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In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction Paperback – Jan 6 2009
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"A harrowingly honest, compassionate, sometimes angry look at addiction and the people whose lives have been disordered by it."
"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."
About the Author
GABOR MATÉ, MD, is the author of the bestselling books Scattered Minds and When the Body Says No--published in nearly twenty languages on five continents--and co-author, with Gordon Neufeld, of Hold On To Your Kids. Former medical columnist for the Globe and Mail where his byline continues to be seen on issues of health and parenting, Dr. Maté has had a family practice, worked as a palliative care physician and, most recently, with the addicted men and women in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.See all Product description
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His writings and online videos all provide deep insights and I highly recommend them.
He is, too, among our most honest and passionate (and oh-so-needed) advocates for humanism at every level.
Like Henrik Ibsen over a century ago, who used social critiques in his plays (like 'Ghosts', 'An Enemy of the People' and 'A Doll's House' for example) to probe deeply into inheritances of abuse in families and the power of toxic societal conventions and bourgeois aspirations which derail the individual into self-harm, Mate uses the symbol of the ghost, this time taken from eastern spirituality, to convey the root cause of dependency, but, like social reformer and humanist Ibsen, not unsurprisingly also touches upon abuse in the family and the obscene, misguided social and economic causes behind it.
Over time, Mate has covered an array of subject matter but always courageously pulls the reader back to root causes.
'In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts' in particular is a work of both compassion and humanity, both of which are sorely lacking in highly socioeconomically unequal Vancouver and the West more broadly.
There is the unsettling notion that while Mate is discussing his clients who've suffered ghastly abuse as children, they could have been anyone of us-the only difference is the degree of abuse, isolation and obstructions to supports-of all sorts.
We are each of us touched by the very same harms his clients describe, only the shape and magnitude differs. Their stories are ours; they are the faces of the disempowered, the abandoned and the maltreated. Stigmatized and shunned by the larger world outside of the block In-Site is located on, yet they are human beings, and as such irreplaceable and inimitable, like each of us, and I think Mate believes that compassion can bring a measure of if not healing then comfort to them, and in the process honours our own humanity and perhaps offers a measure of protection for future society?
Step out beyond where In-Site is located and you have high finance, high rises and extreme, obscene wealth. Mate hints at the misplaced values which cumulatively and systemically have produced the stressed out generations of abuse that gave birth to yet more heartrending pain that is at the very root of the gnawing ghosts-seeking impossible satiety-but which continually haunt his clients.
The privileged have access to therapists and retreats, to posh spas and exclusive rehab, but what of the poor? Where do they go, where is their wellness while they struggle to find food or shelter? And what of long term social wellness when disparity persists if not increases?
There is great insight in this man and I wish that he will continue to share with us.
He has more recently discussed the interesting properties of Ayahuasca as a tool for healing but that pales in comparison to the crucial importance of his hinted at and forthcoming analysis of how the pillars of contemporary western economic and social systems all act to actively prevent wellness (he has already written of the deleterious effects of stress which is a result of such systems) for the sake of profit, egoism and vanity for the few that is so urgently needed.
The book would be a real eye-opener for those who have never been exposed to such things to the vast extent that he has.
There's a 20-minute video on the web available entitled "The Power of addictions and the addiction of power" ..I highly recommend it
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