When the Body Says "no" - Gabor Mate

Laura

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I didn't find a thread on this book/topic, and there's a great video that I'd like to share:

Stress is ubiquitous these days — it plays a role in the workplace, in the home, and virtually everywhere that people interact. It can take a heavy toll on individuals unless it is recognized and managed effectively and insightfully. This is even more true for parents, family members and caregivers of individuals with neuro-behavioural disorders such as FASD, and if left unchecked, accumulated stress goes on to undermine immunity, disrupts the body's physiological milieu and can prepare the ground for a multitude chronic diseases and conditions.

This presentation, adapted for this conference, is based on When The Body Says No, a best-selling book that has been translated into more than twelve languages on five continents.


https://youtu.be/c6IL8WVyMMs
 

davey72

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The only book of his i have read is "In the realm of hungry ghosts". I have also watched most of his youtube videos. There are quite a few of them. He seems to know a lot of how the mind works. He is also an addiction specialist working with addicts in Vancouver's downtown eastside. He obviously studies all the latest research, and doesn't prescribe to the tired old theories that most specialists in this field seem to cling to. His own research really goes hand in hand with the things that have been related on the forum as of late. The only thing that i don't ever here from him is anything to do with diet. I have recently thought of trying to contact him, and linking some threads to the forum.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Here are some excerpts from the book.

According to Gabor Mate, one of the key areas needing attention in the stress-disease connection is in the area of emotions. Emotional competence is sorely lacking in modern society and is often the root cause for the development of a number of diseases.

[quote author=When the Body Says No]
Emotional competence requires

• the capacity to feel our emotions, so that we are aware when we are experiencing stress;

• the ability to express our emotions effectively and thereby to assert our needs and to maintain the integrity of our emotional boundaries;

• the facility to distinguish between psychological reactions that are pertinent to the present situation and those that represent residue from the past. What we want and demand from the world needs to conform to our present needs, not to unconscious, unsatisfied needs from childhood. If distinctions between past and present blur, we will perceive loss or the threat of loss where none exists; and

• the awareness of those genuine needs that do require satisfaction, rather than their repression for the sake of gaining the acceptance or approval of others.

Stress occurs in the absence of these criteria, and it leads to the disruption of homeostasis. Chronic disruption results in ill health. In each of the individual histories of illness in this book, one or more aspect of emotional competence was significantly compromised, usually in ways entirely unknown to the person involved. Emotional competence is what we need to develop if we are to protect ourselves from the hidden stresses that create a risk to health, and it is what we need to regain if we are to heal. We need to foster emotional competence in our children, as the best preventive medicine.
[/quote]

He talks about a certain psychological profile seen with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) patients in the video. The chapter in the book dealing with case studies of ALS patients is titled Buried Alive

[quote author=When the Body Says No]

In ALS the motor neurons, nerve cells that initiate and control muscle movement, gradually die. Without electical discharges from the nerves, the muscles wither. As the Web site of the ALS Society explains:

"A-myo- trophic comes from the Greek language. `A' means no or negative. `Myo' refers to muscle, and `trophic' means nourishment-No muscle nourishment.' When a muscle has no nourishment, it `atrophies' or wastes away. `Lateral' identifies the areas in a person's spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that nourish the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening ('sclerosis') in the region."
..................................

"Why Are Patients with ALS So Nice?" was the title of an intriguing paper presented by neurologists from the Cleveland Clinic at an international symposium in Munich a few years ago.' It discussed the impression of many clinicians that people with Lou Gehrig's disease nearly all seem to "cluster at the MOST PLEASANT end" of the personality spectrum, in contrast to persons with other diseases.

.................

The life histories of people with ALS invariably tell of emotional deprivation or loss in childhood. Characterizing the personalities of ALS patients are relentless self-drive, reluctance to acknowledge the need for help and the denial of pain whether physical or emotional. All these behaviours and psychological coping mechanisms far predate the onset of illness. The conspicuous niceness of most, but not all, persons with ALS is an expression of a self-imposed image that needs to conform to the individual's (and the world's) expectations. Unlike someone whose human characteristics emerge spontaneously, the individual seems trapped in a role, even when the role causes further harm. It is adopted where a strong sense of self should be-a strong sense of self that could not develop under early childhood conditions of emotional barrenness.
[/quote]

ALS sufferers often tend to be energetic overachievers or chronic workaholics. Famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking suffers from ALS. Former baseball star Lou Gehrig is another example of a high achiever. Canadian Sue Rodriguez became famous for fighting for her legal right to assisted suicide as sufferer of ALS.

[quote author=When the Body Says No]
The biographer believes Sue Rodriguez was "a woman of strong convictions and a powerful sense of self. She had control over her life and preferred to have control over her death" As with all ALS patients, the reality was rather more contradictory. Strong convictions do not necessarily signal a powerful sense of self. very often quite the opposite. Intensely held beliefs may be no more than a person's unconscious effort to build a sense of self to fill what, underneath, is experienced as a vacuum.
[/quote]

And this trend applies not just for ALS, but for many other afflictions as well.

[quote author=When the Body Says No]
The nature of stress is not always the usual stuff that people think of. It's not the external stress of war or money loss or somebody dying, it is actually the internal stress of having to adjust oneself to somebody else. Cancer and ALS and MS and rheumatoid arthritis and all these other conditions, it seems to me, happen to people who have a poor sense of themselves as independent persons. On the emotional level, that is - they can be highly accomplished in the arts or intellectually - but on an emotional level they have a poorly differentiated sense of self.
[/quote]

In the video Gabor Mate talks about the connection between the functioning of the immune system with the emotions. A basic hypothesis about the working of our immune system is based on the "self- non-self" identification.

[quote author=When the Body Says No]
With immune cells found in the bloodstream and in all tissues and spaces of the body, we may think of the immune system as a "floating brain" equipped to detect the non-self. The sensory apparatus-the eyes and ears and taste buds-serving. this "floating brain" are receptors on the surfaces of immune cells, configured to know benign from noxious.

The self is identified by means of so-called self antigens on the membranes of the body's normal cells, molecules that the immune receptors infallibly recognize. Self-antigens are proteins found on every cell type. Foreign organisms and substances lack such self-markers, making them targets for attack by the immune system.
..................

The point to grasp here is the shared functions of immunity and emotion:

first, the "awareness" of self accompanied by an awareness of non-self,

second, the appreciation of nourishing inputs and the recognition of threats;

finally, the acceptance of life-enhancing influences paralleled by a capacity to limit or eliminate danger.

When our psychological capacity to distinguish the self from non-self is disabled, the impairment is bound to extend to our physiology as well. Repressed anger will lead to disordered immunity.The inability to process and express feelings effectively, and the tendency to serve the needs of others before even considering one's own, are common patterns in people who develop chronic illness. These coping styles represent a blurring of boundaries, a confusion of self and non-self on the psychological level.The same confusion will follow on the level of cells, tissues and body organs.
[/quote]

The fundamental conflict between developing an individual self along with maintaining social relationships is the challenge that needs to be addressed. In Jungian psychology this is called the "tension of the opposites" and as adults striving for individuation, we are constantly "put on the cross" between the needs of the collective and need for individuation. Both physical and psychological health critically depends on how we adapt ourselves to this challenge.

[quote author=When the Body Says No]
Development requires a gradual and age-appropriate shift from security needs toward the drive for autonomy, from attachment to individuation. Neither is ever completely lost, and neither is meant to predominate at the expense of the other. With an increased capacity for self-regulation in adulthood comes also a heightened need for autonomy-for the freedom to make genuine choices. Whatever undermines autonomy will be experienced as a source of stress.

Stress is magnified whenever the power to respond effectively to the social or physical environment is lacking or when the tested animal or human being feels helpless, without meaningful choices-in other words, when autonomy is undermined.

Autonomy, however, needs to be exercised in a way that does not disrupt the social relationships on which survival also depends, whether with emotional intimates or with important others-employers, fellow workers, social authority figures. The less the emotional capacity for self-regulation develops during infancy and childhood, the more the adult depends on relationships to maintain homeostasis. The greater the dependence, the greater the threat when those relationships are lost or become insecure. Thus, the vulnerability to subjective and physiological stress will be proportionate to the degree of emotional dependence.

To minimize the stress from threatened relationships, a person may give up some part of his autonomy. However, this is not a formula for health, since the loss of autonomy is itself a cause of stress. The surrender of autonomy raises the stress level, even if on the surface it appears to be necessary for the sake of "security" in a relationship, and even if we subjectively feel relief when we gain "security" in this manner. If I chronically repress my emotional needs in order to make myself "acceptable" to other people, I increase my risks of having to pay the price in the form of illness.

The other way of protecting oneself from the stress of threatened relationships is emotional shutdown. To feel safe, the vulnerable person withdraws from others and closes against intimacy. This coping style may avoid anxiety and block the subjective experience of stress but not the physiology of it. Emotional intimacy is a psychological and biological necessity. Those who build walls against intimacy are not self-regulated, just emotionally frozen.Their stress from having unmet needs will be high.

Social support helps to ameliorate physiological stress. The close links between health and the social environment have been amply demonstrated. .......
"Social ties and support," a group of researchers concluded," remain powerful predictors of morbidity and mortality in their own right, independent of any associations with other risk factors."

For the adult, therefore, biological stress regulation depends on a delicate balance between social and relationship security on the one hand, and genuine autonomy on the other. Whatever upsets that balance, whether or not the individual is consciously aware of it, is a source of stress.
[/quote]
 

davey72

The Living Force
obyvatel said:
Here are some excerpts from the book.

According to Gabor Mate, one of the key areas needing attention in the stress-disease connection is in the area of emotions. Emotional competence is sorely lacking in modern society and is often the root cause for the development of a number of diseases.
He says this, and childhood trauma Are also the root causes of addiction. Including trauma not only from infancy, but even in the womb due to the stress of the mother. It is very interesting. It was another way to show me personally that i did not "own" my behaviors. I now knew where they came from, and could only correct it.

His talks, books, go hand in hand with this thread. http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,31760.msg425164.html#msg425164

In the realm of hungry ghosts is sort of a laymans version of this research. imo
 

shijing

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Thanks Laura for posting this video -- I watched it last night and it was quite good. And thanks for summarizing some of the key points, obyvatel -- I'm adding it to the shopping list!
 

Laura

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Since it is on this topic, I thought I would cross-post a response I wrote in another thread:

Laura said:
Oxajil said:
I find the HSP discussion so far very interesting and has cleared up a lot of things for me. I think the main thing with me is that I can become overwhelmed by having to do a lot of things, I'd get tired etc. Some days, though not many, I remember myself crying a bit after I got home from work. It wasn't because I was in self-pity mode thinking why I'd have to work, but it was more of a release of stress, just letting it out. I can be sensitive that way I guess (and would need to work on that). But nonetheless, what I've learned through my experiences with work and school, is that you can't expect to live in a world that operates on your terms. You can't say in a job interview ''I'm an HSP, so I'd like to work these many hours, and specifically at these times of the day'', or you can't tell the teacher ''I'm an HSP, so I'd like to have less homework, and more time to learn for my exams'', yea, not gonna work.

In the past I used to call in sick at my job when I couldn't take it, and just needed rest on that day. It took me some time to realize just how wrong this was from me, because basically my colleagues had to work harder that day, just because I needed some extra rest. So yea, I had then made a commitment to myself that I will work even if I might be a tad tired, and only to call in sick if I'm really ill, and even then I'd try to find a replacement. It's the same with working in groups on a school project, you can't just take the small tasks because they're easy and less mentally challenging/tiring, even if it's a big task you'd have to do, you kinda have to do it, because it's the right thing to do. So I think for me, if I look at it, what kind of helps me push and do/finish what is front of me, is by thinking it as taking responsibility.
I think the issues can be better solved with KNOWLEDGE/AWARENESS and a support system.

This is what Gabor Mate talks about in "When the Body says No".

...the effects of stress on health, particularly the hidden stresses we all generate from our early programming, a pattern so deep and so subtle that it feels like a part of our real selves.

...Our immune system does not exist in isolation from daily experience. For example, the immune defences that normally function in healthy young people have been shown to be suppressed in medical students under the pressure of final examinations. Of even greater implication for their future health and well-being, the loneliest students suffered the greatest negative impact on their immune systems. Loneliness has been similarly associated with diminished immune activity... The pressure of examinations is obvious and short term but many people unwittingly spend their entire lives as if under the gaze of a powerful and judgmental examiner whom they must please at all costs. Many of us live, if not alone, then in emotionally inadequate relationships that do not recognize or honour our deepest needs. Isolation and stress affect many who may believe their lives are quite satisfactory.
Thus, it seems to me that the solution is NETWORKING, being UNDERSTOOD, sharing your trials and burdens verbally and achieving connection with those who have similar experiences and metabolizing that sort of thing by this connecting/discussing/examining process.

While all of us dread being blamed, we all would wish to be more responsible - that is, to have the ability to respond with awareness to the circumstances of our lives rather than just reacting. We want to be the authoritative person in our own lives: in charge, able to make the authentic decisions that affect us. There is no true responsibility without awareness. ...The more we can learn about ourselves, the less prone we are to become passive victims... "Trying to identify and to answer the question of stress... is more likely to lead to health than ignoring the question." In healing, every bit of information, every piece of the truth, may be crucial.
Okay, so it is very useful data to know that people are born with different temperaments. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_temperaments

And certainly, your innate temperament combined with your upbringing/early experiences, can have a heavy influence on the hidden stresses you deal with as you grow up/older. So it is VERY important to
NOT live our lives "under the gaze of a powerful and judgmental examiner" whom we must please at all costs, especially if those costs include giving up our right to express our authentic feelings and to assert our anger when our physical or emotional boundaries are invaded or violated.

Thus, it seems to me that a lot of the HSP profile has more to do with PTSD of a sort than anything else. And let's face it, this world is freaking traumatizing! And it doesn't help that we have to live through it without having experienced the total support that a child is entitled to during the formative years, that we are programmed by narcissists or narcissistic families, those "powerful and judgmental examiners" that live inside our heads.

This is why I've written about the healthy expression of anger. No, we should not dump on others, nor should we get angry at those close to us because of past events, or events that don't really relate to them. But of all the things that harass us, the invasion of our physical and emotional boundaries - those things that trigger fight or flight responses - are the most damaging if we repress them.

It seems to me that the HSP formula is designed to do exactly that: an aid to repression.
 

Laura

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A little caveat is in order here.

Though this is a brilliant and valuable book and should go on our "must read" list, Gabor is kinda clueless about diet and the relationship of carbs causing constant stress in the body (insulin is a fight or flight hormone). He's also clueless about the necessity for saturated fats to MAKE hormones efficiently in the body. However, he produced some very interesting smoking/cancer studies which serve to prove that smoking does not cause cancer; stress and other factors do.
 

itellsya

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The more we can learn about ourselves, the less prone we are to become passive victims... "Trying to identify and to answer the question of stress... is more likely to lead to health than ignoring the question." In healing, every bit of information, every piece of the truth, may be crucial.

Okay, so it is very useful data to know that people are born with different temperaments. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_temperaments

And certainly, your innate temperament combined with your upbringing/early experiences, can have a heavy influence on the hidden stresses you deal with as you grow up/older.
Should anybody wish to 'test their temperament' the best test i have found is here:

_http://neoxenos.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/temperaments/temperament_test.htm

MIT have an 'interactive' style test, but with less questions and isn't as clear.

Fwiw, for MiT i got Choleric and for the neoxenos.org test Sanguine (high score!); both potentially accurate, depending on the day i guess and which 'i' is at the reigns (happy to post results but not hijacking the thread).

brief discussion here:
4 temperaments
http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,33128.msg455867.html

As for Gabor Mate, i found his work online - after watching zeitgeist 3 - and have watched a number of his video's, he's my go to recommendation for people.

From memory, in the last video posted here from the Neuroplasticity conference, he actually discounts, or perhaps overlooks, certain factors like diet and so also doesn't consider pollution/radiation and other less obvious factors. And yet in Zeitgeist 3 one of his examples was starving mothers in the Nazi ghetto's and how the in-vitro children, when older, became over weight due to an epi-genetic effect and were permanently (unconsciously) in 'starvation' mode. Whether this was their metabolism or their psychological attitude towards food, i can't remember if he differentiated between the two.

The forum has recently lead me to a number of threads which provide the tools with which to identify and manage stress, and put it to work. For me access to the network provides the stability that only objectivity and co-linearity can!
 

Laura

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itellsya said:
Should anybody wish to 'test their temperament' the best test i have found is here:

_http://neoxenos.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/temperaments/temperament_test.htm
I didn't find it to be a very good test at all. The groupings/choices are illogical and often irrelevant.
 

itellsya

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I didn't find it to be a very good test at all. The groupings/choices are illogical and often irrelevant.
I did find it a bit inconsistent, but then i found the Meyers-Briggs test posted here slightly confusing (choices of wording and scoring) but not entirely inaccurate in it's description. I appreciate your comments Laura as i was thinking of looking further into this particular idea, I'm in no position to verify what is credible in comparison to yourself and others here.

I'll have a look to see if there are any other similar tests recommended on here, I'm interested because of 'where' i am currently, whether this can reveal any obvious blind spots in the overall nature of my behaviour. My stress. It's not that I'd be surprised to read I'm 'talkative', i did the HSP and was a bit surprised to find i scored high there, but they often connect me to other programs or natures i hadn't considered.
 

shijing

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I was able to buy the book last night and started reading it -- thanks again for the recommendation, I'm looking forward to going through it. Last week I also happened to run across The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions, which seems like it might be good supplementary reading:

Since ancient times humans have felt intuitively that emotions and health are linked, and recently there has been much popular speculation about this notion. But until now, without compelling evidence, it has been impossible to say for sure that such a connection really exists and especially how it works.

Now, that evidence has been discovered.

A thrilling scientific detective story, The Balance Within tells how researchers finally uncovered the elusive mind-body connection and what it means for our health. In this beautifully written book, Dr. Esther Sternberg, whose discoveries were pivotal in helping to solve this mystery, provides first hand accounts of the breakthrough experiments that revealed the physical mechanisms - the nerves, cells, and hormones - used by the brain and immune system to communicate with each other. She describes just how stress can make us more susceptible to all types of illnesses, and how the immune system can alter our moods. Finally, she explains how our understanding of these connections in scientific terms is helping to answer such crucial questions as "Does stress make you sick?" "Is a positive outlook the key to better health?" and "How do our personal relationships, work, and other aspects of our lives affect our health?"

A fascinating, elegantly written portrait of this rapidly emerging field with enormous potential for finding new ways to treat disease and cope with stress, The Balance Within is essential reading for anyone interested in making their body and mind whole again.
There are a couple of other videos I've begun watching that have been good so far as well:


https://youtu.be/UGmADfU5HGU


https://youtu.be/uKES1nyitAg
 

SMM

The Living Force
Good Gabor Maté videos and discussion! It was good to watch them again as a refresher on what he says on the topic of stress, health, attachment and brain development.

Thank you obyvatel for the excerpts also. The book sounds very good and is on my shopping list too.

And thank you Shijing for bringing The Balance Within to our awareness.

In the video below Jason Satterfield talks about mind-body in relation to emotions and health - namely depression, anger and stress in relation to immunity and cardiovascular health. He is quite limited in what he discusses, in fact I think some of what he says is erroneous or misinformed (keeping in mind it's back in 2011) but he nicely dovetails effects and changes that can be seen physiologically.


https://youtu.be/GogLW14WEb0

On a similar thread on hidden stress and disease from Maté:


https://youtu.be/Qf92l7FPyKo

His points concerning unconscious behavior based on implicit memory and permanent traits causing pathology sounds like another term for "a program running", like you say davey72 about not owning our behaviors.

Laura said:
A little caveat is in order here.

Though this is a brilliant and valuable book and should go on our "must read" list, Gabor is kinda clueless about diet and the relationship of carbs causing constant stress in the body (insulin is a fight or flight hormone). He's also clueless about the necessity for saturated fats to MAKE hormones efficiently in the body. However, he produced some very interesting smoking/cancer studies which serve to prove that smoking does not cause cancer; stress and other factors do.
Yeah... he really downplays diet despite considering gut, heart and brain whose functions heavily rely on diet. He speaks mainly concerning arbitrary external contributors to stress i.e. actions and emotional dynamics without looking at the interchange between what metabolically occurs internally in the body, what we take and put in physically as a source of energy and how our body puts that to use so to speak.

I don't think the two are independent events.
 

Gawan

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Thank you for sharing Laura and it was an interesting watch. The gut connection and other points reminded me of Stephen Porges polyvagal theory, a bit of Peter Levines in an unspoken voice and also of Isaac Rubins The angry book and with that and generally that also here EE could be of help. The diet thing is definitely a drawback, but keeping it in mind his book may help in other regards to understand our machine much better. So I put this book on my reading list as well.
 

Laura

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I STRONGLY urge everyone to put this book at the top of the list/pile.
 
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