Synopses & Reviews
In this timely and profoundly original new book, bestselling writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold on our emotions and behaviours.
For over seven years Gabor Maté has been the staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and harm reduction facility in Vancouvers Downtown Eastside. His patients are challenged by life-threatening drug addictions, mental illness, Hepatitis C or HIV and, in many cases, all four. But if Dr. Matés patients are at the far end of the spectrum, there are many others among us who are also struggling with addictions. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, work, food, sex, gambling and excessive inappropriate spending: what is amiss with our lives that we seek such self-destructive ways to comfort ourselves? And why is it so difficult to stop these habits, even as they threaten our health, jeopardize our relationships and corrode our lives?
Beginning with a dramatically close view of his drug addicted patients, Dr. Maté looks at his own history of compulsive behaviour. He weaves the stories of real people who have struggled with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. Providing a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting edge scientific findings, Dr. Maté sheds light on this most puzzling of human frailties. He proposes a compassionate approach to helping drug addicts and, for the many behaviour addicts among us, to addressing the void addiction is meant to fill.
I believe there is one addiction process, whether it manifests in the lethal substance dependencies of my Downtown Eastside patients, the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics, the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics and compulsive internet users, or in the socially acceptable and even admired behaviours of the workaholic. Drug addicts are often dismissed and discounted as unworthy of empathy and respect. In telling their stories my intent is to help their voices to be heard and to shed light on the origins and nature of their ill-fated struggle to overcome suffering through substance use. Both in their flaws and their virtues they share much in common with the society that ostracizes them. If they 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.
—from In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
From the Hardcover edition.
In this timely and profoundly original book, writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of various addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and outlines what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold. Starting with a dramatically close view of Maté's drug addicted patients, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts weaves in stories of real people while providing a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting-edge scientific findings. A haunting, compassionate and deeply personal examination of the nature of addiction.
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.
Table of Contents
Hungry Ghosts: The Realm of Addiction
PART I: HELLBOUND TRAIN
1.The Only Home Hes Ever Had
2.The Lethal Hold of Drugs
3.The Keys of Paradise
4.You Wouldnt Believe My Life Story
7.Beethovens Birth Room
8.Theres Got to Be Some Light
PART II: PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF
9.Takes One to Know One
PART III: A DIFFERENT STATE: THE ADDICTED BRAIN
11.What Is Addiction?
12.From Vietnam to “Rat Park”
13.A Different State of the Brain
14.Through a Needle, a Warm Soft Hug
15.Cocaine, Dopamine and Candy Bars
16.Like a Child Not Released
PART IV: HOW THE ADDICTED BRAIN DEVELOPS
17.Their Brains Never Had a Chance
18.Trauma, Stress and the Biology of Addiction
19.Its Not in the Genes
PART V: THE ADDICTION PROCESS AND THE ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY
20.“A Void Ill Do Anything to Avoid”
21.Too Much Time on External Things
22.Poor Substitutes For Love
PART VI: IMAGINING A HUMANE REALITY: BEYOND THE WAR ON DRUGS
23.Dislocation and the Social Roots of Addiction
24.Know Thine Enemy
25.A Failed War
26.Freedom of Choice and the Choice of Freedom
27.Imagining an Enlightened Social Policy on Drugs
28.A Necessary Small Step: Harm Reduction
PART VII: THE ECOLOGY OF HEALING
29.The Power of Compassionate Curiosity
30.The Internal Climate
31.The Four Steps, Plus One
32.Sobriety and the External Milieu
33.A Word to Families, Friends and Caregivers
34.There Is Nothing Lost
Memories and Miracles: An Epilogue
i:Adoption and Twin Study Fallacies
ii:A Close Link: Attention Deficit Disorder and Addictions
iii:The Prevention of Addiction
iv:The Twelve Steps
From the Hardcover edition.