Transforming Trauma Episode116: Addiction, Attachment, and the Myth of Normal With Dr. Gabor Maté

A podcast brought to you by the NARM® Training Institute

What’s the root cause of addiction? Renowned author and researcher Dr. Gabor Maté considers addiction a normal response to abnormal circumstances. That simple reframe moves treatment options beyond pathologizing to inspire hope and a path toward healing.

On this episode of Transforming Trauma, Emily is thrilled to welcome back Gabor Maté, MD, the esteemed physician best known for his breakthrough analysis of addiction as a psychophysiological response to childhood trauma and emotional loss. Gabor co-wrote his latest work, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture, alongside his son Daniel Maté. It became an instant New York Times bestseller, and the duo is already working on their next project, Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Parents and Their Adult Children. Emily and Gabor explore the pain behind addiction and the promise of wholeness.

“Addiction isn’t the problem,” observes Gabor, who defines the behavior as anything––from narcotics to pornography, social media to shopping, exercise to alcohol––in which a person finds temporary relief or pleasure and, therefore, craves but can’t or won’t give up despite its negative impact on their life. “It’s an attempt to solve a problem, and the problem is one of pain.” Addiction then is often an understandable but maladaptive response to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). “It does not mean that there’s something irrevocably wrong with you. It does mean that (the addiction) was adaptive at some point, but it’s not helping you anymore.”

Gabor cites the demands and technical diversions of our modern lives as catalysts of the current mental health crisis. “Disconnection is the essence of trauma. Reconnecting is the healing of that trauma,” he says, championing a philosophy that his friend and colleague Dr. Laurence Heller espouses as a primary organizing principle of NARM.

In The Myth Of Normal, Gabor invites readers to embark on a journey of reconnection through compassionate self-examination. But, he concedes, it’s not an easy read. “It’ll confront you with yourself. That’s the whole idea.”

Transforming Trauma is again grateful to Gabor Maté for gracing us with his wisdom and sharing his life’s work with our audience. We invite you to visit Gabor’s and Daniel’s YouTube for a workshop entitled Hello Again: Parents and Adult Children Workshop.


Transforming Trauma e007: Dr. Laurence Heller in Conversation with Dr. Gabor Maté on Complex Trauma and the Future of Trauma-Informed Care


About 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. 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. After 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience, Dr. Maté worked for over a decade in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness. 

His book on addiction – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction – received the Hubert Evans Prize for literary non-fiction. For his groundbreaking medical work and writing, he has been awarded the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian distinction, and the Civic Merit Award from his hometown, Vancouver.






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