myth of normal

(sept 2022) by gabor maté and daniel maté @DanielBMate – gabor on myth of normal

one of gabor’s tweets while i’m reading:

Thank you @drvincentlam for this thorough and thoughtful review of our book in @globeandmail

Original Tweet:


two books


Thrilled to announce that my next book (co-written with my son @DanielBMate) will be released this September in the US, UK, and Canada. “The Myth Of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture” is available for pre-order now:

Original Tweet:

The book’s core thesis is that what passes for normal in our society is neither healthy nor natural. It is the result of ten years of research, nearly three years of writing, and a lifetime of accumulated experience and observation, personal and professional.

whales in sea world

We can only turn the tide of ill health we are witnessing if we begin to appreciate how health and illness are not random biological states in individual bodies or body parts, but rather dynamic expressions of the lives we have lived in interaction with the world around us.

need: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature .. as detox

We will have to see past our medical blind spots and take a *biopsychosocial* approach—a concept I explain and explore fully throughout this book. In doing so we align with both ancient wisdom & abundant cutting-edge science. I hope this book can contribute to that shift.

Pre-order “The Myth Of Normal” here:…

likewise.. 10+ yrs research..


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people

need to org around legit needs (maté basic needs)


notes/quotes from book (thanks library):


intro – why normal isa myth (and why that matters)


as a physician for over three decades, in work ranging from delivering infants to running a palliative care ward.. i was always struck by the links between the individual and the social and emotional contexts in which our lives unfold and health or illness ensue…

palliative care

i have come to believe that behind the entire epidemic of chronic afflictions, mental and physical, that beset our current moment, something is amiss in our culture itself, generating both the rash of ailments we are suffering and, crucially, the ideological blind spots that keep us from seeing our predicament clearly, the better to do something about it.. t.. keep us ignorant of the connections that bind our health to our social-emotional lives..

hari rat park law et al

another way of saying it: chronic illness – mental or physical – is to a large extent a function/feature of the way things are and not a glitch; a consequence of how we live, not a mysterious aberration..t


our concept of well-being must move from the individual to the global in every sense of that word.. t

thurman interconnectedness law et al


we could rightly call this a toxic culture.. unsuitable for the creatures it is meant to supports.. or worse: dangerous to their existence.. t

hari present in society law.. krishnamurti partial law.. all of us to date.. like whales in sea world


if we could begin to see much illness itself not as a cruel twist of fate or some nefarious mystery but rather as an expected and therefore normal consequence of abnormal, unnatural circumstances, it would have revolutionary implications for how we approach everything health related.. the ailing bodes/minds among us would no longer be regarded as expressions of individual pathology but as living alarms directing our attention toward where our society has gone askew, and where our prevailing certainties and assumptions around health are, in fact fictions.. seen clearly they might also give us clues as to what it would take to reverse course and build a healthier world..t

so we can org around legit needs

far more than a lack of tech acumen, sufficient funds, or new discoveries, our culture’s skewed idea of normality is the single biggest impediment to fostering a healthier world..t

all data to date is like from whales in sea world.. we have no idea what legit free people are like and what they need


part 1 – our interconnected nature


1 – the last place you want to be: facets of trauma


it is our woundedness or how we cope with it, that dictates much of our behavior, shapes our social habits, and informs our ways of thinking about the world. it can even determine whether or not we are capable of rational thought at all in matters of the greatest importance to our lives.. for many of us it rears its head in our closest partnerships, causing al kinds of relational mischief


early reactions (of detachment et al) become embedded in the nervous system, mind and body, playing havoc w future relationships.. they show up throughout the lifetime in response to any incident even vaguely resembling the original imprint..

psychic wounds often inflicted before brain is capable of formulating any kinds of verbal narrative.. even after language endowed.. some wounds are imprinted on regions of our nervous systems having nothing to do w language or concepts; this includes brain areas of course.. but rest of body too.. they are stored in parts of us that words/thoughts cannot directly access.. t but too.. there comes a point when ‘hitler made me do it’.. won’t fly

rumi words law et al.. lanier beyond words law et al.. idiosyncratic jargon ness et al


trauma is a psychic injury, lodged in our nervous system, mind, and body, lasting long past the origination incidents, triggerable at any moment


capital T trauma occurs when things happen to vulnerable people that should not have happened ie: abuse, bad divorce, death of parent.. small t trauma what long lasting marks seemingly ordinary events the ‘less memorable but hurtful and far more prevalent misfortunes of childhood’ .. bullying, repeated harsh comments of well meaning parent, lack of connection w nurturing adults.. esp high sensitive children.. experience of not being seen and accepted even by loving parents.. ‘nothing happening when something might profitably have happened’.. ‘traumas of everyday life can make us feel like a motherless child.. both on spectrum ongoingly.. kolk: ‘trauma is when we are not seen and known’..

2 missing pieces ness: #2: attachment – known by someone.. but that can’t happen unless legit you #1: authenticity

peter levine: trauma is ‘about a loss of connection.. to selves, families and world around us’.. t

need first/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self, others, nature

we each carry our wounds in our own way; there is neither sense nor value in gauging them against those of others.. t

‘Don’t be afraid to feel anything today. It’s all valid.’ @JimmyHaber

dear evan hansen‘s anonymous ones heavy law


i also absorbed the terrors and unrelenting emotional distress of my mother.. in the absence of relief, a young person’s natural response.. their only response, really.. is to repress and disconnect from the feeling-states associated w suffering.. one no longer knows one’s body.. oddly, this self-estrangement can show up later in life in the form of an apparent strength, such as my ability to perform at a high level when hungry or stressed or fatigued, pushing on w/o awareness of my need for pause, nutrition, or rest.. alternatively, some people’s disconnection from their bodies manifests as not knowing when to stop eating or drinking.. the ‘enough’ signal doesn’t get thru.. t

maté enough law

garden-enough.. enough ness


these coping mechs ride in on the wings of grace, as it were, to save our lives in the short term.. over time though, if untended to.. become stamped on the psyche and soma, indelibly so, as conditioned responses harden into fixed mechs..t

a sudden at-home-ness is emblematic of how healing works: when trauma’s shackles begin to loosen, we gladly reunite w the severed parts of ourselves.. t

need most/first: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature

brown belonging law et al


tara westover in educated recalls the impact of abuse at the hands of a sibling, willfully ignored by her parents: ‘i saw myself as unbreakable, tender as stone. at first i merely believed this, until one day it became the truth. then i was able to tell myself, w/o lying, that it didn’t affect me, that he didn’t affect me, because nothing affected me.. i didn’t understand how morbidly right i was.. how i had hollowed myself out. for all my obsessing over the consequences of that night, i had misunderstood the vital truth: that its not affecting me, that was its effect


response flexibility: the ability to choose how we address life’s inevitable ups/downs.. to pause between stimulus and response and choose.. trauma robs us of that freedom – rollo may

response flexibility is a function of the midfrontal portion of our cerebral cortex.. no infant is born w any such capacity: behavior governed by instinct/reflex.. not conscious selection.. freedom to choose develops as the brain develops.. the more severe and the earlier the trauma.. the less opp response flexibility has to become encoded in the appropriate brain circuits and the faster it becomes disabled.. one becomes stuck in predictable automatic defensive reactions, esp to stressful stimuli


trauma fosters a shame based view of the self.. (on one of saddest letters received).. stored away in deep freeze and finding no healthy outlet, the emotion had turned against him in the form of self hatred.. ‘i resist the opp to blame others.. i’m a piece of shit because of me’..

in frame of shame (gershen kaufman): ‘is a piercing awareness of ourselves as fundamentally deficient in some vital way as a human being’.. among most poisonous consequences o shame is the loss of compassion for oneself..

the negative view of self may not always penetrate conscious awareness and may even masquerade as its opp: high self regard.. some people encase selves in an armored coat of grandiosity and denial of any shortcomings so as not to feel that enervating shame.. that self puffery is as sure a manifestation of self-loathing as is abject self deprecation, albeit a much more normalized one.. it is a marker of our culture’s insanity that certain individuals who flee form shame into a shameless narcissism may even achieve great social, econ, and political status and success.. our culture grinds many of the most traumatized into the mud but may also.. raise a few to the highest positions of power..

yeah .. all that.. adichie single story law et al

shame ness et al


the most common form shame assumes in this culture is the belief that ‘i am not enough’..

need a means to get back/to garden-enough ness.. ie: mech to undo our hierarchical listening to legit self/others/nature

trauma distorts our view of the world

we have no idea what legit free people (including selves) are like.. only what whales in sea world are like


trauma alienates us from the present.. if trauma entails a disconnection from self, then it makes sense to say we are being collectively flooded w influences that both exploit/reinforce trauma.. work, multitasking, sm, news, entertainment.. these all induce us to become lost in thoughts.. frantic activities, gadgets, meaningless convos.. we are caught up in pursuits of all kinds that draw us on not because they are necessary or inspiring or uplifting or because they enrich.. but simply because the obliterate the present..

hari present in society law.. maté addiction law.. et al


awareness of the moment has become something to fear.. capitalism is expert in catering to this sense of present moment dread.. products designed to fill the gap

khan filling the gaps law et al

to relax enough so as to give oneself over to the rhythms of an episode/encounter.. to follow the thread of feeling.. w/o knowing where it leads.. ultimately what we are distracted from is living

yeah.. for sure.. but still in sea world.. so still reactionary rhythms.. not legit rhythms.. again .. need most/first: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature (aka: global detox; why leap ness for (blank)’s sake)

it didn’t start with you.. on traumatized parent ness unable to break the cycle


the act of blaming herself, its gravitational center planted permanently in the past, would only divert her from showing up for her loved one in the here and now.. blame becomes a meaningless concept the moment one understand show suffering in a family system or even in a community extends back thru the generations.. john bowlby: ‘recognition of this quickly dispels any disposition to see the parent as villain’.. no matter how far back we look in the chain of consequence.. great grandparents, pre modern ancestors, adam and eve, the first single celled amoeba.. the accusing finger can find no fixed target.. that should come as a relief

a relief and also a letting go of a ginormous time-suck/obsession


thurman interconnectedness law et al.. cast first stone et al..

get better: seeing trauma as an internal dynamic grants us much needed agency.. if we treat trauma as an external event..then it becomes a piece of history we can never dislodge.. if on other hand.. trauma is what took place inside us as a result of what happened.. wounding/disconnection.. then healing and reconnection become tangible possibilities.. trying to keep awareness of trauma at bay hobbles our capacity to know ourselves.. since by defn trauma reps a distortion and limitation of who we were born to be.. facing it directly w/o either denial or over identification becomes a doorway to health/balance..

again.. need: means to undo our hierarchical listening

socrates: an unexamined life is not worth living. as long as one doesn’t examine self, one is completely subject to whatever one is wired to do, but once you become aware that you have choices, you can exercise those choices’

yeah.. that.. mostly.. but too.. our choices today are like spinach or rock ness.. if we want to be legit free enough to be ourselves.. has to be all of us.. which begs a global re\set.. why leap.. for (blank)’s sake et al


notice he didn’t say ‘once you spend decades in therapy’.. we can access liberation via even modest self examination: a willingness to question ‘many of the truths we cling to’.. that makes them seem so real..

cling\ness et al

(last p on the collective ie’s of trauma.. ie: indigenous, slaves, racism, et al – more on that in part 4)


2 – living in an immaterial world: emotions, health and the body-mind unity

unless we can measure something, science won’t concede it exists, which is why science refuses to deal w such ‘non things’ as the emotions, the mind, the soul, or the spirit’ – candace pert, molecules of emotion..t

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

ie: ubi as temp placebo.. (people thinking they have money when really just getting whatever they legit need.. till they forget about measuring)


all her life she had fit the profile of the nice person who avoids confrontation. ‘my way was always being the caretaker, being needed, always coming to somebody’s rescue, a lot of the time to my own detriment.. i never wanted to have conflict w anyone.. and i always had to be in charge, making sure everything was ok‘.. caroline had exhibited what has been called ‘superautonomous self sufficiency’.. which means .. an exaggerated and outside aversion to asking anything of anyone.. a quick note: nobody is born w such traits.. they invariably stem from coping reactions to developmental trauma, beginning w self abnegation in early childhood.. (more in ch 7)

oi.. yeah that


body and mind while not identical cannot be understood separately.. 1982 german study.. 56 women admitted to hospital for biopsy eval’d.. women w cancerous breast lumps characteristically exhibited ‘extreme suppression of anger and of other feelings’.. 2000 publication of cancer nursing.. cancer nurses themselves ‘somehow, nurses had an intuitive understand that this ‘niceness’ was deleterious (causing harm/damage).. another similar report on als.. predict w accuracy ‘if nice.. have it.. if not nice enough.. don’t have it’.. same w men and prostrate cancer and anger suppression

evans polite\ness law et al..


grief too.. (despite such compelling evidence, i do not believe the loss of a loved one, howsoever tragic, by itself necessarily poses a health risk.. i believe the latter depends on how people are able to process their loss.. support et al.. not only emotional events but emotional responses..)

grief et al


in other words.. stress may disable our immune systems’ capacity to control and eliminate malignancy

bush immune system law et al

sometimes ordinary stresses.. more ptsd symptoms than war and disaster


medical professionals often do little to encourage.. and may even resist.. people trusting in their own hunches.. which tend to synthesize signals form both mind and body.. t

when body says no et al.. on each heart et al

need first/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature


3 – you rattle my brain: our highly interpersonal biology

‘all my relations’.. i have often heard this greeting when visiting native communities in canada.. these are the places where my country, to its shame, sees the highest levels of physical and mental illness, addiction, and early death.. t – a tragic situation analogous w that of similarly colonized aboriginal populations int eh us and australia.. the phrase, as i understand it refers to the individual’s multidimensional bond w the entire world, including people – from close relatives to strangers, from the living .. to ancestors.. and also the rocks, plants, earth, sky and all creatures.. ancient cultures have long understood that we exist in relationship to all, are affected by all, and affect all..t

huge huge ginormous huge to:

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman 

‘they live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them’..t.. john donne ‘no man is an island, entire of itself’

maté wise suffer law

suffering the most because they still grok this.. ie: crazywise (doc) et al

no man is an island et al.. the it is me.. but i’m never just me.. et al.. because:

brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown

so.. be you .. for us..

but ..

this is why we need to leap to a legit global re\set.. ie: costello screen\service law et al

huge huge huge huge huge


the concept of interpersonal neurobiology was intro’d some years ago by dr daniel siegel.. like myself and many of our colleagues, dr siegel had become uncomfortable w the limitations of his ed.. ‘when i was in med school.. many of the fine teachers we had approached their patients, and their students, *as if they had no center of inner experience.. not subjective internal core we might call our mental life.. it was as if we were just bags of chemicals and bodily organs w/o a self, w/o a mind’.. he sensed that both research and practice lacked a consensus defn of ‘health’ and startlingly in the mental health field lacked even a shared agreement of what ‘mind’ is .. let alone a share view of the relationship of mind and brain.. he set out to explore what such a consensus might look like.. the teams’ findings confirmed that **our brains and minds are not independent operations.. functioning in isolation from other brains/minds.. in fact, nothing about us, mental or physical, can be comprehended apart form the many faceted milieu in which we exist.. ***we can perhaps treat human biology as strictly self contained in an artificial setting like a med lab or pathology theater, but not in real life..

dan siegel

*already on each heart ness.. kingdom is within you ness.. the it is me et al

**beyond the monastic self et al.. i’m never just me et al

***sea world ness


unsurprisingly, the closer we are to someone, the more our physiology interacts w theirs.. married people have lower raters of mortality than their age matched single contemporaries.. whether the latter were separated, divorced, widowed or had never married.. single people showed an elevated risk for heart disease and cancers.. et al.. (more in ch 23).. interestingly ‘unhappily married persons are worse off in well-being than unmarried persons’


given their vulnerability and dependence, children’s physiology is esp susceptible to the emotional states of their caregivers.. asthma is a well studied ie: the inflammation of the child’s lungs is directly affected by the mother’s or father’s emotions..

racism is another risk factor for asthma.. is the inflammation and airway constriction .. individual pathology or the manifestation of a social malaise..

krishnamurti measure law et al

the more we learn, the more we realize that our health is a complex consequence of ‘all our relations‘ .. and not just the ones close at hand.. social status.. employment et al.. greater risk

thurman interconnectedness law.. hari rat park law.. hari present in society law.. et al

none of us are free et al


bad job worse than no job

bs jobs from birth et al.. need: no jobs..

interpersonal biology also accounts for why loneliness can kill, especially in older people separated form pleasures, social connections or support.. studies show.. that the lethal effect of deficient interpersonal relationships is comparable to such risk factors as smoking and alcohol, and even exceeds the dangers posted by physical inactivity and obesity

loneliness et al..


4 – everything i’m surrounded by: dispatches from the new science


the dominant assumption in our culture is that genetic inheritance determines the better part of our destiny..who we are..what we suffer.. what we are capable of .. in 2000.. clinton proclaimed the findings of the human genome project ‘the most wondrous map ever produced by humankind.. today we are learning the language in which god created life.. will revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most if not all human disease’.. leading to cure for conditions like alzheimer’s, parkinson’s, and cancer ‘by attacking their genetic roots


2 decades later, we know that little of the sort has happened.. and for good reason: genes are not in fact life’s language.. like all building blocks.. genes help make up the language of existence.. but it is thru the working of epigenetics that they are activated, accented or quieted.. experience in other words.. determine how our genetic potential expresses itself in the end.. this is what the field of epigenetics.. meaning ‘on top of’ genes.. is all about.. ie: messages form the environ telling the genes what to do.. w/o altering the genes themselves.. epigenetics offers ‘a way of adapting to changing conditions w/o inflicting a more permanent shift in our genomes

it’s not that genes don’t matter.. they certainly do.. only that they cannot dictate even the simplest behaviors.. let alone account for most illnesses or address possible cures for them.. far from being the autonomous arbiters of our destinies, genes answer to their environ.. w/o environmental signals.. they could not function

m of care – oct 13 – signs/signals ness


stress, racism, et al.. makes people old.. ‘the neighborhood deprivation, the crime, the income of the zip code.. all of that is associated w aging of the cells that is to me one of the biggest demonstrations that our health is outside of our body’ – dr epel.. and the reverse – good = younger


5 – mutiny on the body: the mystery of the rebellious immune system


virtually all autoimmune diseases are characterized by inflammation..t of the afflicted tissues, organs, and body parts.. which explains why frontline medical measure often begin w anti inflam drugs.. when non steroidal anti inflam like ibuprofen or heavier artillery such as steroids themselves prove inadequate, physicians may prescribe meds to suppress the body’s immune activity

inflammation ness


1\ the first mystery is.. why are they becoming more frequent..t.. rules out genetic causes.. suggests environ factors at play.. something in environ is inflaming our bodies


2\ second mystery is .. skewed gender distribution.. 70-80% are women.. and (imbalance) increasing .. t .. in 1930s balance was about equal.. trend reflected internationally.. t

perhaps maté wise suffer law ness.. (p 52)


not only are such possible lines of inquiry (physical/emotional conditions preceding illness) not pursued but they seem to be verboten in mainstream (med) circles

forbidden cures.. forbidden research.. et al


(on not hearing ‘enough’ – as trauma cope) ‘i was really not myself.. i was always having to operate as a more highly functioning person than i really was‘.. t

wilde not-us law.. because maté trump law et al..

need most/first: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature


on personality traits.. they reflect much that is neither inherent nor immutable about a person.. nor are they character faults; though they may cause us difficulty now, they began as modes of survival.. t

cope\ing ness

many patients ‘usually tried very hard to please .. t.. both in professional and personal contact, and either concealed hostility or express it indirectly.. many of them were perfectionist..


‘i would have another attack every time i saw my mom’.. the emotional triggers of suppressed fear and anger instilled in her in childhood were activate around her family, and that, in turn, would inflame her nervous system


ms is this



on blame or guilt.. no person is their disease.. and no one did it to themselves.. not in any conscious, deliberate, or culpable sense..



6 – it ain’t a thing: disease as process


what if we saw illness as an imbalance in the entire organism, not just as a manifestation of molecular, cells, or organs invaded or denatured by pathology (v: as not a thing but as a process, not separate/external from us).. we can take our rightful place as active participants in the process, rather than remain its victims, helpless but for our reliance on medical miracle workers..

so in entire world.. et al


steven cole: ‘we now know that disease is a long term process.. a physiological process taking place in our bodies and how we live influences how quickly that’s going to get us at a clinical level.. the more we understand about disease, the less clear it becomes when you have it and when you don’t‘.. there are no clear dividing lines between illness and health.. nobody all of a sudden ‘gets’ an autoimmune disease or ‘gets’ cancer.. though it may perhaps make itself known suddenly and w tremendous impact


clue? hypothalamus is the hub of the body’s and brain’s stress apparatus.. a key modulator of immune activity and the apex of the autonomic nervous system.. it translates fear, loss, grief and stress into responses in our bloodstream, organs, cells nerves, lymph nodes, messenger chemicals and molecules throughout the entire organism.. even if untreatable by present day med techniques, it need not be beyond healing, esp if we bring in a wiser, science based appreciation of the interconnected complexity of the disease process and the body mind unity

huge to global re\set and thurman interconnectedness law.. has to be all of us to heal/reset

key point.. stress cannot ’cause’ cancer, for the simple reason that our bodies naturally harbor potentially malignant cells at a ll times.. w/o developing disease of cancer


the question is.. what keeps immune system from successfully confronting the internal menace?.. this is where stress plays it incendiary role.. t

bush immune system law et al

david smithers: cancer.. not a disease of individual cells gone rogue but a manifestation of an imbalanced environ..t


steve cole: ‘one of things many disease have in common is inflammation, acting as kind of a fertilizer for the development of illness..t. we’ve discovered that when people feel threatened, insecure, esp over an extended period of time.. our bodies are programmed to turn on inflammatory genes’

inflammation as fertlilizer

lissa rankin in anatomy of a calling ‘drs become masters at stuffing their emotions.. that was part of my wounding: i wasn’t allowed to ask for help, to be ‘needy’, to complain

dr v – and her surgery ness


her (rankin) key insight was to recognize her entire life as the ground for her several illnesses.. physical and mental; not separate entities.. ‘i had been a stereotypical good girl, overachiever, top of my class, always pushing to develop my talent and intellect, not to satisfy me but to be accepted by others’.. that relentless pressure manifested in her med conditions.. she had to let it go..


wound: can’t hear ‘enough’.. maté enough law.. and maté trump law

and brown belonging law

it (disease) may not be the guest we desire to see.. but a modicum of hospitality – welcoming the unwelcome so to speak – costs us nothing.. and may lead to opp..

ie of non hierarchical listening.. of unconditional listening.. via curiosity.. cure ios city


7 – a traumatic tension: attachment vs authenticity.. t

aka: maté trump law and brown belonging law

jános (hans) selye in the stress of life: ‘most of our tensions and frustrations stem from compulsive needs to act the role of someone we are not’.. t

huge huge huge chapter/key to global re\set..

to a nother way for 8bn people to live.. by org ing around legit needs (ie: maté 2 basic needsattachment and authenticity)


they were id’d ‘pleasers’..t: while anxious about their disease progression, their worries were focused in a special outward direction..

pleasers ness


time after time it was the ‘nice’ people, the ones who compulsively put other’s expectations and needs ahead of their own .. t.. and who repressed their so called negative emotions .. who showed up w chronic illness.. had higher likelihood of cancer and poorer prognoses


my own list of the personality features most often present in people w chronic illness.. in no particular order: automatic and compulsive concern for emotional needs of others, while ignoring one’s own; rigid id w social role, duty and responsibility; overdriven, hyper responsibility based on conviction that one must justify one’s existence b doing/giving; repression of healthy, self protective aggression and anger; harboring and compulsively acting out two beliefs: ‘i am responsible for how other people feel’ and ‘i must never disappoint anyone‘.. t

at the root they are coping patterns

why these features so often overlooked.. goes to heart of our them: they are among the most normalized ways of being in this culture..t.. largely being regarded as admirable strengths rather than potential liabilities.. fly under raider because easily conflated w their healthy analogues: compassion, honor, diligence, loving kindness, generosity, temperance, conscience and so forth.. **note that the qualities on the latter list, while perhaps superficially resembling those of the first, do not imply or require that a person overstep, ignore or suppress who they are and what they feel and need

they are the most normalized ways of being in this culture

*myth of normal

vs crazywise (doc) et al

**brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown


obituaries.. in which friends and relative pay homage to decease loved ones.. i frequently note in these a certain poignant paradox.. composed w affection and sorrow, these moving tributes often reveal and unwittingly celebrate their dearly departed’s self abnegating traits, w/o recognizing that these may have played a central role in the illness that ended the life..t being remembered.. ‘despite her metastatic cancer ‘did not give up any of her roles.. even took on new ones’.. ‘she never got in a fight w anyone.. she had no ego.. she just blended in with the environ in an unassuming manner’


where does such forsaking the self come from.. no one is born w such traits.. we can unlearn them


a recurring them.. maybe the core theme.. in every talk or workshop i give is the inescapable tension, and for most of us an eventual clash, between two essential needs: attachment and authenticity.. this clash is ground zero for the most widespread form of trauma in our society..t: namely, the ‘small t’ trauma expressed in a disconnection form the self even in the absence of abuse or overwhelming threat

core theme: tension/clash between two essential needs: attachment and authenticity..

maté basic needs et al.. let’s org org around those two legit needs

1\ attachment: drive for closeness .. physical and emotional.. t

attachment: be us.. being known by someone.. missing piece #2

2\ authenticity: being true to self.. knowing gut feelings and honoring them..t

authenticity: be you.. be true to self.. missing piece #1


the dilemma is this: what happens if our needs for attachment are imperiled by our authenticity.. (and vice versa).. not being seen for who you are is sufficient.. t

maté trump law

brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown

although both needs are essential, there is a pecking order: in the first phase of life, attachment unfailingly tops the bill..t so when the two come into conflict in a child’s life, the outcome is well nigh predetermined.. if the choice is between ‘hiding my feelings ever form myself and getting the basic care i need’ and ‘being myself and going without’.. i’m going to pick that first option every single time.. thus our real selves are leveraged bit by bit in a tragic transaction where we secure our physical or emotional survival by relinquishing who we are and how we feel.. becomes our ‘new normal’

maté trump law


if we don’t receive the agenda free, unconditional attention we all require, one way to guard against that deprivation is to become concerned w physical attractiveness or other attention getting attributes or accomplishments..t if we are not made to feel important for just who we are, we may seek significance by becoming compulsive helpers..

pearson unconditional law et al.. no agenda.. usefully preoccupied et al


valuation or appreciation or approval or success cannot possibly resolve the ache in the soul.. t

any form of m\a\p


when a small child, i felt abandoned and unloved.. my response to this was to want to be very good’

pleasers ness et al

the imperative to survive overrides everything, and that survival depends on the maintenance of attachment, at whatever cost to authenticity..t

maté trump law

brown belonging law


part 2 – the distortion of human development


8 – who are we really? human nature, human needs

what is our nature?.. though it may not be obvious why a book about health in the 21st cent should concern itself w so broad and elusive a topic, i believe the question is central, w far ranging implications.. the relative health of any life form is a function of its essential needs being met or not met..t thus.. to know what kind of beings we are is to know what we need in order to be those beings to the fullest.. who we take ourselves to be dictates how we set up our live, individually and collective, and determines the extent to which a culture does or doesn’t meet the requirements for opitmal health and functioning

krishnamurti measure law

human nature et al not.. what is a whale like in sea world


alfie kohn: usually say ‘almost always unsavory’.. act of generosity rarely called human nature

alfie kohn

marshall sahlins: ‘for greater part of history, self interest as we know it is unnatural.. it is considered madness

marshall on culture

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman 

undisturbed ecosystem et al

i find discussions of a fixed human nature unhelpful and even misleading.. we are not one way..


robert sapolsky: ‘the nature of our nature is not to be particularly constrained by our nature’.. our miraculous talent for adaptation could also be a liability..

robert sapolsky

more than any other factor, it is the environ.. the conditions under which development takes place.. which either do or don’t meet our multiple needs

hari rat park law et al


in the continuum concept: in search of happiness lost, jean liedloff proposed that all life develops as ‘an expectation for its environment’ .. lungs can be seen as an expectation for oxygen.. ears for the vibration of sound waves.. ‘if one wants to know what is correct for any species, one must know the inherent expectation of that species‘.. an inherent expectation is a wired in need, something that if denied interferes w our physical and psychological equilibrium, leading to poorer health outcomes.. physically, mentally and socially.. t

huge.. this is the center of problem

ie: maté basic needs.. a problem deep enough.. that deep

let’s org around that

jean liedloff


liedloff described these forebears of ours as ‘people whose good relations are more important than their bargains’.. confirm with research on hunter gatherers via darcia narvaez.. held values emphasizing hospitality, sharing, generosity, and reciprocal exchange for purpose not of personal enrichment but of connections.. these values were intelligent time test guidelines for mutual survival..

ie (to me) that h g ‘s already in sea world.. red flags: reciprocity; exchange; intellect ness; guide ness; et al

darcia narvaez


in our present capitalist society, darcia narvaez suggested to me we have become ‘species atypical’.. a sobering idea when you think about it: no other species ever had the ability to be untrue to itself, to forsake its own needs, never mind to convince itself that such is the way things ought to be..t

huge.. (but again for all of time to date).. like whales in sea world.. we have no idea what legit free people are like


9 – a sturdy or fragile foundation: children’s irreducible needs

raffi caoukian woke suddenly at 6 one morning in 1997.. ‘i bolted upright in bed.. jaw dropped, eyes wide open and he words ‘child honoring’ were playing right in front of my eyes.. as a phrase and as the name of a philosophy’.. for the next decade, the internationally cherished children’s troubadour took time away form the concert state and recording studio to dedicate himself to envisioning, networking and advocating for world that honors children.. he has maintained that commitment.. ‘at its core, child honoring is respect for personhood.. children are here to learn their own song


kind of like vinay on rights of children.. kind of like your own song ness

but we all need this (as detox).. ie: 1 yr to be 5 ness



we discover who we are from the inside..what’s forming is no less than how it feels to be human.. and i’m using my words carefully here: how it feels to be human’.. our culture too often subordinates felt knowledge to the intellect.. this inverted ranking system upends how we raise our children.. which in turn serves to reinforce the error culturewide.. t

need: means to listen that deep everyday.. to the itch-in-8bn-souls.. not even about discovering who we are.. more like being who we are..

public consensus always oppresses someone(s)

brown belonging lawthe opposite of belonging.. is fitting in.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable.. –Brené Brown


suffice it to say that the quality of early caregiving is heavily, even decisively, determined by the society context in which it takes place.. t

hari rat park law et al


to truly raise a child would be to bring that child to his/her full potential as a human being.. so why in our modern culture do we chronically miss that goal?.. the problem begins w the failure to grasp the needs of the developing child.. t

ie: maté basic needs.. we need to org around these 2 legit needs

‘children must feel an invitation to exist in our presence, exactly the way they are’ neufeld

again.. brown belonging law et al..

gordon neufeld.. hold on to kids

the child doesn’t have to do anything, or be any different, to win that love, in fact, cannot do anything, because this abiding embrace cannot be earned, or can it be revoked.. it doesn’t depend on the child’s behavior or personality.. it is just there.. whether the child is growing up good/bad/naughty /nice..

pearson unconditional lawwhat is it about loving each other unconditionally that scares us so much – come sunday (pearson)







(not) normal ness et al

discrimination as equity et al

brown belonging law et al





myth of normalrealm of hungry ghostswhen body says noscattered; ..