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In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction Paperback – Jan 6 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Jan. 6 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676977413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676977417
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A harrowingly honest, compassionate, sometimes angry look at addiction and the people whose lives have been disordered by it."
—Ottawa Citizen

"Maté does a great service by forcing us to confront the us-and-them mentality that drives the get-tough responses to addiction.... I highly recommend Hungry Ghosts to everyone seeking insight into addiction."
The Vancouver Sun

"Excellent.... One of the book's strengths is Maté's detailed and compassionate characterization of the afflicted addicts he treats, but this is not just a memoir. Rather, using his own experience as well as the most advanced recent research, he attempts to delineate the closely interrelated psychological, social, and neurological dimensions of addiction.... A calm, unjudging, compassionate attentiveness to what is happening within."
The Walrus

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Let's take a look into who we are, pain is self medicated by many means. Survival is savage and cruel in this part of Vancouver. He tells is like it is. If you have a family member or a friend with addictions, this book is for you to read first. As a nurse this raw side of life, it changes you deeply. As a security guard working in and around them, I understand better. Yet, the former soldier who saw death up close and personal, fighting demons of a past that will not let go, I see now how life could have turned out, and lack of coping skills would have lead me if I had given up.

Thank you Dr. Mate for sharing the painful truth from this perspective. Looking from the outside in, others have no idea what it is all about.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well writen. complex biology causes and effects were described in the fashion that were easier to come for hand for the layman.description of the bridge from addiction its causes and the sense of a lack of control of the attic and the reasons for that I will explain and help provide me a greater level of empathy and insight.for me, the explanation of the cascading chemical effects in the brain and throughout the body was very helpful in understanding the plight of an addict and the endless cycle that they are stuck in. I would recommend this book.
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