Authenticity vs. Attachment

Gabor Maté speaks in this interview about the distinction between abstinence and sobriety; essential dignity; teacher plants (‚teacher plants‘ – a shamanic term. They have been with us for very long time, they can help to induce the state of dreaming and visions, heal deep layers of trauma and give us many insights and teachings…Shamans work in voluntary, ecstatic trance states, which alter their consciousness to travel to the realms of the invisible worlds. … In this sense, shamanism is a relationship-based practice of making changes in invisible realms to impact healing, of individuals or communities, in the realm of ordinary reality...) and integration; the loss of essence; the love and shedding the illusion; the liveliness of truth…….

Interview with Gabor Maté

A critic of Dr. Maté writes:

„Gabor Maté is a distinguished figure in the addiction field, the author of „In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.“ Maté is revered for his humane medical work with inner-city drug addicts in Vancouver, centering on the Insite injection center (where users are given works to inject their own drugs) and Portland Hotel (Community Health) Society, which provides housing and lives, really, for the most downtrodden Vancouverites. Thank God there is such a service; bless Maté for his work there.

Maté maintains a human communion with his patients. He does so by describing his own maladies, his ADD and shopping addiction, which he analogizes to severe drug addictions. Fair enough. It is important to recognize our common humanity (although some think that as a successful middle-class physician Maté is stretching this connection). But, for Maté, they are all brain diseases.

Beyond this, Maté has a theory of addiction rooted in childhood abuse. Maté combines his clinical experiences with brain research claiming the source of addiction is in formative brain chemicals. For Maté, the first five years of life (and even the environment in the womb) dictate the likelihood of addiction. He then relates this theoretical point of view to studies connecting stress, abuse and lack of love and attachment to not only life problems (as they have been for some time) but to deficiencies in people’s ability to process endorphins and dopamine—the neurochemicals in our bodies that provide us with both pleasure and pain relief.

Maté then claims that addiction results from deficiencies (lack of receptors) in these neuro-systems that cause people with addictions to self-medicate to replace their missing neurostimulation. In this sense, people are addicted to drugs as replacements for the brain chemicals their own bodies fail to process. Those addicted to things other than drugs are reacting to the same internal chemistry, but with different external stimulants.

It is important to respect Maté’s work with individuals living with addictions. For this reason, people who work with clients from a harm reduction perspective—that is, they accept people as they are, and seek to help those in need—deeply admire Maté. In addition, Maté’s exploring the root causes of addiction may in some sense represent progress out of a deterministic disease concept of addiction because it broadens the range of experiences that can lead to addiction and through which addiction expresses itself.

Unfortunately, however, Maté seems to propose a reductionist vision of addiction, where abuse history and posited biochemical changes are now the essential causes of people’s self-destructive action.“  –Stanton Peele, Ph.D.

Has Peele really got the essence of Dr. Maté’s proposals / insights?

Now, listen for yourself:

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