An Examination of the Trauma Plot

January 11, 2022

At The New Yorker, Parul Sehgal reflects on the trauma plot and how it has come to dominate stories both on the page and on screen. Sehgal argues that “The trauma plot flattens, distorts, reduces character to symptom, and, in turn, instructs and insists upon its moral authority. The solace of its simplicity comes at no little cost. It disregards what we know and asks that we forget it, too—forget about the pleasures of not knowing, about the unscripted dimensions of suffering, about the odd angularities of personality, and, above all, about the allure and necessity of a well-placed sea urchin.” She explores how the ways we write about trauma have evolved over time, and poses the question, “In a world infatuated with victimhood, has trauma emerged as a passport to status—our red badge of courage?” 

is an assistant editor at The Millions. She is a graduate of the Inkluded Academy 2021, a summer publishing course for graduates from BIPOC communities, and works as a freelance writer and uploading specialist.

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