In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

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Overview

Based on Gabor Maté’s two decades of experience as a medical doctor and his groundbreaking work with the severely addicted on Vancouver’s skid row, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts radically reenvisions this much misunderstood field by taking a holistic approach. Dr. Maté presents addiction not as a discrete phenomenon confined to an unfortunate or weak-willed few, but as a continuum that runs throughout (and perhaps underpins) our society; not a medical "condition" distinct from the lives it affects, rather the result of a complex interplay among personal history, emotional, and neurological development, brain chemistry, and the drugs (and behaviors) of addiction. Simplifying a wide array of brain and addiction research findings from around the globe, the book avoids glib self-help remedies, instead promoting a thorough and compassionate self-understanding as the first key to healing and wellness.

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts argues persuasively against contemporary health, social, and criminal justice policies toward addiction and those impacted by it. The mix of personal stories—including the author’s candid discussion of his own "high-status" addictive tendencies—and science with positive solutions makes the book equally useful for lay readers and professionals.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556438806
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 01/05/2010
Pages: 520
Sales rank: 30,471
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Gabor Maté, MD, is a physician, author, seminar leader, and acclaimed public speaker. His bestselling books include Scattered, When the Body Says No, and Hold onto Your Kids. A former medical columnist for The Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail, he lives in Vancouver, BC.

Read an Excerpt

No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side. I believe there is one addiction process, whether it is manifested 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 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 twofold: 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 abuse. They have much in common with the society that ostracizes them. If they seem to 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.There is a host of questions to be considered. Among them:• What are the causes of addictions?• What is the nature of the addiction-prone personality?• What happens physiologically in the brains of addicted people?• How much choice does the addict really have?• Why is the "War on Drugs" a failure and what might be a humane, evidence-based approach to the treatment of severe drug addiction?• What are some of the paths for redeeming addicted minds not dependent on powerful substances—that is, how do we approach the healing of the many behaviour addictions fostered by our culture?

Table of Contents

Author’s Note
Hungry Ghosts: The Realm of Addiction

PART I: HELLBOUND TRAIN
1.The Only Home He’s Ever Had
2.The Lethal Hold of Drugs
3.The Keys of Paradise
4.You Wouldn’t Believe My Life Story
5.Angela’s Grandfather
6.Pregnancy Journal
7.Beethoven’s Birth Room
8.There’s Got to Be Some Light

PART II: PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF
9.Takes One to Know One
10.Twelve-Step Journal

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.It’s Not in the Genes

PART V: THE ADDICTION PROCESS AND THE ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY
20.“A Void I’ll 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
Postscript

Appendices

i:Adoption and Twin Study Fallacies ii:A Close Link: Attention Deficit Disorder and Addictions iii:The Prevention of Addiction iv:The Twelve Steps

Endnotes
Acknowledgments
Permissions
Index

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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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