Don’t Cheapen Trauma

dementiaAuthor and licensed clinical social worker, Nancy Colier, published an article in Psychology Today, criticizing the popularization of the term “trauma.” She believes it has become a label for anything we think shouldn’t be happening to us. That attitude of entitlement equates our daily challenges with what the American Psychiatric Association defines as exposure “to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence,” or highly stressful, frightening, or distressing events that overwhelm a person’s capacity to digest or process it emotionally.

That would not include a difficult boss, a bad date, or a discontinued menu item. She says, “Real trauma is a devastating, painful, and life-changing experience.” When we pretend, we can relate because of things that happen that we don’t like, we undermine and invalidate the suffering of those who experience real trauma. Using the word “trauma” so lightly represents a poor me attitude, implying that we expect we should only have to experience the parts of life we like.

Pause and reflect on how you articulate inconveniences and unpleasant experiences in your own life to avoid inadvertently equating them with the trauma your guests and clients have endured.

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