In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Close Encounters with Addiction Based on Gabor Mat 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 t

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  • Title: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
  • Author: Gabor Maté Peter A. Levine
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 208
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Based on Gabor Mat 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 Mat presents addiction not as a discrete phenomenon confined to an unfortunate or weak willed few, but as a cBased on Gabor Mat 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 Mat 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.From the Trade Paperback edition.

    One thought on “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction”

    1. Dr. Mate is a physician for The Portland Hotel Society in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that provides housing and care to addicts who are in the last stages of addiction. He gives us a powerful and fascinating look into the science of addiction, and the addiction process. Dr. Mate also shares with us heart wrenching personal interviews of addicts he has worked with. These stories left me with feeling empathy and some understanding of individuals with addicted brains. There are no recoveries he [...]

    2. Written in clear, lucid prose any reasonably intelligent adult could understand, without a lot of confusing jargon, Dr. Mate explains the forces behind addiction and why so many addicts fail time and time again to get clean, in spite of all the incentives for doing so. This book gave me a lot to think about regarding the brain, and I also found his cautionary points about adoption studies and twin studies very interesting and relevant. Mate conclusively demonstrates that addicts are not "bad," t [...]

    3. I read this for a master of social work drug and alcohol class. The professor said we would likely become enthralled and breeze through it's 400 plus pages in a weekend as she did. That was not my experience. I took a really long time reading this book, highlighting as I went. It was an excellent introduction to the field of addiction, blending tender humanity with hard science. I found Dr. Mate's critiques on the horribly flawed legal system to be spot on, his personal vingetes and descriptions [...]

    4. I'm not much of a fangirl until it comes to doctors or scientists that step out of the box of the limited view of their academic training and start learning and teaching from their experiences. Open-mindedness is S-E-X-Y.So I fangirl all over the place when it comes to Gabor Maté. Not only is he from my home country (Canada), he has spoken on trauma as being at the root of addiction, mental illness and a number of other behavioural "disorders"--trauma as defined as a disconnection from oneself- [...]

    5. This is a fascinating look at the chemistry of addiction and a call to a more progressive public policy. Dr. Gabor Mate's style of writing is captivating and he is masterful at explaining specialized knowledge in laymen's language. My own mother, a recent graduate of medical school, when I summarized some of his arguments, commented on how Dr. Mate made connections for her that she could not quite make herself during her medical training (due to the emphasis on "treatment" over cause with respec [...]

    6. If you live or work in a city, every day, you see people like those described in the first 100 pages or so of this book. Dr. Gabor gives you their back stories. They are the author’s drug addicted patients. After you see how much people are willing to lose to get the next hit, you learn of the brain chemistry, social policy, how addicts can be treated and Dr. Gabor’s own socially accepted addictions. Gabor cites research that validates common sense for anyone who is observing. Addiction (and [...]

    7. This is the most comprehensive, thoroughly studied look at addiction I have ever read. Gabor Mate is a physician who works in one of Vancouver's roughest areas, The Portland Hotel Society, a building housing for the unhousable. Mate begins by introducing us to some of his patients, their horrific backgrounds, current addictions, and survival on the streets. Many are so heartbreaking I had to stop reading for awhile. Mate then goes into a very scientific look at the brains of addicts. He details [...]

    8. I cannot say enough good things about "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts". It is informative, well-written, touching, and inspirational. I have already started recommending it to friends and family as a must-read. The information is timely and important; our behaviour (collective and individual) towards addicts is at best of minimally useful and at worst counter-productive. “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” should be a wake up call for individuals and society to think differently about this pressi [...]

    9. Dr. Mate's book is one of the most important of our age. Throughout he documents the plague of our time, addictions ranging from drug abuse to work-a-holism. He cites study after study, experience (he is a serial addict himself) as a drug counselor and researcher. It is stress, he argues, prenatal and as infants, which causes the childhood brain to wire itself in self destructive ways. These efforts are essential to survival as children but devastating in adolescents and adults. As a fetus his s [...]

    10. This is a book about "the social origins of addictive drives." It's argument, in a nutshell, is that we get hooked on stuff because our brains don't get what our brains all need and can come to crave: To know and be known by others, beginning in the family. That's a very bald statement of the thesis of a wonderfully deep, far-reaching, and honest book. The author is the staff physician at the Portland Hotel Society in Vancouver, Canada--an experimental treatment program for drug addicts which pr [...]

    11. "My soul, sick and covered with sores, lunged outward instead, in a mad desire to scratch itself against some physical relief." St-AugustineThis is an excellent book. Dr. Maté understands this completely and has much to add to it.

    12. I highly recommend this book to anyone who knows anyone with substance abuse or OCD issues. Somehow Maté makes this work of nonfiction feel so much lighter than other nonfiction works about addiction and neuroscience. His humanization of the real-life characters and acceptance of his own reactions and behaviors as a person is admirable. As a fan of pop-neuroscience books, I have to say that this is perhaps the most valuable one I know of.Through the true stories of individuals in his care, Mat [...]

    13. E. suggested I read “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” as part of my introduction to Vancouver, and gosh but was he right in recommending it.The book’s author, Gregor Mate, is a doctor who works in Vancouver’s notorious downtown eastside - a neighbourhood known for being a drug zone. Mate uses interviews and character sketches of his patients as the individual grounding for his discussion of the causes and outcomes of addiction, as well as the detrimental drug policies that currently govern [...]

    14. Gabor Maté has empathy for the people so many of us feel justified in fearing, hating, patronizing, and certainly not giving spare change to: hard-core injection drug users. His book tells such sad stories, for they are gut-wrenching stories that have led people to use, even when it brings lifelong debility and utter isolation. What the book does next is join these stories with clear and cogent accounts of the neurology involved in addiction. And interwoven throughout is a remarkable story of s [...]

    15. Far and away the most insightful, intelligent, and illuminating thing I've read on the subject of addiction-- especially drug addiction, but also behavioural addiction. I drew out the process of reading it for days in the hopes that I'd absorb it better-- particularly details about the neurophysiology of addiction and the chain of influence that leads an individual to become addictive. The book's only weakness is Maté's tendency to discuss his own compulsive and addictive behaviour (work addict [...]

    16. This book about addictions of all types has much to recommend it. Maté has a wealth of experience with severe drug addiction, and he has obviously done his homework. But he has a tendency to go on and on (an addiction of its own!) and the book becomes tedious. He belabors many of his arguments and piles documentation upon documentation until one is bewildered by the sheer volume of the verbiage. What the author could most benefit from is a strict editor who could make this book about 2/3 its cu [...]

    17. This book clearly articulates how addiction is a complex biological chemical, neurological, psychological, medical, emotional, political, economic and spiritual issue. Dr. Mate illustrates that in order to understand addictions, we must first begin to understand the culture that helps to create them. We must look at the systemic oppressions and injustices that lay the foundations for addictive behavior and the cycles of abuse and neglect that perpetuate them. In the US, drug addiction is conside [...]

    18. An engaging and eye-opening education about addiction’s psychosocial, neurological, biochemical roots — and its destructive consequences — and the folly of our country’s military/criminal approach to what's really a social, emotional, cultural problem.What’s impelled me to stay engaged with this fat paperback, reading for 3+ hours at a time? Not the bare desire to learn the facts, nor the shock value of these facts — but rather the author’s voice, his personality, the world of memo [...]

    19. This book totally transformed my understanding of addiction and especially injection drug users and crack smokers. Everyone should read this book. The London school of economics just declared the total failure of the war on drugs. This book explains why years earlier, and what to do instead.

    20. This book is thoroughly transformative for anyone trying to understand the why behind addictions. It will open your eyes to a thousand new perspectives. Here's who should most urgently read this book:-- lawmakers & policymakers-- anyone working in the criminal "justice" system-- law enforcement officers-- anyone considering conceiving or adopting a child-- parents of babies & children-- anyone working in child care or child education-- anyone with addicts or alcoholics in their life-- an [...]

    21. well-argued, easy to digest, highly compassionate and self-aware. while respecting the severity of hardcore drug addiction, mate situates it on a spectrum on which we all fall. he articulates a convincing explanation for these types of behaviors as fulfilling fundamental needs, which traumatic social and familial interactions have made it difficult to meet via the normal, more socially accepted, less physically detrimental means. in taking a closer look at and beginning to wonder how to refashio [...]

    22. This book by a Canadian doctor describes addiction as a human response to trauma and an attempt to fill painful emptiness from the outside. The author says that most of his patients suffered terrible trauma in childhood and that such trauma can change the way the brain develops and affect later responses to stress. He argues against the hereditary theory of addiction. I find this interesting because in my experience working with mentally ill adults, I have also learned that most of them suffered [...]

    23. There's a lot in this book. Dr. Mate is a physician that serves the homeless and often drug addicted population on Vancouver, BC's eastside. This book is about his experiences there. The first few chapters literally rocked my world. I am working with a research study that often involves addicts or former addicts. And what he said, and how he said it, rang completely true. It turns out, addicts are people too. It turns out, addicts are us. It turns out that there is hope, but the hope comes from [...]

    24. The book goes from stories to neuroscience, back to stories and then to developmental psychology and then back to stories. This cycle continues with self help, introspection, harm reduction, active curiosity to practical advice how to deal with addicts. And myriad other topics related to addiction.I really like the style because it starts from reality and then explains the theory. Addicts are people and their background and stories form this complex web of causalities taking us to their addictiv [...]

    25. Overwhelming, brilliant, in your face, insightful, powerful, controversial, and hard to put down. A client recommended I read this, saying it is more "real" than most substance abuse books. Holy cow was it real! I felt that the first third covered stories and histories, the next third dealt with neurology and the science of addiction, while the last third covered some fairly controversial but intriguing recommendations. All said I am very glad I read this book. It definitely got me to re-think s [...]

    26. the science behind why the drug war actually makes addiction harder to overcome. very convincing that compassion is the real best way to handle addition for the good of society, but fat chance any lawmakers in America will implement ideas from his successful Canadian clinic. it is clear that most people's ideas about addiction are based more in ideology than science at this point.

    27. I cannot even put into words how much I loved this book. I have had it on my "to read" list for quite some time, but kept thinking to myself that I'm not overly interested in addiction, so I was forever putting it on hold. However, while this book is about addiction, and the stories of addiction that Dr. Mate tells are at once tragic and heart wrenching and yet also inspiring examples of courage in the face of massive trauma, at its core this book is really about humanity. Common humanity, conne [...]

    28. The first time I heard about Dr Mate was through a short online video of him talking about what ‘normal’ is. His words caught my interest so much that I ordered this book. Here, Dr Mate focuses on the general concept of addiction starting with stories of his patients, many of which are quite painful to read. He later describes the biology and pathology of the addicted brain, the person, and the many losses caused by the so called ‘war on drugs’. Throughout the book, Dr Mate presents his [...]

    29. This book was an incredible experience. I haven't, or at least I thought I hadn't, struggled with addiction. I wanted to understand the processes that impacted this behavior and be able to more readily identify and curb the issues in my own life and the lives of my family.What I got instead was a deep insight into the similarities I share with society's discarded "addicts." I'm hugely addicted. To success. To work. To the affirmation of my peers and society at large. I'm addicted to it all and I [...]

    30. Mate clearly lays out for the reader how addiction starts, how it maintains itself, and how society views those who are caught up in its cycle. Layered with personal stories between scientific information, it was compelling, humanizing, and accessible. I would highly recommend it for anyone who works with people with substance use disorders, but also for family members or anyone interested in the impact addiction has on society.

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