage and coaching for such victims to overcome shame and properly direct their anger on the abusive parents and not on themselves and here the book can be potentially very misleading.

Would you recommend It Didn't Start with You to your friends? Why or why not?

No, I would recommend something else on Hellinger therapy

50 of 53 people found this review helpful

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Not audible friendly, get written version

Not good as an audible book because every five out ten minutes he's telling you to stop the book until you do the written exercise. I'll never finish my laundry this way!

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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New approaches to self discovery and healing

Wolynn's basic theory is that we sometimes inherit trauma from people throughout our family tree, not just in our immediate family, but from people in our extended family, maybe even from previous generations. Pain and psychological issues can be passed down from one generation to the next even when the source of that pain has been shrouded in silence. You might have a fear of being suffocated, for example, because of the trauma experienced by a great-grandparent who died by asphyxiation, even if you can't recall ever hearing about his or her life and death. The process by which this happens is somewhat mysterious, but Wolynn presents it in a very eloquent and articulate way. Whatever the mechanism, these traumas can block us off from our own vitality and happiness, causing all kinds of psychological issues and health problems. The way to reclaim that vitality is by healing the divide between ourselves and disowned family members, by reaching out to them for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation. Wolynn's techniques for doing that are effective. I've gone through the exercises and have had some amazing insights.

I do share some of the concerns expressed by other reviewers of this book; namely, that it's not necessarily a good idea to attempt reconciliation with a parent (or other family member) who's abused you in the past, or is actively hostile to you in the present. So many of Wolynn's examples are of people who inadvertently harmed us due to circumstances out of their control--you may have fears of abandonment because your mother was hospitalized while you were a child, and so on. What about people who have inherited trauma from family members who inflicted pain and abuse on the people around them? I think the ideas in this book are still valid, but I would like to hear the author speak more directly on the topic of abuse and neglect. It would be a GREAT subject for a follow-up book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Could have been more captivating

The narrator of this makes it nearly unbearable to listen to. I wish i had just bought a hard copy because the content was amazing at times but the voice was difficult! I’d say just read this yourself

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not recommend

There are some helpful information but most of the stories/exemplifications sound more like coincidence rather than empirical evidence. All of his patients seemed to be able to ask their parents and grandparents about the traumatic events that happened with the past generations, but what about the trauma that are already buried with the ones who passed away? We can never know anything then and even when we ask, parents may not give us the truth. What to do then? You would never learned how it all started and wouldn't be able to fix anything?

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Too one-sided

I think the author shared some great points however, the common theme I'm hearing is, "As the adult child, you must forgive your mom and dad for whatever they did or didn't do and it is your job to make peace with them no matter what." I feel for children of addicts, or children of parents who abused them sexually, this would be a difficult task. It seems to be very one sided where the author doesn't even acknowledge that the parents have some faults, but moreso, they had their flaws, but you should get over it in order to heal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not a scholarly work

If you are looking for research-based data, this is not your book. While I only got through chapter one, the author’s primary focus of trauma is his own personal experiences. And when he does expand his lens, he said things that should never be said the clients in trauma.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Surprised by the spiritual nature & direction this

Well I tend to love books with deeply personal, spiritual accounts, and scientific data to back it. This book ticks all the boxes! I adore the part about Wolynn's personal life and what he overcame. Won't give anything away. It's an act of bravery to work on yourself. Congratulations.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Highly Recommend!

Excellent resource for working with your own personal family history. Thought provoking, great questions and lots of examples of how past family history may be impacting your present life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very insightful and well done

Where does It Didn't Start with You rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top 10 all time.

What did you like best about this story?

I really enjoyed this book as it gave me a new way of looking at our family stories. The examples throughout the book offered ideas and valuable insight.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Miss B
  • 02-18-17

A book that must be finished before judging

Outstanding book i hated it at first was even considering asking for my money back. Its my first audible book i bought only took me 2 days to listen to it & do all the task but has completely changed my view of my parents. I've heard so many times in life you must forgive your parents but never really understand why until now. I hated this until i got to about chapter 10 i was so angry listening to it. My parents were very abusive & abandoned me very young which lead to abusive childhood which i had never truly forgiven them for, now i understand by not forgiving them am also not forgiving myself. Fighting life trying to not be like them unknowingly i've actually created the same relationship they had, which i must forgive them so i can forgive myself. I now understand the importance of knowing your history. This is a book that until you get to the end you dont see its true value & its true healing. Would highly recommend this book especially if you come from a dysfunctional childhood. This book is also good for those suffering from anxiety, misery, depression, deep seated sadness, fear, loneliness, it will help you find the root cause which you maybe completely unaware of. This book will help you find healing within yourself. So glad this was my first audible book looking forward to my next one :)

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • cat
  • 12-24-16

Really insightful and compelling

It's seems in some ways like quite an out there idea but they are good and making you see how this could be why I carry so much more than I can explain it opened up the connections in my family's past and my grandad a life was ruins by ptsd that started the same age as mine, which I have spent my life battling with, it connects you to the big picture and facilitates forgiveness I think or at least has planted a seed I have to go back and do all the exercises properly but I think it's great for those who have found it it's likely you came to it for a reason! Merry Christmas xx

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Candy
  • 12-30-17

Very interesting and very useful.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who feels stuck in the past or who has unresolved feelings from the past. It's informative and also offers practical exercises to help you identify and work through the root of the pain, which may be linked to a pain experienced and carried from another generation.

Great book!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • GG&L
  • 08-19-18

YOU NEED TO HEAR/READ THIS!!!

amazing book. already familiar with the subject this has explained in great detail the areas I was unsure of. Mark uses excellent relatable examples and provides exercises to allow you to explore your own family system. life changing information!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-26-18

Damaging

I wouldn't get this book if your mother is your abuser, I felt it was damaging, and made the mother the victim, it made me angry

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-16-18

Prepare for your life to start making sense

Would you consider the audio edition of It Didn't Start with You to be better than the print version?

I took this book with me on long walks and it helped open the concepts up to me on a deper level.

What does Mark Wolynn bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

His narration adds to the fact that his work stemmed from his own experience

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 05-15-17

Amazingly simple

This all makes so much sense when you think about patterns within families. We really are the sum of our ancestors experiences. We would have a more just and understanding world if all parents read this book before they have children. It jettisons some false deep rooted ideas we have about ourselves. Most of our issues didn't start with us. We need to own that and trace its origin.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer.Scotland
  • 03-21-17

brings some things to the table.

Brings valid helpful issues to the table...very easy and enjoyable to listen to.
But like so many insightful books fails to deal with the real issues of who we are..what we are.how we are meant to do life...as creatures before the creator.Very enjoyable book...

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Seher123
  • 03-19-18

Pseudo-science

What would have made It Didn't Start with You better?

Proper science.

What will your next listen be?

Attachment in Psychotherapy

What didn’t you like about Mark Wolynn’s performance?

Arrives at silly conclusions. Doesn't make sense even within its own crooked system of logic. Claims our traumas really come from our ancestors and they are genetic. And we can change our genetics by talking about it and understanding? Utter waste of time.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from It Didn't Start with You?

I wouldn't publish this.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda
  • 06-27-16

Attached pdf

Where's the attached pdf he refers to throughout the audio? Would be very helpful to work on what has taught.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Yvette
  • 08-07-16

Your core language shapes your world experience

What made the experience of listening to It Didn't Start with You the most enjoyable?

This is a very well written work on the way in which our core language - the stories we carry with us, impact the way in which we experience all we do - our relationships, our work, or health. More than simply identifying what these may be, Wolynn offers a pathway for us to get clear on the way to heal these inter-generational patterns by moving towards them, not running from them, and visualising a new way of experiencing the very things previously causing us pain. I think its such an important book, I have bought a copy for all of my family members.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-17-18

Awesome information

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Very helpful information to understand the connection between the generations and why things repeat themselves in families

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  • Angela
  • 01-14-18

This book unlocked some key issues for me!

Where does It Didn't Start with You rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book resonated with me very strongly and opened up the opportunity for me to define key thought patterns in my life which have been restricting my personal growth. With the many examples which were given, I was able to identify which traumas had been experienced by my mother which helped me tremendously in letting go of that connection I've been carrying with her all of my life.

Any additional comments?

I'm so grateful I've discovered this book!