Saturday, February 24, 2018

In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts; Close Encounters With Addiction - Book Review

I have long been fascinated by psychology. Learning why we as humans do the things we do or respond in a given way intrigue's me. I recently bought the book, In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, by Gabor Mate'. 

The author takes a close look at the roots of addiction and how they play out in the lives of people in various situations. If illicit drugs and/or alcohol are what comes to mind when you think of addiction, this book will show you how most everyone, you and I included, struggle with addiction in one form or another.

Gabor begins the book by sharing the stories of those who struggle with addiction. He explain's how poor prenatal health, childhood trauma and our way of coping with stress all impact our propensity towards addiction. The stories touched me because they sounded oh, so familiar.

- Vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded. This fragility is part of our nature and cannot be avoided or escaped. 

-Imprinted in the developing brain circuitry of the child subject to abuse or neglect is fear and distrust of powerful people, especially of caregivers. In time this ingrained wariness is reinforced by negative experiences with authority figures such as teachers, foster parents, and members of the legal system or the medical profession. Whenever I adapt a sharp tone with one of my clients, display indifference, or attempt some well meant coercion for her benefit, I unwittingly take on the features of the powerful ones who first wounded and frightened her decades ago. Whatever my intentions, I end up invoking fear and pain. 

- ... patients need for tranquilizers says much about their infancy and early childhood.  

- People who have difficulty forming intimate relationships are at risk for addiction; they may turn to drugs as social lubricants.

- People are susceptible to the addiction process if they have a constant need to fill their minds or bodies with external sources of  comfort, whether physical or emotional. That need expresses a failure of self regulation - an inability to maintain a reasonably stable internal emotional atmosphere.

- People who cannot find or receive love need to find substitutes - and that's where addictions come in.

- The person with poor self-regulation is more likely to look outside herself for emotional soothing, which is why lack of attunement in infancy increases addiction risk.

- The void (in a child's heart) is not in the parents love or commitment , but in the child's perception of being seen, understood, empathized with, and "gotten" on the emotional level. 

- As a rule whatever we don't deal with in our lives we pass on to our children. Our unfinished emotional business becomes theirs.

- When I am sharply judgmental of  of any other person, it's because I sense or see reflected in them some aspect of myself that I don't want to acknowledge. 

- We avert our eyes from the hard core drug addict not only to avoid ourselves; we do so to avoid facing our share of the responsibility as well.

- As we have seen, injection drug use more often than not arises in people who were abused and neglected as young children. The addict, in other words, is not born but made. His addiction is the result of a situation that he had no influence in creating.

The words in italics are direct quote's from the book. It is not my intention to take away from the authors writing, or misrepresent it in any way. Since this is a book review, I only shared quotes and not my thoughts. Look for upcoming blog posts on many of the quotes shared here.

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