Things happen to us. These things make us who we are today. And things have happened before we were born, in our parents’ lives and our grandparents’ lives. Stuff maybe no one even remembers, and yet also making us who we are today.
Dr. Miyoung Yoon Hammer is a psychologist. She looks at life as a psychologist would, seeing people as more than distinct and discreet units, but as a part of bigger things. So our troubles and experiences are not just because of who we are. But who we are is of all our troubles and experiences.
Stories and Systems
An example: as a young man, I had a habit of compulsively wrecking cars. I’ve lost count, but in my first 15 years of driving, I must have been the cause of 3-dozen accidents. Was I just an awful driver, careless and dumb? Or were things going on in my “systems” pushing me to drive too fast, too close, too tight?
The technical term for what we’re describing is “systems theory.” And a systems approach is a beautiful thing. It’s realistic and thorough. It doesn’t take a psychologist to understand that we’re all active participants in our environment, impacting and being impacted by what’s around us. 
Miyoung seems most interested in the systems between generations. How the events of prior generations persist in impacting the present generation, even after those events are forgotten.
In my example, my father died in a car wreck when I was very young. The details surrounding the accident are vague and rarely talked about, except every once in a while, at a bar, with someone who used to know my dad back-in-the-day. And even then it’s confusing: what a great person he was, but what an awful lot of trouble he had gotten himself into. [CONTINUE READING HERE]