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The Wisdom of Trauma: a film review and reflection

Been hearing a lot about trauma these days.

Don't let the buzzword put you off. The need for trauma-informed therapies and treatment protocols is more important now than ever. Acknowledging trauma leads to compassion, which leads to a better world.

Trauma underlies addiction and criminal behavior, with the majority of inmates having experienced multiple traumatic events in their childhood. In this film, Gabor Maté discusses his work as a physician-turned-addictions specialist. A Holocaust survivor who endured severe trauma during infancy and early childhood, Maté has devoted the latter half of his career to helping people recover.

Lately, Maté has become one of the most outspoken advocates for psychedelic medicine, especially as these agents do help people get to the root of their trauma and process it constructively. Psychedelic-assisted therapies for trauma and addiction have become increasingly popular as ancillary services, although legal and financial impediments prevent the vast majority of affected individuals from receiving treatment.

Maté has been working hard to promote psychedelic-assisted therapies for trauma and addiction, and has a great degree of credibility in the space due to his successful pilot projects in Vancouver, BC.

The film The Wisdom of Trauma is one such endeavor to get the word out to more people, break down the legal barriers to treatment, and hopefully encourage more affordable options for those who need it most.

Although the film sometimes reads like a promotion for Gabor Maté, he does do a lot of important work in this area and deserves to showcase his talents especially given that he is obviously behind this film and the accompanying Wisdom of Trauma summit.

The film is well-made. Superb animations add a unique dimension to the documentary. I recommend grabbing tissues before sitting down with it, as it's bound to trigger some empathy at the very least, deeper chords if you resonate with what the people in the film have gone through.

Maté emphasizes the importance of trauma-informed practices for individuals but perhaps more importantly at the institutional level. Structural and systems changes are required in the mental and physical healthcare systems, as well as in the criminal justice system. Sometimes all it takes is a few good administrators and policymakers to get the ball rolling on change.

Thank you Gabor for the work you do, and to all those who work on the front lines serving those in need.

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