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Dissertation Title:

Children of Vietnam Veterans: Intergenerational Trauma and the Archetypal Astrological Signature


Barbara Amneris Niepelt

Date, Time & Place:

December 14, 2020 at


A qualitative, phenomenological study investigates how unresolved effects of combat trauma in American fathers who served in the Vietnam War manifest in their descendant children. Discernible effects on psychological development and general outlook in life were observed for seven participants, resulting from dysfunctional parenting, indirect trauma, and shared unconscious imagery. Findings are consistent with previous studies showing that traumatic beliefs, feelings, and behaviors of soldiers are transmitted to their children, particularly when the experiences of war are not discussed in the family system. Symptoms include issues related to self-worth, emotional regulation, stress management, and anxiety. There are indications of transmitted memories in the form of dreams, survivor’s guilt, feelings of loss, and heightened sensitivity toward death. All participants developed high achievement motivation and relied on both learned and innate resilience for future success. Examination of the archetypal signatures shown in the astrological birth charts of six study participants highlights symptoms of trauma that are in very good agreement with the lived experience and provides deeper therapeutic understanding. The symbols indicate that all participants are compassionate and tend to prioritize the emotional needs of others. Astrological analysis confirms that the father experienced war in his lifetime and further confirms the current family dynamics as an extension of the dominant theme shown in the ancestral family line. Both depth psychologist and astrologer draw from the same world of archetypes and mythic figures, and both seek to investigate symptoms and alleviate suffering, with the overarching goal of empowerment.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Psychotherapy, Track TT, 2012
  • Chair: Dr. Allen Bishop
  • Reader: Dr. Christine Lewis
  • External Reader: Dr. Robert Hand
  • Keywords: