The Theme of Trauma in The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a young adult book written by Stephen Chobsky. This book is about Charlie, a high school freshman who becomes friends with a group of seniors that show him a good time, but unconsciously help him confront his trauma. The Perks of Being a Wallflower can show young and adult readers about trauma and how to survive it.

Family Trauma

Charlie is clearly going through mental health symptoms of trauma. His best friend committed suicide, which led him down a depression spiral. He also withdrew himself from making new friends.

Charlie has had blackouts where he does things and has no memory of them happening. We see a series of flashbacks about his admired Aunt Helen who died in a car crash on his seventh birthday. What Charlie does not realize until the end of the book is that his Aunt Helen molested him when he was a child.

We also find out that Charlie’s Aunt Helen was molested by a family friend a long time ago. Because she never resolved her own abuse, she let that cycle of abuse continue and became an abuser herself. Even though Charlie’s sister, Candace, has never been abused, she was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend.

He hit her, but she consistently made excuses for him and stayed with him because she felt like she deserved it and that men were known to be dominant. This shows how people accept abuse when they feel like they deserve it, ultimately perpetuating the vicious cycle.


Charlie used friendship as a way to cope with his negative feelings. He was starting to feel like he was fitting in with a group of people who accepted him. He used that as a life vest for when things got tough. He saw that all of his new friends were dealing with troubles just like him, but it also became hard for him to continue seeing the pain they were in, as it reflected his pain.

Confronting Trauma

When Sam and Charlie get together for the first time, Charlie experienced flashbacks of what his aunt did to him and started experiencing suicidal thoughts. At the end of the book, Charlie is forced to confront his trauma by staying at an in-patient facility. By confronting his own trauma, Charlie was able to participate more with his friends and family.

The themes in The Perks of Being a Wallflower reflect what many go through after having a traumatic experience. The Guest House works with men and women over the age of 18 to provide treatment for addiction and mental illness caused by trauma. Our personalized programs can include breath work, equine therapy, art therapy, grief therapy, cinema therapy mindfulness, individualized and group therapy, and more. Please call us today at (855) 876-3884. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.