In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

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From bestselling author Gabor Maté, the essential resource for understanding the roots and behaviors of addiction–now with an added introduction by the author.

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.

Reviews Of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction:

I’ve written In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts because I see addiction as one of the most misunderstood phenomena in our society. People–including many people who should know better, such as doctors and policy makers–believe it to be a matter of individual choice or, at best, a medical disease. It is both simpler and more complex than that.

Addiction, or the capacity to become addicted, is very close to the core of the human experience. That is why almost anything can become addictive, from seemingly healthy activities such as eating or exercising to abusing drugs intended for healing. The issue is not the external target but our internal relationship to it. Addictions, for the most part, develop in a compulsive attempt to ease one’s pain or distress in the world. Given the amount of pain and dissatisfaction that human life engenders, many of us are driven to find solace in external things. The more we suffer, and the earlier in life we suffer, the more we are prone to become addicted.

The inner city drug addicts I work with are amongst the most abused and rejected people amongst us, but instead of compassion our society treats them with contempt. Instead of understanding and acceptance, we give them punishment and moral disapproval. In doing so, we fail to recognize our own deeply rooted problems and thereby forego an opportunity for healing not only for them, the extreme addicts, but also for ourselves as individuals and as a culture.

My book, in short, is an attempt to bring light to core issues shrouded in darkness. The many positive responses I’ve received encourage me to believe that I’ve succeeded in making a contribution toward that goal.

Table of contents

Foreword / Peter Levine —
Hungry ghosts: The realm of addiction —
Hellbound train —
Physician, heal thyself —
A different state of the brain —
How the addicted brain develops —
The addiction process and the addictive personality —
Imagining humane reality: Beyond the war on drugs —
The ecology of healing —
Appendix I: Fallacies of adoption and twin studies —
Appendix II: A close link: Attention deficit disorder and addictions —
Appendix III: The prevention of addiction —
Appendix IV: The twelve steps.

 

Product information

Publisher ‏ : ‎ North Atlantic Books; Illustrated edition (January 5, 2010)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 536 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 155643880X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1556438806

 

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