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Confronting Illusions Can Help Heal Trauma

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Physician and author Gabor Maté is known for his insights into the imprints that trauma leaves on the mind and body—and for his compassionate guidance on healing. In a series of best-selling books, he has argued that childhood adversities and other stressors may underlie addictions, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions. In Maté’s most recent work, The Myth of Normal, written with his son, Daniel Maté, he postulates that trauma—by which he means “wound,” as in the original Greek—is woven into the fabric of Western society. It is so pervasive that it is the norm—as difficult for most people to perceive as water is to a fish. Maté writes in his book that “once we resolve to see clearly how things are, the process of healing—a word that, at its root, means ‘returning to wholeness’—can begin.”

Scientific American spoke with Maté, a Holocaust survivor, last November about how his lifelong exploration of trauma informs his understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict and about what healing means in this fraught time.

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