A Conversation with Dr. Keith Witt, Part 1: Trauma to Transcendence
A Conversation with Dr. Keith Witt, Part 1: Trauma to Transcendence

Aviv Shahar with Dr. Keith Witt

August 24, 2023

Is it a big stretch to think of struggling with trauma as part of a hero’s journey? Or is it integral for the hero’s transformation? How do we metabolize feeling weak or diminished by fear, anxiety and pain from traumatic events that at times can seem beyond our ability to cope?

What if we understood that even the willingness to face a trauma will stimulate the parts of the brain responsible for resilience and, over time, build strength and courage? Advances in neuroscience have shed light on some of the brain’s hidden functions in times of pain and trauma, and the resulting influences on our responses and behavior.

Moving through the phases of healing trauma is what builds the road to our eventual transformation. We apply emerging new wisdom and strength to reconcile and reshape our experiences with trauma, and perhaps inspire others on their own healing odyssey. A real hero’s journey.

Unraveling the nature of trauma and its healing is the focus of this conversation between Aviv Shahar and Dr. Keith Witt, an internationally known integral psychotherapist, teacher and author of 15 books. Keith has conducted over 70,000 therapy sessions, written hundreds of blog posts, and appeared on numerous podcasts, including his own, The Shrink and The Pundit, and Witt & Wisdom.

Among the insights:

  • Conventional wisdom has been we’re all born equal and then the environment shapes us. Research has proved that to be entirely and dramatically wrong.
  • Trauma is a natural part of the experience of life; it’s completely integral to the development journey. There are ways to work with trauma to facilitate our growth.
  • A human being accessing their inherent “superpowers” to love and grow will get better, become more loving, and grow on whatever line they’re investing in. That’s the gift of consciousness.
  • Once you lie to yourself, you do violence to yourself; you lie to somebody else, you do violence to another person. That’s not real compassion; it’s a defensive state masquerading as compassion.
  • The essence of trauma learning has been being a victim and not having power. The essence of resilience is having agency, and living as if the rest of humanity are your companions, not your enemies.
  • The culture is self-organizing away from comprehensive communication and towards confrontation. But conversation produces progress and solves problems.
  • I am hopeful about humanity because all across the world people are dialed in, not just to spirituality, but also science, and to vast networks of incredible help and resources. It’s a great time to be alive.

This conversation is part of the continuing Portals discovery into what is emerging on the frontiers of human experience in this time of profound change. Information about upcoming special events can be found on the Events page. Also visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Then you have to go on the road of adventures, deal with it (the trauma), talk about it with people, and reorganize your life according to your new understandings. Then you transform; things change as you resolve issues; you reconcile the forces inside you, and it makes you stronger and wiser. Then you’re motivated to come back in and heal, support and contribute. That’s the hero’s journey.

Dr. Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt

I’m a licensed clinical psychologist, lecturer and author dedicated to studying, teaching, and creating transformative healing systems. I’ve been practicing psychotherapy in Santa Barbara, California for over 40 years.

I decided to become a psychotherapist at the early age of 15, when I entered therapy myself and realized it was, in many ways, a natural language––a native tongue––to me. I knew immediately that I wanted to participate and contribute, not just as a client but also as therapist and teacher. I’ve been exploring and following that instinct ever since.

Visit: Dr. Keith Witt

Aviv Shahar

Aviv Shahar

Aviv is the Founder of Aviv Consulting, helping leaders unleash strategic innovation, and is the author of Create New Futures: How Leaders Produce Breakthroughs and Transform the World Through Conversation.

Visit: Aviv Consulting