In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 September, 2011, 12:00am


In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
by Gabor Mate
Post Hypnotic Press (audiobook)

Marcia, Alan, Dora. All were patients of Gabor Mate in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside drug ghetto, and all because of their addictions. And, like all addicts, writes the doctor, they used drugs as emotional anaesthetics, antidotes to emptiness and tonics to relieve tiredness, boredom, shyness and stress. Though addictions killed many of his 'clients', for them life was scarier than death. This is not a cheerful book. But information given by the doctor's patients about their lives, mixed with insights about his own compulsive habits and medical literature on the human brain provide not a little hope that peace will be possible for more of us through a greater understanding of what makes us tick. Mate writes that not all addictions stem from abuse or trauma, but that all have at the centre a painful experience. Which is perhaps why Mate refuses to view addiction solely as an illness, acquired or inherited. Daniel Mate, whose relationship with the author is not explained, narrates the book in a voice that makes you want to listen. That's probably half the battle won.