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In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

Close Encounters with Addiction
Written by: Gabor Maté
Narrated by: Daniel Maté
Length: 16 hrs and 18 mins
5 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this timely and profoundly original book, best-selling writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold on our emotions and behaviours. 

For over seven years Gabor Maté has been the staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and harm reduction facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. His patients are challenged by life-threatening drug addictions, mental illness, Hepatitis C or HIV and, in many cases, all four. But if Dr. Maté’s patients are at the far end of the spectrum, there are many others among us who are also struggling with addictions. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, work, food, sex, gambling, and excessive inappropriate spending: what is amiss with our lives that we seek such self-destructive ways to comfort ourselves? And why is it so difficult to stop these habits, even as they threaten our health, jeopardize our relationships, and corrode our lives? 

Beginning with a dramatically close view of his drug addicted patients, Dr. Maté looks at his own history of compulsive behaviour. He weaves the stories of real people who have struggled with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. Providing a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight, and cutting-edge scientific findings, Dr. Maté sheds light on this most puzzling of human frailties. He proposes a compassionate approach to helping drug addicts and, for the many behaviour addicts among us, to addressing the void addiction is meant to fill. 

I believe there is one addiction process, whether it manifests in the lethal substance dependencies of my Downtown Eastside patients, the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics, the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics and compulsive internet users, or in the socially acceptable and even admired behaviours of the workaholic. Drug addicts are often dismissed and discounted as unworthy of empathy and respect. In telling their stories my intent is to help their voices to be heard and to shed light on the origins and nature of their ill-fated struggle to overcome suffering through substance use. Both in their flaws and their virtues they share much in common with the society that ostracizes them. If they have chosen a path to nowhere, they still have much to teach the rest of us. In the dark mirror of their lives we can trace outlines of our own.
(from In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts)

©2011 Gabor Maté (P)2018 Vintage Canada

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My mentor Gabor Maté

Loved this book. This is definitely one of those books that everyone should read. we need more people like him. Addiction touches all of us.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Eye Opening

Very interesting information presented well. A must read for anyone working in the healthcare industry.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent insight into addiction

excellent insight into addiction and a powerful argument for the harm reduction model. captivating and inspiring.

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A better understanding

This book gave me a better understanding of some of the causes behind addictions. also a better understanding of harm reduction.

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Hungry Ghosts is a must read

Daniel does a fantastic read of his dads book on addiction.

The book chronicles Gabor’s time as a physician in the downtown east side of Vancouver and includes much insight into the lives of addicts and the underlying physiology and life circumstances that drive addiction.

Gabor clearly sees the humanity in his patients and lends a compassionate viewpoint to a group of people who are often marginalized in our society.

I believe that this is a must read/listen for anyone who wants to better understand their own minds as well as the minds of those afflicted by addiction.

Gabor’s telling of addicts stories and sharing of related neuroscience manages to shed light on a topic that people tend to ignore or misunderstand.

I Highly recommend you read it!

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  • Oliver
  • 2018-10-03

Like a compass

Filled with so much insight, no chapter went without its revelations.
The content is highly technical, but manages to be accessible to laypersons seeking answers about their inner mechanics.
I have recommended it several times already.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Public persona
  • Devlin, Ontario, Canada
  • 2018-12-21

Anyone in the helping field must read

This book is Is great for anyone in the helping field it’s a must read if you are working with addictions or in the emergency room or anywhere. Dr Gabor puts a true face on any addictions.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-07-17

Eye Opening, paradigm shifting

This book is very powerful, and I can only hope the masses digest what he is saying, as well as government leaders too. Gabor brilliantly illuminates the true nature of addiction, and provides keen insight from his personal experience, backed by scientific and spiritual support. This book has solid guidance for those who suffer from addiction just as much as it does for those who don’t.

We should be providing compassionate care for people with drug addictions. If harm reduction sites were in every state, and drugs were decriminalized, I am confident we would see a massive drop in violent crimes, deaths from overdose, and an overall increase in well-being across the board. I am really grateful for Dr. Maté, and for the information he provided in this book. I highly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kanjas holdings
  • 2019-06-05

So enlightening

Thank you for this great work. Greatest approach to addiction I've learned and I'm on my way to recovery.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jordan Post
  • 2019-07-31

Wonderful book!

As someone who has not been formally educated in addiction, but only through my personal addictions, I found this book to be incredibly fascinating. I was drawn in to the stories about the patients under Dr. Maté’s care and I hungrily absorbed the scientific and psychological truths he discussed.

I am more importantly left feeling compassion towards our brothers and sisters, mothers and children out there suffering from their addictions, and inspired to be less judgmental.

Daniel did an excellent job narrating. Very professional and his inflections and voice changes for different characters were fun. He is a talented man.

Do yourself a favor and listen to this book. It will be hard to listen and walk away unchanged.

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  • Stacey
  • 2019-08-16

Gabor should have been the narrator

I am a big fan of Gabor's work and have had the privilege of seeing him speak in a small group setting. I love his voice and am very disappointed that he is not the narrator. It changes everything for me. I'm only on the first hour and debating whether to return it and head to youtube to watch his talks and interviews instead. His son has a fine voice it's just not what I was expecting or wanting. I'm losing interest in listening. Gabor's energy comes through his voice. It calms my nervous system.
I would love Gabor to narrate any future audio books.