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Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté
close-up of Gabor Maté wearing a black jacket, looking directly at camera
Maté in 2013
Born (1944-01-06) January 6, 1944 (age 80)
Budapest, Kingdom of Hungary
CitizenshipCanada
EducationUniversity of British Columbia (BA, MD)
Spouse
Rae Maté
(m. 1969)
Children3, including Aaron
Scientific career
Fields
Websitedrgabormate.com

Gabor Maté CM (born January 6, 1944) is a Canadian-Hungarian physician. He has a background in family practice and a special interest in childhood development, trauma[1] and potential lifelong impacts on physical and mental health including autoimmune disease, cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),[2] addictions and a wide range of other conditions.

Maté's approach to addiction focuses on the trauma his patients have suffered and looks to address this in their recovery.[3] In his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Maté discusses the types of trauma suffered by persons with substance use disorders and how this affects their decision making in later life.

He has authored five books exploring topics including ADHD, stress, developmental psychology, and addiction. He is a regular columnist for the Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail.

Life and career

Maté was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944 to a Jewish family.[4][5] His maternal grandparents, Josef Lövi and Hannah Lövi, who came from the town of Košice in eastern Slovakia, were killed in Auschwitz when he was five months old.[5] His aunt disappeared during the war, and his father endured forced labour at the hands of the Nazi Party.[6] When he was one, Maté's mother put him in the care of a stranger for over five weeks to save his life. Upon their reunion, the infant Maté was so hurt that he avoided looking at his mother for several days. He claims this trauma of "abandonment, rage, and despair" continues to manifest in his adult life, leading to similar altercations when he perceives a threat of abandonment, especially from his wife.[7]

In 1956, Maté immigrated to Canada.[5] He was a student during the Vietnam War era in the late 1960s[8] and graduated with a B.A. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

In 1969, Maté married artist and fellow UBC graduate Rae Maté; together they have three children including writer and journalist for The Grayzone, Aaron Maté.[9]

After working as a high school English and literature teacher for several years, he returned to the University of British Columbia to obtain his M.D. in general family practice in 1977.

Maté ran a private family practice in East Vancouver for over 20 years. He was the medical coordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital for seven years. For 12 years, he was the staff physician at Portland Hotel, a residence and resource centre located in downtown Vancouver. Many of his patients had co-occurring mental health and substance use concerns, in addition to chronic health concerns, such as HIV. He worked in harm reduction clinics in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.[10] He has written about his experiences working with persons with substance use disorders in In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. [11]

In 2008, Maté made national headlines in defence of the physicians working at Insite (a legally supervised safe injection site) after the federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement, attacked them as unethical.[12]

In 2010, Maté became interested in the traditional Amazonian plant medicine ayahuasca and its potential for treating addictions. He partnered with a Peruvian Shipibo ayahuasquero (traditional shamanic healer) and began leading multi-day retreats for addiction treatment, including ones in a Coast Salish First Nations community that were the subject of an observational study by health researchers from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia. Although preliminary and limited by the observational study design, the research results showed that participants had significant improvements in some psychological measures and reductions in problematic substance use, suggesting that Maté's claims of therapeutic efficacy may be well-founded.[13] However, when the Canadian federal government learned about Maté's work with ayahuasca in 2011, Health Canada threatened to refer the matter to the RCMP if he did not immediately stop his activities with an illegal drug.[14]

Writings and views

Medicine

In his books and lectures, Maté emphasizes the role of biopsychosocial aspects of pathology and the role of psychological trauma and stress. He underlines the importance of relations and social attachment for learning and health. His ideas are consistent with a trauma-informed care framework.[15][16]

Maté defines addiction as any behaviour or substance that a person uses to relieve pain in the short term, but which leads to negative consequences in the long term. Without addressing the root cause of the pain, a person may try to stop but will ultimately crave further relief and be prone to relapse. By this definition, many things in modern culture have the potential to become addictive such as gambling, sex, food, work, social media, and drugs.[4] He argues the "war on drugs" actually punishes people for having been abused and entrenches addiction more deeply, as studies show that stress is the biggest driver of addictive relapse and behaviour.[11] He says a system that marginalizes, ostracizes, and institutionalizes people in facilities with no care and easy access to drugs, only worsens the problem.[11][17]

Palestine

In July 2014, Maté wrote an opinion piece titled, "Beautiful Dream of Israel has become a Nightmare", he described how the policies imposed by Israel were not compatible with a just peace, and described how "There is no understanding Gaza out of context".[18] Maté drew direct comparisons between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto and commented on the severe power imbalance stating, "Unlike Israel, Palestinians lack Apache helicopters, guided drones, jet fighters with bombs, laser-guided artillery."[18]

In November 2023, Maté was interviewed by Piers Morgan in which he described how he cried every day for two weeks after visiting Gaza. He also called for an end to the occupation and persecution of Palestinians, as well as a return of Palestinian land occupied since 1967.[19]

Awards

  • 2009: Hubert Evans Prize for Literary Non-Fiction for In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
  • 2011: the Civic Merit Award of the City of Vancouver "for his extensive work on addiction treatment and his contributions to understanding mental health and youth related to addiction, stress and childhood development" [20]
  • 2018: member of the Order of Canada[21]
  • 2023: Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature for the book The Myth of Normal which he co-authored with his son Daniel. The citation for the award said "The book covers topics from brain chemistry to rethinking what is deemed 'normal.' It's beautifully written and changes the modern-day discussion on health and healing".[22]

Criticism

Stanton Peele, psychologist and psychotherapist, disagrees with Maté's notion of "trac[ing] every case of addiction back to childhood trauma, stating that "most addicts weren't traumatized as kids; most traumatized people don't become addicts." Peele writes that Maté, whom he still admires for his work with Insite where he also had worked, offers "a reductionist vision of addiction" that does not "account for people's natural tendency to overcome abuse and addictive experiences," and ignores the "strong tendency that has been revealed, time and again, for people with addictions to naturally remediate."[23] Peele, in general, disagrees with the theory adopted decades ago by modern physicians, mental health professionals, research scientists, and others, that addiction is a disease[24][25][26] and opposes all twelve-step drug and alcohol treatment programs.[27]

Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania James Coyne claimed that Maté, by "piling bonkers claims on bonkers claims," "urges us to abandon what has evolved to be evidence-based solutions to health and social problem," though he concedes that "overspecialization in research and clinical practice is an important issue, especially for the management of difficult-to-diagnosis [sic], multiple comorbidities with multiple medications."[28]

In a high-profile, live-streamed interview with Prince Harry in March 2023, Maté diagnosed the prince publicly with PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, and depression, based on his conversation with him and reading his autobiography Spare. During the chat, Maté told Prince Harry that he had diagnosed him with ADD after reading through his book and hearing about his life experiences.[29][30][31] His decision to do so was described as unorthodox and reckless by some critics.[32]

Books

  • Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 1999. ISBN 978-0676971453.
    • Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It. United States.
  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 2003. ISBN 9781785042225.
    • When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection. United States.
  • Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. Co-authored with Gordon Neufeld. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 2004. ISBN 9780307361967.[9]
  • In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 2008. ISBN 9781785042201.
  • The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, Co-authored with Daniel Maté, Toronto, Canada, A.A. Knopf Canada, 2022 ISBN 9780593083895

Films and videos

References

  1. ^ "'How we cope with this has a lot to do with our past'". Irish Independent. January 31, 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  2. ^ "Care to incarceration: what happens to those without a fair start in life". The Independent. September 25, 2015. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  3. ^ "Addiction is a Response to Childhood Suffering: In Depth with Gabor Maté - ICPPD". ICPPD. March 2, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "How dealing with past trauma may be the key to breaking addiction". The Guardian. November 24, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c O'Malley, JP (December 21, 2019). "Addictions guru channels survival of the Holocaust into self-help empire". The Times of Israel. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  6. ^ Gutman, Abraham (November 2, 2018). "How a traumatized America finds relief in hate". inquirer.com. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Dr. Gabor Maté — The Myth of Normal, Metabolizing Anger, Processing Trauma, and More, retrieved January 31, 2023
  8. ^ Nov 18, Ryan Meili; Share, 2014 10 min read. "Gabor Maté: On Storytelling, Health, and the Ruling Class". briarpatchmagazine.com. Retrieved July 12, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b Cocozza, Paula (March 23, 2019). "'If you focus on control, you have lost the battle': how to win back your kids". The Guardian. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  10. ^ Tierney, Allison (February 7, 2017). "How the Stigma of Drug Addiction Hurts All of Us". Vice. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c ""In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts": Dr. Gabor Maté, Physician at Vancouver Safe-Injection Site, on the Biological and Socio-Economic Roots of Addiction and ADD". Democracy Now!. February 3, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  12. ^ "Doctor calls Clement's Insite comments 'repugnant'". The Canadian Press. CTV News. August 20, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  13. ^ Thomas, Gerald; Lucas, Philippe; Capler, Rielle N.; Tupper, Kenneth W. & Martin, Gina (2013). "Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy for Addiction: Results from a Preliminary Observational Study in Canada". Current Drug Abuse Reviews. 6 (1): 30–42. doi:10.2174/15733998113099990003. PMID 23627784. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  14. ^ Posner, Michael (November 9, 2011). "B.C. doctor agrees to stop using Amazonian plant to treat addictions". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  15. ^ Maté, Gabor (2012). "Addiction: Childhood Trauma, Stress and the Biology of Addiction". Journal of Restorative Medicine. 1 (1): 56–63. doi:10.14200/jrm.2012.1.1005.
  16. ^ Treisman, Karen (2021). A treasure box for creating trauma-informed organizations : a ready-to-use resource for trauma, adversity, and culturally informed, infused and responsive systems. Volumes 1 and 2. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 978-1-83997-136-5. OCLC 1255846476.
  17. ^ MacBride, Katie. "This 38-year-old study is still spreading bad ideas about addiction". The Outline. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  18. ^ a b Maté, Gabor (July 22, 2014). "Beautiful dream of Israel has become a nightmare". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  19. ^ "Holocaust survivor Dr Gabor Mate calls for land return to Palestine". Middle East Monitor. November 29, 2023. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  20. ^ "Civic Merit Award". vancouver.ca. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  21. ^ "Dr. Gabor Maté". The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  22. ^ "Sheila Heti and Gabor Maté among winners of $10K Vine Awards which recognize best Canadian Jewish books". CBC Books. October 23, 2023. Retrieved March 30, 2024.
  23. ^ "The Seductive, But Dangerous, Allure of Gabor Maté". Psychology Today. December 5, 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  24. ^ Matano1, Robert A.; Wanat1, Stanley F. (January 2000). "Addiction is a treatable disease, not a moral failing". Western Journal of Medicine. 172 (1). National Center for Biotechnology Information: 63. doi:10.1136/ewjm.172.1.63. PMC 1070736. PMID 10695451.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "Substance Use Disorders". ama-assn.org. American Medical Association. October 2023. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
  26. ^ "What Is a Substance Use Disorder?". psychiatry.org. American Psychiatric Association. December 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
  27. ^ Peele, Stanton; Bufe, Charles (2000). Resisting 12-Step Coercion: How to Fight Forced Participation in AA, NA, or 12-Step Treatment. See Sharp Press. ISBN 978-1-884365-17-1. Archived from the original on April 7, 2017.
  28. ^ Coyne, James (July 23, 2021). "Gabor Maté's Bizarre Ideas on Connections Between Stress and Disease". Medika Life. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
  29. ^ "Trauma expert Gabor Maté diagnoses Prince Harry with ADD but says it 'can be cured'". ok.co.uk. March 4, 2023. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  30. ^ "'This is dangerous': How people have reacted to Harry's conversation with Gabor Maté". yahoo news. March 6, 2023. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  31. ^ "Response to the Dr. Maté - Prince Harry Interview: Debunking the Trauma Industry". Dr. Mario Martinez Channel. March 5, 2023. Archived from the original on March 8, 2023. Retrieved March 8, 2023.
  32. ^ "No, Gabor Maté Did Not Actually Diagnose Prince Harry with ADHD on Live TV". Additude Magazine Online. March 13, 2023. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  33. ^ "Drunk on Too Much Life (2021) - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
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Gabor Maté
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