"Your Biology Becomes Your Biography"

For me this quote points to how our histories actually manifest within our bodies. One of the first questions I'll ask a client is "what is your relationship with your mother like?" It can be a pretty straightforward question but the implications of the answer are far reaching.

If we didn't feel safe in our mother's care, we can have trouble feeling safe in the world. If we didn't feel we were taken care of properly, we can fall into patterns of resisting the care or guidance of caregivers like doctors or therapists. There's an endless number of ways our relationship to our mother expresses itself in our daily lives.

Here's an example of a study that was done that points to how our history affects our biology. In the 50s researchers at Harvard Medical School asked 21-year-old students a simple multiple choice question - check the box that indicates the type of relationship you have with each of your parents. The choices were 'very close', 'warm and friendly', 'tolerant' or 'strained and cold.'

35 years later they interviewed them again and the results were remarkable: 91% percent of participants who said that their relationship with their mother was “tolerant” or “strained and cold” had been diagnosed with a significant health issue. Issues like coronary artery disease, hypertension, alcoholism, etc. If the person said their relationship with their mother was “warm and friendly” or “very close,” only 45% of them had a major health issue. Similar numbers were reported for participants who described their relationship with their father: 82 percent versus 50 percent. Perhaps most astounding - if participants had a strained or cold relationship with both parents, 100% of them had been diagnosed with a significant health issue when they were interviewed again at age 56.

This is why I work with the images people hold of their parents. Whether they are living or deceased, the relationship we formed with them (or didn't form) has a major impact on our lives. If these bonds are strained, working with them can have far reaching impact.

Nick Werber