Renowned Doctor Gabor Mate on Psychedelics and Unlocking the Unconscious, From Cancer to Addiction
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It’s in that perspective then, that I’ve come to understand, quite before my acquaintance with ayahuasca, but that's how I’ve come to understand human illness and dysfunction. Which is to say that illness and dysfunction represent the products or the consequences of a lifelong interaction with our environment, particularly our psychological and social environment, and that they represent a deep disconnection from our true selves.
I mention particularly cancer and addiction, but those are only two examples. Allow me to read you something from an article that appeared in last February’s edition of Pediatrics, which is the major pediatric journal in North America, and this is an article from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, and it’s called “An Integrated Scientific Framework for Child Development." Here’s what they say:
Growing scientific evidence also demonstrates that social and physical environments that threaten human development because of scarcity, stress, or instability can lead to short term physiologic and psychological adjustments that may come at a significant cost to long-term outcomes in learning, behavior health and longevity.
In other words, that the emotional and behavioral patterns that as young children we adopt in order to survive stressors in our environment allow us to deal with the immediate problem, but in the long term they become prisons. They become sources of dysfunction, illness and even death, if we’re not able to let go of them.
So, in other words, what was a short-term state, or meant to be a short-term state, in a helpful way, when it becomes a long-term state, when it goes from state to a trait, now it becomes a problem.
Let me give you a few obvious examples of that. I myself have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactive disorder, a characteristic of which is tuning out, absentmindedness. Now, ADD in North America is seen as a disease, and we see many kids that have been diagnosed with it. Now we have 3 million kids in this country who are on stimulant medications for it. The rates are going up and up and up.
According to the New York Times last week, 20 percent of American boys at one time or another have been diagnosed with it and 10 percent are, at any one time are on medication. Three million at least are on stimulants right now. It’s seen as a genetic disease. It isn’t at all. What the tuning out represents, as we all know, is actually a coping mechanism. Our brains tune out when the stress becomes overwhelming, too much to bear. And at that point the tuning out is a survival dynamic.
The real question is: why are so many kids tuning out? What’s happening in their lives? What of course is going on is that the stress in this society, and the stress in the pending environment are greatly increasing. So, the child’s brain is actually affected by the stresses in the environment.
And here’s further, from the same Harvard article, they talk about brain development and how the human brain actually develops, and here’s what they say about that:
The architecture of the brain is constructed through an ongoing process that begins before birth, continues into adulthood, and establishes either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all the health, learning and behavior that follow.
So, in other words, the architecture of the brain is actually constructed by the interaction with the environment. And they continue:
The interaction of genes and experiences literally shapes the circuitry of the developing brain and is critically influenced by the mutual responsiveness of adult-child relationships, particularly in the early childhood years.