Breaking Through A Toxic Environment

I’ve often talked about how our culture is one of abuse and trauma. Gabor Maté speaks to that in the below article.

From The Toronto Standard:

Gabor_Mate4Gabor Maté: Breaking Through A Toxic Climate

All my work has been around understanding why human dysfunction happens. Not looking at causes – not at people’s pre-dispositions or genetic inheritance – but what actually happens in people’s lives. We know now that the determinants of health – whether we’re talking physical health, emotional – has a lot to do with people’s life experiences. So I’ve been exploring that a lot in all four of my books.

But people’s lives don’t happen in a vacuum. It occurs in the context of society. What makes people healthy or sick has a lot to do with the kind of lives they lead. And those lives are played out in the context of a society and a culture. The way that society is organized, its values, the pressures it generates on people, the expectations, how people treat each other, how they’re educated, what their values are – these all have a huge impact on people’s health.

If it was discovered that there was some toxin, some chemical in the Toronto water system, that caused illness -everybody would naturally want to see it removed. I’m saying that there are many things about our culture – from the way we live and how society is run – that actually contribute to people being sick. (continue reading)

Toxicity from the environment (that can also be referred to as trauma) can be incurred in many different ways. This is only now becoming understood. Our culture has trauma and abuse that is often not recognized. There is, of course, too the sort that is obviously heinous and ugly. It can all impact the general well-being of those subject to it.

As a social worker and clinician working with “the seriously mentally ill” for many years, I never came upon someone who didn’t have fairly severe traumas in their histories. Yes, I can say those who I encountered who were in that particular labeled segment had a solid 100% rate of trauma in their histories. Mental illness in large part is a reaction to trauma and abuse from living in our society. It’s quite simple really. When we start listening to people’s stories of pain rather than numbing them out and effectively silencing them with neurotoxic drugs we will start healing them. Until then people will remain broken. One of the most basic needs for a wounded human being to heal is to be seen. Recognized. Validated. Yes. In this way we might heal our society too. We need to listen to our own pain as well. The real healer has listened to their own pain. Gabor Mate qualifies as such.

Without appropriate care and integration trauma changes both our bodies and minds for many years and sometimes for our entire lives. Right now the mental health system knows virtually nothing about how to care for people who have been traumatized and in fact often traumatizes them further. The unspoken reality? The people running the system have unhealed trauma themselves. They are in denial of their own pain. Sadly this means it can be downright dangerous to subject an even more traumatized person to most social services. I hope this tragedy can be curtailed.

Gabor Mate in the above linked article also says about where people can start:

People can begin by just investigating what is out there in the writings of others. It has to begin somewhere. I know what people get from my books is liberation from shame. And that they realize that wherever they’re at, is not their fault. It’s not some kind of a fatal flaw that they’re stuck with. It does have to do with what has happened in life. And that what has happened in life doesn’t define them. So they can get beyond their history and their circumstances. What isn’t working – is not who they are. And they don’t have to be limited by it. (read the rest)

More posts on trauma, PTSD and recovery.

Gabor Maté helps us understand about our humanity. We’re all very much the same.

Other posts that features Gabor Mate.

This is Gabor Mate’s latest book which comes highly recommended: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

These look interesting too:

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