But for some people, discovering the truth surrounding their ancestral lineage may be emotionally difficult. Recent headlines and social media posts have told stories of family lives ruined, shocking secrets revealed, and the profound impact that discoveries have had on individuals’ mental health. Ryan Steinberg, LMHC, MBA, clinical director at Banyan Treatment Center in Pompano Beach, FL explains more about this new phenomenon.
“In instances such as exposed family secrets, like paternity, adoption, or hidden siblings, DNA and ancestry testing could lead to a significant emotional threat that could damage one’s personal development and identity formation,” explains Steinberg.
The impact of these results can cause long term damage to people who are essentially reforming their identities.
“After exposing family secrets through DNA/ancestry testing, one’s concentration could completely shift from once focusing on finding love and a stable career, to now becoming completely fixated on reestablishing a basic sense of trust and navigating through shame and developing a new sense of self-esteem,” Steinberg says. Not only are these individuals struggling with their sense of self, their relationships with others can also be effected.
“This emotional fallout could lead towards identity regression and could have substantial impacts on one’s familial relationships, social relationships, and even one’s career,” says Steinberg.
Is learning your lineage really worth the emotional pain that could ensue? Sometimes, it seems, ignorance really may be bliss. The good news is that mental health counselors today are familiar with this new occurrence of individuals who unravel secrets of their family’s past and are able to help those who are struggling sort through their emotions in a healthy way. Should you encounter a similar situation and have trouble processing the results, it’s okay to reach out for help. There are professionals who are there to listen and provide coping techniques to those in need.