Trauma for Gabor Maté

Trauma induces very unpleasant internal emotional states. When an infant experiences an unpleasant emotional state, what does she do? She cries, which ought to bring the parent. The parent then, if he or she is well-regulated herself or himself, will then pick up the infant and go, “Aww,” and hold that baby and rock them, or sing to them in a sing-song kind of way. That will regulate the child’s internal state. Then the infant learns that emotional states that are unpleasant come and go. It’s okay. If I can’t handle it, I can ask for help. For the many of us who didn’t have that kind of holding environment, who didn’t have the parents around that could hold us in our unpleasant states and soothe us and regulate us because they were not regulated themselves, we end up fearing that these difficult emotional states are permanent and ‘I will stay stuck in them’, ‘I will never get out of them.’ Then what do we do?

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