Trauma as Disconnection from the Self
When we are traumatized, we get disconnected from the self. Tenderness is replaced with rigidity. We become harder and less flexible.
Trauma is a disconnection from the self. This is how Dr. Gabor Maté defines the word trauma, which, he says, comes from the Greek word for 'wounding.' Whenever we're wounded, a scar tissue forms over the wound. But that tissue is harder, less resilient, and less flexible compared to the original tissue it replaced.
The same thing can be said about psychological trauma. When we are traumatized, we experience a wounding. Tenderness is replaced with rigidity. We become harder and less flexible. The reason for the hardening, according to Dr. Maté, is that the wounding induces a separation from the self. That's how we become rigid to life, to ourselves, to relationships. We don't feel as much as before. We don't love as much, or trust as much, or care as much. Trauma changes us.
Dr. Maté's concept of trauma revolves around the idea of the wound that separates us from the self. This is where it gets interesting. According to Dr. Maté, there are four separations that happen to us when we get traumatized: alienation from ourselves, alienation from our work, alienation from other people, and alienation from nature.
Would you look at that list again. Trauma breaks our most fundamental relationships with self, work, other people, and nature. But why does this list sound familiar?
Because three out of four of these items are the results of the fall at the Garden of Eden. Dr. Maté, writing from psychological perspective, would naturally not mention God so he mentioned 'work' instead. But theologians in the last two thousand years have long identified the four relationships that broke when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit: relationship with God, relationship with other human beings, relationship with nature, and relationship with self.
Psychology is now only coming to grips with ancient truths the Bible has been trumpeting for thousands of years. Will it accept the Bible’s prescription on where to find healing?
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