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Episode 599
The Doctor's Farmacy

How Trauma Makes Us Sick And How We Can Heal

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

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Why are we seeing more chronic disease, stress, obesity, addiction, and so many other states of illness than ever before, despite having the most advanced medical system in the world?

Because we aren’t living in a natural and normal world. We’re actually having normal responses to our abnormal circumstances, many of which create trauma that gets stored in the brain and body.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m honored to talk to my dear friend Dr. Gabor Maté about the myth of normal, and why doing the difficult work of uncovering trauma is essential for living our fullest expression of life.

I was excited to have this opportunity to talk to Dr. Maté as I’ve dug into my own trauma like never before over these past few years. I share much of my family history with trauma and we dig into the scientific evidence linking trauma and stress to physical and mental illness.

Addiction, loneliness, and disconnection are some of Dr. Maté’s other specialties, and he explains how they are linked to trauma and other states of dis-ease. Throughout our conversation we discuss the tools, therapies, and resources available to facilitate healing in these areas, in addition to the biology of psychology and how to address it head on.

We are seeing a crisis of separation on individual and social levels, which has escalated our rise of disease in this modern world. I’ve experienced firsthand the power of doing some deep “soul archeology,” or working to change my inner software, and it’s truly some challenging but rewarding work.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Here are more of the details from our interview (audio):

  1. Uncovering my personal trauma history
    (6:42)
  2. Scientific evidence linking trauma and stress to physical and mental illness
    (14:38)
  3. Social determinants of health
    (16:34)
  4. Our crisis of separation, disconnection, and loneliness
    (20:25)
  5. The link between addiction, our profit-driven culture, and trauma
    (25:16 )
  6. The myth of normal
    (31:07)
  7. Tools, therapies, and resources for your own healing
    (49:50)
  8. Treating trauma with plant medicines and psychedelics (
    (55:40)
  9. The biology of psychology
    (1:10:46)
  10. Gabor’s vision for our society
    (1:31:42)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dr. Gabor Maté

A renowned speaker and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress, and childhood development. Dr. Maté has written several bestselling books, including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection, and Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It, and has co-authored Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. His work has been published internationally in nearly thirty languages.

For his groundbreaking medical work and writing he has been awarded the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian distinction. His latest book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture was just released. His next book, Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Parents and Their Adult Children is expected in 2023. Gabor is also co-developer of a therapeutic approach, Compassionate Inquiry, now studied by hundreds of therapists, physicians, counselors, and others internationally.

This episode is brought to you by Rupa Health, InsideTracker, and FOND.

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Show Notes

  1. Get a copy of his new book, The Myth of Normal—Trauma, Illness, & Healing In a Toxic Culture, here.

Transcript Note: Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Introduction:
Coming up on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
It’s inevitable that whatever happens emotionally is going to show up physiologically. Furthermore, we know that childhood trauma elevates the circulation of inflammatory particles in the blood cytokines.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to Doctor’s Pharmacy, that’s Farmacy with an F. A place for conversations that matter. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. And today it’s going to be a very important conversation because it’s about something that affects us all, whether we know it or not, which is the toxicity of our culture, the trauma, we all experience at some level, living in this culture or that we’ve experienced in our childhood and how that determines who we are, how we are, and our state of wellbeing and health.
And it’s so pervasive. It’s so deep. And most of us have never really reflected on it, and particularly myself. And I’m going to share some personal stories that I think might be surprising to many of you. But I think it’s important to be a transparent and honest about this because it really affects all of us. And my guest today is a renowned speaker and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté, who I’ve gotten to know recently, and is one of the most important thinkers in the space of mental health, addiction, trauma, and rethinking how we need to live as a society.
I think his work is some of the most important work of the 21st century. He’s written on a lot of topics on addiction, stress, childhood development. He’s got a number of best selling books, including the award winning, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress Disease Connection, Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It, and has coauthored, Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Their Peers.
His work has been in over 30 languages and he’s been awarded, The Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian distinction. His next book, which we’re going to talk about today, The Myth of Normal: Trauma Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, is out. And I encourage you all to pick up a copy. It may be the most important book you will ever read.
He’s also, I love this, he also has his second next book, which is already called, with his son actually, called, Hello, Again: A Fresh Start For Parents and Their Adult Children. That’s going to be out in 2023. And he’s developed in a very important body of work that helps people discover the sources of their pain and trauma called compassionate inquiry, which is now studied by hundreds of therapists and physicians and counselors around the world. So welcome, Dr. Gabor Maté.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’re going to get really deep today. And when I was reading about your work, you have a quote that was kind of important that stuck out to me. One is which is that, “Society is mad in the sense that it’s not aligned with human needs.” And it made me remember a line from Artie Lang, who was a psychiatrist back in the 60s and 70s who said, “Insanity is a sane man’s response to an insane society.”
And this new book, The Myth of Normal, which I encourage everybody to get, Trauma and Illness and Healing In a Toxic Culture, was written with his son, Daniel, is sort of both personal and it’s social and it’s political. And it’s such a broad ranging discussion of the context in which we live and the way in which mental illness arises, the way in which our dysfunctional behavior arises, such as addiction. And you have a very different spin on it than traditional medicine and healthcare.
And I think… And we’ve really kind of pushed mental illness off in this sort of dark category. And in some ways it’s very stigmatized and we blame the victim and we don’t really understand the context in which it arises. And I really not thought of myself as someone who’s actually experienced trauma and I didn’t really connect to it. It didn’t really make sense to me.
And as a doctor, obviously I encountered many people who experienced horrible traumas, but for myself, I was like, “Ah, my childhood, my parents were divorced. And yeah, I had issues with my family and my parents. And there was conflict. My parents hated each other, but yeah, it happens to a lot of people. What’s the big deal?”
And then I began to look at some of my own dysfunctional patterns of workaholism, of people pleasing, of overdoing, of over caring, which got me to be very successful in my career, but had really negative consequences for me as a human being and led to many failed relationships, led to many illnesses in myself. And I think your work has really helped me to understand that having a deeper conversation about these traumas really matter.
And I’ll just sort of share a little bit about my own story and then we’ll get into the bigger context of everything. My mother grew up in a deaf family in New York City in the 1930s, her parents were deaf. And if anybody’s seen the movie CODA, which won the Best Picture this year, it’s about a young girl who grew up in a deaf family. And there was a line in that movie where the mother is lamenting her daughter is going off to college and saying, “She can’t go. She’s our baby,” meaning we need her. But the father said, “She was never a baby.”
And my mother had a word for her childhood, which was a parentified child. In other words, she was her parents’ parent. She took care of them. She had to be their voice and their ears. And they were very loving and beautiful people, but it robbed her of her own childhood, her own innocence. And she thought then that loving was caring for somebody who was broken. And she picked my father who was broken and that didn’t work out. And then she picked my stepfather who was broken and that didn’t really work out. And that was the environment in which I grew up.
And my mother became very depressed. And she used me as her emotional crutch as her therapist, if you will. And that led me to have the behavior that love was also about fixing broken people. And my first wife was an alcoholic and had bipolar disease and had experienced horrible sexual trauma as a child, which she didn’t even remember her childhood before she was 16. And we kind of later uncovered this. And I began to think about how these patterns were really originated in my childhood of my behaviors that were really not creating a life for me that actually made me fulfilled and happy and good.
And by doing the work, by actually excavating, I call it soul archeology, I was able to really understand how my vein was working, how my love software was corrupted. And it allowed me to really be very different and rewire everything about myself in such a beautiful way, but it was not an easy process. And I used a lot of different approaches, including different kinds of therapy, psychedelic work, which now is sort of emerging and I know you work with a lot in terms of your work on trauma in patients, and that really helped me to move through a lot of this.
And I know I probably still have a lot of work to do, but it really taught me that each of us, even if we don’t conceptualize what happened to us as trauma as a child, that it really does inform who we are and how we are. So that’s where I sort of want to take off with your work, because what you say in your work is that trauma isn’t what happens to us. It’s about the meaning we make about what happens to us or something like that.
So, Gabor, can you talk about how you first came to understand this concept? Because you yourself were traumatized. You were born in Hungary in World War II, and it was a time of the Nazi regime and you were Jewish and that itself was a trauma. Can you talk about how you first came to understand that this pattern of your own trauma was linked to the greater cultural pattern of trauma and mental illness and struggle and how you came to understand your work?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well first, thank you for having me. Just reflecting on your story and the parentified child, the child who has to become a parent to the parent, and essentially loses the parent. So not whether you know it or not, you’re a motherless child.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s maybe why I like that song so much.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And John Bowlby, who was the great British psychiatrist, pioneer of developmental research, attachment research. And I quote him in the book. He says that, “Reversal of roles between parent and child is always a sign of pathology in the parent and invariably a source of pathology in the child.”
So that we pay a lot even… But of course, you as a child, had nothing to compare to. That was the childhood that you knew.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s right.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And most people, when they think of trauma, they think of big disasters, like a tsunami or a parent dying or severe abuse, sexual, emotional, or physical and so on. But really the word trauma itself simply means a wound and people can be wounded in all kinds of ways. And so it doesn’t take the big ticket, big tea events, to wound a child. You can wound a child, especially if they’re very sensitive, just by not meeting their needs.
Their essential needs for being understood and respected for who they are being seen, being heard, being unconditionally welcomed into the world. A lot of kids are wounded without the terrible things happening to them that people think of as trauma.
And as you said, trauma is what happens inside us, not what happens to us. So trauma is the wound that we sustain, not the event that caused the wound, which is a good thing because if trauma was the thing that happened to me as an infant, a Jewish infant under the Nazis, that’ll never not have happened, but if trauma’s the meaning that I made out of that, that I wasn’t lovable, that I wasn’t worthwhile, that wound can be healed.
How I came to this work was both through my work as a family physician and also a palliative care doctor. So I looked after people from birth to death, and I began to see that people who got chronically ill, not just with mental illness, but also physical illnesses like malignancy and autoimmune disease, and so on invariably there was a backstory of trauma in childhood and a lifelong pattern of what you describe yourself as manifesting of people pleasing, of trying to be nice, of trying to do everything for everybody, of being a compulsive helper.
Which of course I did as well as a workaholic doctor.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I call it being a niceaholic.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. I wasn’t always that nice, but I was certainly a workaholic and a helpaholic, as a way of justifying your resistance. And so I began to notice these patterns in my medical work that behind chronic illness of all kinds, there was trauma and ongoing stress. And furthermore, in my 40s, I was a successful doctor, maybe like yourself, but with all kinds of personal challenges, I was depressed and anxious and I was in a conflictual marriage and my kids were actually sometimes scared of me.
So I had to actually start asking myself, “What’s going on here?” And so I began to go for my own therapy and reading the literature and combination of my observations as a physician, my personal experience and personal self exploration, and then I just mentioned finally, the vast body of scientific literature, linking trauma and stress to physical illness, to mental illness.
And here’s where our profession, Mark, is just so behind the times. Physicians, the medical profession, claims to be a scientific discipline, but they ignore all kinds of science that doesn’t fit into their very narrow biological point of view. And so I had to wake up to my own reality, to the reality of my patients, and also the reality of what science and research is actually telling us about human beings.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true. There’s just an enormous literature about this and it’s always surprising to me and I see this with functional medicine. There’s so much evidence and so much science, but if it doesn’t fit the model, it’s sort of ignored. Whether it’s on the microbiome or toxins or stress or trauma, it’s like, there’s plenty of data out there. And you talk a lot about it in your book. You talk, for example, about women who have breast cancer and how you could predict who was going to have breast cancer based on their personality type and how they repressed anger and were too nice. And the same with autoimmune disease. Women have such a higher rate of autoimmune disease, which…

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Women have 80% of autoimmune disease. And this is a big mystery. Or if you take something like multiple sclerosis, which in the 1930s, the gender ratio for both were equal. And now it’s about three women to every man, which right away tells us it can’t be genetic because genes don’t change in a few decades, can’t be the weather or the food per se, because that hasn’t changed more for one gender than the other.
What has changed? Is that women are facing more stresses than they used to by having to still carry the brunt of the emotional work of their families and carry the emotional stresses of their spouses very often and having to work at the same time. So when you get more stress, and also people are more isolated now than used to be.
So what I’m really saying is that the illness in a particular person is not a manifestation of individual biology, but is a consequence of multiple factors, which include the social and cultural environment, the economy, the politics, one’s personal relationships and one’s personal multi generational history.
And just to separate the mind from the body as Western medicine does and to separate the individual from the environment is completely unscientific. And not very helpful.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, it’s true. And I think medicine is starting to tiptoe around this with the conversation about the social determinants of health.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah, they are beginning to talk about… There’s a Canadian Public Health Expert who said, “If you want to stay healthy, be able to afford vacations in the sunshine and eat organic food and don’t live in a poor neighborhood.”
So doctors shouldn’t be prescribing pills, they should be prescribing sun filled vacations.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
So there is some conversation now about the social determinants of health. And in Chicago, in some areas of Chicago, the life expectancy is 30 years less than in the wealthier parts. And these are the social determinants, but even the social determinants of health is a narrow view because it looks at only the most obvious.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What’s so beautiful about your book is that you talk not only about what happens in the personal microcosm of a person’s family and the developmental phases that they go through. And the traumas that happen within the family, either the little T traumas, which are more of the invisible traumas or the big T traumas like incest and abuse and so forth.
But you also talk about the social traumas and the societal traumas and the expectations and the toxic culture we live in. Paul Farmer talks about structural violence, the social, political, economic conditions that drive disease and we tend to ignore those.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
The late and [inaudible 00:15:39], Paul Farmer. Who died before his time. Maybe because he took on too much? I don’t know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Maybe? I don’t know what happened. I need to find out because I knew him and he’s exactly my age.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. He did talk about these things and of course he put himself on the line, he worked a lot in Haiti with a very oppressed and impoverished population and he was very clear about how power creates pathology.
In this society, when I talk about a toxic culture, just like in scientific terms in a laboratory, if we’re culturing organisms, in a particular brew broth, we call that a laboratory culture. And if a lot of the organisms, the microorganisms, we were growing happened to die or get sick in large numbers, we would call that a toxic culture. And that’s what the assertion I’m making about our culture.
And it’s not just… The social determinants are one important aspect of it. Racism, for example, is a risk factor for aging and for inflammation and for malignancy and for asthma and for premature death. So that’s a definite social determinant.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Independent of poverty?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Independent of poverty, erased quite apart from economic considerations. So that if you measure the biological aging of Black American women of a higher social class, it’ll be more advanced than white women of a lower social class. So if you combine race and poverty, now you’ve got double whammy.In fact, it’s a triple whammy because being a woman also puts you at higher risk for chronic illness.
But even for those that are privileged, relatively speaking, as society that thinks that people have to be competitive and aggressive and selfish and individualistic actually denies the very nature of human evolution and human needs. So it’ll create pathology even without the social determinants.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s so true. When you talk about, in your book, this sort of crisis of separation that both on an individual level and in this social level we were disconnected and how that gives rise to disease. And the beautiful frame that Paul Farmer talked about when he talked about healing was accompaniment, which is the opposite of separation. How we have to accompany each other to help.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
I tell the story of that was told to me by Louis Mehl-Madrona. Lewis is a part Lakota.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I know him. Yeah.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Do you know him?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I met him mean many years ago. A long time ago.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yes. He’s a physician psychiatrist. Trained in the Western model, like you and I both are, but he says in the Lakota tradition when somebody gets ill, the community says, “Thank you. You are manifesting the dysfunction of the whole community. So your healing is our healing.” It’s all about connection. Scientifically, that’s absolutely correct. Western medicine doesn’t get it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No. We’re social beings. And I think one of the interesting things to me, when I look to sort the literature around disease, you think, “Oh, it’s smoking, it’s diet, it’s obesity, ” and yes, it’s all that. But more predictive than that was a sense of a loss of disconnection and a loss of control and a sense of isolation and loneliness, which is a powerful predictor of disease.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Loneliness is an independent risk factor for getting ill faster and for dying of illness faster. And it’s probably as significant as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to some of the research.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Do you think this is a modern phenomena, this crisis of separation? Or has this been there throughout human history? And what is the cause of this, the root cause of the separation that we’re seeing?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, if you look at the literature on loneliness, the number of people in the US who say that they’re lonely went from 20% to 40% in a couple of decades. Not that long.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
With COVID it felt a lot worse.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. It’s a product of this particular system, for example, Walmart. So Walmart opens a store in a community and the local developers are happy. The local politicians are delighted to have this facility. People might even be pleased to have this big convenience, department store available to them at lower prices.
But what’s the price that we pay? Local businesses have to shut down. They can’t compete. The local baker, the local butcher, and candlestick maker they all have to close down people no longer walk to where they shop in the neighborhoods, seeing each other, meeting their friends and neighbors in the store, dealing with the merchants they personally have known all their lives, the Mr. Hooper of Sesame Street.
They drive, each of them gets into a car all by themselves, and drive to this windowless, soulless facility where they’re looked after by total strangers. So yes, you’ve gained a few pennies here and there and developers are happy because they sold the land. What happens to the community? And this is an interval product of globalized capitalism. It’s happening all over the world. Hence the crisis of loneliness is burgeoning all over the world.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So it’s a product of the globalization and of the way in which our profit motive has driven systems and society that disconnect us from each other?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Once profit becomes the prime motive, and is even justified as the highest possible endeavor, which it is in a society, then what are you going to get? They need companies that this is your field. Sometimes you must be so frustrated because you’re so adept at understanding the essentials of human nutrition. But there are these companies that profit of delivering poisonous, and developing and planning and concocting, poisonous products.
And I heard you talk yesterday, sugar. Sugar has been called the most addictive substance in the world. And in that sense, America is the center of the world’s drug trade when it comes to sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
100%.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
As somebody once pointed out. And they push the sugary products on to the developing world where more and more people are dying as a result. And so let alone the pharmaceutical companies that is publicly known now, created opiates that they told physicians were not addictive or less addictive, knowing full well that wasn’t the case. And look at the tens and hundreds of thousands of opiate deaths now. Not that them making them fully responsible, but they sure profited off it. And they drove and they drove the dynamic as well.
So once profit becomes the ultimate motive, then human health becomes a byproduct and a sunk cost as it were. It’s not a concern anymore.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s so true. And I think we have such a negative view of addiction and in some ways we blame the victim, just like we blame the victim for being obese. We blame the victim for addiction and saying, “Well, you need to deal with your problem. You need to admit you have a problem.” In fact, that’s the first step of a 12 step program, which is I realize I’m powerless over alcohol. There’s some higher power I have to give up to.
Well, that may be a little perverted in a sense because it doesn’t take into account the truth of why addiction happens, which is out of some injury to our soul, injury to our mind, injury to our bodies. It happens when we’re young, that is a source of discomfort and pain that we’re trying to deal with and medicate.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, the very famous ACE Adverse Childhood Experiences Studies looked at the correlation between childhood trauma and adversity. And the later onset of addiction, actually began when a physician acquaintance [inaudible 00:24:32] of both of us, Dr. Vince Felitti, was working at an obesity clinic and they found that they could help people lose weight, but couldn’t help them keep it off. And then they started actually… They did something that, amazing for medical doctors, they started listening to the stories of these patients and the stories, they all had been traumatized, abused in childhood, or suffered significant loss. The eating was their way of soothing themselves, which is any addiction is a way of soothing yourself. And that then gave rise to the ACE Studies, which showed indisputably, the connection…

Dr. Gabor Maté:
These studies, which showed indisputably the connection between childhood trauma and loss and the adult onset of addictions, but also of mental health conditions, also of autoimmune conditions, also of-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Cancer.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
…Relational issues, and so on-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Heart disease, all of it.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
…There’s so much research now. And when I worked in the Downtown Eastside, of Vancouver, which is East side of Vancouver, which is North America’s most concentrated area of drug use, and I don’t know if you ever had a chance to visit Vancouver, but if you walk through the Downtown Eastside, there’s this open air drug market, people are shooting up in the back alleys, it’s quite the scene. And I worked there for 12 years. In those 12 years, I did not have a single female patient who had not been sexually abused as a child.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Not a single female patient who had not been abused?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Not one out of hundreds. And that’s also what the literature shows. So it’s not just my anecdotal observation, it’s also what the studies over and over again, show. And yet, despite that, society still insist on looking at addictions as a choice that some people make for which start to be blamed, and as you pointed out, stigmatized in our society. Or in the medical profession, we have a more humane and somewhat more forward looking, but still completely [inaudible 00:26:16] perspective, that we’re dealing with brain diseases with a large genetic component. No, we’re not, we’re dealing with people’s response to human suffering.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So you’ve written a lot about this, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, and other books really talked a lot about this model of addiction. This new book, The Myth of Normal, it’s sort of a bigger umbrella. It talks about the general framework of trauma, and the general framework of our toxic culture. What’s the myth of normal? And how come we’re seeing, despite the best healthcare system in the world in North America, despite advanced medical science, despite innovations in medication, why are we seeing more and more illness, more mental illness, more addiction, more obesity, more chronic disease, more autoimmune disease? Seems like we’re bailing a ship that’s sinking with a teaspoon.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. Well, by “the myth of normal”, I mean that conditions that in our society, we assume to be are normal, that we believe are normal, from the point of view of human evolution and human needs, are totally abnormal. So that we’re living in a world that doesn’t meet our needs. Yet we think this is the normal world. And it may be the norm statistically, but is not normal in terms of… It’s not natural, healthy in terms of what human beings actually need, number one. Number two, in this society, and going back to that quote by RD Lang that you cited earlier, in this society, physical illness and mental illness are actually normal responses to abnormal circumstances.
So it’s not in the disease, the so-called disease that we have to find the abnormality, but in the conditions that cause the disease, and this is where medicine completely fails. Because when we can identify the cause of an illness as some external agent, like the Novel Coronavirus, or we can point to the preponderance of lung cancer among smokers appropriately, then we think we found a cause for something. But for chronic illnesses that don’t have such an obvious external agent as the triggering or causative factor, we just call them idiopathic, which really means we haven’t got a clue what causes them.
And yet, if you look at the actual lives of anybody with autoimmune disease or anybody with malignants or anybody with depression or anxiety or ADHD or bipolar illness, you’ll find that these illnesses manifest people’s life experiences, they don’t come out of nowhere. And furthermore, we make this elementary mistake of thinking that by diagnosing something, we’ve explained something. But let me show you how circular and actually nonsensical it is.
So I’ve been treated for depression, and there was a time when I gladly took antidepressant medication and it helped me. So I’m not here to military against medical practice. I’m a practitioner, but say Gabor is sad and he is isolating and he’s morose. Why? Because he’s got depression. How do we know that he’s got depression? Because he’s sad and he is isolating and he’s morose. Why is he sad, isolating and morose? Because he got depression. How do we know that? So these diagnosis don’t explain anything. They describe things. Same with ADHD, same as bipolar illness. For that matter, the same with a lot of physical illnesses. The diagnoses describe something, but they say nothing about the origins.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean that you just described functional medicine in a nutshell, which is, I always say, because the name of the disease doesn’t mean you know what’s wrong with you. It’s just the name we give to people who share a collection of symptoms. And depression isn’t the cause of you being sad, hopeless, and helpless, and have no interest in sex, or can’t sleep and all these different symptoms. And yet the doctors always fall into this trap of thinking that the name of the disease explains the cause.
The cause of the symptoms is rheumatoid arthritis, that’s why your joints are swollen. No, it’s not because of that, it’s because of childhood trauma, it’s because of gluten, it could be because of mercury, or a million other things. And so just because you know the name of the disease, that doesn’t mean you know what’s wrong with you. And I think this is never more rampant in any other field of medicine than psychiatry, and in mental health issues. Because we just sort of label people and put them in groups, and then we treat the label instead of the cause.
And then your work has really been about treating the causes that are mostly invisible and that are not really even talked about. And there’s a whole field of medicine now emerging called narrative medicine, which is listening to people’s story. What a novel concept, that we should actually listen to a person’s story.
And it’s one of the most important things I do as a functional medicine doctor, and I think that you do, is we actually excavate, and we start to dig. What was your childhood like? Where were you born? What was it like? And what were your early life experiences? And you start to unpack things. And I have trick questions in my questionnaire about trauma or abuse, little things that poke around. And it’s amazing what you find when you start digging and you see the correlation between that, and the breakdown in the body. And I always say that disease is the body’s best attempt to deal with a bad set of circumstances.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Exactly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And that’s exactly what you’re saying.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
I’m saying that very much. And I’m also saying that therefore, the disease, and I have a chapter on this, the disease can actually act as a teacher, as a teacher who guides you back to your reality. Now I’m not recommending it. I don’t recommend anybody get rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis or for that matter, depression or anything as a way of learning anything. All I’m saying is, I’ve talked to so many people who once they develop these conditions, they used it to learn about what dynamics in their lives triggered it. And when they change those dynamics, those illnesses have a very different course, other than the usual ones, if they just treat it biologically.
And so the diseases can act as a big wake up call for a lot of people. Again, I don’t recommend it. One of my intentions, and I’m sure one of yours is as well, is to wake people up before disease comes knocking at their door. But once it does, it’s astonishing what people are able to learn about themselves. And this has been documented as well.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
This is a thing that I think was shocking to me personally, as I began to work with my patterns of emotional relating and beliefs and what I call my sort of corrupted love software. I didn’t think I could change the inner dialogue, the inner narrative. I called it the inner (bleep). And as I went through this process of healing, in my mind I actually started to change that. And it was shocking to me, because I remember hearing Ram Das speak years ago, and he said, “you know, never really get rid of your neurosis. You just become friends with them and you tell them, like annoying cousins or uncles to go away and leave you alone. But they’re always there.” And I thought I had that belief, but I think in your work, you talk about the beauty of the fact that because these insults happened to you and you made meaning of it, that you can kind of rewire your neural circuits and rewire your brain and your emotional framework in a way that actually gets you free.
And this is really, you talk about one of your favorite books being The Dhammapada and I studied Buddhism in college, and it’s the Buddhist aphorisms and sayings. And I think the Buddhist framework is really about the liberation of the mind. And it’s really what your work is about.
And so how can people come to understand this work from a perspective of rewiring, and the healing? Because we can all identify things that happen to us and we can all sort relate to that, and yet it’s very difficult to reset. And I found myself for years just trying to reset. And until I really had this sort of almost somatic experience of resetting, through a bunch of different things I did, and through a lot of emotional breakthroughs, and a lot of crying. I was able…and I think it was really around this movie, was such a catalyst for me, I don’t know if you saw the movie, but it was such a catalyst. Because it was my mother’s story, and it was my story embedded in her story, and I began to sort of understand it all. And it was just like what they call it, shakti experience, it sort of went through my nervous system. And I came out of it feeling very different. How do people get there?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, there’s a big clue in what you just said, because you said there was a lot of crying-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I did a lot of crying.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
…There’s a psychologist friend of mine with whom I wrote a book together, Hold Onto Your Kids. And his name was Gordon Neufeld, and he’s really the world’s leading developmental psychologist. Not as nearly as well known as he might be, because he’s more interested in working with people, than in publishing and academia. But he said once to me that “you should be saved in an ocean of tears”. What that means is that you have to grieve what you’ve lost. Rather than just defend it against it, pretend it didn’t happen. You have to grieve it. So some of the process of healing is actually a process of healthy grieving-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Grieving, yeah. It’s what it felt like.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
You mentioned The Dhammapada, the Buddhist collection of sayings. It begins with that, “everything is mind in the lead.” So basically with our minds, whatever we believe, whatever we think, we create the world that we live in. So that if you believe, for example, that the world is a horrible place, that it’s dog eat dog, that it’s every person for themselves against everybody else. That your neighbors, even your friends want your wife, and they want your house, and they want your dog, then you know who you’re going to be? You’re going to be President of the United States. Because a recent President of the United States wrote that in his autobiography. That’s his worldview. Now how did he arrive at that worldview? So the Buddhist says that with our minds, we create the world, but he didn’t say, which is what modern psychology says, that before with our mind, with our thoughts, our beliefs, we create the world that we live in, the world creates our minds, through our childhood experience. And so that-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Minds create the world, but our world creates our minds.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
…Before we create the world with our minds, the mind creates our world, based on our childhood experience. And so that we really have to look at the forces that shaped us and gave us the particular view. Like that I have to be a compulsive helper, or that you had to become a compulsive helper and people pleaser. Nobody’s born like that, those are childhood patterns to adaptations, to fit into our environment, when that environment demands it. Then with that mindset, we create the world. Not everybody’s so clear on that. What’s striking for me is how often I run across somebody who says, “but doc I was addicted, but I had a really happy childhood.” And then that’s when I issue what I call a “happy childhood challenge.”
It takes about three minutes of conversation. Just asking a few basic questions. And like you said, you have these trick questions that you ask people. Well, I have my own bag of tricks as well. And that happy childhood story never stands up to any kind of scrutiny. And it’s really important that it doesn’t because otherwise people blame themselves.
One of the saddest letters I received. I mentioned this in The Myth of Normal, was a guy in Seattle who read my book on addiction, in which I point out and argued that addiction is a response to trauma and particularly trauma incurred in childhood. He writes back, he wrote me in a letter saying, “I found your book very interesting, but I can’t blame my mother. I’m a (bleep) because of myself.” I just felt so bad for the guy. Because he didn’t get it. First of all, I didn’t blame his mother, I don’t blame parents at all. Parents do their best. It’s just that his mother, maybe I as a parent, and perhaps you as a parent, our best wasn’t good enough. Because at that time we still haven’t worked our stuff, but there’s no blame in recognizing that. But more than that in that statement, that “I’m a (bleep) because of me”, he was expressing self loading, and self-rejection, which are the hallmarks of trauma.
But with that mind, that’s the world he lives in, in which he is worthless. And that mind was created by his childhood, but he can’t see it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s so true. I recently had this incident about myself as well, because I had this father and a stepfather who were very disapproving, very judgmental, I was never good enough. I mean, my stepfather would say, when I said, “dad, I got 98% in my test.” He’s like “what happened to the other two points?” And he wasn’t kidding.
And I think that left me with a sense of lack and void that I was always trying to fill, and always trying to be seen and known and acknowledged. And I’ve actually built a career on that, and it worked, but now I’m sort of reorganizing all that in my mind, and what matters and how I want to live, and how I relate to my work and other people, and the need for validation. And I never, if you would’ve said “Mark, do you love yourself?” I would have said, “of course I do.” “Do you have high self-esteem?” “Yes I do.” “Do you have a lot of self worth?” “Of course I do.” But the truth was, I don’t think I really did.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, you did, based on external conditions.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I was like, I really didn’t. And I’ve really been cultivating-

Dr. Gabor Maté:
I’m the same way. I was the same way.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
…That level of self-worth and self love. And I actually went to a retreat for myself. I wanted to block myself away for a month, and I went to Vermont and I just stayed in a cabin. I pulled out all the distractions. No phone, computer, books, TV, nothing. And I just sat with myself and I walked, and I ate, and I was in nature, and I wrote, that was one thing I did do. And I was just sort of amazed to begin to realize that I was enough.
And I had this feeling, it was after this work around my mother and this trauma that I began to have this insight about what was driving me, and driving my behavior that had a lot of good results, but that actually left me not feeling that great, and also sacrificing my health and doing all kinds of things that weren’t in service of my soul and what really mattered. And it was such a shock, and a friend of mine said, “you don’t love yourself. You don’t have self love.” I’m like, “what do you mean? Of course I do.” But actually I realized I didn’t.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
No of course.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the cultivation of that has really changed my whole internal architecture.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
For me, and then of course, the way this society works is, as you pointed out a couple times in this conversation, it rewards us for our self betrayal. And so that I was this respected doctor, always available and is so kind and all this. My wife would go to a supermarket and they see the credit card, and are you the wife of the great so and so? And she would grit her teeth.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, because the great (bleep) at home.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Because the great so and so wasn’t available at home, he was too busy working all the time. Wasn’t available for his own kids, for his own self care, for the relationship. But the world externally rewards us for that. So as much as you grind some people down, it elevates some people for the wrong reasons, and for reasons which then reinforces. And it’s very addictive because if my value depends on how much I’m helping others, it becomes addictive. And the reason it becomes addictive is because there’s always a niggling doubt inside, which is maybe unconscious, but says, “okay, they want me. But do they want me, or do they want what I’m giving them?” Yeah. So that satisfaction of getting that praise and valuation from the outside is a temporary hit. Like somebody’s temporary hit from heroin. And then you have to have it again and again and again.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And our culture rewards that, I mean it doesn’t reward addiction-

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Our culture rewards it. So our culture rewards that kind of addiction, big time, values it and esteems it. Meanwhile, the soul is being ground to dust inside. And that’s another example of the myth of normal.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. That’s so true. And the stories we tell ourselves are often so distorted. One of my closest friends, I thought for 20 years he’d had a happy childhood, because he always said he had a happy childhood. And it wasn’t until I went away and did a workshop with his sister, we were at the same place. And I started sharing about this, and she’s like, “what are you talking about? My mother was crazy and she did this and she’s that. And it was awful.” And I’m like “what?” It was a shock. And it explains so much about his behavior and his patterns.
And I think a lot of us do that. We kind of prematurely transcend in a way, our trauma. And actually going through it, we try to go past it and end up having all these maladaptive patterns of living and being nonfunctioning in a way that brings us joy and happiness and peace, which is what we’re all after anyway.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And as you mentioned earlier, then you go to a physician, and I’ve often done this in talks that I give, I ask people, “well, if you’ve been to a cardiologist or a respirologist or oncologist or a dermatologist, a neurologist… Any kind of an ologist in the last five years, just raise your hands.” So out of 500 people in a room, half of them at least will put their hands up, maybe more. And then I’ll say now keep your hands up, if they asked you about any childhood trauma, you’re current relationship, any stresses at work, how do you feel about yourself as a human being? The hands mostly go down.
And yet I say to people and I say this with full scientific backing, that those questions that are not being asked, are what drove you to that doctor in the first place. Whether that trauma manifested in chronic physical illness, or mental health conditions, or addictions, that’s the source. And unless you deal with that source, you’re only dealing with symptomatology and not actual cause.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So for people listening, they’re probably wondering, “wow, maybe I haven’t identified this or that as trauma or maybe actually I did survive a really traumatic childhood that I’m aware of, but I’m stuck in these dysfunctional patterns. And I don’t know how to break through, I don’t know how to rewire.” How do we reconstitute ourselves in this modern world, it’s a toxic culture. So if we all got to go off and live in a monastery somewhere, it might be okay, but how do we do that? How do you provide a path for people to think about their own healing?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, it’s very difficult because, partly it’s a matter of resources like those that are fortunate enough economically to be able to afford a good therapist. And I have to emphasize good, because there’s a lot of very useless therapies out there. I could talk great length about that, that don’t go to the heart of the things, but you only deal with the surface. So if you can afford to do that, by all means just as you take your car in for a tune up, take yourself in for a tune up and find out what is grinding, and what is not working, and where it’s not lubricated, and what actually happened. There’s lots of therapeutic modalities, and I’ve developed one, you mentioned that in your introduction, Compassion Inquiry, but I don’t claim it’s a panacea.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What is that?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, at this point I’m only mentioning it as one possible, amongst many, many others. There are so many forms of therapy out there and people can find whatever works for them. So there’s my Compassion Inquiry. There’s my good friend, Dick Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems, which is getting increasing attraction and attention for good reason. There is Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So body-based therapies.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Body-based therapies, that’s right. The Cranial Sacral work, body work such as massages and so on, and very interesting how many times people will get a massage and the therapist will touch a certain part of their body and all of a sudden the tears come. Because like Bessel van der Kolk says in his bestselling book, the body does keep the score, The Body Keeps the Score. So the sensory motor therapies, Pat Ogden, I could name many, many therapies.
But if you’re going to find a therapy, find one that’s trauma informed. Most therapies are not trauma informed. Something like cognitive behavioral therapy mostly deal with, I’m not saying it’s categorically, but mostly deal with the surface of things. It doesn’t deal with the underlying traumatic template for why you think the way you do. But for people who can’t afford a private therapist, or the community programs, online there’s all kinds of information about trauma. Many of my talks have been uploaded to YouTube, not by me, but just by others on trauma. You can get lots of information, not just from me, but from others as well. Then there are modalities that anybody can do, such as meditation and mindfulness. Like you spent a month on your own. And basically I’ve done similar things, where you’re just alone with your mind.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And that’s a scary thing.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
It can be a very scary thing for sure. But that means taking a break from the digital world. Actually spending time alone with the mind, and then writing about it, journaling about it, talking to people about it. There’s lots of stuff that people can do. And increasingly there are more and more books that are really good guides to understanding and working with trauma. Peter Levine’s work, Waking the Tiger in a Non-spoken Voice, that’s another one of Peter’s work. My various books that you were kind enough to mention, including this most recent one. Bessel’s The Body Keeps the Score. Bruce Perry, and Oprah’s recent book called What Happened To You? about childhood trauma. And memoirs like Educated by Tara Westover, which is quite a wake up call about trauma and its impacts. So there’s lots of stuff out there. Now at least we’re living in a world where this conversation, although it’s not penetrating the medical profession very much, at least is happening out there in the world.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s true. And I think historically-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s true. And I think historically, illness was seen as a spiritual problem in most cultures. You mentioned Lakota. When someone is sick, they bring the community together and the shamans and the medicine men were the healers and there was no division between spirituality and disease and health. It was all one continuum. And I spent a lot of time in very interesting cultures when I was in medical school, was in a Hopi reservation and another was in Nepal.
And there was just this embedded culture of shamanism and medicine men and healers. I remember being up in the mountains and way in the remote areas, near Tibet in Nepal, we ran a medical expedition and the dhaamee Jhākris were the Nepalese healers. And there was this incredible ceremony with the whole community around and the ill person. It wasn’t like you went to the doctor and you went and sat in an office by yourself. The whole community was there.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the healer was there, working on the person and they were doing whatever they were doing, but activating different healing mechanisms in the body that we actually can activate through these various different modalities. And many cultures historically have used plant medicines to actually heal. And now with the advent of this field of psychedelic-assisted therapy, this whole conversation is changing. And we’ve had Michael Pollan on the podcast, Tony Bossis, and others who were doing this work, and they really have resurrected this body of research that started in the ’50s around psychedelics and LSD to look at how we can use these to help heal the mind. And I know you sort of work with this model as well as part of the modalities. And like you said, there are many, but for many people, this can be an interruption in their normal view of themselves and their world and great safety.
I have members of my own family who have been able to take advantage of this and actually start to find peace and start to unpack the traumas. And I have many friends and many colleagues who have used this and a lot of it is sort of underground now, but it’s really emerging. And whether it’s ketamine therapy, whether it’s MDMA therapy, whether it’s iowaska or ibogaine which is incredibly interesting to me as an addiction treatment. We want to sort talk about that a little bit. And even things like Stellate ganglion blocks, which are nerve block in the neck that interrupts the fight or flight response. These are all technologies, let’s call them. Ancient technologies, some are more modern technologies that actually seem to help people take a quantum jump over and leapfrog over a lot of the sort slogging through the traumas, through traditional therapy and traditional psychiatry and medication, which often doesn’t really work that well.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, I wonder if you had… Like myself often wished or not often wished that if you could just combine the amazing achievements of modern medicine with some humility to look at the traditional wisdom, teachings of indigenous peoples, because it’s not a question of one over the other, but boy, if we had that kind of wisdom infused into our technological minds, we would be so much more powerful as healers. And as you suggested, the illness is not just a biological event, but a psychological spiritual event, so the medicine wheel of North American indigenous people, which the four quadrants of mind and spirit and body and sociology all have to be balanced and as regards psychedelics. So my third to last chapter in this book is on psychedelics because I have worked with them quite a bit and I spoke with Michael Pollan and I asked him if he was surprised by the success of his workbook, How to Change Your Mind.
And he said, what he was most surprised was that he expected a lot more pushback within the medical profession. But he says, people are realizing how thin our toolkit actually is. And then we have to find some other solutions. And I, myself have found both individually for me, but also as a healing modality for people I work with, psychedelics to be a very powerful potential. In modern, potential is a very powerful modality. And I’m not a psychedelic evangelist. I don’t think psychedelics are going to save the world or save medicine. But boy, are we nuts not to explore them and to employ them because they have so much to potentially to offer in so many conditions. And the book I give examples of people healing, not just from mental health, but also from physical conditions based on changing their mindset as it flows from psychedelic experience.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So how do these medicines work? And I think they’re all different, right? But how do they reset these neural networks and how do they help people metabolize their trauma and heal it?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, some traditions, like say example with iowaska, it wasn’t necessarily the client who would take the plant, but the shaman would. And the shaman would then get a vision and deep insight. And I’ve worked with these indigenous shamans in the Peruvian rainforest. Let me tell you they’re penetrating the-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Shipibo healers.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. The Shipibo people they’re deep and they see things that Western medicine just doesn’t have a clue about. I’m talking personally had that experience.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Can you share that?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. And they just saw it right into me. They had no idea who I was. They were not impressed.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They hadn’t read all your books.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
They didn’t read my books. They were not impressed with my credentials. They just saw this human being carrying a lot of trauma and they just saw it and they worked with it. And I didn’t have to be on the plant for them to see that. I was, but it was their own vision that allowed them to see that, so that is the first point. Is that party it has to do with who is administering it in what context and what training they’ve had.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. The set and setting, they call it.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
The set and setting-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Go to a party and take this stuff hope it works.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
[inaudible 00:56:31] and context. Secondly, Sigmund Freud once said that dreams are the royal rule to the unconscious, meaning that in dreams you manifest some of our most unconscious emotional dynamics, which is true, but the interpretation of dreams is notoriously difficult. And I think Freud certainly had his own… He had-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Bias.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
… His own delusions when it came to interpreting other people’s dreams. But I think psychedelics are, might be said to be a royal rule to the unconscious because they remove the usual defenses of the egoic mind, so you get to see both the pain and the possibility that underlies the egoic mindset. So people get in touch with some deep agony sometimes. They also get in touch with some beauty that they had not been in touch with, but has been inside them all along. So you get to see both the traumatized, unprotected, uncovered traumatized aspect of your personality that has been pulling the strings behind the curtains for a long time now, but you also get to see the possibilities of oneness and unity and love and beauty so that you don’t have to keep running. You don’t have to keep employing these defenses. That’s it in a very small nutshell, but the potential is tremendous and I’ve seen it happen. I’ve experienced some of it myself and I’ve certainly seen it happen a lot in my work with other people.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think it’s very powerful. And the sort of addiction space is sort of fascinating because not all psychedelics or plant medicine are the same and these particular compound, which I don’t think we’ve talked about in the podcast, ibogaine, derived from the Iboga tree.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
One of the things I wish I had talked about in this chapter, but I didn’t, and I’m not even sure why I omitted it. I was probably just wanting to get the book finished.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There was only 4,000 pages already.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Was Iboga. Iboga, which is a plant that goes in Gabon by the [inaudible 00:58:44] apple and has been used as a spiritual enzyme, you might say by those people there, tribally speaking. But it has amazing quality of not just of unearthing traumatic imprints, like many of the other psychedelics do, but also, in the case of opiates, actually obviating opiate withdrawals. So you could be on heroin for 20 years and after two nights of iboga or ibogaine, which is the extract, you are not going through withdrawal symptoms. You’re not-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which is shocking from a medical perspective. An alcoholic… I worked in the emergency room and someone come in with alcohol withdrawal, it’s a physiological phenomenon. Heroin addiction and withdrawal is a physiological phenomenon. So how do you interrupt that?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, opiate withdrawal is terrible. The dependence is because of the loss of opiate receptors and therefore all of a sudden, you don’t get the opiate from the outside, your system is in total shock. Ibogaine prevents that. Now again, it’s not for everybody. There are some medical contraindications and the context has to be really right and pristine both psychologically and medically and physically, but in the proper hands transformative. And there are studies being done now with American veterans with PTSD, showing amazing results with using iboga. Stanford is running such a study, but of course, in the wisdom of our current society, it’s illegal and it’s considered to be medically useless. And therefore it’s hard to even get permission to study it, which is insanity-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, there is a woman-

Dr. Gabor Maté:
… To the highest degree.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s a woman who I’ve spoken to and I’ve heard her speak, Deborah Mash, who is a scientist and has worked with NIH-funded studies and has done a lot of the key work in this area of iboga and talks about the development of derivatives of iboga and noribogaine and other derivatives that actually may not have some of the adverse effects, but can benefit people. And we’ve actually had conversations about food addiction. You mentioned sugar being the most addictive compound in the world.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
That’s true.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I think Dr. Adams in my books said, “You know rats will work eight times harder to get sugar than to get cocaine. If they’re already addicted to cocaine, they’ll switch over to sugar.’ And I sort of had said, “Hey, maybe I don’t know if anybody even looked at this, but wouldn’t it be interesting if a lot of the sort of modalities we have now, which are related to food, which are driven by food addiction could be treated with this plant medicine.” It would be kind of a fascinating line of inquiry.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And what does that make Kellogg with their sugar Frosted Flakes or Coca-Cola?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Drug pushers.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
That makes them the biggest drug pushers in the world. And yet they’re respectable brand name companies and talk about the middle normal.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s true. I mean, the first podcast I ever did is Dr. Pharmac with Michael Moss on sugar, salt and fat, and-

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… He documented the ways in which the food industry deliberately created addictive foods. They have taste institutes. They hire craving experts to create the bliss point of food.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
I know. And if one of my patients in the downtown side got caught with an ounce of cocaine that he might be trying to sell to feed his own illegal habit. And I could talk at length about why these habits are illegal and others are not. But if one of my clients got caught, but with an ounce of cocaine he’d go to jail. And these corporations, they kill millions.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, yeah.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And they are just respectable citizens and respectable entities. I mean, the absurdity of it and injustice of it just cries to the heavens.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true. Addiction kill, let’s say 70,000 people, lower dose in America, guns, maybe 70,000, probably 700,000 die in America.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
From 100,000 last year. More than a hundred thousand last year.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, but still. I mean, still seven or maybe 10 times that are caused by food. And yet we don’t really have a national conversation about this. Even with COVID, diet plays such a huge role in predisposing people to hospitalizations and death. It still isn’t part of the national narrative. I mean, in other countries, it is now, but.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And again, COVID… I mean, we used to say in the beginning and we’re all in this together. No, we’re not. People that are of color, people that are poor, people that are driven by stress into obesity, these people are at a significantly higher risk than people that were more privileged. So, no, we’re not all in this together. In this society, we are all in this together is a real lie is what it is.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I find it really, despite the depressing nature of this conversation, I actually find it very hopeful because when you identify and name a problem and you understand the root cause of it, and you can map out a series of strategies to help treat the problem is actually very reassuring.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, in the last chapter, I talk about the values of disillusionment and it’s really good to be disillusioned. I ask people, would you rather be illusioned or disillusioned? Would you rather believe in a false universe that doesn’t actually exist? Would you rather see things the way they are so you can do something about it? So I wouldn’t have written this book if I saw no possibility, if I saw no redemption, if I didn’t see the healing capacity within individuals or even within society. So in that sense, you might call me an optimist. But I do think that in order to get there, you really have to look at how things are unflinchingly and not pretend to ourselves that what we think is normal is actually normal. It isn’t.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not, no. That’s the myth of normal. In a way, it’s a book of redemption. It’s like, how do we redeem ourselves from a toxic culture, from toxic families, from a toxic environment? And how do we heal that? And that’s a conversation that’s so invisible that hasn’t been brought forth by many doctors. I think you’re one of the few.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, as physicians, we’re not trained to do that and trained actually to look away from it. And there was one study on medical residents. Without going into the details, when they looked at markers of biological aging, they aged faster than other people their age, which has to do with the tremendous stress and trauma that physicians are going through in order to make it. And so they have to ignore their own stuff, their own stress, and their own trauma in order to be successful. Then when they get out there to practice, that’s the last thing they think about.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true. I mean, I remember being told by residents who are older than me, basically, as we were on rotations, lunch and sleep are weaknesses.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m like what?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
I was 50 years old when I found out that you can actually sit down to have lunch. You know? You don’t have to do it running between offices.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true. This is such a good conversation. I have a few more things I want to dive into. One is the biology of psychology. Carol May talks about how our biography becomes our biology. I mean, our biology also can become our biography. So physical things can cause mental illness, but also psychological stresses can cause physical illness and Candace Pert, you talk about in your book. I had the chance to meet her who worked for the NIH and studied the mind-body effect, you called it the body mind and the molecules of emotion. And can you explore a little bit about the science behind how these traumas and these psychological stresses manifest in the body as physical illness?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
So here’s the… Let me begin with the frustrating thing. So in the 1860s, John Mary Charcot, the father of modern neurology, who first described multiple sclerosis, said that it was caused by long-term vexation and grief. William Osler, a great physician at John Hopkins, one of the founding physicians at John Hopkins, he said rheumatoid arthritis was caused by long-term stress.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He also said that it’s more important to know the person who has a disease than the disease the person has.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
The disease itself. That’s right. Yeah. An American surgeon called Paget, wrote about breast cancer had lot to do with depression and so on. In 1938, there was a Hungarian American physician at Harvard called Soma Weiss, who was so revered that there is still a research day in his honor at Harvard, to this day. And he said in a lecture to a medical school class-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Another Hungarian Jew.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Another Hungarian Jew. Published in the journal of the American Medical Association, he said that mental and emotional factors are as important in the causation of illness as physiological ones and have to be at least as important in the treatment. In 1977, the great American physician and psychiatrist, Georgia Engle called for a biocycle social approach, which recognizes that biology is inseparable from our psychological dynamics and social relationships. So…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Not new.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
So this is nothing new.
Now, what is new is that these great pioneers, what they recognized intuitively, now we have proven by means of hard science. In terms of hard science, the body and mind can’t be separated, that the emotional centers in the brain are connected with the nervous system, with the hormonal apparatus, with the immune system, with the gut and with the heart. In other words, they’re not even connected because even to say connected creates the impression that separate entities are somehow… These are not separate. They’re the one system.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. One system.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Just as Candace Pert called it the body mind, it’s one system. Therefore, it just stands to reason that whatever happens emotionally will have its manifestation physiologically. And sure enough, when people get emotionally stressed, that’s not just a psychological event, their hormonal apparatus goes into gear. They secrete stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.
Now, here’s an interesting little fact. When you go to a dermatologist for inflammation of the skin or rheumatologist for inflammation of the joints or a neurologist for inflammation of the intestines or respirologist for inflammation of your lungs, and I could go on. What medicine are you going to get? You’re going to get some analog of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Now, you think as physicians, we might ask ourselves, “Gosh, we’re treating everything with stress hormones. Could stress have something to do with the onset of these conditions?” Maybe just, perhaps. And of course, the research is indubitable that it’s actually the case and the physiological pathways had to do with these connections and what happens emotionally affects the immune system, or what happens in the immune system can actually affect the emotions. So if you get a vile infection that can release hormones from the white blood cells, that will make you depressed.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When I had COVID, I was so depressed and I’m never really depressed like that. And I was like, I understand why people want to kill themselves.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah, so-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I knew it was COVID, but I was like, “Holy cow.”

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah, so it goes both ways. It’s not just the… Because it’s one unit and it’s one system, it’s inevitable that whatever happens emotionally is going to show up physiologically. Furthermore, we know that childhood trauma elevates the circulation of inflammatory particles in the blood, cytokines so-called, which can turn on cancer genes, which can reduce the body’s defenses, which can support the growth of blood vessels to support tumors, and so on. We know that stress, even in utero, if your mother experiences stress, that will show up in your physiology at age 45 by mechanisms I write about in the book I won’t go into now. In other words, it’s just this constant dance between our psychological lives and our physiology and it’s unscientific to ignore it. I’ve only mentioned a few mechanisms. Then there’s the impact of stress and emotions on the functioning of our genes, which is studied by epigenetics or one could go just on and on and on.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Microbiome, your bacteria, are listening to your thoughts.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Then there’s the microbiome, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Your immune cells are listening to your thoughts, your telomeres. Like you said, your genes.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And one study I looked at was stress on the mother during a pregnancy will interfere with the infants microbiome. So it’s just… So these dynamics are inseparable and inextricable. There’s just a unit that wants be on… This is a scientific fact. So when our profession talks about scientific medicine and evidence-based medicine, if there’s one phrase that we could delete from the medical lexicon it would be evidence-based because I only wish that we were evidence-based.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Yeah. I think I often say we’re reimbursement-based, not evidence-based. We do what we get paid to do now what the right thing to do is, right? And I think that’s one of the flaws and a lot of the evidence is ignored because it’s not large randomized clinical trials, which are only one form of evidence and-

Dr. Gabor Maté:
It is one form of evidence and mostly to the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly. And then population studies are another form of evidence, but again, those don’t necessarily prove cause and effect.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
And you what is another form of evidence. I know I’m heretical to say so. Just listen to people’s stories. Let them tell you about their lives. That’s evidence.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly. Absolutely.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
It’s only in that evidence to the people who are terminally cut off from their heart.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I think the advent of systems, biology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence and quantified self metrics, which are how we measure our own biology are going to revolutionize the way we understand all of this because it’s not too far in the future that we’re going to be able to plant a chip in our skin and come up with everything that’s happening in our body and have it read by some super computer and make sense of all these connections and patterns and see how it works. But it’s so true. And I think the thing that you mentioned that I want to dive a little bit deeper into is this concept of epigenetics.
And for people listening, just a little background, your genes are fixed. You can edit them maybe with CRISPR and these new technologies, but basically you’ve got 20,000 genes. You’ve got a lot of variations in those genes, but those genes are regulated by something called the epigenome, which sits on top of your genes. And those epigenetic marks, let’s call them, like bookmarks in your book of life, which is your genome, determine which pages get read, which genes get read. And that determines your health or determines what diseases you’re going to get. And what’s really striking to me, and there’s some interesting literature around the Holocaust, which you were in many ways sort of a representative of the trauma from that generation, is that generational trauma is real. It’s not just an abstract idea, but the biblical idea that the sins of the fathers are visited upon their sons. I mean, this actually-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Idea that the sins of the fathers are visited upon their sons. There’s actually scientific evidence now that we know how our imprinting in our grandparents or their grandparents is transmitted generationally through these little tags and bookmarks on our genes, that determine what happens to us.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So can you talk about that and what we know about how that works? And what we can do about it. Can you change those marks?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
So it’s a very interesting new field, relative new field, epigenetics. As you say, on top of genes. I’m certainly no expert on it, but I did interview expert people who are. Mosicheff in Montreal and Dr. Rachel Yehuda at Mount Sinai actually in New York, and these people have done elegant research that show exactly what you’re talking about. That experiences in life can change how genes are turned on and off by the environment. And those effects can be transmitted into new generations without any change in genetic structure.
And there’s this tremendous misbelief in the power of genes in the general public, and certainly in the medical profession. There are very few genetic diseases.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
There’s very few genetic diseases that if you have the gene, you’re going to get a disease. One runs in my family, muscular dystrophy. If you got that gene, you’re going to have the disease. Through the generations and that’s shown up in every generation of my family. That’s very rare.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s like 1%.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
1% maybe or less.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Less, right.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Huntington’s, chorea. Things that already becomes the best cancer, for example. Everybody talks about be genetic. No, it isn’t. Out of hundred women with breast cancer, seven have the gene, and over hundred women with the gene, not all of them will get the disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
In other words, the genes themselves. Even in the case of breast cancer, like Angelina Jolie, very famously had mastectomies and ovariectomies. The ovaries are taken out, and she made a calculated decision because an aggressive form of that gene runs in her family. And so I understand that, but that’s very rare comparatively speaking.
And so most illnesses, the genetic effect if any, is minimal and not at all decisive. And what is decisive is how the environment acts on the genes, which is the epigenetics. And we believe in genes because it’s so convenient. First of all, it’s simple. Secondly, it allows us not to deal with our stuff. So that as a society, we don’t have to look at all the ways in which society stresses and oppresses or really pathologizes people. And venoms makes them sick, toxifies them and so on.
So if it’s genetics, well I don’t have to worry about that. If addiction is genetic, we don’t have to look at the trauma that so many people suffer, and the way in which the system itself traumatizes people. So genetics kind of takes us off to hook, but scientifically it’s absolute nonsense.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And I think the epigenetic conversation is to me really important because just in ways that our genes can be marked for disease, they can actually be unmarked.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
That’s right. And there are geneticists who say that. They say that genetics may confer certain sensitivities on people. But after that, it’s the environment. So you can have the same set of genes, different experiences, and have completely different outcomes. You can have identical twins, who’ve got the same set of genes with totally different outcomes. If you subject them to different experiences.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true. They looked at actually 88,000 twins, 44,000 twin pairs in cancer. And they found there was only a 10% correlation. That means 90% of cancers in those twins were not genetically related. Which is kind of a striking thing in twins.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. And by the way, even that 10% is probably not as much as it looks. You know why?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Because they both had similar traumas maybe?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
They spent nine months in the same uterus. So we already know lots of studies have shown that stresses on a woman during pregnancy has an impact on the fetus. So you can stress pregnant animals in the laboratory, just by exposing say a mother rat to an hour of loud noise once a week in the second trimester. Their offspring would be more likely to drink alcohol and use cocaine as adults. So that even those twin studies, they ignore the fact that those twins, even if they grew up in different environments, they still spend nine months in the same uterus.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s so true. And I think we had the Human Genome Project, which in around 2000, decoded the human genome. And it was this great event that was an advance that was promising to end disease as we know it.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Bill Clinton said something like, “We’re finding out the language in which God wrote life.” Something like that. We found out nothing of the sort.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, right. And so it’s been a massive failure in many ways, although it has led to many discoveries. Because it ignored the story that hasn’t been really told, which is not the genome, but the exposome, which is what genes are exposed to. Whether it’s the toxic environment psychologically, or whether it’s a literal toxic environment of pesticides, chemicals, or bad diet or stress. All these things are the real determinants of health. So 90% of chronic disease is determined by the exposome not the genome.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah, that’s right. Well only I would slightly demur from your assertion that the epigenome was a massive failure. It was a massive success for all the billions of dollars that it generated for all kinds of companies and researchers. Failure in terms of benefiting human health, yes. And some of its most fervent advocates have admitted as much. They said they’re “ashamed of themselves now.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not that it’s bad to have done that and decoded it. But I think it’s like, what we now need to understand is how those genes are regulated.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How those genes are expressed. And that’s what we have really a lot of control over. And I wonder even some of these psychedelic therapies, if they work on some of these pathways, and if they work on some of these ways. Because I don’t understand how, for example, the iboga works around addiction. It’s such a fascinating biological phenomenon, not just a psychological phenomenon.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
No, we don’t know the physiology. There’s a psychiatrist in New York called Ken Alpert that you might want to talk to about it. He’s kind of a world expert on iboga and how it works. But I don’t think anybody really knows fully how any of these things really work on the brain. People have theories and we can show on scans, how they light up certain parts of the brain. But you know what? I don’t care. The reason I don’t care.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It works.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Because it works.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So for people listening, and I sort of want to loop back this before we close. I imagine people are paying attention to their own stories, their own narratives, their own origins, their families. And their own behaviors, addictions, mental health challenges, and trying to figure out a map for how do we go forward? And you mentioned a lot of the potential therapies. But I think the question for me that I want to keep coming back to with you is, how do we really rewire these patterns? And is it really possible? Because you kind of tell the story in your book of coming home from a trip, getting to the airport, expecting your wife’s going to pick you up. And for some reason she was busy, and you went to this kind of tail spin about it.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Totally.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And were kind of giving her the cold shoulder for a week.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, she let me get away with for a day.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, a day.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Then she said, “Knock it off already.” But what happens is, that here I’m at that time 72, I was just young and stupid. Age 72.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You were young and stupid at 72.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. Listen, this is a line I use. I’m 78 now. And thank God for rewiring on neuroplasticity, because I would not wish to be as young and stupid as I was when I was 77. Nevermind that the callow age of 72. But the point is, I had a meltdown. I became an abandoned infant because that’s the trigger. That’s the circuit in my brain stamped with the sense of abandonment that got triggered.
Yes, we can rewire with practice and with attention. You can rewire the brain. And the last eight chapters of the book is really all about, how do we rewire? To go back to what you said in the beginning, how do we make new meaning and let go of the old meanings that trauma impose on it? So it’s entirely possible. I proposed some ways in various chapters in the last section of my book.
And I said earlier, there’s other modalities as well. So yes, it can be done. And I think that healing capacity really is an inherent quality of human beings. Which again, as physicians, we’re not learning how to line up with and support and liven. If we did, we’d be so much more powerful as healers. So what we can do mechanically is brilliant and it’s miraculous. I never cease to marvel at what can be done. But at the same time, there’s so much that we miss, and so much more that we could do if we could align with people’s natural healing capacities. If we were a bit more humble, a bit more inclusive, open minded. And if we just look at the science.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And it’s true. I mean the body has its own innate healing system and capacity that we really ignored in traditional medicine. Because we think we’re the doctors and we’re going to fix people. But actually all we need to do is get out of the way and let the body do the healing.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Very often that’s what we have to do. Yeah. Look, if I broke my femur in three places, I wouldn’t want some orthopedic just to get out of the way. I want him to get in there and nail me together.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
But for most chronic conditions of body and the mind, what we’re saying is absolutely true.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So just to close, we’ve been talking a lot about the personal story and the personal journey. But a lot of your book is about the toxic culture we live in, and the ways in which our policies and our corporations and the structure and our education all perpetuate a world that keeps perpetuating the trauma.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
The last chapter of the book I began by asking, “Well, how do we change this culture that is so determined to even destroy the earth rather than to give up its prerogatives?” Which is how it is. And we’re quite willing to ignore causes of illness that kill millions. We generated a very powerful and very urgent response to the COVID situation. Some people might not agree with some of how that went down, but there’s no question that resources and ingenuity were mobilized to tackle this public health threat.
But there’s ongoing public health threats that kill many or more people annually that have to do with the environment, that has to poor food, that has to do with poverty, has to do with racism, has to do with inequality, has to do with just the stress on even successful people in this culture that we don’t address.
So when I ask the question, how do we address all that? My honest answer is, “I don’t know.” I do have my own political views. I do have a vision of a society that’s very different than the ones we’re living in.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What does it look like?

Dr. Gabor Maté:
It’s certainly based on our revolutionary needs for communality and connection and cooperation. Rather than aggression and competition and rugged individualism, and this belief that we’re isolated selves.
But right now, in an immediate sense, we could simply listen to the science and infuse some trauma awareness into the medical profession. Including how doctors are trained, not just in what they’re taught, but how they’re treated so that they’re not traumatized in doing their training. So infusing trauma awareness into the medical profession would go a long way. Introducing trauma illness, introducing trauma awareness into the legal profession. Most people in the jails have…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Traumatized.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, the United States is the most richest country in the world. It’s also the one with the largest percentage of its population in jail. Disproportionately people of color, or can I say it’s a reprise of slavery is what it actually is. Most people who are in jail are there because of trauma. The predictions of people going to the foster care system ending up in jail are extraordinarily high.
But even if you had to isolate people from society to protect society, even if you had to do that. What if you did so with compassion, with trauma awareness? We know the impact of trauma informed programs in jails. They’re miraculous.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Huge.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
But they’re so rare and so poorly funded, and not at all part of the mandate of what we call the correction system. And I think for a good reason, we call it a criminal justice system. Because it’s a criminal system. And because it hurts the innocent, it hurts people that don’t deserve to be hurt. It hurts people that even if they did bad things, they still deserve to be treated by human beings and to be corrected. So if we had a real correctional system, that would have to be a trauma informed system. The average physician does not get a single lecture on trauma in all the years of training, which is incredible.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, I didn’t.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
But neither does the average lawyer, or the average judge, or correctional officer, or policeman. They don’t know a thing about it, which is insane. Because that’s all thy deal with day in, day out.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
The educational profession needs to be trauma informed. Because all these kids with learning difficulties and behavior problems, and so-called bogus diagnosis like oppositional defined disorder with diagnosis like ADHD. They need to be told, educators do, that we’re looking at is kids who are stressed and troubled at home. And that’s what needs to be dealt with.
One of the points they make is that in our society we’ve become alienated from own parenting instincts. So we parent our kids under stressful conditions following the wrong advice. We could go so far in the right direction. If we just recognize what the irreducible needs of children are. For unconditional love and acceptance, for free play in nature, for not having to work like you did to make the relationship with your mother work. To have rest from that. For children to be allowed to feel all their emotions, not punishing a kid for being angry, but by helping them express the anger in an acceptable way. Just meeting kid’s basic needs. If parents were just informed, if parents were supported. In the United States, 20% or 25% of women had to go back to work within two weeks of giving birth, which amounts to an abandonment of the child.
So a quarter of kids are being abandoned by their mothers. Not because their mothers don’t love them or trying to do their best, but because economically they’re forced to do so because of lack of child support.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s what happened to you in the Holocaust. Your mother had to hide you.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
My mother had to hide me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Christian family, because you were Jewish.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
But that was special circumstance. Here in north America…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now it’s normal.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
… that’s a common circumstance. So there’s so much child rearing, so much general education in our healthcare and our legal system. We could do if we just embrace the evidence that we already have. So we’re not talking about miracles here, we’re talking about what’s known, what’s possible. What’s available and what would cost a lot less.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s so true.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Than the economic cost of ignoring human needs.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And you mentioned the economics of it, but it’s staggering. The economic impact of this in terms of the cost of society. In fact, there was an economic analysis of the impact of chronic disease over the next 35 years, and it’s economic impact. It was going to cost 95 trillion, which is considering our GDP is about 20 trillion. That’s a lot of money, and healthcare is a huge part of that.
And the majority of that, believe it or not, was depression. Was what they call the loss of quality of life years. The quality of adjusted life years lost. Or the sort of lack of productivity or effectiveness as a citizen, or as a member of society because you’re depressed. I mean that’s just a staggering amount.
And that again, all that arises from exactly what we’ve been talking about on the podcast. And I think as you’ve been talking, it’s really clear to me, we need to sort of reimagine society in a way that brings connection, not separation. In a way that creates safety around these conversations, in a way that reimagines education, reimagines social discourse, reimagines our policies to support these. Reimagines our criminal justice system, our medical system, really every area has to actually be trauma informed, trauma conscious, as you talked about it. And your work is so important, Gabor, and I thank God your mom saved you. Because this maybe, I don’t know how many years later, 70 something years later.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Where I think now ready is a society for this conversation, and your book, “The Myth of Normal,” doesn’t come a day too soon. Everybody listening, this is really one of the most important books I think of the 21st century. Probably will hopefully be seen as that. And I think that everybody listening needs to get a copy. You need to read it. You need to understand what happened to you. What happens in our culture, and if all of us do that, I think we can begin to create a ripple effect that will bring this conversation to the forefront and start the process of healing. And begin the process of understanding that we don’t live in a normal world, that it’s actually abnormal.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Well, Mark, you’re very kind to say so. If I just may make a comment about the story of my mother, because it speaks to the theme of healing. So yes, I arrive at the airport and my wife is not there to pick me up, and my abandonment trauma gets triggered. But as a one year old, I could not interpret my mother giving me to a stranger to save my life is anything other than abandonment. But you know what? Once I heal, I realized what? It was a great act of love. Can you imagine for 24 year old young mom whose parents had been killed in Auschwitz, her husband was dead or alive, she didn’t know. Then to give their baby to a stranger. And what an act of love it was for that strange Christian woman to take this little Jewish baby, and take him to safety.
So that what all my life I had emotionally interpreted as abandonment actually was a tremendous act of love. I think this is where the healing and the wiring.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
The rewiring that we’ve been talking about can actually take place.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
It’s not just the event. It’s the meaning that we give them. And when it comes to healing, we can create our own meanings going forward.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In essence, what you’re talking about, is creating a new kind of medicine. Love medicine.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Yeah. That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, thank you Gabor for your work. Everybody listening, get the book. You can learn more about his work at DrGaborMate.com. His other books, The Wisdom of Trauma is a movie I encourage you to watch, is available online. And I can’t wait to see what you do next, and thank you and whatever I can do to help you. I’m here.

Dr. Gabor Maté:
Thank you so much.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And anybody listening to the podcast, who’ve been moved by it. Please share it with your friends and family on social media and any other way. Leave a comment about maybe how your life has been impacted by trauma, and what you’ve done to heal or how you’ve struggled. And we’d love to hear and subscribe wherever you get your podcast. And we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Pharmacy.

Outro:
Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their Find a Practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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