Legacy Maps


11″ x 14″ on cloth

coffee-stained canvas, separate collaged piece attached to canvas: paper dress pattern, misc. fabrics, hand embroidery, thread, machine stitching

nan genger

Some families talk about family history while others hide or neglect it, but in any case our forebears’ lessons regarding safety and survival are conveyed both verbally and nonverbally, consciously and unconsciously down the generations. In Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) we call these intergenerational transmissions ‘legacy burdens’ to expand on the work IFS therapists do with the painful, negative, self-referential beliefs and feelings that individuals develop when they feel devalued.

Some legacy burdens develop through direct parent child interactions, other legacy burdens are absorbed through the families’ emotional process. The more shameful the event was perceived in the previous generations, the more secrecy, the more likely it is that the story of the burdening will be unknown, unrecoverable, vague or (like the game telephone) significantly fictionalized. It is the process of shaming and secret keeping, the exiling of what was deemed too painful or threatening that the stories are lost.  What remains is the functioning of the inner system of protective parts who constrain and stifle to protect. 

Ann Sinko, LMFT, Certified IFS Therapist

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