If you’re even moderately online, you’ve likely crossed paths with TraumaTok (or its cousin, TraumaGram): Lots of short videos explicating how myriad hang-ups—including perfectionism and hoarding, people-pleasing and social isolation—are “trauma responses.” There’s advice, too: Stimulating the vagus nerve can be a good self-soothing mechanism. What about “tapping”? That’s when you tap certain pressure points of your body. Or “grounding”? That’s when you wriggle your toes in the bare earth. These videos have hundreds of thousands, even millions of views.
Like any decently sized cultural trend, TraumaTok has its jokey meme side as well. I’m personally fond of the Instagram account @softcore_trauma, which overlays images of cute animals with tonally discordant therapy jargon.
You’ve probably seen these things because you’ve left a digital trail about what’s bothering you these days. Is the aforementioned perfectionism interfering with your productivity? Maybe you feel as if your memory is going and want to do something about it. (Forgetfulness is also a trauma response!) You mentioned to someone the way that you still haven’t been able to get back into the groove of “weekdays,” and they told you “time slippage” is a trauma response, and so you finally ordered Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score (as this goes to press, it is in its 156th week on The New York Times’ bestseller list).