International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Beyond Trauma-Informed: Returning to Indigenous, Wellness-Informed Practices

Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D.

University of Notre Dame


The dominant culture has forgotten evolution’s pathway to wellness that comes about through meeting humanity’s basic needs (animal, mammalian, social mammalian, and human needs), shaping a well-functioning psychosocial neurobiology, heart centeredness, and thriving that lead to wise, sustainable, and earthcentric lifeways. Our ancestors worldwide followed this pathway for millions of years in a cycle of cooperative companionship. Instead, with the rise of static hierarchical civilizations, the dominant culture eroded the wellness pathway, increasingly following a cycle of competitive detachment. The dominant culture follows a trauma-inducing pathway by not meeting basic needs, beginning in infancy when 75% of brain volume grows, fostering stress reactivity and minimal psychosocial neurobiological functioning, leading to illbeing and narcissistic destructive lifeways. The multiple planetary ecological crises are a result of the trauma-inducing pathway that has been passed across generations through colonialism and globalized capitalism. We start back on the wellness-promoting pathway by providing children with our species-evolved nest.

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