Psychotherapist Explains The Danger In Believing Every Action Or Reaction Is A Trauma Response

He's concerned that the uptick in use of psychological buzzwords translates into people not doing the work.

Joe Nucci on TikTok @joenuccitherapy / TikTok

Joe Nucci describes himself in his TikTok bio as a “licensed psychotherapist sharing mental health facts and tips.” In a recent video posted, Nucci declared, “This is going to piss off a lot of people. But I have to say it, I am so over the cult of trauma.”

The psychotherapist explained the danger in defining every action or reaction as a trauma response. 

Nucci explained that “the cult of trauma is other mental health professionals and mental health enthusiasts on social media who assign everything to a trauma response.” 


He described “the allure in labeling everything as a trauma response” as being that, “you don’t have to actually think, ‘was it something else? Is it possible that it actually just has to do with your temperament? Is it possible it has to do with biology or a chemical imbalance? Is it something that has to do with the fact that, hey man, life is hard, relationships are unfair, and people can be cruel?” 



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Nucci maintained that encountering hardship doesn’t automatically make someone traumatized.

He continued his critique of assigning everything to being a trauma response, explaining that “as more and more people use the word trauma, it’s going to be more important to distinguish if we’re using it in a colloquial, casual way, or if we’re using it in a way with clinical significance.”

psychotherapist explains danger every action reaction trauma responsePhoto: Alex Green / Pexels

He spoke directly to his 10,000 followers, saying, “I’m genuinely curious to get all of your opinions on whether or not this is a good or bad thing, that the word has become so ubiquitous.”


Nucci’s commentary on the overgeneralization of defining everything as a trauma response clearly resonated with a majority of his followers. As one person stated, “Not everything is trauma. And it undermines true trauma.”

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Someone else said, “I’m so tired of psychological buzzwords exempting people from responsibility.” A different person echoed that sentiment, saying that to define everything as trauma “absolves people of taking personal accountability and genuinely reflecting and doing work to heal.”

Nucci makes a valuable point — to be human, on this earth as it is now, is a constant challenge — but to call every response we have a trauma response not only devalues actual traumatic experiences, it also seems to act as an excuse that people use to avoid taking accountability for their actions.


psychotherapist explains danger every action reaction trauma responsePhoto: Polina Zimmerman / Pexels

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According to Mental Health America, “Emotional and psychological trauma is an emotional response to a distressing event or situation that breaks your sense of security. Traumatic experiences often involve a direct threat to life or safety, but anything that leaves you feeling overwhelmed or isolated can result in trauma.”


Having a trauma response isn’t a stable, healthy response. It’s indicative that something is wrong, that someone is utilizing maladaptive coping techniques to work through struggle.

While trauma responses are, of course, valid, to have them doesn’t entitle anyone to treat others poorly. A majorly important part of moving through trauma is not only recognizing patterns of behaviors, it includes completing the therapeutic work necessary to become a healthier version of yourself.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers mental health, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.