International Bestseller — Translated into 15 Languages
"This is a most important book, both for patient and physician. It could save your life."
— Peter Levine, PhD, best selling author of In an Unspoken Voice
"Gabor Maté, M.D., skillfully blends recent advances in biomedicine with the personal stories of his patients to provide empowering insights into how deeply developmental experiences shape our health, behavior, attitudes, and relationships. A must read."
― Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., author of The Biology of Belief
The international bestseller is a groundbreaking exploration of the effects of the mind-body connection on stress and disease ― and how we can heal.
Through the lens of moving personal stories, medical doctor and best-selling author Dr. Gabor Maté shows how emotion and psychological stress play a powerful role in the onset of chronic illness, cancer, and many other serious illnesses.
Drawing on scientific research and the author's decades of experience as a practicing physician, this book provides answers to important questions about the effect of the mind-body link on illness and health and the role that chronic stress and one's individual emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.
- Explore the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune conditions, and more
- The book draws on years of medical research and the author's own clinical experience as a family physician
- Complete with The Seven A's of Healing – Once you’re ready to acknowledge underlying stress, Dr. Mate guides you forward with principles of healing, management, and the prevention of illness from hidden stress
- Discover dozens of enlightening case studies and personal stories, including familiar names such as Lou Gehrig (ALS), Betty Ford (breast cancer), Ronald Reagan (Alzheimer's), Gilda Radner (ovarian cancer), and Lance Armstrong (testicular cancer)
- An impressive contribution to research on the physiological connection between life's chronic stress cycles, anxiety, and emotions and the body systems governing nerves, immune apparatus, and hormones
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About the Author
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. Rather than offering quick-fix solutions to these complex issues, Dr. Maté weaves together scientific research, case histories, and his own insights and experience to present a broad perspective that enlightens and empowers people to promote their own healing and that of those around them.
His books include In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction; Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder; and Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers with Dr. Gordon Neufeld.
Read an Excerpt
When the Body Says NoUnderstanding the Stress-Disease Connection
By Gabor Mate
John Wiley & SonsCopyright © 2003 Gabor Mate
All right reserved.
A Note to the Reader
People have always understood intuitively that mind and body are not separable. Modernity has brought with it an unfortunate dissociation, a split between what we know with our whole being and what our thinking mind accepts as truth. Of these two kinds of knowledge the latter, narrower, kind most often wins out, to our loss.
It is a pleasure and a privilege, therefore, to bring in front of the reader the findings of modern science that reaffirm the intuitions of age-old wisdom. That was my primary goal in writing this book. My other purpose was to hold up a mirror to our stress-driven society so that we may recognize how, in myriad unconscious ways, we help generate the illnesses that plague us.
This is not a book of prescriptions, but I do hope it will serve its readers as a catalyst for personal transformation. Prescriptions come from the outside, transformation occurs within. There are many books of simple prescriptions of one sort or another - physical, emotional, spiritual - that appear each year. It was not my intention to write yet one more. Prescriptions assume that something needs to be fixed; transformation brings forth the healing - the coming to integrity, to wholeness - of what is already there. While advice and prescriptions may be useful, even more valuable to us is insight into ourselves and the workings of our minds and bodies. Insight, when inspired by the quest for truth, can promote transformation. For those seeking a healing message here, that message begins on page one with the very first case study. As the great physiologist Walter Cannon suggested, there is a wisdom in our bodies. I hope When the Body Says No will help people align with the inner wisdom we all possess.
Some of the case examples in this book are derived from published biographies or autobiographies of well-known persons. The majority are taken from my clinical experience or from taped discussions with people who agreed to be interviewed and quoted regarding their medical and personal histories. For privacy reasons, names (and, in some instances, other circumstances) have been changed.
To avoid making this work prohibitively academic for the lay reader, notes have been used only sparingly. References are provided for each chapter at the end of the book.
Italics, unless otherwise noted, are mine.
I welcome comments at my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bermuda Triangle
Mary was a native woman in her early forties, slight of stature, gentle and deferential in manner. She had been my patient for eight years, along with her husband and three children. There was a shyness in her smile, a touch of self-deprecation. She laughed easily. When her ever-youthful face brightened, it was impossible not to respond in kind. My heart still warms - and constricts with sorrow - when I think of Mary.
Mary and I had never talked much until the illness that was to take her life gave its first signals. The beginning seemed innocent enough: a sewing-needle puncture wound on a fingertip failed over several months to heal. The problem was traced to Raynaud's phenomenon, in which the small arteries supplying the fingers are narrowed, depriving the tissues of oxygen. Gangrene can set in, and unfortunately this was the case for Mary. Despite several hospitalizations and surgical procedures, she was within a year begging for an amputation to rid her of the throbbing ache in her finger. By the time she got her wish the disease was rampant, and powerful narcotics were inadequate in the face of her constant pain.
Raynaud's can occur independently or in the wake of other disorders. Smokers are at greater risk, and Mary had been a heavy smoker since her teenage years. I hoped that if she quit, normal blood flow might return to her fingers. After many relapses she finally succeeded. Unfortunately, the Raynaud's proved to be the harbinger of something far worse: Mary was diagnosed with scleroderma, one of the autoimmune diseases, which include rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and many other conditions that are not always recognized to be autoimmune in origin, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and possibly even Alzheimer's disease. Common to them all is an attack by one's own immune system against the body, causing damage to joints, connective tissue or to almost any organ, whether it be the eyes, the nerves, the skin, the intestines, the liver or the brain. In scleroderma (from the Greek word meaning "hardened skin" ), the immune system's suicidal assault results in a stiffening of the skin, esophagus, heart and tissues in the lungs and elsewhere.
What creates this civil war inside the body?
Medical textbooks take an exclusively biological view. In a few isolated cases, toxins are mentioned as causative factors, but for the most part a genetic predisposition is assumed to be largely responsible. Medical practice reflects this narrowly physical mindset. Neither the specialists nor I as her family doctor had ever thought to consider what in Mary's particular experiences might also have contributed to her illness. None of us expressed curiosity about her psychological state before the onset of the disease, or how this influenced its course and final outcome. We simply treated each of her physical symptoms as they presented themselves: medications for inflammation and pain, operations to remove gangrenous tissue and to improve blood supply, physiotherapy to restore mobility.
One day, almost on a whim, in response to a whisper of intuition that she needed to be heard, I invited Mary to make an hour-long appointment so that she would have the opportunity to tell me something about herself and her life. When she began to talk, it was a revelation. Beneath her meek and diffident manner was a vast store of repressed emotion. Mary had been abused as a child, abandoned and shuttled from one foster home to another. She recalled huddling in the attic at the age of seven, cradling her younger sisters in her arms, while her drunken foster parents fought and yelled below. "I was so scared all the time," she said, "but as a seven-year-old I had to protect my sisters. And no one protected me." She had never revealed these traumas before, not even to her husband of twenty years. She had learned not to express her feelings about anything to anyone, including herself. To be self-expressive, vulnerable and questioning in her childhood would have put her at risk. Her security lay in considering other people's feelings, never her own. She was trapped in the role forced on her as a child, unaware that she herself had the right to be taken care of, to be listened to, to be thought worthy of attention.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate Copyright © 2003 by Gabor Mate. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsA Note to the Reader.
The Bermuda Triangle.
The Little Girl Too Good to Be True.
Stress and Emotional Competence.
Never Good Enough.
You Are Part of This Too, Mom.
Stress, Hormones, Repression and Cancer.
Something Good Comes Out of This.
Is There a "Cancer Personality"?
The 55 Per Cent Solution.
It's All in Her Head.
I Shall Die First from the Top.
Self or Non-Self: The Immune System Confused.
A Fine Balance: The Biology of Relationships.
The Biology of Loss.
The Dance of Generations.
The Biology of Belief.
The Power of Negative Thinking.
The Seven A's of Healing.