Reaction Paper: "Realm of Hungry Ghost" by Gabor Mate

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1922 Words
Date:  2022-06-06


Gabor Mate qualifies to write the book "Realm of Hungry Ghost" based on his devoted life to work with the addicted women and men in British Colombia. He is a renowned Canadian physician, author, and speaker, born on January 6, 1944, in Hungary. He is well known for his psychiatric knowledge and works as a doctor, dealing with patients suffering from serious drug addiction, HIV, and mental illness. Gabor Mate is among the co-founders "Compassion for Addiction," which focuses on guiding and counseling those addicts with no aim of making a profit. The "Realm of Hungry Ghost" covers various topics that are related to child development and how to address addition. His contribution to this book is first hand based on his qualification and background as a psychiatrist. Therefore, this paper examines how the case histories, scientific research, and Mate understanding provide a broad spectrum that empowers and enlighten the society on how to handle complex issues that result from addiction.

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General critique to "Realm of Hungry Ghost."

Mate was motivated to write "Realm of Hungry Ghost" based on his work as a psychiatrist at "Vancouver`s Down Eastside," where he attended to addicted patients from poverty-stricken backgrounds. The author took twelve years to deal with people heavily addicted to innumerable drugs that included heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine crystal. Therefore, he enhanced his knowledge on sociological, psychological, political-economic, and physiological nature of addiction. Mate does not give a temporal-fix solution to complex problems that affect the society but presents a wide personal experience as a doctor. He strives to achieve these goals through authorship and public addressing that lays a foundation on which other professionals and his target audience across North America and the rest of the world, would find a long-lasting solution to their problems.

Mate`s View of Addiction

Pleasure and Addiction

In "Realm of Hungry Ghosts," the author strives to point out that it is a misconception to believe that substances used cause addition. He challenges the multitude by depicting that addiction is manifested by behavioral cravings of an individual with the desire to find temporal pleasure or relief but ends up in a physical, emotional, and psychological torture (Mate p. 42). Other than drugs, Mate believes that addiction encompasses nearly all human conducts such as eating, sex, extreme passion to sports, internet, gambling, watching TV, and many others that enslaves the brain of a person leading to physical and mental suffering. Based on the author's arguments, it is concluded that Therefore, addiction involves getting used to some substances or specific actions to the extent that victims can no longer control themselves. Hence, it becomes harmful in a situation where dissatisfaction and cravings take over one`s body as a result of limitation to such behavior or substance.

Negligence and Addiction

The author presents an outline of physiology and neurobiology based on addiction as a fundamental issue in the society, from childhood to fraught teenage and elderly. He goes further to addresses the aspect of neglect and abuse regarding low self-esteem, deficiency in dopamine, lack of coping skills, and behavioral schemes derived from birth throughout to adulthood (Mate p. 74). Mate describes drug abuse as a single survival mechanism that one becomes used to and tends to live life differently from the rest of the members. He goes further to note that the victims of the addition are outcasted by the society and left medically untreated based on the lack of undiagnosed attention and low level of natural serotonin and hyperactivity disorders. Thus, the reality unveiled by the author is as a result of his disclosure and the association with the addicts at the care center.

Trauma and Addiction

In this area, Mate emphasis is on the type of the environment the patients were natured or as it could have a profound effect on addiction. For instance, a number of addicted patients were in a deprived surrounding that led to their severe emotional and physical pain. For example, most of them were sexually abused or encountered some sort of tormenting incidences such as losing the loved ones, a condition that changed the receptors in their brain causing hurt thus, forcing them to use drugs to get rid of the pain. However, the Author doesn't dismiss that there are some addicts that were brought up in healthy environments. For instance, parents could contribute to the problem based on the inadequate expression of love to their children. The life experiences of the young's such as the consumption of drugs by their parents could lead to the passage baggage to the offspring.

To capture the mind of the readers and convince them that it is not the fault of the patient to fall into the addiction trap, the author employed the chemical composition of the as scientific approach to dispute his message. He explains how the receptors in and nerve cells in the brain differs regarding the kind of life experiences someone has passed through (Mate p. 200). According to Mate, going through abuse or neglects can lead to change in receptors that cause pain out of trauma. Hence, a person ends up using substances to relieve oneself. For example, he gives an example of an addict who used cocaine as a means to remove the pain she had from her experience (Mate p. 288).

Behavioral Addiction

The image of frightening specters certainly conjures up when we think of the hungry ghosts. Such descriptors are appropriate in the field of addiction and recovery. For instance, you might think of hungry as seeking to annihilate, destroying or devouring. Ghosts as haunting thoughts and spirits could never leave our presence. The author goes further and describes various behavioral addictions that temper with the receptors in human brain. Mate unveils the reason behind choosing certain behavioral habits over others as a form of non-chemical means of finding pleasure to get away from stress or pain. Although quite of them are not that harmful to the surroundings but bring cravings and dissatisfaction when one lacks the opportunity to have them, such as inadequate facilities or fun. There are other human behaviors that are destructive as far as the safety of the society is concerned. They include murder, theft, serial rape, and pedophilia. Mate argues that when particular activity concentrates on the human brain, the receptors tend to changes and develops cravings over the performance thus becoming the favorite. Mate exposes his own addictive experience to the audience on compulsive purchasing of compact discs comprising classical music and realizes that his passion for helping the poor patients has become a habit hence he finds himself overworking.

Mate's perception of Genetics and Addiction

Many scholars and members of the community believe over a common ideology that addiction such as alcoholism is inherited from parent to children over one generation to the other through genes. Basing on Mate`s way of thinking, there are no genes for addiction or alcoholism, although the notion has been some supported by other different specialists disputing that the liabilities for addiction are not static (Mate 201). Gabor Mate notes that addiction is determined by a change of environmental factors the same way it affects the behavior of genetics in the body. He prolongs his argument by unveiling the weakness in addiction, as he presents his research studies of twins. He points out that genes only have a profound effect on the sensitivity and temperament that results to the human being perceive environmental change but does not directly influence inheritance of addiction from one individual to the other over generations.

Unanswered questions

Doctor Gabor Mate fails to cover the question on whether there is the relationship between the genes with addiction and other human complex problems, a diminutive description on gene expression. There are various factors that determine the appearance of a gene, including "prenatal" and "postnatal" periods which also have a profound outcome on adult`s behavioral patterns. Addiction predispositions strive to have a wrench into the fetal brain during the developmental process form the conception of the development process of an infant.

Encountering Addiction

The author presents his experience with victims of addition with the aim of buying the trust of the audience and validating his disease concept. The "Hungry Ghosts" in Mates book refers to the addicts at "Vancouver's Down Eastside" who are facing complex problems. He uses this imagery for the purpose of emphasizing the need to fight against addiction in the society. In "Realm of Hungry Ghosts," Mate responds to the moment his mother abandoned him for a while when he was one year old in Hungary to protect his life from the World War II (Mate p. 175). Despite his previous blame on his mother, as a physician, he appreciates that it wasn't his mother's fault hence contenting that insights sometimes can be as damaging as authenticity. Mates experience makes him dispute from the prompt reaction in response to early trauma, shows that human is weak to defend against the uncomfortable feelings. Therefore, Mate believes that the synchronous hidden pain in the past that pushes someone to overreact. Therefore, individuals try to find quick answers to solve their problems (Mate p. 180). Mate goes further to propose a defensive mechanism that is essential in strengthening a patient's power over bygone emotional feelings that limits experiencing the primary pain. However, his writings do not pose any blame on anyone for the marvel of addiction. He relates the phenomenon with God, genes, parents, and the weather. He only focuses in assigning responsibility including to his own experience as a musical addict, and by so doing he disregard the perception of seeing his patients as victims but tries his best to reform what can be changed.

Mates Spiritual Perspective on Addiction

An evaluation of the biblical implication of the "Realm of Hungry Ghost" by Mate reveals that there is always a spiritual void at every central point of all addiction. The author argues that spiritual matters has less to do with a religious belief in the Supreme Power. He goes further to affirm that faith is not bound with spirituality in that, most religions across the world are a font of posing harsh attitudes toward the addicts or in most cases cast them from the society (Mate p. 414). A notion that is seriously dismissed by Gabor Mate concerning his perception on addiction as unveiled in his book, although does not restrict his faith to God, "'I don't believe in God' a Narcotics Anonymous member told me, but with step two I have accepted that I am not her" (Mate P. 412).

An individual's belief dictates his spiritual intersections that can take a form of either via prayers, meditation or consult the nature. Mate argues that the void created by this addiction in a community can be filled through the spiritual power. At some point, Mate is deterred given that filling such a void is not an easy task, and there are those that cannot be filled completely. The negative perception most of the individuals have against the image of God when they fall in trouble makes Mate address the spiritual matters regarding addiction in his book (Mate p. 423). Hence, according to Gabor Mate, although the book does tell which side he is, emphasizes that spiritual involvement must be the key in dealing with addiction regardless of the person`s religious faith.

Application of Disease Concept

There are individuals whom Gabor Mate mentions in "Realm of Hungry Ghost" as being addicts, and he tries to help them by applying his disease concept and etiology of addiction to them. The first vict...

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Reaction Paper: "Realm of Hungry Ghost" by Gabor Mate. (2022, Jun 06). Retrieved from

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