One of my patients once said this to me: “When I get triggered, either by a site or a sound, or by my own thoughts or sensations, I start losing touch. It’s like a curtain falls over my mind, or more like tunnel vision where I can’t see anything outside the narrowing beam of my attention. I want to tell you that the urge to act out overwhelms me to the point where I can’t resist. But there’s always a part of me that knows what I’m doing, and I think I could stop and do something different, but I just don’t know what that might be.”
If you’ve experienced the same, join me as I explore Gabor Mate‘s amazing book on the causes of addiction–In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Please share this information with anyone it may help.
2 thoughts on “Have you ever felt like this?”
Hi Mark, I just found your blog via the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy group on LinkedIn, and I’m so glad to find someone else who loved In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts! I’ve read lots of books on addiction, but this one was different: not only because here’s a treating physician who’s willing to be vulnerable about his own addictive behaviors, but also in the way he laid out a very persuasive argument for a more holistic approach to understanding, preventing and treating addiction.
I finished reading the book a couple months ago, and have really felt inspired to find a way to become more of a change agent in how our society perceives and responds to addiction. As a practicing psychotherapist with 30 years’ experience educating people about substance abuse and addiction, I am very frustrated with the way alcoholics and addicts are stigmatized, marginalized and criminalized, when it’s clear to me that first of all, we all have addictive behaviors at times, and secondly, those whose lives become consumed by an addiction are usually victims themselves – of dysfunctional families, early childhood trauma, and various forms of abuse. What they need is kindness, first of all, and then to learn some self-compassion to begin to heal the shame which keeps feeding their addiction. But hey, I’m probably preaching to the choir here, as it looks like you do that kind of education and work yourself. So thanks for listening, and a special thanks for doing such a nice job of summarizing Dr Mate’s work!
Thanks for you comments. I agree, Mate’s broader approach to understanding addiction as a process opens the door to treating those caught in addictive cycles with more compassion. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experience.
Best to you,