Renowned Doctor Gabor Mate on Psychedelics and Unlocking the Unconscious, From Cancer to Addiction
Gabor Mate, M.D., says the "unconscious mind" can cause medical afflictions like cancer, addiction and trauma. In his speech at the Psychedelic Science 2013 conference, Mate rejects the assumption that the human mind and body are separate entities, and points to an inherant connection between psychological/environmental experiences and medical afflictions. He contends that the war on drugs is actually a war on drug addicts, and speaks to the addiction cessation potential of psychedelic substances. He also discusses the potential ability of psychedelic substances, particularly ayahuasca, to reverse medical issues like cancer and addiction when coupled with therapy.The following is the transcript of Dr. Gabor Mate's speech, "Psychedelics and Unlocking the Unconscious; From Cancer to Addiction," which he delivered at the Psychedelic Science conference in Oakland Calif., on April 20, 2013.
My subject is the use of ayahuasca in the healing of all manner of medical conditions, from cancer to addiction. And you might say what can possibly a plant do to heal such dire and life-threatening medical problems? Well, of course, that all depends on the perspective through which we understand these problems.
Now, the medical perspective, the allopathic Western medical perspective in which I was trained is that, fundamentally, diseases are abnormalities that occur either due to external causes such as a bacterium or a toxin, or they’re accidental or due to bad luck, or their due to genetics. So, the causes are outside of the usual internal experience—the emotional and psychological and spiritual life—of the individual. These are biological events, so the medical assumption goes, and the causes are to be understood and the treatments are to be administered purely in a biological fashion.
Underlying that set of assumptions are two other assumptions. One is that you can separate the human body from the human mind, so what happens to us emotionally and psychologically has no significant impact on our health. Number two: that the individual is to be separated from the environment. So, what happens to me if I get cancer? That is just my poor personal, pure personal, misfortune, or maybe because I did the wrong things like smoked cigarettes. But, that my cancer might have something to do with the lifelong interaction which I’ve engaged in with my environment—particularly the psychological social environment—that doesn’t enter into the picture.
But what if we had a different perspective?
What if we actually got that human beings are bio-psycho-social creatures by nature, and actually bio-psycho-spiritual creatures by nature—which is to say that our biology is inseparable from our psychological emotional and spiritual existence—and therefore what manifests in the body is not some isolated and unique event or misfortune, but a manifestation of what my life has been in interaction with my psychological and social and spiritual environment?
Well, if we had that kind of understanding then we would approach illness and health in a completely different fashion.
What if, furthermore, we understood something in the West which has been the underlying core insight of Eastern spiritual pathways and aboriginal shamanic pathways around the world, which is that human beings are not their personalities, we’re not our thoughts, we’re not our emotions, we are not our dysfunctional or functional dynamics, but that at the core there is a true self that is somehow connected to—in fact not connected to but part of—nature and creation.
An illness from that perspective represents a loss of that connection, a loss of that unity, a loss of that belonging to a much larger entity. And therefore, to treat the illness or the symptom as the problem is actually to ignore the real possibility that the symptom and the illness are themselves symptoms, rather than the fundamental problems.