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In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction Hardcover – Feb 12 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada; 1 edition (Feb. 12 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676977405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676977400
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.4 x 23.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 771 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #176,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

He would probably dispute it, but Gabor Maté is something of a compassion machine. Diligently treating the drug addicts of Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside with sympathy in his heart and legislative reform in mind can't be easy. But Maté never judges. His book is a powerful call-to-arms, both for the decriminalization of drugs and for a more sympathetic and informed view of addiction. As Maté observes, "Those whom we dismiss as 'junkies' are not creatures from a different world, only men and women mired at the extreme end of a continuum on which, here or there, all of us might well locate ourselves." In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts begins by introducing us to many of Dr. Maté's most dire patients who steal, cheat, sell sex, and otherwise harm themselves for their next hit. Maté looks to the root causes of addiction, applying a clinical and psychological view to the physical manifestation and offering some enlightening answers for why people inflict such catastrophe on themselves.

Finally, he takes aim at the hugely ineffectual, largely U.S.-led War on Drugs (and its worldwide followers), challenging the wisdom of fighting drugs instead of aiding the addicts, and showing how controversial measures such as safe injection sites are measurably more successful at reducing drug-related crime and the spread of disease than anything most major governments have going. It's not easy reading, but we ignore his arguments at our peril. When it comes to combating the drug trade and the ravages of addiction, society can use all the help it can get. --Kim Hughes

Review

Praise for Hold on to Your Kids:

“Maté has expressed [Neufeld’s] ideas in precise and hard-hitting prose that makes complex ideas accessible without dumbing them down. The result is a book that grabs hard.”
Edmonton Journal

Praise for When the Body Says No:
“When Maté witnesses and testifies to human suffering, including his own, he is compassionate and compelling.”
The Globe and Mail

“Written with clarity and compassion. . . . The book’s characteristics seem to describe Maté himself: armed with knowledge and straight from the heart.”
Georgia Straight

“[An] enthralling exploration. . . . Maté probes deeply into the life histories and psyches of [his] many patients. . . . What emerges is nothing short of a revelation.”
Edmonton Journal

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Customer Reviews

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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Stan The Man on May 4 2008
Format: Hardcover
Believe me, I HAVE read the book; I just don't have the time at the moment to write a detailed review. I'll attempt to do so at a later date.

In my work as a security officer I've worked around the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, with it's attendant social problems: homelessness or grossly inadequate housing, drug addiction, trafficing and human misery.

In part, I read this book in an attempt to understand the environment and circumstances of the people I encountered in my security function; mostly "removal of trespassers from private property".

From reading the book I feel I've acquired a much better understanding of the nature of addiction and the personal and social circumstances that tend to give rise to the condition.

The book deals with the subject in considerable depth, and while written for the lay person, this level of detail is not easily absorbed. It may require more than one, or several readings of certain parts and some reference to source materials to properly "digest" the information.

In order not to deter the potential reader, I should point out that the text is highly readable, in large part due to his very compassionate portrayal of the lives of some of his patients, and his frank admission of his own addictive behaviours, along with his ideas about their causes.

A very worthwhile read!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Anne Allen on Jan. 2 2009
Format: Hardcover
The experience of reading this book is like being bathed in wisdom and compassion. For a recovering addict like myself, it felt as if I had been given a wonderful gift. It presents a brilliantly clear and comprehensive view of the damaged spirit of the addict, for whom warped brain circuitry combined with emotional misery have reduced them to existing in a living hell. My sincere thanks to Mr. Mate for writing this amazing, sensitive, insightful book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Frances A. Holodiloff on Aug. 30 2010
Format: Hardcover
As I nurse, I have studied and worked in the field of addictions.
This is by far the best approach I have ever seen to understanding these misunderstood afflictions. Despite recent research, it is still common to "blame the victim". I especially appreciate the author's revelations about his own illness. No "Ivory Tower" preaching, here!
I would love to see Dr. Mate's books become mandatory reading for fledgling medical, nursing, education, law enforcement and sociology students. FAH
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Rose on Oct. 11 2010
Format: Paperback
What can be said that has not already been stated, Dr. Mate won awards for this book and with good reason. It is so comprehensive, honest and fair. I recommend it for anyone who has drug/alcohol addicted family or friends. I am so grateful someone recommended it to me.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Susan Rosenthal on Jan. 18 2011
Format: Hardcover
Gabor Matés latest book effectively demolishes the belief that addictions arise from chemical imbalances, genetics, or bad choices.

As in his two previous books, Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder (1999) and When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress (2003), Maté situates human suffering in a social context, inviting a political discussion of how social relations affect human health.

Scattered Minds locates symptoms of ADD in the social neglect of children's needs and concludes,

"What begins as a problem of society and human development has become almost exclusively defined as a medical ailment."

When the Body Says No indicts "industrialized society along the capitalist model" as a source of toxic stress that "escalates as the sense of control diminishes" and causes physical and mental breakdown.

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts condemns society for depriving human beings of what they need to thrive and then persecuting and punishing them for using drugs to relieve their pain.

All three books are well-written, engaging and brilliantly expose the fake science that pushes a pill for every ill.

While Maté situates human distress in the social realm, he seeks solutions in the personal realm.

In When the Body Says No the author concludes,

"In numerous studies of cancer, the most consistent identified risk factor is the inability to express emotion, particularly the feelings associated with anger." (p.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By YVRguy on April 21 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr Mate works in Vancouver Canada downtown east side. I live in Vancouver and know this area as most residents do , as an outsider. The understanding , empathy and recognition Dr Mate writes as he describes some very difficult episodes from long suffering people gives a view of the addict as a human being first and addict second. If you are in recovery or never had any addiction issues in your life , you may find your point of view on the problem and people within addiction changed once you read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ricky on Feb. 16 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a powerful book about addictions and public policy. It is aimed at what future generations will term the Dark Ages of attitudes toward addictions. What a lot we have to learn! But here is a very useful summary of evidence that our attitudes to Drug use are exacerbating one of the most serious problems we face. And how we could change for the better if we really cared.
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