gabor maté – attachment & authenticity
unconscious patterns that come very directly from childhood.how to compensate – by making yourself indispensable22 min – our coping mechanism.. if we’re not loved, we become charmingsuppress yourself.. lose your personality26 min – the emotional states of the parents program the brain of the childsuppress my pain – because i better not create more noise, more stressnot blaming anyone.. unconscious implicit memories and patterns that are automaticnone of these are our first nature…you weren’t born suppressing yourself…children (people) have 2 needs:
everyone knows what it’s like to betray yourself – to not be yourself..what happens when authenticity threatens attachment…the attachment will trump the authenticitywhich means i’ll be stressed the rest of my life
because that’s our essence.
authenticity – be you.
attachment – be us.
let’s just chill and work on that – no?
… no micro-management needed… no training… no prep.
we’re learning as we’re learning.
actually prepping for the only certainty – uncertainty.
More of this sentiment here.
Though adolescents may want nothing more than to be able to define themselves, they discover that high school is one of the hardest places to do it.
resources on his site:
i’m not afraid of dying, i’m afraid of living
addicts get relief from pain, sense of calmness, et al, why are these qualities missing from their lives?
not why the addiction, but why the pain
keith richards… biography –
the addiction was all about looking for oblivion, for forgetting, the contortions we go through just enough to be ourselves for a few hours
afraid of death, other people, selves
looking at why people are in pain – can’t look at their genetics, have to look at their lives
drugs are not by themselves addicted
when abused as children – those circuits don’t develop – in the brain – lack of love and attachment
then brains feel normal when they are getting it from heroin, et al
babies picking up on the stress of the mothers – shapes the child’s brain – if mother not happy around me – my mom – the world – doesn’t want me
we judge the drug addict because we see they are no different than us
in order to get power – we are quite willing to fight wars, et al
the addiction to power is always about the emptiness you try to fill from the outside
let’s not look at the people in power to change things, often they are the emptiest ones..
dec 2013 Gabor on democracy now – adhd
DR. GABOR MATÉ: …Secondly, to make the assumption that even if somebody has these traits, and even if they have them over a lifetime, that the significant or the only answer is medication is to ignore, again, the complexity of the human brain and human behavior. So, what we have here is a vast oversimplification of what is a fairly sophisticated problem. And it’s that oversimplification then that the pharmaceutical companies exploit to their great advantage, as Alan has documented.
ALAN SCHWARZ: .. when I heard that high school kids were snorting Adderall before the SATs, I questioned: How much pressure are we putting on these kids? I don’t think they want to do this. And so the first story that I did was in the context of academic pressure and what some kids will do in order to deal with it.
Gabor: Number two, there’s a lot of other reasons why kids might have difficulty paying attention. And the question very often is: Do they grow out of ADHD, or do they grow out of school? In other words, do they just grow out of an artificial environment, where human beings were never meant to sit for eight hours and behind a desk, and not be able to run around and play and not be able to create and express themselves and do art and be noisy? All the things that the human child naturally wants to be, and is, are suppressed, and very often in the school setting. So, we’re creating an artificially induced problem by the environments that kids are reared in. And so, when kids leave those environments, naturally they don’t have those symptoms anymore.
So, there’s all kinds of reasons why that psychiatrist who stands in front of a group of doctors and asserts that once you’re diagnosed, you have it for the rest of your life, is completely scientifically inappropriate.
Gabor Maté, physician and best-selling author of four books, including Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It. His latest book is In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.
Alan Schwarz, an award-winning New York Times reporter who has extensively written about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. His most recent article, “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder,” looks at how the number of diagnoses soared amid a 20-year drug marketing campaign.
Nature VS Nurture
it seems like the greater the harm, the more respectable the addiction
life experiences (rather than dna) are what make people susceptible to addiction
on touch – whoa.
july 2014 –
nov 2014 on rage –
she was a success, because she knew she was loved
article (gwen gordon) – on restoring the playground to get restore attachment):
feb 2015 – recovery 2.0 conf:
attachment dynamic – a force of gravity that pulls two people together – necessity of life
when healthy attachment is not met – then we get attached to surviving – substitutes – that cling to things –
identities become just as addictive as substances
the reason we get addicted to substances: they almost work – ie: relief of pain, joy, but they are temporary –
the more they don’t work, the more committed we are to them
the human mind – desperately clinging to (unhealthy) attachments at the peril of the host (authenticity)
human possibility is always there.. but it isn’t always realized
ceremony: opens you up to conscious ritual: an escape from conscious
if we don’t find meaning in the present moment.. we have to find it in (temporary) attachments
april 2015 – interview
For 12 years, until his recent retirement from medicine, the Hungarian-born physician ran a clinic treating Vancouver’s most serious addicts, most of whom suffered from other health issues as well, including HIV and hepatitis C. The clinic, Insite, remains the only place in North America that allows addicts a safe injection site, meaning they can come to the clinic to use clean needles and have their injections medically supervised.
Maté, author of the best-selling book, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction,” believes the origins of addiction stem from childhood trauma and that addicts should be treated with more compassion. He argues against the two prevailing views of addiction: that it’s a choice people make to seek out hedonistic, self-destructive pleasure due to a lack of willpower, or that it’s an inevitable result of inherited genes.
Addiction, he believes, represents a failure of crucial brain circuits to develop early in life under the influence of a nurturing environment. “Seeing addiction itself as the problem doesn’t deal with the fundamental issue, which is a person’s attempt to solve the distress and suffering lingering from a past trauma,” he explains. “That’s why it’s not sufficient to simply try to treat the addiction.”
“Once we acknowledge that addiction is not an inherited disease — that we’re not genetically wired to become addicts — we can provide the conditions needed to help people overcome their conditions, since the brain is neuroplastic and can change with new habits,” explains Maté.
Most addicted people use no drugs at all and addiction cannot be understood if we restrict our vision of it to substances, legal or illicit.Addiction is manifested in any behavior that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in but suffers negative consequences as a result of, and yet has difficulty giving up. In brief: craving, relief, pleasure, suffering, impaired control.[..]
“I’m not going to ask you what you were addicted to,”..Only, whatever your addictive focus, what did it offer you? ..universally, the answers are: “It
helped me escape emotional pain… helped me deal with stress… gave me peace of mind… a sense of connection with others… a sense of control.”
Such answers illuminate that the
addiction is neither a choice nor a disease,
but originates in a human being’s desperate attempt to solve a problem: the problem of emotional pain, of overwhelming stress, of lost connection, of loss of control, of a deep discomfort with the self. In short, it is a forlorn attempt to solve the problem of human pain. Hence my mantra:
“The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.”
source of pain is always and invariably to be found in a person’s lived experience, beginning with childhood.
Childhood trauma is the template for addiction—any addiction
the same brain circuits involved in all addictions, from shopping to eating to heroin dependence
a psychological and physiological response to painful life experiences
trauma is not restricted to horrific experiences. It refers to
any set of events that, over time, impose more pain on the child than his or her sensitive organism can process and discharge.
Therefore, trauma can occur not only when bad things happen, but also when the parents are too stressed, too distracted, too depressed, to beset by economic worry, too isolated, etc. to respond to a sensitive child’s emotional need to be seen, emotionally held, heard, validated, made to feel secure.
Not all traumatized people become addicted, but all addicted people were traumatized.
That is the reality of our culture, where addiction, like trauma, is so commonplace that most people also don’t recognize its presence. Yet it surrounds us, engulfs so many of us, that
our near-exclusive focus on the troubles of drug addiction is itself but another escape from reality.
oct 2015 – The Damage Is Done: A True Story
Maté is playing himself in a new multidisciplinary production by writer, actor, director, and therapist Rita Bozi.
The Damage Is Done: A True Story combines theatre, dialogue, essay, video, music, and modern dance to explore subjects such as depression, addiction, and suicide.
oct 2014 – human nature via omega point:
what is it about this culture that makes so many of us unhealty.. sick… et al…
on human nature…
1\ one idea – by nature selfish/competitive/aggressive.. (one this culture promotes)
2\ another.. that there is no nature – empty slate – so can program into anything – so whatever we happen to learn
3\ wired for contact/love/connection/generosity – connection beyond individual.. and whatever interferes with that creates the disfunction..
so society that promotes aggression/competition/property/production… ie: it’s only matter that matters… our form.. physical appearance defines who you are…
creating a society that goes against human nature creates the suffering.. we live in a completely unnatural society.. we live in a society that goes against human nature…
willingness to be puzzled
noam – is tall man happy – willingness to be puzzled
i’ve been fortunate in that .. i’ve been willing to be puzzled
willingness to ask the question – what’s really going on here – instead of assuming that we know..
seeing the truth of how things are
if you could do whatever to change world: i would open people’s eyes to see the truth of how things are.. ie: cutting off head.. cutting off own head; natives on own land.. who’s land
i keep looking for the truth of things.. in touch with my commitment…
how to wake people up…
do-over ad infinitum.
interview jan 2016
Can you act yourself into the right emotion? Let me put it this way, John; the question does not interest me. What interests me is for people to really know where they are coming from and where their actions come from. People can act the right way, but that doesn’t mean they are being the right way. You can’t force emotions; you really have to know what they are. For me, the important question is, what are the actual emotions underneath the action that are driving my behavior and where do those emotions come from? For me, it’s not a question of acting into the right emotion. It’s a question of understanding what are the source emotions from which we are acting. That is the really important question.
huge. we do this everywhere… control/agenda is killing us. and it’s why have we not yet..
The patients that I worked with—I’m talking about hardcore, street level drug users, people injecting cocaine and heroin and so on—not a single one of them ever came to me and said, “Doc, I was traumatized, and I’m using that as an excuse to do drugs.” They didn’t know they were traumatized. No doctor had ever pointed it out to them. They thought they were just fuck-ups. They thought they were just bad people. They thought they were just addicts. They didn’t realize that they were using the addiction to soothe a deep pain that was rooted in trauma. In all cases of addiction that I have seen, there’s deep pain that comes out of trauma. The addiction is the person’s unconscious attempt to escape from the pain.
generation after generation, there’s a huge statistical and causative link between that trauma and the addiction. That’s not a theory. It’s just reality.
perpetuate\ing not us ness.. as our trauma
The necessary conditions for healthy brain development are healthy relationships with responsive parents. When the parenting environment becomes distorted or hostile and abusive, you’re actually distorting people’s brain development. This means they are going to be more likely to want to use substances to feel better in their brain in order to achieve a different state of the brain.
what I think is missing from medical practice. Whether it’s addictions or whatever it is, we are not seeing what’s driving it and what’s underneath it. T
It’s not that people have a genetic predisposition towards depression; it’s that they are more sensitive so they are more affected by what happens. The more affected you are, the more depressed you are going to get. Depression is a response to what happens.
This is how we want to parent children, and it doesn’t matter what predispositions a child has, if they get these conditions of love and respect in their childhood, they’ll never be addicted, they’ll never get depressed and they’ll never be anxious—not in terms of the medical diagnosis of those conditions.
Any person might experience anxiety at some time or sadness. I’m not talking about that, but in terms of the so-called illnesses, they will never happen. It doesn’t matter what we know about our children’s predispositions. The question is, what kind of childhood do human beings require to be healthy, self-realized creatures? Look at all of the characteristics that I listed.
The question is, why the disease focus? Your question is very disease-focused. How do I prevent a disease? That’s not the right question. That’s already coming out of fear. You don’t want to parent out of fear. The right question is what does a human being need, any human being.
Stress is the thing that leads to disease or leads to conditions for it, but certain personalities are more prone to this stress.”
This is not really controversial at all because it’s a medical reality. It’s only controversial because most doctors don’t know about it.
The repression of anger suppresses the immune system as opposed to healthy expressions of anger. It’s not a question of philosophy.
I was a physician for 33 years, and I didn’t begin with any of these assumptions. Nobody had told me about this. I just kept noticing, particularly when I worked in palliative care for seven years. We looked after terminally ill people, people who were dying of cancer, and I kept noticing and kept noticing and kept noticing that these people with auto-immune disease or with cancer typically had very tough childhoods where they survived by repressing their emotions, and that suppression of emotion was tied to their development of disease.
Evil not as a kind of abstract force or as an embodied devil, but as the expressions of human pain that finds some release in creating pain in others, and that’s unconscious. The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says evil does not have an absolute existence, but has a relative existence rooted in the human unconscious. If you look at people who are willing to perpetrate such things, you look usually at traumatized people.
For me, it’s not a question of returning to a dream but a question of waking up from a dream. We have to wake up from the dream that it was ever possible to find a beautiful solution to the European Jewish problem by creating suffering for people in the Middle East. We have to wake up from that dream. It was never possible. …We are creating intense suffering for other, and we are going to create intense suffering for ourselves.
nobody’s linking that to trauma. Like Dr. Oz will have a show on addiction because it’s a big deal now to talk about addiction, but trauma won’t be mentioned. Society and the medical profession are in denial of the role of trauma in this problem. As long as we are in denial of trauma, we’re never going to understand addiction. The aha moment that needs to occur is not that we recognize how bad addictions are, but that addictions are about an escape from trauma, and this society traumatizes people. Life in this society means that a lot of people are going to become traumatized. That’s the aha moment that hasn’t happened yet.
The aha moment where the connection between addiction and trauma is recognized is what is needed.
To my mind, we don’t need positive thinking or negative thinking; we need thinking. Thinking means you don’t load your point of view with either a priori negative or positive vibes. Rather, you are simply willing to look at what is
what I recommend is consciousness.
Emotional isolation is a major risk factor for disease, addiction, illness, death and everything else.
most common attribute of people who are waking up: loneliness
But our desire to fit in and be accepted is slowly being drowned out by our desire to be free.
aug 2016 – shocking truths of what causes addiction – via Gabor.. (45 min podcast)
addiction soothes isolation and pain.. – gabor
constantly looking for a way to not be with myself.. – sam – https://twitter.com/SamLawrence
addict: slave in roman times indebt to someone and couldn’t pay debt.. so addiction implies slavery.. a lack of autonomy/control/freedom… so .. any behavior .. substance related or not.. that occurs/craves/find-temp-pleasure in or suffers long-term neg consequences.. unable to give it up.. lacks freedom to give it up..
so anyone of theses behaviors characterised by craving relief… long term neg consequence.. imperent (?) control..
9 min – whatever kind of addict.. same psych dynamics.. at heart of addiction is not any kind of disease or choice.. but emotional pain.. all attempts to escape from emotional pain… lot of pain in our society.. so not understanding addictino is not understanding pain.. in denial of the trauma… that’s at the heart of human addiction in our society…
10 min – what’s it like to be uncomfortable in one’s own skin.. our narrow defn of addiction allows us not to look at that trauma.. not to look at that pain
sam – i’m guilty of that whole us and them thing.. the labeling.. is a completely mired language..
gabor.. doesn’t only apply to addiction.. but mental models in general.. ie: we thought depressions/anxiety/adhd is a disease.. which allows us to not look through society.. what’s actually true.. doesn’t matter what mental condition you look at..we have a continuum throughout entire society… disease model allows us to.. sequester these people .. so we don’t have to look at our similarities with them…
14 min – w/o loving contact.. infants don’t survive.. so drug addicts.. see loss of connection..
reading book about pigmies… have maintained original form for thousands of years till recently… very communal… tremendous sense of security and belonging… gradual breakdown.. esp accelerated under industrialized systems… where people lose community..
16 min – more culturally isolated.. more pain.. more want to soothe paint..
17 min – if say someone is drinking too much.. say.. feeling no pain… so pain relievers.. but also behaviors of addiction: gambling, sex, overeating.. trigger release of ednorphins…
not what the addiction.. but why the pain…
primary problem/disease is the pain experience..
19 min – guilt as denial..
20 min – sam – on the distraction methods we surround ourselves with
21 min – industries arise to soothe pains.. rather than release them.. services/producs..- gabor
22 min – individual level – addiction all about trauma… in form of abuse.. neglect.. hurt.. but can also be developmental.. children not getting needs met.. ie: physically held.. but emotionally ignored.. actually shape brain in certain ways
24 min – social level – stresses people.. ie: more stressed parents.. less emotionally available to kids.. a multi generational.. and cultural transmission of pain.. question of seeing how this culture induces stress on those people.. can’t separate..individuals from environment… so individual help is a cultural/social issue..
yes.. thinking the whole.. voluntary compliance ness – from previous stress
28 min – where rat study comes in.. substances aren’t addictive.. it’s the environment/society..
what have now – highest rates of addiction/suicide/abuse.. was totally foreign to them.. shows.. addiction is response to certain circumstances
29 min – bruce alexander… globalization of addiction.. (2nd best book i’ve ever written).. talks of rat park.. shows addiction is not inborn.. not disease.. but a response to environment..
32 min – so does that mean for us .. we need to change our cage.. – sam
gabor: as soon as brain is developed in fetus.. has to begin with looking after pregnant women and young children… et al… kids well taken care o f…
addiction has nothing to do with telling people how bad drugs are but.. with creating conditions in which human beings develop in a healthy way.. that calls for vast social changing.. rethinking of priorities... on social.. on individual.. not what addiction but why pain.. the essence of trauma.. discomfort/disconnection with self is exactly that.. not sufficient to base on behavior aspects w/o reconnection to self.. is not sufficient…
35 min – nazi occupation.. all jewish babies crying.. picking up on mother’s stress… so i accumulated a lot of pain/fear.. get sense that world doesn’t want me.. plays w/ my attention problems.. because tuning out is a way to deal with it..
book – scattered – not a disease.. it’s from environment.. so i compensate by ie: becoming successful dr and to be wanted by everybody.. which also means i’m a work-a-holic.. emotionally distant from self.. and is what my children experience… we just keep passing it on..
39 min – not guilt.. but lack of consciousness. if approach from position of guilt.. you can’t help them..then saying.. you’re a mistake i made.. so first to deal with is the guilt....so heal self first.. don’t try and fix children.. heal yourself..
42 min – has to be awareness/acceptance that this is how it is.. then an unflinching dedication.. ie: each time problem arises.. another opp to grow/learn.. dedication to expansion.. expansion means .. a letting go..
on why we’re not us.. and our basic needs to be us.. and the myth of who/what we are..
h u g e
all here: human nature
The flaws of our leaders perfectly mirror the emotional underdevelopment of the society that elevates them to power.
Dr Mark Tyndall (@DrMtyndall) tweeted at 8:46 AM on Sat, Feb 04, 2017:
Fixing fentanyl means treating trauma that creates addicts
the first question when dealing with opiate-dependent human beings should be not “why the addiction” but “why the pain?”
The answer is trauma: deep, unresolved trauma that imposes a lifetime of suffering, fear of reality, isolation, hopelessness and an urgency to alter one’s experience. This is where addiction comes in.
“The meaning of all addictions could be defined as endeavours at controlling our life experiences with the help of external remedies,” wrote the psychiatrist Thomas Hora.
And what is the nature of the trauma that drives people to desperation?
In my 12 years in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, ground zero for addiction in Canada, all my female patients reported sexual abuse in childhood, all the male patients abuse or neglect of one kind or another.
As large scale international epidemiological studies have repeatedly demonstrated, childhood adversity is at the core of the emotional patterns and psychological dynamics that drive addiction.
Further, childhood trauma shapes the physiology of the developing brain in ways that induce a susceptibility to addiction. Hence the addiction-prone person finds relief in substances that would not entice others, even after repeated exposure to the same drugs.
In turn, prolonged drug use also changes the brain in ways that further entrench the addictive drive.
Trauma, induced by Canada’s colonial history and far from healed yet, is also what accounts for the high rates of alcoholism and other substance dependencies in our First Nations communities, to say nothing of the shocking preponderance of First Nations citizens in our jails, for legal reasons often rooted in addiction.
It is not a fault, not a moral lapse, not a sin, not a failure of will, nor yet even an inherited disease, but a complex response to suffering. It is not a legal problem but a human problem, to which the solutions need to be humane in every possible way.
Inclusion, not ostracizing, needs to motivate our policies; not punishment but support, not judgment but empathy.
In the mind-identified culture of the left-brained industrialized world we have forgotten that true wisdom arises from deeper within us than our conscious thoughts and formal learning. We forget, in fact, that our conscious thoughts and bookish learning often mask our hidden fears, motives, and pain.
mar 21 2017 via Gabor fb share:
Dr. Mate is featured on Sounds True: Insights at the Edge podcast, where he shares his views on modern mental health evaluation – specifically the widespread diagnosis of ADHD and depression. http://www.soundstrue.com/store/weeklywisdom…
starts at 3 min –
born in budapest.. jewish – jan 44 – 2 months german war – extermination had not yet reached hungary.. but w/in 5 months.. much of my family to auschwitz.. occupation lasted 1 yr
story that affects most of my work.. day after occupation.. my mother called pediatrician.. because Gabor crying.. of course i will come but informed her.. all jewish patients are crying.. speaks to the essence of childhood experience:
what happens to the parent happens to the child..
6 min – quoting from AH Almaas .. i quote this very often.. in fact.. he may be the one person who i quote most often
The child is very open, and can feel the pain and suffering going on in its immediate environment. The child is aware of its own body and can also feel the tension, rigidity, and pain in the mother’s body or anyone else it is with. If the parents are suffering, the child feels it. If the mother is suffering, the baby suffers too. The pain never gets discharged.
that insight coupled with that antidote has informed a lot of my work.. whether it comes to physical illness..addictions or any other afflictions that human beings might face..
6 min – my father came back from forced labor.. mother didn’t know if he was even alive for almost a year and a half.. germans finally expelled from budapest by the russian army in jan 1945…
7 min – a month before the liberation in budapest.. my mother had handed me to a complete stranger in the streets of budapest because she could no longer guarantee my survival.. jews were being deported/killed by nazis.. she didn’t know when it would be her turn.. so she gave me to a strange woman in the street.. and i didn’t see her for a month.. which engrained in my a lifelong sense of abandonment/loss.. which.. at age 73 still shows up sometimes in my relation with my wife
8 min – how that pain transfer has influenced how you work w/patients/addiction: so a number of things happen: 1\the buddha said at some point.. w/thoughts create world.. but didn’t say.. before thoughts.. world creates our minds.. my question is.. ie: there’s a man right now that says – world is a horrible place – direct quote:
if live in a world which is a horrible place you’re going to have a certain attitude towards the world and a certain way of conducting yourself –
this man is president of us and he lives in a world that’s horrible..
9 min – get perception from earliest experience.. so what kind of a world did i get.. i got a world in which there is inexplicable suffering.. for which i have to compensate somehow..one way for compensating/enduring/dealing with suffering is to dissociate/tune-out
look at the (growth) of adhd diagnoses.. what’s really happening.. parents circumstances have become so stressful.. and because parents are stressed .. children are stressed.. these children are tuning out .. to protect themselves.. at a time when their brain is been developing.. and now they’re being diagnosed left/right/center with a so called medical disease.. an inheritable medical disease.. it’s neither a disease nor is it inheritable.. it’s actually a normal response to an abnormal circumstance..of parental stress.. so what i’m saying is that a lot of the adult disfunction mental/physical illness that i see is actually the outcomes of childhood coping mechanisms..
our first question.. why so many people stressed
Gabor Maté (born January 6, 1944) is a Hungarian-born Canadianphysician who specializes in neurology, psychiatry, and psychology, as well as the study and treatment of addiction. In Dr. Maté’s approach to addiction focuses on the trauma his patients have suffered and looks to address this in their recovery, with special regards to indigenous populations around the world. His book In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, close encounters with addiction, Dr. Maté discusses the types of trauma suffered by addicts and how this affects their decision making in later life. He is also widely recognized for his perspective on attention deficit disorder and his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health. He has authored four books exploring topics including attention deficit disorder, stress, developmental psychology and addiction. He is a regular columnist for the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail.
Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1944, he is a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. His maternal grandparents were killed in Auschwitz when he was five months old, his aunt disappeared during the war, and his father endured forced labour at the hands of the Nazis. He emigrated to Canada with his family in 1956. He was a student radical during the Vietnam War era in the late 1960s and graduated with a B.A. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He worked for a few years as a high school English and literature teacher, and later returned to school to pursue his childhood dream of being a physician.
Maté ran a private family practice in East Vancouver for over twenty years. He was also the medical coordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital for seven years. Currently he is the staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and resource centre for the people of Vancouver’s Downtown. Many of his patients suffer from mental illness, drug addiction and HIV, or all three. He works in harm reduction clinics in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Most recently, he has written about his experiences working with addicts in In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.
He made national headlines in defense of the physicians working at Insite (a legal supervised safe injection site) after the federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement, attacked them as unethical.
In 2010, Maté became interested in the traditional Amazonian plant medicine ayahuasca and its potential for treating addictions. He partnered with a Peruvian Shipibo ayahuasquero (traditional shamanic healer) and began leading multi-day retreats for addiction treatment, including ones in a Coast SalishFirst Nations community that were the subject of an observational study by health researchers from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia. Although preliminary and limited by the observational study design, the research results showed that Maté’s claims of therapeutic efficacy were well-founded and that participants had significant improvements in some psychological measures and reductions in problematic substance use. However, when the conservative Canadian federal government learned about Maté’s work with ayahuasca in 2011, Health Canada threatened him with arrest if he did not immediately stop his activities with what they claimed was a harmful illegal drug. Yet, Health Canada’s own research on ayahuasca in 2008 showed that they knew the risks associated with the ceremonial use of the brew were very low, and that it had considerable potential value for spiritual and self-actualizing purposes
forbidden cures et al..
A recurring theme in Maté’s books is the
impact of a person’s childhood on their mental and physical health through neurological and psychological mechanisms, which he connects with the need for social change.
In the book In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, he proposes new approaches to treating addiction (e.g. safe injection sites) based on an understanding of the biological and socio-economic roots of addiction. He describes the significant role of “early adversity” i.e. stress, mistreatment and particularly childhood abuse, in increasing susceptibility to addiction. This happens through the impairment of neurobiological development, impairing the brain circuitry involved in addiction, motivation and incentive. Dr Maté defines addiction as any behaviour or substance that a person uses or takes part in that has negative consequences. The person tries to stop but will crave the substance or behaviour and will ultimately relapse. By this definition there are many things in modern culture that have the potential to become addictive such as gambling, sex, work and of course drugs.He argues the “war on drugs” actually punishes people for having been abused and entrenches addiction more deeply as studies show that stress is the biggest driver of addictive relapse and behavior. He says a system that marginalizes, ostracizes and institutionalizes people in facilities with no care and easy access to drugs, only worsens the problem. He also argues the environmental causes of addiction point to the need to improve child welfare policies (e.g. U.S. welfare laws that force many single women to find low-paying jobs far away from home and their children) and the need for better support for families overall, as most children in North America are now away from their parents from an early age due to economic conditions. He feels that society needs to change policies that disadvantage certain minority groups, causing them more stress and therefore increased risks for addictions.
The impact of childhood adversity is also noted in When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection. He notes that early experiences have a key role in shaping a person’s perceptions of the world and others, and in stress physiology, factors that affect the person’s health later on. He says that emotional patterns ingrained in childhood live in the memory of cells and the brain and appear in interpersonal interactions. He describes the impact of ‘adverse childhood experiences’ or ACEs (e.g. a child being abused, violence in the family, a jailed parent, extreme stress of poverty, a rancorous divorce, an addict parent, etc.) on how people live their lives and their risk of addiction and mental and physical illnesses, as seen in a number of U.S.-based Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) studies. Having a number of ACEs exponentially increases a person’s chances of becoming an addict later on e.g. a male child with six ACEs has a 4,600% or 46-fold increase in risk. ACEs also exponentially increase the risk of diseases e.g. cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. and also suicide and early death.
He argues that patients should therefore be encouraged to explore their childhoods and the impact on their adult behaviors. Overall, he argues people benefit by taking a holistic approach to their own health. For instance, he has seen people survive supposedly terminal diagnoses by seriously considering their “mind-body unity” and “spiritual unity”; going beyond “the medical model of treatment.”
He has also spoken about how the rise in bullying, ADHD and other mental disorders in American children are the result of current societal conditions e.g. a disconnected society and “the loss of nurturing, non-stressed parenting.” That is, we live in a society where for the first time in history, children are spending most of their time away from nurturing adults. He asserts that nurturing adults are necessary for healthy brain development
- Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, Toronto, Canada, A.A. Knopf Canada, 1999 (published in the United States as Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It).
- When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, Toronto, Canada, A.A. Knopf Canada, 2003 (published in the United States as When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection).
- Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, co-authored with developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld, Toronto, Canada, A.A. Knopf Canada, 2004.
- In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Toronto, Canada, A.A. Knopf Canada, 2008.
is it possible to cure peoplewrong question.. possible for people to heal… but under what conditions.. but hardly a likelihood.. because approaching from wrong directionnevermind don’t get help they need.. get more oppression.. self-perpetuating cycle of taking traumatized people and re traumatizing them.. they won’t give it up.. the more hurt they are the more they need to escape..
addiction was an attempt to solve a problem.. that they don’t know what to do withthe med profession is traumaphobicmore interested in solving your problems and getting you to overcome the behavior.. rather than resolve what’s going on inside..
by doing you’ll never get satisfied when your hunger is about being..
which addict causes more problems in the world
could no longer use black slaves.. so .. 13th amendment.. can use black criminals
deepest reason – denial of pain
aboriginal population suffer most from addition – under colonialism.. benign wings of british empire.. aboriginals displaced.. culture destroyed.. self-image transformed into negative.. and to deal with that..
we’d have to look at ourselves..
we don’t like the trauma story.. in the terrorist story we get to be victims.. (then goes on to show.. we created terrorists..).. do we really understand the source.. what has been our role
brian: is it possible to reduce trauma
brian.. a nother way
gabor: how you do that.. start reducing stress/trauma at first pre natal visit.. by not medicalizing birth.. by supporting young parents to be with their children..
brian: so we have to up our humanity by 10x
let’s try 7 bn x.. we can
addiction showed up in late 18th cent.. because loss of communes
bruce alexander – globalization of addiction.. when people lose their place.. lose connection to culture/meaning/spiritual values.. more dislocation greater addiction..
on trauma.. things that happen emotionally.. messing w immune system.. because not separable.. happening 24/7
self repression as way of coping… because of unshakable union of mind and body
recovery: find yourself..
talking greek island
the more sensitive the child is.. the more affected
if we’re going to become whole (healing) let’s look at everything
there’s no war on drugs.. there’s a war on drug addicts.. not even on drug dealers..
human infant is an attachment machine.. can’t survive w/o it.. so take care of attachment relationship with children at any age.. infants can teach you about it if you really listen..
a and a..
acting out: portraying in behavior what you don’t have words for
usually it has to do with some trouble aspect with attachment
trauma fundamentally comes down to lack of attachment.. not lack of love.. but lack of attuning..
on ah almaas
i’m also looking for a deeper inner healing.. i’m not where i want to be
to 20 yr old self: not your fault the way you/world is.. don’t work so hard to be liked.. you’re ok..
best advise: to thine own self be true.. from aunt – i wish i’d understood what that meant
there’s a lot of people out there that see the truth but they don’t control the media.. so not much validation.. you have to deepen your truth.. never be afraid of your own truth.. and.. never be afraid to let go of it.. if you find a deeper truth.. whatever you do out in the world.. do an equal amount internally..