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The Wisdom of Trauma - Explained

A young writer shares some key insights from the documentary "The Wisdom of Trauma"

Mental health and wellbeing
By VoiceBox ·


Manaal is a self-motivated individual from Pakistan who brings attention to issues relating to betterment of every living being. She finds the inter-personal relationships of culture, individual rights, and the dynamics of the evolving world fascinating. She represents a community of shared respect, religion, ethnicity, and culture.

The Wisdom of Trauma - Explained

Have you ever watched the documentary “The Wisdom of Trauma” by Gabor Maté? It's one of my favorite documentaries out there! It provides a whole new outlook on life and what happens to people who suffer from drug addiction or what happens to people who simply are unable to process their trauma. 

In the documentary, Dr. Maté explained the miseries of the world in such a simple manner; 

"The Gods created us into a being so that we suffer, our job as a being is to learn from our sufferings."

He has worked with many people who are drug addicts and found a common symptom among them, which was that they were unable to process their trauma or learn from it. He found that the common affliction for most mental illnesses is unprocessed trauma that is encountered in early childhood. 

Is there wisdom in trauma? 

I am no expert in trauma, but I have learned a few things from the documentary that I would like to share. In the documentary, Dr. Maté explains that there is wisdom that can be gained from trauma. Learning from our sufferings is the key here. He says:

“Working through trauma can teach us so much wisdom and can reveal the beauty of our existence that, because of trauma, we had lost sight of."

We have to realize that these responses and imprints are not who we are. We are mentally stuck in the past, and the present acts as a trigger. We can work through this and become ourselves, and we can learn more about ourselves. Trauma is not about the bad things that happened to us; instead, it is what happens inside of us, the emotional damage that we deal with that is what trauma really is. 

What happens to a traumatized individual? 

Trauma is basically 'disconnection from oneself’. The reason we want to get disconnected from reality is that it becomes painful to be ourselves, to face ourselves, and to deal with our own emotions, which often results in one taking up any form of addiction to escape that reality. Trauma is often multi-generational. It is not something that happened to you; again it's the feeling that grows inside you when you are mistreated. A child gets traumatized when he feels isolated and that no one can understand him or that his feelings are not important. When that child learns to live in this isolation, he gets traumatized for life. Since trauma affects how your brain develops, traumatized children are likely to join the cycle of addiction later on, where they find ways to dissociate from reality. Addiction makes them fill that missing piece, it helps them feel complete in this world. They are damaged within, and this is often taken out on their children and carried out to the next generation; hence, the cycle continues. We need to see what happened to people instead of what is wrong with them.

Can trauma be prevented?

Two important things that a child needs from his parents and environment are secure attachment and authenticity. A child needs to know that his feelings of anger and sadness are acknowledged and not just dismissed. He needs to know that he has someone to share his emotions with. He needs to be brought up in an environment where he can be open about his feelings and not be judged to express them. 

This is not a new concept; it's a basic necessity. 

As a parent, you have to teach your child how to regulate their anger, and not suppress it. Ignoring your child is not healthy for their development. Sometimes they don’t need harsh discipline, but rather they just need to know that their feelings and emotions are accepted in the household. You do not need to spoil your kid, but you have to be there for them to help them grow. 

How do you know if you are traumatized?

The documentary explains that when you overreact or under-react in a situation you may be experiencing trauma. You are reacting to a situation in the past instead of the present, which means that you have unresolved trauma that is making you react more than anyone else would or is holding you back from expressing your emotions. 

Some Symptoms of Trauma: 

  • Nightmares & night terrors
  • Addiction
  • Depression 
  • Difficulties with expressing love
  • Insomnia

Again, I am no professional so if you feel that you may be dealing with trauma, you should talk to a licensed therapist. 

Lastly, I would like to end this piece with a quote;

"As long as you don't allow the fear to be there, you will always be working to get rid of it."

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