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New Nonfiction: Excerpt from THE TRAUMA OF EVERYDAY LIFE by Mark Epstein

Mark Epstein, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and author of The Trauma of Everyday Life. Full Bio

New Nonfiction: Excerpt from THE TRAUMA OF EVERYDAY LIFE by Mark Epstein

The Way Out Is Through

For the first ten years of my work as a psychiatrist, I did not think much about trauma. I was in my thirties, and many of the people I worked with were not much older than I was. In the first flush of my marriage, most of my efforts were directed toward helping my patients find and achieve the kind of love and intimacy they wanted and deserved. In retrospect, I should have been alerted to the ubiquity of trauma by the fact that three of the first patients I ever cared for were young women on an inpatient psychiatric ward who each attempted suicide after breaking up with their boyfriends. Their experiences were all similar. The stability and security they were counting on suddenly vanished. The earth moved and their worlds collapsed. While I helped them to recover, it took me many more years to understand that their reactions were far from unique. They were impulsive, young, vulnerable, and full of unrealistic expectations, but they were being forced to deal with an uncomfortable truth that we all have to face in one form or another. Trauma is an indivisible part of human existence. It takes many forms but spares no one.

Ten years into my therapy practice, three women in their early thirties came to see me within three months of one another. Each of their husbands had dropped dead. More…


The Trauma of Being Alive

Mark Epstein, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and author of The Trauma of Everyday Life. Full Bio

The Trauma of Being Alive

Talking with my 88-year-old mother, four and a half years after my father died from a brain tumor, I was surprised to hear her questioning herself. “You’d think I would be over it by now,” she said, speaking of the pain of losing my father, her husband of almost 60 years. “It’s been more than four years, and I’m still upset.”

I’m not sure if I became a psychiatrist because my mother liked to talk to me in this way when I was young or if she talks to me this way now because I became a psychiatrist, but I was pleased to have this conversation with her. Grief needs to be talked about. When it is held too privately it tends to eat away at its own support.

“Trauma never goes away completely,” I responded.  More…