The Hungry Ghost: A Biopsychosocial Perspective on Addiction, from Heroin to Workaholism (Online)
Please note: this is a private event.
Based on the book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
For twelve years Dr. Maté was the staff physician at a clinic for drug-addicted people in
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where he worked with patients challenged by hard-core drug
addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver Supervised Injection Site. In his most
recent bestselling book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, he shows that their addictions do not
represent a discrete set of medical disorders; rather, they merely reflect the extreme end of a
continuum of addiction, mostly hidden, that runs throughout our society. In The Realm Of
Hungry Ghosts draws on cutting-edge science to illuminate where and how addictions originate
and what they have in common.
Contrary to what is often claimed, the source of addictions is not to be found in genes, but in
the early childhood environment where the neurobiology of the brain’s reward pathways
develops and where the emotional patterns that lead to addiction are wired into the
unconscious. Stress, both then and later in life, creates the predisposition for addictions,
whether to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or to behavioural addictions such as shopping or sex.
Helping the addicted individual requires that we appreciate the function of the addiction in his
or her life. More than a disease, the addiction is a response to a distressing life history and life
situation. Once we recognize the roots of addiction and the lack it strives (in vain) to fill, we can
develop a compassionate approach toward the addict, one that stands the best chance of
restoring him or her to wholeness and health.