There is a famous scene in the film Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams, playing a therapist, compassionately repeats the line “It’s not your fault” to Will, a troubled young man with self-destructive tendencies, who happens to be a genius. The line is a response to the revelation of abuse Will endured as a child. At first, Will is dismissive of the statement, but as his therapist steadily repeats “It’s not your fault,” he becomes increasingly agitated. Finally, he erupts into emotion, tearfully allowing the meaning of the words to sink in. This scene is a powerful signification of what trauma can do to a human being. It is also a testament to the importance of anyone who has experienced trauma embracing the irrefutable reality that it is not their fault.
The character Will may have been a victim of what’s often referred to as “big T trauma,” which can include serious abuse or a life-threatening event. However, a person does not have to have experienced an explicitly existential event to experience trauma. “Little t trauma” comprises events that may not sound as dramatic as that of war, devastation, or extreme violence, but that significantly impact individuals by causing them distress, fear, or pain and, therefore, change the way they see themselves, other people, and the world around them. Too often, people seek excuses to dismiss, bury, or overlook both big and little t trauma. Continue reading.
Originally posted on Psychology Today.
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