realm of hungry ghosts
by Gabor Maté
Naomi: Gabor’s connections – between the intensely person and the global, the spiritual and the medical, the psychological and the political – are bold, wise, and deeply moral. he is a healer to be cherished.. book arrives at just the right time..
Bruce: Gabor distills the suffering of injections drug users into moving case histories and reveals how clearly he himself, as music collector and workaholic physician fits his own defn of addiction. informed by the new research on brain chem, he proposes sensible drug laws to replace war on drugs. inspired by the evolving spirituality that underlies his life/work, he outlines practical ways of overcoming addiction. this is not a fix-it book to hurry thru, but a deep analysis to reflect on
preface to the us edition (by Gabor)
the paradox: the us leads the world in scientific knowledge in many areas but trails in applying that knowledge to social and human realities.. ie: americans make up 5% of world’s population but 25% of world’ prison population.. a main cause of this shocking discrepancy is the antiquated social/legal approach to addiction..
foreward (by Peter Levine)
‘what is addiction really?’ the swiss psychologist alice miller asks. ‘it is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. it is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood’..t
dr maté proves an invaluable interpreter along this consequential, defining human journey toward recovery – just the kind of guide w/o whom the battle against addiction is surely lost
realm of hunger ghosts make a deep and original inquiry into the nature of addiction, dispelling myths/fallacies that have clouded discourse for as long as humans have grasped for solace…
his compassionate commitment to social well being..
it becomes evident that the list of potential addictions engages us all..
clearly sets out to define what we need to change, both in ourselves and in society , to tame the destructive demon that is the addictive drive .. the hungry ghost
provides explanations that allow readers to envision a society that does a better job of preventing and healing addiction..
hungry ghost realm.. the domain of addiction, where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment.. the aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects, or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need.. t..we don’t know what we need.. so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know.. we haunt our lives w/o being fully present..
those whom we dismiss as ‘junkies’ are not creatures from a different world, only men/women mired at the extreme end of a continuum on which, here or there, all of us might well locate ourselves.. they have much in common w the society that ostracizes them. if they seem to have chosen a path to nowhere, they still have much to teach the rest of us. in the dark mirror of their lives, we can trace outlines of our own..
not every story has a happy ending, as the reader will find out, but the discoveries of science, the teaching of the heart and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption.. the possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.. how to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.. t
i dedicate this work to all my fellow hungry ghosts, be they innercity street dweller w hiv, inmates of prisons, or their more fortunate counterparts w homes, families, jobs, and successful careers.. may we all find peace..t
now people finally have their own bathrooms, laundry facilities, and a decent place to eat food.. what makes the portland model unique and controversial among addiction services is the core intention to accept people as they are –
the only home he’s ever had – a phrase that sums up the histories of many people in the downtown eastside of ‘one of the world’s most livable cities’
i also have to confront my own resistance to them as people. much as i want to accept them, at least in principle, some days i find myself full of disapproval and judgment, rejecting them and wanting them to be other than who they are. that contradiction originates with me not with my patients. it’s my problem – except that, given the obvious power imbalance between us, it’s all too easy for me to make it their problem
so focused on next hit of cocaine or heroin or ‘jib’ – crystal meth – that self-preservation pales into insignificance.. many also have ingrained fear of authority figures and distrust institutions, for reasons no one could begrudge them..
she died not of overdose but of heroin withdrawal..
in real sense, addiction medicine with this population is also palliative work. we do not expect to cure anyone.. only to ameliorate the effects of drug addition .. and to soften the impact of the legal/social torments our culture uses to punish the drug addict..
when my addict patients look at me, they are seeking the real me. like children, they are unimpressed w titles, achievements, worldly credentials. their concerns are too immediate, too urgent.. .. what they care about is my presence or absence as a human being.. they gauge w unerring eyes whether i am grounded enough on any given day to coexist w them,to listen to them as person w feelings, hopes, and aspirations that are as valid as mine..they can tell instantly whether i ‘m genuinely committed to their well being or just trying to get them out of my way.. chronically unable to offer such caring to themselves, they are all the more sensitive to its presence or absence in those charged w caring for them..
it is invigorating to operate in an atmosphere so far removed from the regular workaday world, an atmosphere that insists on authenticity.. whether we know it or not, most of us crave authenticity, the reality beyond roles/labels and carefully honed personae..
ralph: people jeopardize their lives for the sake of making the moment livable..t
what a wonderful world it would be if the simplistic view were accurate: that human beings need only negative consequences to teach them hard lessons..
the fear of life as they have experienced it underlies my patients’ continued drug use..
it is impossible to understand addiction w/o asking what relief the addict finds or hopes to find in the drug or the addictive behavior..t
thomas de quincey: tranquilize all irritations of the nervous system..
far more than a quest for pleasure, chronic substance use is the addict’s attempt to escape distress.. from a medical pov: addicts are self-medicating conditions like depression, anxiety, ptsd, or even add
addictions always originate in pain, whether felt openly or hidden in the unconscious.. they are emotional anesthetics.. heroin and cocaine, both powerful physical painkillers, also ease psychological discomfort..
the question is never ‘why the addiction’ but ‘why the pain’..t
the research literature is unequivocal: most hard core substance abusers come from abusive homes..
thomas de quincey: opium is a powerful counter agent to the formidable curs of taedium vitae – the tedium of life..
human beings want not only to survive, but also to live. we long to experience life in all its vividness, w full, untrammeled emotion.. adults envy the open-hearted and open-minded explorations of children; seeing their joy/curiosity, we pine for our own lost capacity for wide-eyed wonder.. boredom, rooted in a fundamental discomfort w the self, is one of the least tolerable mental states..t
for the addict the drug provides a route to feeling alive again, if only temporarily..
the addict’s reliance on the drug to reawaken her dulled feelings is not adolescent caprice (sudden/unaccountable change in behavior). the dullness is itself a consequence of an emotional malfunction not of her making: the internal shutdown of vulnerability.
from the latin word vulnerare, ‘to wound’ .. vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded.. this fragility is part of our nature and cannot be escaped..
the best the brain can do is to shut down conscious awareness of it when pain becomes so vast or unbearable that it threatens to overwhelm our capacity to function. the automatic repression of painful emotion is a helpless child’s prime defense mech and can enable the child to endure trauma that would otherwise be catastrophic. the unfortunate consequence is a wholesale dulling of emotional awareness..
saul bellow: if you hold down one thing you hold down the adjoining..
our emotions are an indispensable part of our sensory apparatus and an essential part of who we are. they make life worthwhile, exciting, challenging, beautiful and meaningful..
when we flee our vulnerability, w lose our full capacity for feeling emotion..
the wondrous power of a drug is to offer the addict protection from pain while at the same time enabling her to engage the world w excitement and meaning.. .. the drug restores to the addict the childhood vivacity she suppressed long ago
we shouldn’t underestimate how desperate a chronically lonely person is to escape the prison of solitude. it’s not a matter here of common shyness but of a deep psychological sense of isolation experience from early childhood by people who felt rejected by everyone, beginning w their caregivers..
another powerful dynamic perpetuates addiction despite the abundance of disastrous consequences: the addict sees no other possible existence for himself.. his outlook on future is restricted by his entrenched self-image as an addict.. fears a loss of self if it were absent from his life.. in his own mind, he would cease to exist as he knows himself..
carol says she was able to experience herself in a completely new and positive way under the influence of crystal meth..opened my creativity..
as many crystal meth users see it, this drug offers benefits to young street dwellers.. no money for food? crystal meth is an appetite suppressant. tired, lacking energy? cm gives a user boundless energy..
ralph articulates a clever, intuitive, and astute critique of workaday human existence and of our society’s obsession w goals, the essence of which, he feels, varies little from his own pursuit of drugs.. i see an uncomfortable truth in his analysis, no matter how incomplete a truth it is
unconditional acceptance of each other is one of the greatest challenges we humans face.. few of us have experienced it consistently..t; the addict has never experienced it – lease of all from himself..
no strings.. assume good
kim markel: i try not to measure things as good or bad, just to look at things from the client’s pov.. i try to take my own value system out of it and look at the value something has for them..94
i try to take people as they are at any moment and support them that way. not judge them or think of an alt reality they could have, because we could all have alt realties.. i don’t focus on my own ‘what ifs’ that much , so i try not to focus on other people’s
some authorities see adhd as an inherited neurophysiological dysfunction, but in my view such psych agitation has a deeper source. remy’s wandering speech patterns are attempts to escape an agonizing discomfort w his own self..
one thing my mom said to me. what it would take to straighten me out , she said, is if i ever began to listen to my heart..t
the fundamental addiction is to the fleeting experience of not being addicted. the addict craves the absence of the craving state. for a brief moment he’s liberated from emptiness, from boredom, from lack of meaning, from yearning, from being driven or from pain. he is free.
roots of meanings of the word addiction – from passion.. to enslavement.. ie: assigned to..
in the cloudy swirl of misleading ideas surrounding public discussion of addition, there’s one that stands out: the misconception that drug taking by itself will lead to addition.. it is one of the bedrock fables sustaining the so called war on drugs..
bruce and rat park
vietnam vets.. similar conclusion.. once stress of military service in brutal/dangerous war ended, so, in vast majority (95%) of cases, did the addition. the ones who persisted in heroin addiction back home were, for the most part, those w histories of unstable childhoods and previous drug use problems..
what distinguished nam experience from other wars..? the ready availability of pure heroin and other drugs is only part of the answer. this war , unlike previous ones, quickly lost meaning for those ordered to fight./die.. there was too wide a gap between what they’d been told and the reality they witnessed and experienced.. lack of meaning..
drugs, in short, do not make anyone into an addict.. there has to be a preexisting vulnerability.. there also has to be significant stress.. t
thus.. might say 3 factors need to coincide for substance addiction to occur: a susceptible organism; a drug w additive potential’ and stress..
stimulant drugs.. like cocaine and crystal meth.. exert their effect by making more dopamine available to cells that re activated by this brain chem.. because dopamine is important for motivation/incentive/energy.. a diminished number of receptors will reduce the addict’s stamina and his incentive and drive for normal activities when not using the drug.. it’s a vicious cycle: more cocaine use leads to more loss of dopamine receptors (brain senses flood of dopamine so seeks equilibrium by reducing number of receptors where dopamine can act) .. the fewer receptors, the more the addict needs to supply his brain w an artificial chem to make up for lack..
in effect, cocaine is a temp squatter in someone else’s home..
richard rawson: food seeking can increase brain dopamine levels by 50%.. sexual arousal by 100%.. as will nicotine and alcohol.. but none of these can compete w cocaine.. which more than triples dopamine levels.. yet cocaine is a miser compared w crystal meth or speed.. ..1200 %.. carol: orgasm w/o sex..
in short.. drug use temporarily changes the brain’s internal environ.. the ‘high’ is produced by means of a rapid chemical shift..
long term consequences: chronic drug use remodels the brain’s chem structure, its anatomy and it s psychological functioning. it even alter the way the genes act in the nuclei of brain cells.. why vulnerability lasts after years of abstinence..
the addiction’s central dilemma: if recovery is to occur, the brain, the impaired organ of decision making, needs to initiate its own healing process..t
the scientific literature is nearly unanimous in viewing drug addiction as a chronic brain condition, and this alone ought to discourage anyone from blaming or punishing the sufferer.. the very concept of choice appears less clear cut if we understand that the addict’s ability to choose, if not absent, is certainly impaired..
all the substances that are the main drugs of abuse today originate in natural plant products and have been known to human beings for thousands of years..
opium, the basis of heroin, extract of asian poppy.. 4000 yrs ago.. sumerians/egyptians familiar w usefulness in treating pain and diarrhea and person’s psych state..
cocaine..coca.. small tree andes in w s america.. antidote to fatigue and reduce need to eat on long arduous mountain journeys..
hemp plant.. from which marijuana is derived.. first grew on indian subcontinent.. earliest recorded pharma use appears in chines e compendium of medicine written nearly 3000 yrs ago.. also used by ancient chinese.. for ie: in treatment of nasal and bronchial congestion..
alcohol.. produced by fermentation that depends on microscopic fungi.. joy making and giver of wisdom..
none of these substances could affect us unless they worked on natural processes in the human brain and made use of the brain’s innate chemical apparatus. drug influence and alter how we act/feel because they resemble the brain’s own natural chemicals.. this likeness allows them to occupy receptor sites on our cells and interact w the brain’s intrinsic messenger systems..
the brain systems involved in addiction are among the key organizers and motivators of human emotional life and behavior – hence addictions’ powerful hold on human beings.. three major networks are involved: opioid apparatus; dopamine system; self-regulation system
when the natural opioid receptor systems of infant lab animals have been genetically ‘knocked out’ they’re unable to experience secure connection w their mothers.. on whom their survival depends.. they show no interest in their mother’s cues..
conversely, young animals – dogs, chicken, rats, moneys – who experience separation anxiety on being isolated from their mothers can be soothed by small nonsedating doses of opiates.. endorphins have been well described as ‘molecules of emotion’
the brain is soothed by its own painkillers, the endorphins..
opiate receptors can be found throughout the body, and in each organ they play a specific role. in nervous system: tranquilizers/painkillers; in gut: slow down muscle contractions; ;mouth: diminish secretions
by making our brain cells more sensitive to opioids, oxytocin allows us to remain ‘hooked’ on our babies.. responsible for protecting/nurturing infant life
thus addiction to opiates like morphine and heroin arises in a brain system that governs the most powerful emotional dynamic in human existence: the attachment instinct. love.
a child who complains bitterly of the slightest hurt and is often accused of being a ‘crybaby’ is probably low on endorphins an dis likely to be less adventurous than his peers.. also pain of social rejection..
parents loving response will flood the brain w endorphins and ease the child’s discomfort.. should parent not respond.. or not adequately, endorphins won’t be release.. and child will be left to his own inadequate coping mechs.. ie: rocking; thumb sucking; tuning out..to escape distress.. then.. greater risk for seeking chem satisfaction from external sources later in life..
first time i did heroin – felt like a warm soft hug… in that phrase she told her life story and summed up the psych and chem cravings of all substance dependent addicts..
stanley greenspan: if our society were truly to appreciate the significance of children’s emotional ties throughout the first years of life, it would no longer tolerate children growing up, or parents having to struggle, in situations that cannot possibly nourish healthy growth..t
we know that the majority of chronically hard-core substance dependent adults lived, as infants and children, under conditions of severe adversity that left an indelible stamp on their development. their predisposition to addiction was programmed in their early years. their brains never had a chance..
and it doesn’t take extreme deprivation: in another study, rat pups deprived of their mother’s presence for only one hr a day during their first week of life grew up to be much more eager that their peers to take cocaine on their own. the presence of consistent parental contact in infancy is one factor in the normal development of the brain’s neurotransmitters systems; the absence of it makes the child more vulnerable to ‘needing’ drugs of abuse later on to supplement what her own brain is lacking.. another key factor is the quality of the contact the parent provides.. and this.. depends very much on the parent’s mood and stress level..
babies who are never picked up simply die. they stress themselves to death
the death of us ness
premature babies who have to live in incubators for weeks/months have faster brain growth if they are stroked for just 10 min a day..
a custom i had often observed among my indo-canadian patients.. as they were speaking w me during their early postnatal visits, these mothers would massage their babies all over their bodies, gently kneading them from feet to head. the infants were in bliss..
a child’s capacity to handle psych/physio stress is completely dependent on the relationships w his parent(s)
in one study of the eegs of adults who had suffered sexual abuse, the vast majority had abnormal brains waves, and over a third showed seizure activity..
she felt there was no one to turn to for help, so she ‘absented’ herself instead
brains of mistreated children.. smaller than normal by 7-8%
in some.. hippocampus 15% smaller than normal.. the key factor was abuse, not depression..same brain area was unaffected in depressed women who had not been abused..
stress has everything to do w addiction
stress is a physiological response .. when confronted w excessive demands on coping mechs.. an attempt to maintain internal biological and chemical stability.. in face of excessive demands.. virtually every organ if affected..
1992 conference defined stress: a state of disharmony or threatened homeostasis.. what all stressors have in common.. they rep the absence of something that the organism perceives as necessary for survival.. the treat of food supply is a major stressor. so is the threatened loss of love.. for human beings..
hans selye: it may be said w/o hesitation that for man the most important stressors are emotional..
early stress establishes a lower set point for a child’s internal stress system..
on other hand, situations or activities that for the avg person are likely to bring satisfaction are undervalued because, in the addict’s life, the have not been rewarding .. for ie: intimate connections w family..
addiction is a deeply ingrained response to stress, and attempt to cope w it thru self-soothing.. maladaptive in the long term, it is highly effective in the short term..
the research literature had id’d 3 factors that universally lead to stress: uncertainty; lack of info; and loss of control.. to these we may add conflict that the organism is unable to handle and isolation from emotionally supportive relationships
when contacted 17 yrs later as adult women.. 40% of these abuse victims either did not recal or denied the even outright.. yet memory intact for other incidents..
addicts who do remember often blames themselves..
solid reasons not to despair.. our brains are resilient organs: some important circuits continue to develop thruout our lives.. and may do so even in the case of the hard core drug addict who brain ‘never had a change’ in childhood.. that’s the goo news on the physical level.. even more encouraging.. something in or about us that transcends the firing/wiring of neurons and the actions of chemicals.. the mind may reside mostly in the brain, bu tit is much more than the sum total of the auto neuro programs rooted in our pasts.. transformational role of the spirit
in 1990.. newspapers and broadcast outlets across n america reported that researcher at uni of texas had id’d the gene for alcoholism.. 6 yrs later.. lead scientists.. says.. was erroneously reports.. common error .. ie: obesity gene.. personality gene.. no such thing as a specific gene for alcoholism, obesity, personality type..
no gene for alcohol.. nor can you directly inherit alcoholism..
whatever problem we are hoping to resolve or prevent – be it war/terrorism/econ-ineq/marriage-trouble/ climate-change/addiction.. the way we see its origins will largely determine our course of actions..
uni of pitt: liability trait for alcoholism is not static.. risk fluctuates over time.. owing to developmental and environmental factors..
even if genes determined 70%.. i’d be more interested in 30%.. part we can change..
researchers: in genetic theories of mental disorders ‘unscientific beliefs play a major role’
used to believe.. 100 000 genes in human genome.. even that number would have been inadequate to account for the unbelievable synaptic complexity and variability of the human brain.. however, it has not been discovered that there are only about 30 000 gene sequences in our dna.. even less tha in some lowly worms..
bruce lipton: the cell’s operations are primarily molded by its interaction w the environ not by its genetic code
epigenetics.. new and rapidly growing science that focuses on how life experiences influence the function of genes.. as a result of life events, chemicals attach selves to dna and direct gene activities..
epigenetic effects are most powerful during early development and have not been shown to be transmittable from one gen to the next.. w/o any change in the genes themselves.. environmentally induced epigenetic influences powerfully modulate genetic ones…
ie: the studies w identical twins raised differently.. yet w same pre natal experience.. helps explain the well know fact that adopted children area at a greater risk for all kinds of problems that predispose to addictions..
is that because of the reason they were adopted..? rather than the adoptive situation..?.. ok.. see on p 217
mothers stressed during pregnancy.. affects brain of infant, w long term and perhaps permanent effects.. this is where the father comes in.. because quality of relationships is often a woman’s best protections from stress.. or.. greatest source of it..
ie: women pregnant at time of 9 11.. and who suffered ptsd.. at one year of age these infants had abnormal levels of stress hormone cortisol..
bruce perry: number and density of dopamine receptors ..determined in utero
adoption studies cannot decide questions of genetic inheritance. any woman who has to give up her baby for adoption sis, by defn, a stress woman.. she is stressed not just because she knows she’ll be separated from her baby but primarily because if she wasn’t stressed in first place, she would never have had to consider giving up her child.. fetus exposed to high cortisol levels thru placenta..
parenting styles are often inherited epigenetically that is, passed on biologically, but not thru dna transmission from parent to child
why then are narrow genetic assumptions so widely accepted.. 1\ neglect of development since 2\ out preference for a simple and quickly understood explanation is another.. as is our tendency to look for one to one causations for almost everything.. life in its wondrous complexity does not conform to such easy reductions..
there is a pysch fact… we human beings don’t like feeling responsible.. genetics.. absolves us.. t.. the possibility does not occur to us that we can accept or assign responsibility w/o taking on the useless baggage of guilt/blame..
genetic argument is easily used to justify all kinds of ineq’s and injustices that are otherwise hard to defend.. .. spared from having to look at how our social environ supports, or does not support.. ie: parents of young children.. and at how social attitudes, prejudices, and policies burden, stress, and exclude certain segments of the population and thereby increase their propensity for addictions..
louis menand: it’s all in the genes.. an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are .. t why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behavior when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on earth.. it can’t be the system. there must be a flaw in the wiring somewhere
succumbing to common human urge to absolve ourselves of responsiblity, our culture has too avidly embraced genetic fundamentalism.. that leaves us far less empowered to deal either actively or proactively w the tragedy of addiction. we ignore the good news that nothing is irrevocably dictated by our genes and that, therefore, there is much we can do..
no human being is empty or deficient at the core, but many live as if they were and experience themselves primarily that way..t
stephen: it has seemed to me at times that you can be present in your life only as a kid of when you’re on heroin
this is a credo of discouragement and defeat that many of us share: a child may be completely in the present moment, but an adult can get there only w artificial assistance..t
people are susceptible to the addition process if have a constant need to fill minds/bodies w external sources of comfort.. that need expresses a failure of self regulation.. no one is born w the capacity for self reg..
differentiation: the ability to be in emotional contact w others yet still autonomous in one’s emotional functioning..t the better differentiated the more able to mix s others w/o losing sense of self..
poor differentiation also keeps people in destructive relationships..
traits that most often underlie addition process: poor self-reg; lack of basic differentiation; lack of healthy sense of self; sense of deficient emptiness; impaired impulse control..
as novice family dr i used to believe that all people needed was basic info.. all i had to do was teach overweight individuals how excess body fat would overburden the heart… et al.. i soon found out theat they left the office asking for their files to be transferred to some other physician less pedagogically zealous and more understanding about the ways of human beings
children today at greater risk for obesity.. not because less physically active.. primarily because under ordinary peacetime conditions whereas never before been a generation so stressed and so starved of nurturing adult relationships..
by moving from one partner to another, a sex addict avoids the risk of intimacy .. always seeking the dopamine hit of the novel and the new..
attunement is not a question of parental love but of the parent’s ability to be present emotionally in such a way that the infant or child feels understood, accepted, and mirrored.. attunement is the real language of love, the conduit by which a preverbal child can realize that she is loved…
a parent can be fully attached to the infant – full in love -but not attuned..t
attunement is esp likely to be lacking if parents missed out on it in their own childhoods.. may feel loved.. or be aware that love is there, but on a deeper and essential level.. do not experience themselves as seen or appreciated for who they really are..
daniel: so i knew i was loved, but it came in shifting, confusing, and unpredictable ways that left me on my guard about it, and alway craving it in a simpler, more straightforward form. i felt i had to be crafty to catch it and get some for myself, to pin it down..
it makes sense that daniel would have felt he had to work for attention.. that the love offered him was conditional..
self reg doesn ont refer to ‘good behavior’ bu t to he capacity of an individual to maintain a reasonably even internal emotional environ.. person w good self reg will not experience rapidly shifting extremes of emotional highs/lows in face of life’s challenges, .. does not depend on other people’s responses or external activities or substances in order to feel okay..
stephen reid: i’ve spent too much time on external things, bouncing off other people..
not of one parent better than other.. but.. uncertainty being a trigger for physiological and emotional stress..
lack of emotionally attuned and consistently available parenting figure is major source of stress of h e child.. can occur when parent is physically present but emotionally distracted.. proximate separation….
the void is not in the parent’s love or commitment, but in the child’s perception of being seen understood empathized with and ‘gotten’t on the emotional level.. in our extraordinarily fragmented/stressed society , where parents often face child rearing w/o support that the tribe/clan/village/extended-fam/community used to provide, misattuned parent child interactions are increasingly the norm..t
extensive research linking addiction to adverse childhood event.. very little published on attunement.. since few people can recall and few researchers can observe… what didn’t happen but should have happened..
as parents we make the natural mistake of believing that the intense love we feel for our kids necessarily means that they actually receive that love in a pure form..t
as a rule, whatever we don’t deal w in our lives, we pass on to our children..t
that sneering word ‘little’ may articulate precisely how black feels about himself at the core of his psyche – our sneers always tell us who we feel we are
the greater the void w/in the more urgent the drive to be noticed and to be ‘important’ and the more compulsive the need for status.. by contrast.. genuine self esteem needs nothing from the outside.. not.. i’m worthwhile because i’ve done this/that.. says.. i’m worthwhile whether or not i’ve done this/that.. i don’t need to ee right or to wield power.. to amass wealth or achievement.s..
a way for me to rationalize my own addictions: i know i’m hooked, but i’m working on getting free, so i’m different from you. if i really knew that kind of freedom, would i need to argue for it? would i not just manifest it in my life and way of being..
my judgments of others are an accurate gauge of how, beneath the surface, i feel about myself..
we despise, ostracize and punish the addict because we don’t wish to see how much we resemble him..t
many of us resemble the drug addict in our ineffectual efforts to fill in the spiritual black hole, the void at the center, where we have lost touch w our souls/spirit.. w those sources of meaning/value that are not contingent or fleeting..
the addict.. is not born but made..
w rise of industrial societies came dislocation : the destruction fo traditional relationships, extended family, clan tribe, and village..
the pressures of urbanization are cutting millions of people adrift from their connections with land, tradition and community..
of all groups affected by the forces of dislocation, none have been worse hit than minority populations, such as the australian aborigines and n american native peoples mention ed by dr dupont and the descendants of black slaves brought to n america..
of any group in n america.. none can be said to be more psych and socially oppressed than native women..
on immature peers raising each other.. research on both humans and animals has repeatedly demo’s that extensive peer contact and the loss of adult attachments lead to a heightened propensity to addiction..
kids are not cruel by nature, but they are immature. they taunt, tease, and reject
do they do that because we’ve enslaved them for most of their day..? is that really what children are like..? i don’t think so
the addiction process takes hold in people who have suffered dislocation, whose place in the normal human communal context has been disrupted..
the drug addict is today’s scapegoat.. the hard core addict surrenders her pretense about that (much of our culture is geared toward enticing us way from selves. and distress) .. her life is all about escape. the rest of us can, w varying success, maintain our charade, but to do so, we banish her to the margins of society..
bruce alexander in his book peaceful measures: the single most conspicuous feature of wars is violence.. in essence, war mentality suspends normal human compassion and intelligence..
an unintended but tragic consequence of the international campaign against narcotics is that thru much of the underdeveloped world, opiates are not available for soothing physical pain.. countless human beings, from infancy to old age, live and die in pain.. ie: 5 mn a year w advance cancer.. 1.4 mn w aids.. the problem? an exaggerated fear of addiction.. david e joranson: pain relief hasn’t been given as much attention as the war on drugs..
norm stamper: think of this war’s real casualties: tens of thousands of otherwise innocent americans incarcerated, many for 20 yrs, some for life.. families ripped apart… in truth, the us sponsored international war on drugs is a war on poor people, most of them subsistence farmers caught in a dangerous no win situation
lots of dets on war on drugs
the econ burden imposed by war on drugs is difficult to estimate, but most authorities agree that in the us it’s in the range of tens of billions annually..
how such expenses in support of a filed policy can be justified is beyond imagining.. in a country where the poverty rate is increasing and where in some areas the rising infant mortality rate is comparable to third world figures..
bulleted list of disastrous effects..
question is not why war on drugs is being lost, but why it continues to be waged..
ethan nadelmann: the war mentality reps: an unfortunate confluence of ignorance, fear, prejudice and profit.. has less to do with the innate danger of drugs than with which population s are publicly id’d w using the drugs
the whiter and wealthier the population, the more acceptable is this substance..
profit.. so for some people.. war on drugs is a success..
steve: freedom comes s a dollar sign attached..
in the internal world of the psyche.. freedom means something very different. it is the ability to opt for our long term physical and spiritual well being as opposed to our immediate urges.. t.. absent that ability, any talk of free will or choice becomes nearly meaningless..
thus the dilemma of freedom in addiction may be phrased this way: a person driven largely by unconscious forces and automatic brain mechanism is only poorly able to exercise any meaningful freedom of choice..
that includes.. ie: kids in school.. adults in school/work.. et al
ocd sufferers are diff from other people only in degree.. much of what we do arises from automatic programming that bypasses conscious awareness and may even run contrary to our intentions..
dr schwartz: the passive side of mental life, which is generated solely and completely by brain mechs, dominates the tone and tenor of our day-to-day, even our second-to-second experience. during the quotidian business of daily life the brain does indeed operate very much as a machine does..t
decision that we may believe to be freely made can arise from unconscious emotional drives or subliminal beliefs.. they can be dictated by brain mechs programmed early in childhood and determined by events of which we have not recollection..t
no matter how intelligent and well meaning the individual, the malfunctioning brain circuitry may override rational judgment and intention. almost any human being, when overwhelmed by stress or powerful emotions, will act or react not from intention but from mechanisms that are set off deep in the brain, rather than being generated in the conscious and volitional segments of the cortex. when acting from a driven or triggered stated, we are not free..
shwartz: it’s a subtle thing, freedom. it takes effort; it takes attention and focus to not act something like an automaton. although we do have freedom, we exercise it only when we strive for awareness, when we are conscious not just of the content of the mind but also of the mind itself as a process..
when not governed by conscious awareness, our mind tends to run on automatic pilot. it is scarcely more ‘free’ than a computer that performs preprogrammed tasks in response to a button being pushed..t
eckhart tolle: choice implies consciousness – a high degree of consciousness. without it, you have no choice’..t
we may say then that in the world of the psyche, freedom is a relative concept: the power to choose exists only when our automatic mental mechs are subject to those brain system that are able to maintain conscious awareness…
anyone whose automatic brain mechs habitually run in overdrive has diminished capacity for free decision making.. esp if the parts of the brain that facilitate conscious choice are impaired or underdeveloped..
realistically.. very few people could ever be found operating at the positive extreme, truly conscious and consistently free..t
in realm of emotional freedom and conscious decision making a penniless hermit may enjoy much more latitude than a status addicted millionaire who , still compensating for unconscious childhood hurts, is driven by an insatiable need to be feared or admired.. the hard core drug addict finds the worst of both worlds: low on the totem pole of psych freedom , she is also at the base of the socioecon ladder.. the rest of us perch more or less precariously, at whatever altitude, somewhere above her..
how much actual freedom to choose does any one human being possess? there’s only one answer: we cannot know.. there is no way we can peer into a brain to measure a person’s capacity for awareness and rational choice.. no gauging the burden of emotional suffering.. hidden life enhancing experiences.. enjoyed/denied..
research psychiatrists: children reflect the world in which they are raised
nora volkow: repeated drug use leads to long lasting changes in the brain that undermine voluntary control
school as drug.. society as drug.. undermining our will
in a culture that projects its darkest features onto the addict and makes addicted people into scapegoats for its shortcomings, insight and knowledge are almost entirely absent from public discourse concerning drug policies.. moralizing displaces compassion and prejudice substitutes for inquiry..
we need to get outside the box. the system we have doesn’t work – not for the addict and not for society. this system cannot be improved; it needs to be transformed..
we keep trying to change people’s behaviors w/o a full understanding of how/why those behaviors aries..
if we are to help addicts, we must strive to change not them but their environments.. these are the only things we can change..t .. transformation of the addict must come from w/in..
panksepp: free choice only comes from thinking; it doesn’t come from emotions. it emerges from the *capacity to think about your emotions.. the treatment of addiction requires the **island of relief where a need to soothe pain does not constantly drive a person’s motivation.. it requires a ***complex and supportive social environ..t
how to create that island of relief is the core issue in projecting a humane policy toward addiction..
(on calling for decriminalization).. criminalization and prevention are not identical..
prevention.. comes from rat park.. not from decriminalization alone
we need to absorb in our minds and guts the utter futility of what we are doing now..t
so suggestions: decriminalization.. controlled distribution.. and harm reduction (injection sites et al)
if our guiding principle is that a person who makes his own bed ought to lie in it. we should immediately dismantle much of our health care system. many diseases and conditions arise from self-chosen habits or circumstances and could be prevented by more astute decisions..
the harm reduction approach accepts that some people – many people – are too deeply enmeshed in substance dependence for any realistic ‘cure’ under present circumstances..
our only choice is between compassion and indifference..t
success of swiss naomi
nagub mahfouz: the problem’s not that the truth is harsh but that liberation from ignorance is as painful as being born.. run after truth until you’re breathless..accept the pain involved in re creating yourself afresh..t
the power of compassionate curiosity..t
what if you replace harsh judgments w some genuine curiosity about why you do what you do..
when we don’t have to defend ourselves against others or .. against selves.. we are open to seeing how things are..
chronic anxiety has nothing to do w reasons
incompleteness is the baseline state of the addict. the addict believes – either with full awareness or unconsciously – that he is ‘not enough’
once i see my anxiety and recognize it for what it is ..the need to escape dwindles.. won’t go away.. not completely.. but i can transform my relationship to it.. become more intimately related to it
in an ecological framework recovery from addiction does not mean a ‘cure’ for a disease but the creation of new resources, internal/external, that can support different, healthy ways of satisfying one’s genuine needs..
penfield: i conclude that there is no good evidence.. that the brain alone can carry out the work that the mind does..
knowing oneself comes from attending w compassionate curiosity to what is happening within..t
not what happened in past that creates our present misery but the way we have allowed past events to define how we see and experience ourselves in the present..
the greatest damage done by neglect, trauma, or emotional loss is not the immediate pain they inflect but the long term distortions they induce in the way a developing child will continue to interpret the world and her situation i n it..
4 plus one steps: 1\relabel (name it) 2\ reattribute (from brain.. not me/reality) 3\ refocus (replace) 4\ revalue (de value.. it gave me nothing) 5\ recreate (choose diff life)
my advice to anyone w addictive behaviors is to begin telling the truth. if you are not ready to drop the behavior then choose it openly. tell your spouse/friends what you are doing; keep it in the daylight. at the very least, do not compound your inner shame by lying. better you should look ‘bad’ in the eyes of others than to sink further in your own estimation of yourself..
one important warning: if you want to find liberation in our commitments, your word needs to be freely given or not given at all. don’t make promises to reform out of sense of duty or to appease someone else..
with someone that makes you happy
motivation must come from w/in.. confrontational ‘tough love’ interventions are likely to fail
when comes to choice between feeling guilt or resentment choose the guilt every time.. resentment is soul suicide..
it is not accident that in all major religions the most rigidly fundamentalist elements take the harshest, most punitive line against addicted people. could it be they see their own weakness and fear.. and false attachments.. reflected in the dark mirror addiction olds up to hem..
no coincidence that addictions arise mostly in cultures that subjugate communal goals, time-honored tradition and individual creativity to mass production and the accumulation of wealth..
alfried langle: meaning arises only out of a dialogue with the world..t
infants come in to the world fully present and alive to every possibility, but they soon begin to shut down parts of themselves that their environ is unable to recognize or accept with love..
a h almaas: people don’t know that the hole, the sense of deficiency, is a symptom of a loss of something deeper, the loss of essence, which can be regained.. they think the hole.. is how they really are at the deepest level and that there is nothing beyond it. they think something is wrong with them..
what we call personality is often a jumble of genuine traits and adopted coping styles that do not reflect our true self at all but the loss of it..t
the truth is within, which is why outward directed attempts to fill in the void created when we lose touch with it cannot bring us closer to the serenity we long for..
armed w compassion, we recognize that addiction was the answer – the best answer we could find at one time in our lives – to the problem of isolation from our true selves and from the rest of creation.. what we hold inside traps us
nov 2017 interview on realm o h g.. at genius network
6 min – the addiction wasn’t your problem.. your addiction was your attempt to solve the problem.. ie: how come w 7 bn humans in world.. you felt lonely.. lack of power.. et al.. not why the addiction.. but why the pain
current model of addiction – 1\ legal: choice they make so have to punish them.. or 2\ medical.. inherited brian disease.. it isn’t either – it’s an attempt to solve a human life problem.. ie: pain, distress.. so .. what happened in my life that we incurred pain.. and how do we deal w it..
7 min – the addiction itself magnifies the pain..
15 min – on aboriginal addictions et al
dang Gabor.. i wish the world could pause.. take a listen.. and ask.. so what do you we do..
re set.. global re set
17 min – every case of addiction originates in trauma
22 mn – reading almaas quote (i think)
23 min – nobody abused me .. i just had a depressed and fearful mother.. children who are more sensitive.. pick up on that.. adaptations children employ to protect selves from stress.. actually become problems later on
if look at question of why between 2002-2013 (approx).. the rate of add diagnoses in american kids have gone of up 3 fold.. what’s going on is the parenting environ has become increasingly stressed..
for all kinds of reasons.. and how do they cope.. they tune out.. and now medicated.. we’re not looking at.. what is it about the environ.. and i’m only talking about add
24 min –apparently now 1/3 teens and adults suffer from anxiety.. why.. if genetic wouldn’t be increasing.. the conditions in which children are growing up are getting more and more stressful.. and that has to do w stress of parents.. ie: the workaholism of the parents..
28 min – choices for people a addiction .. rational: 1\ i can’t stay w you 2\ i can stay w you but won’t try to change you.. irrational: stay w person and try to change them
30 min – say to addict.. thank you for being the sensitive one for saying for all of us.. what’s hidden in the family.. let’s heal together.. heal the whole family system.. but we’re not going to judge you whether you join us or not
31 min – origin of ‘addiction’ is slavery.. so it’s a really good work.. but just like all other words.. become pejorative.. outlaw word addict.. and say.. this person in pain..
33 min – not in words we use.. but how we view people.. the fundamental attitude needs to shift..
34 min – ie: if i were working w weinstein.. i wouldn’t judge.. i would ask.. what did the addiction give you.. and whatever that was.. how did you lose it
35 min – accept people as they are.. not judge them.. understand they are slaves to something inside them.. something happened to create that compulsions.. and that something that happened was rooted in pain.. have to get to the core trauma.. rarely today do we deal w the trauma.. the medical profession is traumaphoic
36 min – epigenetics.. on top of genetics.. genes are turned off and on by environ.. so trauma is passed on both behaviorally.. 90% brain formed after birth.. affected by environ.. so not just behavioral.. but physiological in brain.. so .. gene function also affected.. so it’s all these things coming together
38 min – having said that.. neuroplasticity.. can change.. that’s why recovery to important.. what do you do in recovery.. get it back.. in trauma lost of self.. in recover.. get it back..
1 yr to be 5 again..
39 min – the trauma wasn’t the rape.. not saying the rape wasn’t traumatic.. but.. ie: from 8-10 raped and talking to no one about it.. that was the trauma
40 min – the rape comes along as a secondary trauma (because parents whoever.. that you could have talked to but weren’t available.. or who raped you.. experienced trauma as well).. the first trauma was loss of protection/connection/safety in the world..
now in terms of how you interact w them (people who abused you) in present.. that depends precisely on where you are at…
41 min – the more you heal 1\ the less a psych threat they are to you and 2\ might find self getting to point of compassion for them.. because recovery is so complete.. because i can assure you the perpetrator was another traumatized person
43 min – what is depression – push it down.. so if anger is coming out.. that’s great.. but hope get help expressing in a healthy way.. no reason not to be angry
46 min – some of the respectable addictions have to do w profit and power.. which .. can cause severe damage in the world.. ie: climate.. power.. people can die.. there are respectable addictions and then these arbitrarily chosen addicts on whom we project all our distain and self-judgment
49 mi – the more you stress people.. the more they stay in their addiction.. ie: best system for addictions.. our criminal justice system
50 min – how human this phenom of addiction is.. approach w understanding and curiosity .. real compassionate curiosity for ourselves..
51 min – 2 kinds of trauma.. 1\ overt and 2\ developmental .. and trauma again: separates ourselves.. we lose ourselves.. also gives us a very negative view of the world..
1\ if we have a negative view of world.. we act accordingly.. we’re defensive and grandiose and aggressive.. (talking about mind states here.. not politics).. the man who said the world is a horrible place is president of the us.. that’s the world he lives in .. why does he live in that world.. he grew up in a family that taught him that (father aggressive.. brother drank himself to death).. so all these diagnoses on him are not false.. they’re the outcome of trauma.. so there’s that overt trauma.. and we live in such a traumatized society that these people actually rise to the top..
52 min – 2\ but his opponent was even more interesting.. when Hillary won nomination.. video about Hillary’s life.. presented as an ie of wonderful character building.. strength building parenting.. 4 yr old.. runs into home because neighborhood kids are bullying her.. and mother says.. no room for cowards in this house.. now you get out there.. and deal w it.. presented as this made me tough.. actual message to 4 yr old was: there’s no room for vulnerability.. then 65 years later.. trump hovers over her and she says nothing.. sucks it up.. gets pneumonia.. doesn’t tell anyone.. that’s the developmental trauma..
54 min – not when something bad happens to you.. but the good things that should happen don’t happen..
adding trauma page