Buddha’s Four Noble Truths state that (1) life is full of suffering, (2) there is a cause of suffering, (3) it is possible to stop suffering, and (4) there is a path leading to the cessation of suffering. The current study aimed to explore how trauma-related suffering and mindfulness dispositions are experienced among survivors of childhood cumulative interpersonal trauma (i.e., CCIT, an accumulation of physical, psychological, and sexual trauma before the age of 18) through the lens of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.
Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 adult survivors of CCIT (12 men, 11 women). A directed content analysis was performed.
Findings revealed that survivors of CCT experience paths of suffering and healing echoing the Four Noble Truths. First, being a survivor of CCIT is a major source of suffering. Second, most participants engage in experiential avoidance (aversion, cravings, illusion, and amnesia) as adaptive strategies to pain and suffering. Third, some participants search for inner and outer resources to reduce the suffering caused by experiential avoidance. Fourth, a few participants engage in a path of liberation characterized by a new approach to trauma and to life.
Findings suggest that the integration of Western and Buddhist frameworks might foster a better understanding of mindfulness dispositions and suffering in survivors of CCT.