In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté
6,242 ratings, 4.47 average rating, 653 reviews
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Quotes Showing 1-30 of 200
“Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.”
Gabor Mate, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour.”
Gabor Mate, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“Not every story has a happy ending, ... but the discoveries of science, the teachings of the heart, and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption. The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists. How to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“The difference between passion and addiction is that between a divine spark and a flame that incinerates.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“The greatest damage done by neglect, trauma or emotional loss is not the immediate pain they inflict but the long-term distortions they induce in the way a developing child will continue to interpret the world and her situation in it. All too often these ill-conditioned implicit beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies in our lives. We create meanings from our unconscious interpretation of early events, and then we forge our present experiences from the meaning we’ve created. Unwittingly, we write the story of our future from narratives based on the past...Mindful awareness can bring into consciousness those hidden, past-based perspectives so that they no longer frame our worldview.’Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present…Until you reach that point, you are unconscious.’ …In present awareness we are liberated from the past.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“We see that substance addictions are only one specific form of blind attachment to harmful ways of being, yet we condemn the addict's stubborn refusal to give up something deleterious to his life or to the life of others. Why do we despise, ostracize and punish the drug addict, when as a social collective, we share the same blindness and engage in the same rationalizations?”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“Passion creates, addiction consumes.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“In the real world there is no nature vs. nurture argument, only an infinitely complex and moment-by-moment interaction between genetic and environmental effects”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“Being cut off from our own natural self-compassion is one of the greatest impairments we can suffer. Along with our ability to feel our own pain go our best hopes for healing, dignity and love. What seems nonadapative and self-harming in the present was, at some point in our lives, an adaptation to help us endure what we then had to go through. If people are addicted to self-soothing behaviours, it's only because in their formative years they did not receive the soothing they needed. Such understanding helps delete toxic self-judgment on the past and supports responsibility for the now. Hence the need for compassionate self-inquiry.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“When I am sharply judgmental of any other person, it's because I sense or see reflected in them some aspect of myself that I don't want to acknowledge.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“At the core of every addiction is an emptiness based in abject fear. The addict dreads and abhors the present moment; she bends feverishly only toward the next time, the moment when her brain, infused with her drug of choice, will briefly experience itself as liberated from the burden of the past and the fear of the future—the two elements that make the present intolerable. Many of us resemble the drug addict in our ineffectual efforts to fill in the spiritual black hole, the void at the center, where we have lost touch with our souls, our spirit—with those sources of meaning and value that are not contingent or fleeting. Our consumerist, acquisition-, action-, and image-mad culture only serves to deepen the hole, leaving us emptier than before. The constant, intrusive, and meaningless mind-whirl that characterizes the way so many of us experience our silent moments is, itself, a form of addiction—and it serves the same purpose. “One of the main tasks of the mind is to fight or remove the emotional pain, which is one of the reasons for its incessant activity, but all it can ever achieve is to cover it up temporarily. In fact, the harder the mind struggles to get rid of the pain, the greater the pain.”14 So writes Eckhart Tolle. Even our 24/7 self-exposure to noise, e-mails, cell phones, TV, Internet chats, media outlets, music downloads, videogames, and nonstop internal and external chatter cannot succeed in drowning out the fearful voices within.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“The war mentality represents an unfortunate confluence of ignorance, fear, prejudice, and profit. ... The ignorance exists in its own right and is further perpetuated by government propaganda. The fear is that of ordinary people scared by misinformation but also that of leaders who may know better but are intimidated by the political costs of speaking out on such a heavily moralized and charged issue. The prejudice is evident in the contradiction that some harmful substances (alcohol, tobacco) are legal while others, less harmful in some ways, are contraband. This has less to do with the innate danger of the drugs than with which populations are publicly identified with using the drugs. The white and wealthier the population, the more acceptable is the substance. And profit. If you have fear, prejudice, and ignorance, there will be profit.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“Boredom, rooted in a fundamental discomfort with the self, is one of the least tolerable mental states.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“Music gives me a sense of self-sufficiency and nourishment. I don’t need anyone or anything. I bathe in it as in amniotic fluid; it surrounds and protects me. It’s also stable, ever-available and something I can control - that is, I can reach for it whenever I want. I can also choose music that reflects my mood, or if I want, helps to soothe it…music-seeking offers excitement and tension that I can immediately resolve and a reward I can immediately attain - unlike other tensions in my life and other desired rewards. Music is a source of beauty and meaning outside myself that I can claim as my own without exploring how, in my life, I keep from directly experiencing those qualities. Addiction, in this sense, is the lazy man’s path to transcendence.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“The addict's reliance on the drug to reawaken her dulled feelings is no adolescent caprice. The dullness is itself a consequence of an emotional malfunction not of her making; the internal shutdown of vulnerability. Vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded. This fragility is part of our nature and cannot be escaped. The best the brain can do is to shut down conscious awareness of it when pain becomes so vast or unbearable that it threatens our ability to function. The automatic repression of painful emotion is a helpful child's prime defence mechanism and can enable the child to endure trauma otherwise be catastrophic. The unfortunate consequence is a wholesale dulling of emotional awareness.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“all addictions—whether to drugs or to non-drug behaviors—share the same brain circuits and brain chemicals. On the biochemical level the purpose of all addictions is to create an altered physiological state in the brain. This can be achieved in many ways, drug taking being the most direct. So an addiction is never purely “psychological”; all addictions have a biological dimension.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“The other mind entity is what we call the impartial observer. This mind of present-moment awareness stands outside the preprogrammed physiological determinants and is alive to the present. It works through the brain but is not limited to the brain. It may be dormant in many of us, but it is never completely absent. It transcends the automatic functioning of past-conditioned brain circuits. ‘In the end,...I conclude that there is no good evidence… that the brain alone can carry out the work that the mind does.”
Knowing oneself comes from attending with compassionate curiosity to what is happening within.
Methods for gaining self-knowledge and self-mastery through conscious awareness strengthen the mind’s capacity to act as its own impartial observer. Among the simplest and most skilful of the meditative techniques taught in many spiritual traditions is the disciplined practice of what Buddhists call ‘bare attention’. Nietzsche called Buddha ‘that profound physiologist’ and his teachings less a religion than a ‘kind of hygiene’...’ Many of our automatic brain processes have to do with either wanting something or not wanting something else – very much the way a small child’s mental life functions. We are forever desiring or longing, or judging and rejecting. Mental hygiene consists of noticing the ebb and flow of all those automatic grasping or rejecting impulses without being hooked by then. Bare attention is directed not only toward what’s happening on the outside, but also to what’s taking place on the inside.
‘Be at least interested in your reactions as in the person or situation that triggers them.’... In a mindful state one can choose to be aware of the ebb and flow of emotions and thought patterns instead of brooding on their content. Not ‘he did this to me therefore I’m suffering’ but ‘I notice that feelings of resentment and a desire for vengeance keep flooding my mind.’... ‘Bare Attention is the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception,’... ‘It is called ‘Bare’ because it attends just to the bare facts of a perception as presented either through the five physical senses of through the mind without reacting to them.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“From the Latin word vulnerare, “to wound,” vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded. This fragility is part of our nature and cannot be escaped. The best the brain can do is to shut down conscious awareness of it when pain becomes so vast or unbearable that it threatens to overwhelm our capacity to function. The automatic repression of painful emotion is a helpless child’s prime defense mechanism and can enable the child to endure trauma that would otherwise be catastrophic.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“What seems like a reaction to some present circumstance is, in fact, a reliving of past emotional experience. This subtle but pervasive process in the body, brain, and nervous system has been called implicit memory, as compared to the explicit memory apparatus that recalls events, facts, and circumstances. According to the psychologist and memory researcher Daniel Schacter, implicit memory is active “when people are influenced by past experience without any awareness that they are remembering.… If we are unaware that something is influencing our behavior, there is little we can do to understand or counteract it. The subtle, virtually undetectable nature of implicit memory is one reason it can have powerful effects on our mental lives.”12 Whenever a person “overreacts”—that is, reacts in a way that seems inappropriately exaggerated to the situation at hand—we can be sure that implicit memory is at work. The reaction is not to the irritant in the present but to some buried hurt in the past. Many of us look back puzzled on some emotional explosion and ask ourselves, “What the heck was that about?” It was about implicit memory; we just didn’t realize it at the time.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“We may not be responsible for another’s addiction or the life history that preceded it, but many painful situations could be avoided if we recognized that we are responsible for the way we ourselves enter into the interaction. And that, to put it most simply, means dealing with our own stuff.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“And here is where I’m humbled. I’m humbled by my feebleness in helping this person. Humbled that I had the arrogance to believe I’d seen and heard it all. You can never see and hear it all because, for all their sordid similarities, each story in the Downtown Eastside unfolded in the particular existence of a unique human being. Each one needs to be heard, witnessed, and acknowledged anew, every time it’s told. And I’m especially humbled because I dared to imagine that Serena was less than the complex and luminous person she is. Who am I to judge her for being driven to the belief that only through drugs will she find respite from her torments? Spiritual teachings of all traditions enjoin us to see the divine in each other. Namaste, the Sanskrit holy greeting, means, “The divine in me salutes the divine in you.” The divine? It’s so hard for us even to see the human. What have I to offer this young Native woman whose three decades of life bear the compressed torment of generations? An antidepressant capsule every morning, to be dispensed with her methadone, and half an hour of my time once or twice a month.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“It’s a subtle thing, freedom. It takes effort; it takes attention and focus to not act something like an automaton. Although we do have freedom, we exercise it only when we strive for awareness, when we are conscious not just of the content of the mind but also of the mind itself as a process.’
We may say, then, that in the world of the psyche, freedom is a relative concept: the power to choose exists only when our automatic mechanisms are subject to those brain systems that are able to maintain conscious awareness. A person experiences greater or less freedom from one situation to the next, from one interaction to the next, from one moment to the next. Anyone whose automatic brain mechanisms habitually run in overdrive has diminished capacity for free decision making, especially if the parts of the brain that facilitate conscious choice are impaired or underdeveloped.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“The addict’s reliance on the drug to reawaken her dulled feelings is no adolescent caprice. The dullness is itself a consequence of an emotional malfunction not of her making: the internal shutdown of vulnerability.
From the latin word vulnerare, ‘to wound’, vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded. This fragility is part of our nature and cannot be escaped. The best the brain can do is to shut down conscious awareness of it when pain becomes so vast or unbearable that it threatens to overwhelm our capacity to function. The automatic repression of painful emotions is a helpless child’s prime defence mechanism and can enable the child to endure trauma that would otherwise be catastrophic. The unfortunate consequence is a wholesale dulling of emotional awareness. ‘Everybody knows there is no fineness or accuracy of suppression,’ wrote the American novelist Saul Bellow in The Adventures of Augie March; ‘if you hold down one thing you hold down the adjoining.’
Intuitively we all know that it’s better to feel than not to feel. Beyond their energizing subjective change, emotions have crucial survival value. They orient us, interpret the world for us and offer us vital information. They tell us what is dangerous and what is benign, what threatens our existence and what will nurture our growth. Imagine how disabled we would be if we could not see or hear or taste or sense heat or cold or physical pain. Emotional shutdown is similar. Our emotions are an indispensable part of our sensory apparatus and an essential part of who we are. They make life worthwhile, exciting, challenging, beautiful and meaningful.
When we flee our vulnerability, we lose our full capacity for feeling emotion. We may even become emotional amnesiacs, not remembering ever having felt truly elated or truly sad. A nagging void opens, and we experience it as alienation, as profound as ennui, as the sense of deficient emptiness…”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“In the rare moments I permitted any stillness, I noted a small fluttering at the pit of my belly, a barely perceptible disturbance. The faint whisper of a word would sound in my head: writing. At first I could not say whether it was heartburn or inspiration. The more I listened, the louder the message became: I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself. The gods, we are taught, created humankind in their own image. Everyone has an urge to create. Its expression may flow through many channels: through writing, art, or music or through the inventiveness of work or in any number of ways unique to all of us, whether it be cooking, gardening, or the art of social discourse. The point is to honor the urge. To do so is healing for ourselves and for others; not to do so deadens our bodies and our spirits. When I did not write, I suffocated in silence.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“people jeopardize their lives for the sake of making the moment livable. Nothing sways them from the habit—not illness, not the sacrifice of love and relationship, not the loss of all earthly goods, not the crushing of their dignity, not the fear of dying. The drive is that relentless.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“What we call the personality is often a jumble of genuine traits and adopted coping styles that do not reflect our true self at all but the loss of it.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“The very essence of the opiate high was expressed by a twenty-seven-year-old sex-trade worker. She had HIV and has since died. “The first time I did heroin,” she said to me, “it felt like a warm, soft hug.” In that phrase she told her life story and summed up the psychological and chemical cravings of all substance-dependent addicts.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“As children become increasingly less connected to adults, they rely more and more on each other; the whole natural order of things change. In the natural order of all mammalian cultures, animals or humans, the young stay under the wings of adults until they themselves reach adulthood. Immature creatures were never meant to bring one another to maturity. They were never meant to look to one another for primary nurturing, modelling, cue giving or mentoring. They are not equipped to give one another a sense of direction or values. As a result of today`s shift to this peer orientation, we are seeing the increasing immaturity, alienation, violence and precocious sexualization of North American Youth. The disruption of family life, rapid economic and social changes to human culture and relationships, and the erosion of stable communities are at the core of this shift.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7