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Publisher's Summary

Profoundly original, best-selling writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them, and details what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold on our emotions and behaviors. Gabor Maté is a staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and harm-reduction facility in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. His patients are challenged by life-threatening drug addictions, mental illness, Hepatitis C or HIV, and in many cases, all four.
But if Dr. Maté's patients are at the far end of the spectrum, there are many among us who are also struggling with addictions. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, work, food, sex, gambling, and excessive inappropriate spending: what is amiss with our lives that we seek such self-destructive ways to comfort ourselves? And why is it so difficult to stop these habits, even as they threaten our health, jeopardize our relationships, and corrode our lives?
Starting with a close view of his drug-addicted patients, Dr. Maté looks at his own history of compulsive behavior, weaving a story of real people who struggle with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. In a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting edge scientific findings, Dr. Maté sheds light on this most puzzling of human frailties. He proposes a compassionate approach to helping drug addicts and, for the many behavior addicts among us, to addressing the void addiction is meant to fill.
"I believe there is one addiction process, whether it manifests in the lethal substance dependencies of my Downtown Eastside patients, the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics, the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics and compulsive internet users, or in the socially acceptable and even admired behaviours of the workaholic. Drug addicts are often dismissed and discounted as unworthy of empathy and respect. In telling their stories my intent is to help their voices to be heard and to shed light on the origins and nature of their ill-fated struggle to overcome suffering through substance use. Both in their flaws and their virtues they share much in common with the society that ostracizes them. If they have chosen a path to nowhere, they still have much to teach the rest of us. In the dark mirror of their lives we can trace outlines of our own."
—from In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
©2009 Gabor Maté (P)2011 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
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Critic Reviews

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By York View on 08-15-11

Great Information

This is a deeply penetrating book about addicts and addictions. The book was written with compassion and understanding by a Doctor who works with addicts professionally and is also confronted with his own addictions. The author provides information on current brain science research that points to potential causes of addiction and explains why addicts continue to seek their drug or behavior of choice despite irreparable harm to themselves and their families. While listening to some of the stories of the drug addicts is a little depressing, the author also points out that you don’t need to be addicted to drugs to be considered an addict. Compulsive shopping, overeating and overworking are just a few common socially acceptable addictions. The author also talks about the failure of “The war on drugs” and some statistics to back up his liberal views on governmental drug policy. This is great information for anyone who has to deal with their own addiction or the addiction of a loved one.

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18 of 18 people found this review helpful

By 1Toy23 on 10-12-11

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

Stunning, and captivating, if you are in any type of addiction field I recommend this book highly. absolutely Awesome

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Clare on 12-23-12

Personal, touching, scientific, epic

There is a synergy of perspectives here infused with tremendous compassion.

I highly commend this book to anyone with an interest in understanding addiction.

The book moves beyond personal experiences and cases into a thorough analysis of both the drives of addiction and the society which promotes and condemns an addictive nature.

This was surprisingly beautiful book as well as being very poignant. It opens the heart as well as the mind to some remarkable insights into this issue.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

By marina on 09-03-13

Gabor Mate UNDERSTANDS Trauma Stress & Addiction

He knows his stuff. I've watched a lot of his talks on you tube. I love his empathic way of talking on this subject. Would have been better if he had narrated but I guess he is a busy guy.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Anonymous User on 11-22-17

Excellent information; performed very well;

I absolutely loved this book ; I had read lots of articles about Dr Gabor Mate; it was so easy to digest the information ; recommended

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By Shamarie on 08-16-16

Great Read if u want to understand addiction

Lots of very interesting and useful information. Thought in the final chapters the author became repetitive

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