The Wisdom of Trauma

Gabor Maté The Wisdom of Trauma

Announcing the release of the documentary THE WISDOM OF TRAUMA, now four years in the making by directors and producers Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo from Science and Nonduality (SAND).

Film synopsis

One in five Americans are diagnosed with mental illness in any given year. Suicide is the second most common cause of death in the US for youth aged 15-24. It kills over 800,000 people a year globally and 48,300 in the USA. Drug overdose kills 81,000 in the USA annually. The
autoimmunity epidemic affects 24 million people in the USA.

The film makers are asking the question “What is going on?”

The interconnected epidemics of anxiety, chronic illness and substance abuse are, according to Dr. Gabor Maté, normal. But not in the way you might think.

In The Wisdom of Trauma, we travel alongside physician, bestselling author and Order of Canada recipient Dr. Gabor Maté to explore why Western society is facing such epidemics. This is a journey with a man who has dedicated his life to understanding the connection between illness, addiction, trauma and society.

Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds. Dr. Maté gives us a new vision: a trauma-informed society in which parents, teachers, physicians, policy-makers and legal personnel are not concerned with fixing behaviours, making diagnoses, suppressing symptoms and judging, but seek instead to understand the sources from which troubling behaviours and diseases spring in the wounded human soul. He points us to the path of individual and collective healing.

Directors Statement

When we started this film, we thought that we were among the lucky ones who had had a happy childhood. We thought that trauma was caused by bad things happening to people; REALLY bad things: war, murder, violence, sexual exploitation… But trauma, as we learned from Dr. Gabor Maté, happens to everybody. Individually and collectively we carry a backlog of pain that has never been heard because we miss narratives to help us share, witness and hold space for each other’s deepest wounds. We hold the vision of a society that can acknowledge the truth about shame and the pain of unmet needs that live quietly but widely among us. Trauma cannot always be conquered, fixed, or resolved, but it can be heard, held and loved.

Imagine a trauma-informed world. Imagine your own family and community. Might the teachers act differently in your schools? How about the doctors seeking to help you heal? The judges responsible for deciding sentences? The policy makers who define our collective structures and the leaders we appoint to represent our voice? We hold the vision of a world that breaks free of cycles of trauma and becomes more open and inclusive. It all starts with us, truly. It starts when we allow our wounds to teach us about listening, self-love and compassion and to remind us of the preciousness of life. Then truth opens our hearts and our innate wisdom begins to shine through our wounds.

To watch the film visit


88 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Trauma”

  1. Linda Kukulski

    Dear Dr. Matte,
    I am an Ace-10 and am 68 years old. I have written my memoire-first draft within the last five months and in it have revealed a multitude of traumas that I have shared with some, some with no one. During the writing process I would get up at 5am and write for two hours each day. When my husband got up, he would come to say good morning to me and find me crying inconsolably day after day. He is a very caring and gentle man and I believe he was sent to me for a reason. We have been together for twenty two years and married for two years. He is my second husband. I have told him stories of my life that I have never told anyone else. I am writing to tell you that I have been following all the talks taking place after watching the film ‘The Wisdom of Trauma’ and I am totally blown away with the wisdom I have been privliged to hear from all the amazing and wonderful participants included in this series. I have learned so much about my own trauma and it’s effects on my life but I have also learned about the trauma in others lives…people without the advantages I have in life. I would never have been able to put all that together without the amazing sharing provided by the participants in this project. I feel a new sense of clarity, relief, definition, forgiveness and a deep desire to participate in the healing journey of others who are suffering the effects of their trauma, even if that means simply acknowledging them or lending a hand. How could I ever thank you enough for all this and we have not even finished the series yet? I am so excited to see/hear the next few talks! I want to end with the words my beautiful, smart, estranged forty-seven year old son said to me once and that was ‘You and dad should never had kids, you are so fucked up!’ Now I know what he meant but he does not know what I might just do with the knowledge, awareness, and determination I now have!
    Thank you from the bottom of my somewhat broken heart! You and all the other contributors have totally changed my life!
    My very best wishes.
    Linda Kukulski
    Nanaimo, BC

    1. Dear Linda,
      Your openness , heart felt truth and accountability in your letter has moved me so much. I feel inspired by your words so much so that I to will start the Gabor journey and hope to find , understand and slay the demons that have so often sent me in the wrong direction at the crossroads in my life.
      Thank you

    2. What a beautiful letter. Maybe you can send this to your son, explain your own trauma and show him how you are healing, now that you have been shown how to look back, how to support the child/teen/adult from the past, and how to recognise how the effects of the past were effecting your personality and behavioural traits. It wasn’t your fault that those things happened. And now you know that it wasn’t your fault, you can take ownership, of past action, apologise if necessary, find forgiveness for you, forgive him for his negative words and try to reconnect. I have been surrounded by trauma, I know the impact, I’ve acknowledged and overcome my own trauma (which I know was not as bad as most) but it’s more to do with the way we allow the past to control our personalities and behaviours. That, we can acknowledge and change. I love Gabor and his wise words. Amazing. Love to you and anyone on this healing journey x

  2. I work frontline in Squamish BC. My manager recommended this to us today. I look forward to learning more and gaining new insights and understanding.

  3. Rachel E MacDonald

    Thank you! Yes, this is so wise. I’ve been looking for trauma informed community, doctors, neurologists, counsellors, etc., and they have been few and far between. Yet what you say here is in line with my experiences healing from trauma, with the help of God, prayer, meditation, reiki and other energy work, creative work, reading so many books on trauma healing, and TRE by dr David Berceli and a workshop with dr bruce perry, nature, song, writing, art, gardening, and so much more! The truth of us is at our centre, but the dysfunctional ways we respond at times are due to unresolved pain, fears, and false beliefs, according to my inner divine guidance. Love and becoming aware of these, with God’s help, is the way to healing in my view. Thank you for sharing your awesome awareness and powerful leadership to heal our society! <3 peace, Rachel in Regina.

  4. A superb thought-provoking, emotion-evoking, compassion-building, informative film I would recommend to everyone. Thank you.
    Dr Eva Zysk, UBC Psychology

  5. when women around the world speak of their pain and trauma of having their newborn babies wrenched from their wombs and governments refuse to address such trauma it continues .. the consequences of family separation is major core of trauma in society today

  6. Looks so interesting..we all have some degree of trauma in our lives. Glad this message is being raised so healing can begin.

  7. Heartful gratitude for your commitment of the collective pain and the way of transformation of it…looking in the eye of the dark side of the darkness is the one of the courageous moves…thank you thank you thank you

  8. Cristina Feliciano

    A movie that talk about the Truth! A movie that makes us to look inside and just to be authentic to undress what doesn’t belong to us and discover what is deep down after undress all that layers that makes us in a prison! We can be free of all that layers or masks that makes us prisioners of our own beliefs, of our own shame, judgements, false protection… Thank you for this movie that makes us start a journey within, discovering our authentic BEING

  9. The film is stunning. Poignant, heart wrenching, eloquent and heart opening.

    Will it be available to buy at some stage?

  10. Fabulously done. Trauma survivor and still processing how generational trauma has affected even my own children.

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  12. Madison Weiss

    I saw the film which really moved and touched me. Thank you so much for making this premier such a magnificent event. So what’s next for the film? I have so many people in my life who would benefit from seeing it. My best to go all. Namaste, Madison

  13. I feel so much gratitude to Gabor Matè! That compassion in his face and voice and behind his approach to human pain just warms my heart! I experience tears of a much deeper source listening to Jim’s as if he could correctly address the child in me and that is how child in me responds. I know I need to take it from there, but I do not get enough of him. Ordering books soon.. thank you Gabor

  14. silvana cristina Fernandes de Albuquerque

    A parte lesionada se regenerará, como o tecido, porém estará mais sensível e sujeito a novos acidentes, é preciso mais proteção no local.

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  16. Pratap Nambiar

    Multigenerational trauma has to be broken through greater understanding and creating avenues for children’s lonely voices to be heard.

  17. I am a 48 year old male who has been living with panic attacks, anxiety and depression my entire life. I am married and have two beautiful children age 21 and 19. When my son was born my anxiety was so bad that I could hardly function. Intrusive thoughts and fears controlled my life. I later was introduced to OxyContin for a back issue and found that the narcotic answered my question I carried for 29 years. How can I feel better. Well that’s wasn’t the right answer I found out 10 years after battling a terrible addiction. I did get a councilor and began my own new journey. I studied the works of Clair Weeks and many other books on anxiety.
    I never learned as much as I have in the last week from Dr. Gabor Mate about trauma. Since birth my sister and I grew up being sent to my grandparents house every day, weekend or vacation as my mother worked to keep a roof over our head. My father left when I was just a few months old. My only loving relationship I remember was my great grandfather who died when I was 4 or 5 years old. From that point forward my sister and I were stuck living with my grandfather who beat and molested my sister. As we great things because worse. I remember seeing my grandfather molest my sister in front of me. He also enjoyed hurting me in unthinkable ways. My closest friend was out poodle names char. Char also went to my grandparents with us. She too was abused but always while I sat on his lap with my dog sitting on my lap. He would have the dog lick his hand and the reach around me to squeeze my dogs snout while her tongue was out. He was a large man 6 foot two 250 pounds I’m blue-collar worker with catcher mitts for hands. He would squeeze my dogs mouth down on her tongue screaming in the open making me hold her while he laughed as my dog whimpered in pain. I want my through my younger years, teenage years and adult life thinking I was crazy. I was never educated or told that those things had tremendous impact on me later in life as an adult. Luckily I had the willpower and the desire to be a good person. I devoted to doing whatever it took to make myself better and I continue that journey today. I even started a podcast called master of disaster. I started it hoping that it would reach one person that would maybe reach one other person and start a domino effect to let people know they are not alone and things can get better. I believe there’s a reason I found this video. I immediately signed up Sent a donation and have been watching all of the talks whenever I have a moment. I am a self-employed HVAC contractor and time has been something I haven’t had. Thank you so much Dr. Gabor Mate for devoting your life to discover the things that will help heal so many. People talk about bucket lists. I do not have a bucket list I just threw that away when I learned about you Dr. Gabor Mate. My one wish in life is to meet you. At the end of your movie you sat with that gentleman fighting cancer and you held him. It brought some serious emotion to me because what is missing in my life still today is exactly that. Someone who understands and wants to hold me to help me be better. I am desperately trying to find place to do what I consider amazing Treatment. That is the use of psychedelics. I’ve never used psychedelics in my life in fear that they would make me crazier than I thought I already was, that message was so powerful in your movie that I dream I could be in that situation. I am married but in a relationship that does not have a loving connection. I never got that chance as a kid or a teenager and now as an adult and it affects me daily. I am consumed by thought the thought of being held loved and wanted. Again thank you so much this has been such an inspiration to me.

  18. Pedro Rodrigues

    This movie changed completely my point of view in my practice. Once I started to see the hurt child in side all of us, I started the the hard but rewarding process of forgiving. I have grown now.

  19. the only wish I had all my life is to i am 79 and finally i start to do so.
    Thank you.

  20. I’m a teacher and a woman who felt deep abandonment when my father died when i was 3 1/2 yrs old. I remember the moment that my mother couldn’t hear my deep need for solace. She walked away from me at a critical moment when I was begging her to stay…I wanted MY bed, MY pajamas, and MY MOTHER. I was wrapped in denial until my 30s when I was betrayed by my husband. I had such horrid anxiety I felt like I was buried alive. I was fortunate to have emotive therapy right in the Black Hills led by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, a student of Virginia Satir. This gave me my true self back to me. I’m still prone to minor anxiety if family members visit and then leave. I’m a teacher and I bring this empathy for myself to my students. I “get it.” I’d love to have an opportunity to watch this documentary.

  21. Saludos desde Sudamerica.
    Los felicito por dedicar espacio y tiempo a abordar este tema, a develar todo el potencial del trauma y a reeducar a la sociedad.
    Por favor, podria indicarnos ¿dónde se podra encontrar el documental?
    Nuestros mejores deseos y apoyo en esta gran tarea.

  22. Dear Dr. Gabor Mate,
    Thank you for sharing many beautiful experiences of your life work. May you continue to hold compassion serving others. God Bless you..
    P.S. I so appreciated your wife’s artwork, pure light and love! Connection of our loved ones is key to healing..

  23. First of all congratulations on the film. I saw it and it was very enlightning to watch it and gave me a total new view on many of societies problems/issues.

    I would like to know if there is the possibility of buyinf the film, I now that one can access the courses but I wanted to buy it to show to my parents because I think it would help them on breaking up some blocks that they have.

    Looking forward for your response, I wish you all the best and once again congratulations on your movie/work.

    My best Regards

    Tiago from Portugal

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  25. Allanah Bourne-Arton

    Dearest Gabor
    I follow your work with awe and it gives me a lot of hope for this changing world with souls like you contributing. But I’m struggling to understand the marketing approach of your movie, The Wisdom of Trauma. I am desperate to share it with so many but the next release won’t be until October it seems. Please can you explain this approach to the marketing of your movie, which shows for limited amounts of time? Surely we need to get your message out far and wide as urgently as possible?
    I trust in your wisdom and look forward to your reply. Best wishes, Allanah

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  27. Joanne Stewart-Magee

    I work with children, I am a primary Principal and we need help to support these children and our staff.

  28. This film should be seen and absorbed by every human being on the planet. Thank you Dr. Gabor Maté for your dedication to the work. You have changed my life and the lives of those around me. You are precious, Gabor.

  29. Hi, I would like to watch this movie over and over, so I can take it in at a deeper level. I don’t have $US 200 and I could do without the talks etc, although they would be all fabulous, it’s really only the movie that I feel I need right now. I’d like to purchase it outright like I have other resources (Krishna Das’ music: Ram Dass lectures). Is this possible, and If not, will it ever be possible? Thank you so very much.

  30. Hi, I live in Italy and would like to watch The Wisdom of Trauma. Happy to pay for the viewing.
    How can I see it?
    Thank you,

  31. What is the best type of therapist to go to for help with alcohol addiction? My son is 36 years old & desperately needs help. He truly needs one on one help. Any information you can give me is much appreciated.
    He is currently living with his wife in Hungary so there’s a language issue as well.

  32. Hello, I’m wondering when the Wisdom if Trauma will be available to the public again? I have many friends and family I really want to watch it. Thank you!

  33. Hello-
    The Wisdom of Trauma is superb. I donated/purchased the film and am watching it with a group of friends. How can I purchase another copy of it, including the interviews, please?

  34. We have a small group of women who want to just watch this once, not buy the all access pass! It is a residential community in Lewiston Maine, of women who support women healing from trauma. We don’t have a budget to buy the pass. How can we access the film. We will be participating in a group about the film with Sarah Shepley via ChIME (Chaplaincy Institute of Maine).

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  37. Leslie McTavish

    I have spent two years in two programs which have helped me immensely. These programs rearrange emotions, which come from traumatic and difficult life experiences, in the brain. So that one doesn’t feel the pain and it is as though one hasn’t had these experiencez, and one can move forward.

    However, I have wondered in that time if having a guide who could listen to me and understand me, may have made a difference. I’m still not quite where I want to be exactly.

    I’m interested in seeing this film to understand its subject, and to understand myself. I’m hoping it will shed light on why I’m still stuck in one area of my life.

  38. A physically and mentally sound future should be every child’s fundamental right — along with air, water, food and shelter — especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter. And mindlessly minding our own business on such matters has too often proven humanly devastating.

    Many people seem to perceive thus treat human procreative ‘rights’ as though they [people] will somehow, in blind anticipation, be innately inclined to sufficiently understand and appropriately nurture our children’s naturally developing minds and needs.

    In the book Childhood Disrupted the author writes that even “well-meaning and loving parents can unintentionally do harm to a child if they are not well informed about human development” (pg.24). I strongly believe that every parent should be knowledgeable about factual child-development science.

    Also noteworthy is that, regarding early-life trauma, people tend to know (perhaps commonsensically) that they should not loudly quarrel when, for instance, a baby is within clear-hearing range; whether they know about the intricacies of why they shouldn’t, however, is another matter.

    Since it cannot fight or flight, a baby stuck in a crib on its back hearing parental discord in the next room can only “move into a third neurological state, known as a ‘freeze’ state … This freeze state is a trauma state” (pg.123).

    This causes its brain to improperly develop. It’s like a form of non-physical-impact brain damage. Also, it’s the unpredictability of a stressor, and not the intensity, that does the most harm.

    When the stressor “is completely predictable, even if it is more traumatic — such as giving a [laboratory] rat a regularly scheduled foot shock accompanied by a sharp, loud sound — the stress does not create these exact same [negative] brain changes” (pg.42).

    Since so much of our lifelong health comes from our childhood experiences, childhood mental health-care should generate as much societal concern and government funding as does physical health, even though psychological illness/dysfunction typically is not immediately visually observable.

    Unhindered abuse readily results in a helpless child’s brain improperly developing. The emotional and/or psychological trauma acts as a starting point into a life in which the brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines.

    It can amount to non-physical-impact brain-damage abuse: It has been described as a continuous, discomforting anticipation of ‘the other shoe dropping’ and simultaneously being scared of how badly you will deal with the upsetting event, which usually never transpires.

    The lasting emotional/psychological pain from such trauma is very formidable yet invisibly confined to inside one’s head. It is solitarily suffered, unlike an openly visible physical disability or condition, which tends to elicit sympathy/empathy from others. And it can make every day a mental ordeal, unless the turmoil is prescription and/or illicitly medicated.

    The health of ALL children needs to be of real importance to us ALL — and not just concern over what other parents’ children might or will cost us as future criminals or costly cases of government care, etcetera — regardless of how well our own developing children are doing.

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  42. I watched this and I have to say it is one of the most eye-opening (and saddest) revelations. Trauma plays such a huge role in our lives and it has seemingly become more and more normalized. The problem is, many people do not process their trauma and it affects them years later if it doesn’t more immediately.

    I found a great book called Hidden Within Us: A Radical New Understanding of the Mind-Body Connection by Dr. Samuel Mann. He is a hypertension specialist and researcher in NYC and has been studying the correlation between repressed emotion and chronic illness for decades.

    Here’s his book link:

    I highly recommend checking out his website at and reading the book. So many people in the world suffer from illnesses that doctors can’t explain. Many times they are just not asking the right questions.

    Thanks again for the great film, please keep up the good work and help to open people’s eyes to this systemic issue.

  43. The Wisdom of Trauma” is a documentary and a concept often associated with healing and personal growth. It explores the idea that trauma, while incredibly challenging and painful, can also be a source of profound wisdom and transformation in a person’s life. Here are some key insights related to “The Wisdom of Trauma”

  44. While trauma can cause emotional wounds, the process of healing from trauma can lead to a greater sense of wisdom and well-being. It can teach individuals valuable lessons about self-care and the importance of seeking support.

  45. Your words are amazing.
    The people in Gaza and those who support humanity need you.
    Your social media posts and videos on Gaza and Palestine are deeply moving, and we believe you can bring it all together, under the flag of trauma, as we are all humans.

    On November 29th at the WISE conference in Doha Qatar
    Transgenerational trauma of war
    Past and future trauma,
    invisible wounds that shape the lives of societies.
    Healing through interdisciplinary approaches in advocacy
    Innovations for advocacy of education and human rights.

    Education Above All is an international education foundation in Doha Qatar, I don’t know how to reach you, so I am going from every direction.

    please contact me!

  46. I am 20 years old. Half Indigenous and white Australian. You have saved my life Grandfather Gabor. I will meet you in February, Brisbane City Hall!

    I love you and I wrote you a poem:

    Elder Of The Eternal –
    There’s nobody around in the midst of chaos that can articulate my misconstrued narrative. A bleak emptiness in the realms of brokenness nobody’s there to resonate.
    Drowning in a pool of tears of pulled triggers nobody can feel the fueling rage of my pulse. Nobody can see through dead smiles and blinded eyes, above addictive behaviours. There’s nobody here that greets a rebellious child misunderstood by a wounded population. Imprisoned in a traumatised culture there’s nobody to reach into the trenches with a soft tone and soothing presence. Except you. Grandfather Gabor Maté saviour of my soul, my elder of the eternal.

    – Haytham

  47. I wonder if Dr. Mate is aware of Dr. John Sarno’s books, who described various physical ailments that are caused by suppressed/repressed emotions. The unexpressed emotions change the immune system and produce physical manifestations to distract the brain to not feel the emotional pain. It all makes sense and dots could be connected. So emotional health is like the foundation of physical health.

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