When The Body Says No

Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there a connection between the ability to express emotions and Alzheimer’s disease? Is there such a thing as a “cancer personality”?

Drawing on scientific research and the author’s decades of experience as a practicing physician, When the Body Says No:  The Cost of Hidden Stress — published in the U.S. with the subtitle Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection, and also available in audiobook format — provides answers to these and other important questions about the effect of the mind-body link on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.

When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

(U.S. Title: When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection):

  • Explores the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, and multiple sclerosis
  • Draws on medical research and the author’s clinical experience as a family physician
  • Shares dozens of enlightening case studies and stories, including those of people such as Lou Gehrig (ALS), Betty Ford (breast cancer), Ronald Reagan (Alzheimer’s), Gilda Radner (ovarian cancer), and Lance Armstrong (testicular cancer)
  • Includes The Seven A’s of Healing:  principles of healing and the prevention of illness from hidden stress

An international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, When the Body Says No promotes learning and healing, providing transformative insights into how disease can be the body’s way of saying no to what the mind cannot or will not acknowledge.

Purchase The Book Online

Read from When The Body Says No

The following chapter is available to read online:

Listen to an excerpt from When The Body Says No

From the acclaimed audiobook version, narrated by Daniel Maté, published by Post Hypnotic Press:


"This is a most important book, both for patient and physician.  It could save your life."

Peter Levine

Author, Waking the Tiger

"Your book unequivocally changed my life by giving me a new lease on it… You allowed me articulate a complex problem that had exhausted my mind, and then my body. So, from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul, thank you for that."


"Gabor Maté, M.D., skillfully blends recent advances in biomedicine with the personal stories of his patients to provide empowering insights into how deeply developmental experiences shape our health, behavior, attitudes, and relationships. A must read."

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.

Author, The Biology of Belief

"I have just finished reading When the Body Says No and have been absolutely blown away by the personal significance it has for me. Parts of this book have been like reading a personal history of my childhood and my subsequent life…the stories are different, but the feelings I had and their impact are identical.  I now have a crystal-clear picture of why, at age 33 and in very good physical health, I have developed breast cancer. Your book has helped me to better recognize behaviours and patterns of which I have been aware my whole life, but only vaguely. Until now I have been masking so many things and while knowing this on some level, have at the same time chosen to believe that I was doing just fine…  My body is most certainly speaking to me, and I am now prepared to fully listen. I feel so empowered and grateful for this experience, as crazy as that may sound."


"In this important book, Dr. Gabor Maté combines a passionate examination of his patients' life histories with lucid explanations of the science behind mind-body unity."

Richard Earle, Ph.D.


"I just finished When the Body Says No and want to thank you for it…  I appreciate the way you use scientific studies and anecdotal stories to back up your arguments, and the way you explore the questions that arise, for example, positive vs. negative thinking and anger vs. rage. I found both those discussions extremely useful… I’ve still got lots of work to do. But how liberating it is to let go of the pressure to think ‘positively’ all the time ― even if my friends and family don’t always like the new me!"


"When The Body Says No is full of startling insights and hard won poetry."

Toronto Star


"In trying to think why I found this book so moving, I come back again and again to the word ‘compassion’. Every page seems to speak of a deep understanding of the vulnerability and fragility of the human psyche.  I am currently working through the darkest time in my life and I recognize more and more the need for deep compassion (for myself, for others) as the essential lever for healing. Your writing speaks so richly of that, and I thank you. It has given me much to think about, especially in terms of my own life-long patterns of dealing with stress."


"I was deeply drawn into this compelling and meticulously researched book, particularly by the transcribed interviews in which patients are allowed to speak in their own voices. If you have ever doubted the link between childhood pain and organic disease, these deeply poignant stories might just convince you. There is something about Maté, perhaps his ability to listen respectfully and react compassionately, that makes his patients open up their souls to him. What he hears is a cri du coeur, a lifetime of unexpressed psychic pain erupting through the body in fatal disease... His book is a plea for understanding of the deeper dynamics that contribute to disease. His 'seven A’s of healing' (acceptance, awareness, anger, autonomy, attachment, assertion, affirmation) provide a blueprint for greater emotional and bodily health. Full of complex and powerful truths, When the Body Says No has the potential to change medical thinking - and perhaps even save lives."

Edmonton Journal


"I began reading When the Body Says No this morning and have had to put it down after three chapters as my heart is pounding so and I keep crying and feeling scared and mostly ever so grateful to have found you and your book.  To find a doctor who hears me is a blessing. Thank you, even after only three chapters I am comforted. I will read on and reread and reread and soon be well. I so appreciate the support."


"The interviewees' stories are often touching and haunting... Maté carefully explains the biological mechanisms that are activated when stress and trauma exert a powerful influence on the body... Readers will be grateful for the final chapter... in which Maté presents an open formula for healing and the prevention of illness from hidden stress."

Quill & Quire


"Only this, that I have waited fifteen years to read these words that articulate so concisely and compassionately all I have learned as therapist and now program director in a cancer support centre."


"I have just begun to read When The Body Says No. On page twenty you sum up much of my thesis on this relationship between trauma and Alzheimer’s disease with the words ‘The fundamental problem is not the external stress but an environmentally conditioned helplessness that permits neither of the normal responses of fight or flight.’  I believe that Alzheimer’s disease could frequently be avoided were we to pay attention to our, and others’, emotional pain, seeing it as the precursor of physical pain. Thank you for writing your book. I believe that it is a groundbreaking offering to the public, the medical profession…and to those working in psychoneuroimmunology!"


"You entered my life as I was seeking help. Your book has been a catalyst of change, of growth, of self-awareness and self-transformation for me. Thank you. I weep as I write for all those you mentioned in your book, who now provide insight for those of us who follow. You’ve honoured their lives. "


"I cannot tell you how this book hit home. I was just recently diagnosed with MS and every personal account I read in your book sounds like me. Although I spend my life lecturing, writing and teaching others how to get well using nutritional medicine, lifestyle changes, spiritual growth etc., your book has touched my heart."


"Thanks for writing this book, for you have helped to save my life, the lives of generations in my family, and the lives of many communities I serve or influence. I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude for the great wisdom you shared."

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