Format: Trade Paperback
Dimensions: 480 pages, 9 × 5.96 × 1.03 in
Published: January 6, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Canada
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0676977413
ISBN - 13: 9780676977417
Read from the Book
The mandala, the Buddhist Wheel of Life, revolves through six realms. Each realm is populated by characters representing aspects of human existence–our various ways of being. In the Beast Realm we are driven by basic survival instincts and appetites such as physical hunger and sexuality, what Freud called the id. The denizens of the Hell Realm are trapped in states of unbearable rage and anxiety. In the God Realm we transcend our troubles and our egos through sensual, aesthetic or religious experience, but only temporarily and in ignorance of spiritual truth. Even this enviable state is tinged with loss and suffering. The inhabitants of the Hungry Ghost Realm are depicted as creatures with scrawny necks, small mouths, emaciated limbs and large, bloated, empty bellies. This is the domain of addiction, where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment. The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need, and so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know. We haunt our lives without being fully present. Some people dwell much of their lives in one realm or another. Many of us move back and forth between them, perhaps through all of them in the course of a single day. My medical work with drug addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has given me a u
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 Noth
From the Publisher
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.
From the Jacket
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 Vancouver’s 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. Maté’s 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.
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.
"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."