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Episode 20 – Healing Patriarchal Trauma Featuring Dr. Valerie Rein

Dr. Valerie Rein is a psychologist, author, and founder of Her Genius, Inc., dedicated to helping high-achieving women, their partners, and teams master the game of “how good can it get?” in their work, relationships, and health. Based on cutting-edge scientific evidence of genetic transmission of trauma, Dr. Rein’s work heals Patriarchy Stress Disorder™ (PSD) — the ancestral, collective, and personal trauma of oppression that underlies the stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction epidemic among women entrepreneurs, leaders, and corporate executives. Her clients have dubbed PSD “the missing link” to their ultimate success and happiness, productivity and creativity, authenticity and power, freedom and fulfillment. 

In this episode, Michelle Bosch chats to Dr. Rein about PSD and how to start the healing process. You’ll also find out more about Dr. Rein’s background and how she got started in her career.

Listen and enjoy:

What’s inside:

  • Understand exactly what Patriarchy Stress Disorder is
  • Find out how to become healed using various trauma resolution tools
  • Discover how years of power imbalances have impacted women all over the world
  • Learn how to apply these lessons to your own relationships

Find out more!



Michelle: Welcome to the “In Flow” podcast. This is your host, Michelle Bosch. In today’s episode, I have brought on a very special guest. I met her last year at an iconic event for women entrepreneurs that are running successful businesses at a very high level. And she really caught my attention when she mentioned the following term. She said, “Patriarchy stress disorder,” and it completely intrigued me. And when I read more about it I thought, “Wow, this is probably part of what explains why there are so many women in real estate acting as agents but so very few women actually investing, being the investors of real estate. And it is really completely lonely at the top when it comes to investing in larger million-dollar transactions.

So, my guest today is Dr. Valerie Rein. And Dr. Valerie Rein is a psychologist, author, and founder of Her Genius, Inc. dedicated to helping high-achieving women, their partners, and their teams master the game of how good can it get in their work, in their relationship, and in health. And based on cutting-edge scientific evidence of genetic transmission of trauma, Dr. Rein’s work heals patriarchy stress disorder, or PSD, the ancestral collective and personal trauma of oppression that underlines the stress, the burnout, and the dissatisfaction epidemic among women entrepreneurs, leaders, and corporate executives. Her clients have dubbed PSD the missing link and to their ultimate success and happiness, productivity, and creativity, authenticity, and power.

Dr. Rein holds a Masters of Education and Psychological Counseling from the Teacher’s College of Columbia University and a PhD from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. She’s a former college professor, researcher, yoga instructor, and therapist. And Dr. Rein is the author of the forthcoming book, “Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Missing Link to Liberation for High Achieving Women.” Welcome, Valerie. It is a pleasure and an honor to have you on the “In Flow” podcast today.

Dr. Rein: Thank you so much, Michelle. It’s such a joy to be here.

Michelle: Awesome. I was just at an event which I actually run into you just the other day last week here in Phoenix at the time of this recording and I was sharing with the women there that it’s sometimes disheartening to see how women abdicate power when it comes to finances and investing to men, whether it be their spouses or a financial planner. And what I mean by that is that I would love to see many more women involved and visible in the decision making of investing their money even if, say, your partner or your spouse has traditionally taken care of this for the family. And I believe part of it has to do with the fact that courage and confidence for women when it comes to their finances and money has not caught up with the opportunities out there in terms of investing and really growing their money and having their money work for them. So, let’s start by could you explain to our listeners what is patriarchy stress disorder? What is that term? What do you mean by that?

Dr. Rein: Yes, of course. And it actually ties in beautifully in what you were just bringing up. So, patriarchy stress disorder is the trauma of oppression. And what I mean by that is that women have been oppressed under patriarchy for thousands of years. And now, we have scientific evidence of genetic transmission of trauma. So, even if in your lifetime you felt like you were given the opportunities, which is true. Now, we have a lot more opportunities than our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers had. But the thing is that our genetics, our biology has not caught up to the opportunities that we have now. And historically, it has never been safe, that’s the keyword, has never been safe for a woman to be powerful.

Power for a woman has always been a punishable offense. If we look at history, those punishments have been severe. From being burned at the stake, from even what’s going on in politics now, women are still getting burned. Burned and just in different other ways, through media, social media, and we feel this pain. And because our biology is wired for survival, it’s there to protect us. There are trauma adaptations that keep us “safe” from stepping into our power, including our financial power. These dots connected for me and they connected for me when I was working as a therapist, seeing a lot of women, a lot of high-achieving women who were all suffering from issues with their sleep, issues with their weight.

Many had adrenal fatigue, many had thyroid issues, hormonal imbalances, perimenopause, menopausal symptoms. Many had disconnection in their relationships, lack of intimacy, sexual problems. And I was seeing it in every woman who is high achieving and who is stepping outside of that box of what would be considered allowable for a woman in the patriarchy. And because these women were doing that, their biology was freaking out. Their minds were set on success and they were doing all the things to be successful. But their biology was backfiring because patriarchy stress disorder is a stress disorder. The way our biology keeps us safe is keeping our nervous system in the constant state of hyperactivation and that results in a lot of stress-related conditions and also holding ourselves back sometimes.

Michelle: Yeah. I often tell, you know, my husband I’ve been on stress mode for the last 17 years that I’m operating as if it was normal. Sometimes I fell into a trap I’m like if somebody is stressed over something so simple I’m like, “Come on, build your tolerance for stress.” When in fact, our nervous system was designed, you know, from what I know and what I’ve read to yes, deal with stress but only for a short period of time but not for long, extended periods of time.

Dr. Rein: And my journey was also similar and I actually started considering what the heck is going on after I ended up in the ER with symptoms of a stroke, which actually turned out to be stress thankfully. But the trick was that I didn’t think I was stressed. I did not realize I was stressed and so women I work with they’re like, “No, I’m not stressed,” because it feels so normal to us and it even feels empowering. Because we’re activated and our biology is ready for anything. However, prolonged state of stress, as you mentioned, they lead to devastating outcomes and we deserve better.

Michelle: I’m originally from Henderson, you know, from this culture, money and power have always been synonymous. And really, even if I look back when I was graduating, you know, the biggest trophy for a lot of my…sadly to say, a lot of my female peers was their parents looking for a suitable man to marry. So, marrying was really the highest level of success for a woman even when I was graduating which is mid-1990s from high school. And in many cultures across the globe, powerful women, like you said, it’s a punishable offense. So, can you explain how the disorder operates like at the level of biology? So, why are we…is it that we’re storing it in our DNA? It’s just incredibly interesting to me. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that? On the [inaudible 00:08:06].

Dr. Rein: Yes. I’m also an immigrant and from Russia originally. I mean it’s also a very patriarchal culture that gives me a lot of material to explore in the lab as I figure out my own ways of liberation. But yes, absolutely. Marrying well was the only path to “success” or access to power for a woman, and in many cases that still remains. So, how does PSD operate on the biology level? Trauma. First of all, let me define what the heck trauma is because many people think that, okay, trauma is being held at a gunpoint or being in, you know, military combat. Not necessarily. There are a lot of traumatic events that happen to all of us. No human escapes traumatic experiences.

And here is how I define trauma. Trauma is any event or circumstance that made you feel unsafe in your full authentic expression and caused you to create some adaptations to ensure safety. And that ties in into how PSD operates, it operates through these adaptations. Let’s say we’ve experienced both historically, women have been disempowered. We didn’t have the rights, we didn’t have the voice. And the primary wound of PSD is that a woman is worth less than a man. Let that sink in for a moment for our listeners. A woman on the patriarchy, by definition, is worth less than a man. A woman’s body, a woman’s mind, a woman’s desires, and ideas, worthless. And so, a lot of how we’re trying to run away from this wound, being high-achieving women, is through achievement and earning our worthiness, subconsciously of course, right?

But our biology is trying to keep us safe from being punished for our power and these adaptations range from, well, there are three types of trauma response, fight, flight, and freeze. And so, they fall into these categories. So, there’s stress that we talked about, stress addiction is one of the adaptations and the whole strength strong woman phenomenon. Then flight, just getting distracted or getting…focusing on things that are not your true core authentic desires instead of going for [inaudible 00:10:52] that doesn’t feel safe. Subconsciously, we don’t think that way. And then freeze is basically being frozen in action, when we know we need to be doing something and so much of anxiety and depression are tied into these expressions because stress correlates with anxiety and then freeze then correlates with depression.

Michelle: Depression, yeah.

Dr. Rein: Yeah. And then women come to their therapists and without the understanding of this core underlying trauma, that’s not individual, that is collective, they’re just put on medication or they go and talk to somebody, which is nice, but ultimately doesn’t resolve trauma, which can only be resolved on the level of biology, mind, body, and spirit working together.

Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. Now, I know you just mentioned that you had ended up in ER and you’re also an immigrant from Russia. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an entrepreneur and immigrated to U.S. and how this all ties together?

Dr. Rein: Mm-hmm. Oh, gosh, where do I begin? So, I came here when I was 22. I came for two weeks and stayed for longer. I have a poor sense of time. And the reason I stayed was I fell in love with New York City. I came to the city and it was…

Michelle: It’s not hard.

Dr. Rein: It’s not hard and it was still the height of the dot-com boom. So, it was easy for me to get a job in the internet industry and then the bubble burst months after, and that started my entrepreneurial journey. So, I’m a reluctant entrepreneur. I grew up in a culture where people didn’t even have private property in the Soviet Union. So, for me, that was the last thing I thought I was ever gonna do.

Michelle: So, was it accidental?

Dr. Rein: It was accidental, completely accidental. And so, I tried different things and I went back to school, and I actually paid for my masters at Columbia. At that time I paid through my entrepreneurial efforts and that was a proud accomplishment starting from not knowing anything about anything. And I was the first in my class to open a private practice in New York, again out of fear. That’s where fear actually comes in very handy, I was so fearful for my survival so I did a big, bold, courageous things. Of course, the price that I ended up paying was that exhaustion of the nervous system. But what saved me was getting involved in yoga and I did that at the same time as I was getting into psychology, so that was serendipitous.

And I was learning to be a yoga teacher and a therapist at the same time. And so, I was noticing what yoga was doing for my anxiety, for my depression that completely did not yield through therapy at all. And then I was like…And at that time, there was not so much use of mind-body tools in healing the whole person and including mental health. So, I was studying with different pioneers in the field, taking lots of workshops, following, you know, anyone who was doing amazing work in the area and little by little, I developed my methodology. And now when I heal PSD, I teach a five-step system that was developed through about 20 years of this exploration and ultimately trying to heal myself, that was the journey.

And then discovering that these trauma resolution tools actually work for absolutely everyone because absolutely everyone has trauma. And, again, if we don’t look at it then we’re stuck on the surface trying to address let’s say addiction or trying to address why there’s a lack of intimacy in your relationship, or why am I stuck in my career. In the surface, things don’t work because the underlying biology goes, “No.” No matter what you think, no matter what your mindset is, the biology goes, “No.”

Michelle: So, it’s something that is basically operating without us even knowing that it’s operating in the background. So, back in December, I had a lady that had listened to a podcast episode I had done on multi-family investing, which is large apartment complexes. And what was interesting about that is that although she listened to it and she was the gateway to an investment opportunity, the one who actually sought me out and contacted me, you know, and was the ultimate decision maker when it came to the money was her husband. And so, I believe women, whether entrepreneurial or not, when it comes to financial freedom and investing, we’re here to also be part of the conversation and not just be part of the conversation but sometimes lead in our marriages and in our family.

But there’s so few role models of women out there investing. So, I know you said that you had started to find out based on your personal experience how to kind of undo PSD. So, how can women start doing this and breaking out of the prison of PSD? You know, which, like I said for me, it would be ideal to see a woman seeking out more information and actually being part of the conversation.

Dr. Rein: Yes. Thank you, Michelle. It’s a necessary conversation because being successful, the cost of burn out is just not an ideal level of success or being frozen in the state where you know there’s so much more that you wanna do, but it seems so close yet so far away. Such as with investing, they’ve done studies, and very recently, I believe this year or last year that UBS Bank actually did that study of where they looked at how women do delegate all financial decisions to their male partners. Although these are high earning women, they are professionals, they are doctors, etc. So, these are not stay-at-women who don’t earn income outside their home. These are…

Michelle: I know, I’m stunned. I’m stunned to run into so many successful women that are running their business, their own businesses, but they abdicate power to a financial planner or, like you said, to just hand it over to the spouse. And perhaps the spouse could be better at it and there’s nothing wrong with the spouse in handling it. But just generally speaking, being part of the conversation as well, you know?

Dr. Rein: Yes. And so, my message to women is there is nothing wrong with you. If you’re doing this, don’t feel it’s your failure, it’s not. There are just a couple of historical nuggets I wanna throw in there. Up until 1975, a woman in the U.S. could not open a bank account in her own name without a male cosigner. It was until 1980s that a woman could take out a business loan, with a lot of loans being from women’s groups, without a male cosigner, 1980s. So, women could not, we could not have our own money up until very recently at all, at all. So, the genetic programming, or cultural, however you wanna think of that and not having role models, that all plays a huge part in our reluctance to go there.

And then again, money equals power, as you said, right, in, you know, cultures. And power has always been a punishable offense for a woman. And to our listeners, don’t take this statement lightly, just let it drop in and feel what it feels like because there’s genetic memory that’s gonna go, “Yep, yep, I know.” And by not touching, literally not touching our own money we’re keeping ourselves safe subconsciously. It’s not the best way to keep ourselves safe and there are different ways. I mean you asked me how a woman can start healing PSD, first of all, becoming aware. So, my system has five steps and we’re actually in the middle of step one right now, which is, I call it “waking up in prison.”

And why I call it that is because I use the metaphor for PSD as the invisible inner prison. It is invisible and it does imprison us. So, in the step, we consider the context of ancestral trauma the cultural women right now on the planet, in our culture. Every time we turn on the TV or social media, we get a sense of the state of affairs, which is still not women-friendly despite all the accomplishments that we’ve…yeah, everything we’ve accomplished in that area. And then personal trauma also, and again, by trauma, I mean anything that made you feel unsafe in your fullest authentic expression. Anything from being emotionally unsafe, psychologically unsafe, sometimes physically or sexually unsafe, and that runs deep.

And from that first step, we realize that, “It’s not my fault. There is this condition that I can heal.” And then in the second step, we meet what I call “prison guards.” And what I refer to as prison guards, as these trauma adaptations that are keeping us in the invisible, in the prison. And we identity how they show up in the mind, in the body, and in our actions. And that’s truly fascinating because all these stories that we call, all the inner critic, the self-doubt, trouble with decision making, sometimes lack of clarity, concentration, these are all prison guards because they’re all holding us back from taking up space in our power. And on the level of the body, some of the things I’ve already mentioned, there are energy issues, there are imbalances, anxiety, depression, addictions. And on the level of actions, we so often get involved in distractions or get stuck in action. And so, that’s step two.

And in the third step, we, instead of trying to blaze through just bulldoze over this prison guards as some approaches would recommend like, “Oh, just punch fear in the face.” Bad idea because fear is there to protect you. And if fear cannot protect you, something else will flare up to. And often times with high-achieving women, it’s something in the body because we just don’t stop otherwise and we don’t want that. So, instead of overriding our defenses, we befriend them, we bribe them and befriend them. And that’s where I teach women mind-body practices to unwind the nervous system, to reprogram the nervous system from this high activation so that we can be relaxed and actually when we’re relaxed we’re much more focused, much more productive, and much more creative, and then able to receive. Women also have problem with receiving.

Michelle: Absolutely. Now, as I’m hearing you say this and explain all this, I completely agree. There is no one will do the healing for us. This is an inner work, an inner responsibility. How can we also bring the wonderful, beautiful loving men in our lives on this journey as well?

Dr. Rein: What a great question, Michelle. I love bringing in men into this work. And interestingly, after interviews like this and after listening to my own podcast that’s called “Her Success Radio…”

Michelle: Yes. I tune in. Whoever is listening to this, you need to tune in as well.

Dr. Rein: Thank you so much. And I get a lot of messages from men who go, “You know what, I’m affected, too. And do you have something for men?” And right now, I focus on helping women and their partners, and their teams that involve men. And my big vision is that we stop, we shift. We’re now in this phase that is very tumultuous because so much has come to the surface, the Me Too Movement, Times Up. And it’s very divisive, it can be very divisive. There’s so much trauma that’s on the surface but not enough tools yet. Well, actually, I haven’t heard or seen conversations around Me Too that specifically address trauma. Right now, what’s going on is this standoff of a lot of pain, a lot of blame, a lot of anger.

And I really want to bring these trauma-informed tools to help men and to help women understand both themselves on how this trauma operates and how it plays out in our relationships. Our personal relationships, our business relationships, it’s fascinating, it runs deep, it’s not personal. And the results that I’ve seen with couples and teams that I’ve worked with involving women and men have been amazing. The shift from communication in the surface level and kind of tiptoeing around issues to being able to be open. I wouldn’t even say vulnerable, stepping into each other’s respective power and being able to see each other in that power and support each other in that power and work together.

And to me, that’s only possible with trauma healing. Otherwise, we always get triggered, men and women will get triggered and then the definition of triggered is that we get hijacked in fight, flight, or freeze response, and then everything gets derailed. So, does this answer your question?

Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely, yeah. It definitely does. It speaks to something that I noticed, you know, in events that we hold where there’s both spouses or business partners, you know, and business partners in a room and I see that the women are sometimes incredibly reluctant to speak. And they’re not as reluctant to speak up if they are just amongst women, but they don’t feel as safe and assertive where amongst other men. And I’m like, okay, this is how life is today. We won’t have like, you know, coed clubs for everything, you know?

We’re doing this together, you know, we’re a society together of both men and women, and so how can we help women be more okay with speaking up and men being much more supportive with letting the women speak up as well. And it’s not that they’re not, it’s just that I think they’re so used to men to taking the lead that they don’t notice that perhaps they have hijacked the opportunity or the possibility for their spouse or business partner to also be part of that conversation.

Dr. Rein: Yes. It’s so subconscious on both sides, Michelle. Men are not sitting there plotting. “Oh, how can I take power away from women today?”

Michelle: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Rein: That would be ridiculous but it’s so subconscious and I see so many really, really good conscious men who still have these blind spots. We all have blind spots but it’s a source of pain for them and they come to me and they say, “Well, oh, my gosh, like especially reflecting everything around Me Too. How have I been perpetrating power of use over women?” And these are men who haven’t raped anyone, who haven’t…right? But they’re questioning, they’re asking deeper, bigger, more uncomfortable questions. How am I being an oppressor? How am I abusing my power? And these are just, ugh, I just wanna cry like every time I have this conversation with a man. Like yes, let’s unpack this. Let’s look at the blind spots for women and for men so that we can be more conscious and we can come closer together.

Michelle: Yeah, yep. Now, my next question is regarding, again, going back to your experience of burnout. How can an entrepreneurial woman, from your perspective, start creating inflows of cash with ease in their life so that we don’t fall into those traps? So, one of them is healing and going through the deep inner work that you just presented. I think two or three steps on the PSD jailbreak system or however you call it. So, what else? For example, what do you do?

Dr. Rein: Yeah. I use the same tools that I teach. So, there are two more steps to the system and then people can learn more about that. We’ll share with them the links where they can learn. And within each step, there are concrete tools and I use them all, the online body tools. And actually, I’m gonna share with your listeners, as my thank you for tuning in, being a part of this important conversation, a tool that you can use in three minutes or less. Three minutes or less. I call it a “repower tool.” Whenever you’re feeling that, let’s call it what I call it, that PSD symptoms are acting up or whether you’re hesitant to speak up, you’re feeling a little out of body, not fully in body, not fully in your power, maybe you got triggered, maybe you’re in a boardroom full of men, or maybe it is with your partner that you’re feeling disconnected, and maybe you are even in the middle of the argument, you feel you’re not being listened to and you feel yourself spiraling out, and this tool will help you come back into your body by establishing safety.

It works directly with your nervous system and your brain. And the part of the brain that we communicate with is the hindbrain, that’s where our biological survival wiring is. And because it’s there, talking about it like self-talk, calm down, or focus, that goes to the pre-frontal cortex that has nothing to do with what’s going on right now. It’s kind of offline when we get triggered. So, that’s why…yeah, it’s fascinating. So, that’s why affirmations and such, they’re not always helpful. And they can…our listeners, please, you can download this at, and you use it anywhere, anytime as a starting point. It’s an audio where I also explain the mechanism of action for my fellow geeks.

Michelle: Yeah. You know, all the guys they wanna know everything behind it, the science behind it. That’s wonderful, thank you so much.

Dr. Rein: Yeah, for women and for men. And for me, safety is first for me in the biology, right? Safety is first. And when we feel safe then we can dare, then we can step into more abundance and cash flow. Part of the way PSD, one of the ways PSD manifests is by actually making women blind to opportunities and it’s very painful and I’m not an exception. There are probably a whole lot of opportunities I’m just not seeing right now because my defenses are saying, “Unsafe, unsafe!” And so, with investment and with your work, I bet a lot of women listen to what you have to teach and they think, “Oh, it’s a great idea. That would be great.” And then they check out because they don’t seriously consider that this could be for them.

Michelle: A possibility for them, yeah.

Dr. Rein: Yeah. I once worked with a woman who walked away from an opportunity to add over $350,000 to her bottom line that year. And when I asked her what happened, she just stared at me blankly. And it took me some time to realize that she actually did not consider that this was an opportunity for her. Although it was presented to her specifically as a consulting opportunity, but her mind automatically dismissed it, like, “Oh, I’m not qualified. They’re gonna find out. This is not my area of expertise, they’re making a mistake.” And she dismissed it and she walked away. She didn’t even have a conversation about it. And thankfully, we established enough safety in her to go back and have that conversation and the opportunity was still there. So, that’s why I’m a big believer in safety first. When we feel safe inside, subconsciously, because consciously we may not even feel that fear but we know that from the behaviors. Do you take opportunity, right? Do you dare greatly as Brenda Brown says?

Michelle: That’s awesome, yeah. Now, to wrap things up, could you share one final piece of advice for women either starting out or already successful and that are feeling either stressed out or, you know, in their businesses, or that are feeling unseen, unheard, or like you just explained right now that are dismissing opportunities because they don’t think this is a possibility for themselves.

Dr. Rein: Recognize that it’s not your personal problem. There is nothing wrong with you at all. It’s not your mindset, it’s not like you’re lacking something. You’re not lacking anything. You’re brilliant, you are amazing in every way. And there is this underlined trauma that we need to be clear about. And there’s a pathway to healing that is based on tools of neuroscience, validated by neuroscience, and have been available for thousands of years through yoga and different mind-body techniques. And you can heal whatever is getting in the way. It’s not that hard, it’s not rocket science, and you can really be liberating in every area of your life.

I guess my encouragement is consider that the old game that we all learned to play was the game of survival, the game of how much can I bear and still survive? Consider what it would feel like to play what I call the new game of how good can it get, the game of thriving, the game of how far can I push the envelope of pleasure, wealth, abundance, joy and I feel safe and excited doing that?

Michelle: Wonderful, wonderful. Now, what is the best way for people to reach you and find out more about what do you do, Valerie?

Dr. Rein: Thank you, Michelle. My website is You can actually email me directly. I do read all my email, I am now working on a quiz, we’re working on a quiz that…it’s actually an assessment that will be available by the time this show airs. It will be an assessment of how exactly PSD affects you. And it’s gonna be available at, So, I hope you check it out and find out exactly how it’s showing up so that you can start taking action.

Michelle: I definitely need to take that assessment. Like you said, as liberated and as powerful as, you know, we might feel, there is still always blind spots not just for men but also for us women in things that…especially in something that is, to use your words, so invisible, insidious. And just operating as our OS and us not knowing that that’s what’s happening.

Dr. Rein: I discover those every day in myself, Michelle. So, we’re all in the same boat.

Michelle: Yeah, excited. Looking forward to that assessment for sure. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about this. It was something that I really wanted to learn more about and I’m pretty sure, you know, whoever is listening to this, I don’t believe in coincidences. I think synchronicities are there for a reason. And there was a reason that I stumbled into you and I wanted to have you on the show today, so thank you so much for making the time to talk to us about this.

Dr. Rein: My pleasure, Michelle. Thank you so much and thank you, our listeners, for tuning in.

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