Debra Thompson Harvey, our producer, recommended that we interview Gabor Mate after reading his book “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts”.

Dr. Mate is a Hungarian-born physician, living in Vancouver, B.C., who grew up and was educated in Canada.  He began the interview by addressing the ‘myth of normal’ that divides us into the normal and the abnormal with pathological traits. Dr. Mate mentions that he doesn’t see a division, but a continuum where mental distress, of some degree, is present in all of us.  He explains how mental distress and pathology are largely a result of a materialist culture that “idealizes individualism and ignores our emotional needs”.

I think you will find his perspective fascinating and if you live here in Seattle you will be able to hear more Wednesday evening, February 19th at 7:00, when he speaks about addiction at the University of Washington.

12 Responses to “Interview with Gabor Mate: The Myth of Normal”

  1. Inigo

    There a broadway musical, “Next to Normal”, that deals with the mother of a family who suffers from squizophrenia and her relationship with the rest of the family/society. It’s a nice musical, sometimes fun, sometimes melancholic/sad. In the end, the take is that we all are someway or another “next to normal”… Take care, Iñigo

  2. Vivian Fulk

    Thank you, this type of thinking is how we can proceed to get out of this mess our society is in. I researched teachings from mankind’s last major societal shift and found a school teaching from the Renaissance school, “The year 2006 marked the 1000th anniversary of the founding of a mystery school in Chartres, France, that for two centuries was the most important center of learning in Europe, giving birth to a flowering of mystical knowledge and artistic expression. It was the time of the Crusades, and yet the school established communication and exchange with the Sufis in Jerusalem and received from them the geometric designs required for Gothic architecture. These designs proved to be critically important in the magnificent creation of Chartres Cathedral, among the first of the Gothic cathedrals, and thereby helped to launch a new era in European history.” I stat at Wisdom University New Chartres School this summer.

    • patricia gessell

      this is really interesting. I will research more on this now. Good future to you. this school sounds amazing you also.. Regards

  3. Yana

    Thank you for posting both Dr. Mate and Fisher’s interviews. Ive worked in the public mental health field for over 30 years. I began my work at Soteria House. Seems we are finally returning to the fact that mental illness is over diagnosed and people have been horrifically mistreated mostly due to this universal thinking that having extreme states of emotion is somehow bad, abnormal, sick….Many of us know that being with someone who is in an extreme state, finding connection though the human experience is what we all yearn for.

  4. Miguel Borges

    Mr. Phil,
    It is very interesting to see how your project completely shifted direction. I started watching for one reason, and kept watching to confirm the theory I think you also had in mind when you started this. I mean, I guess you sort of started the whole thing with a conclusion in mind, but all of a suden you started to question it.
    It’s like if you were convinced Adam was as gifted as the shamans you met (I’m not saying he isn’t! Maybe we all are, more or less, spiritualy gifted, I hope.) But slowly you started doubting it, but still wanting to believe it was so. Maybe that’s why someone told you that the image of Adam was not being shown completely (as if it that was even possible).
    Now I’m starting to feel you are convinced otherwise, leaning more to the psycosis theory and not so much to the spiritual awakening.
    Anyway, it has been such an interesting experience for me to watch the development of your work, that I’m here for 3 hours. Fortunately there is no more to watch, for now, or I could’t go to sleep (it’s 4 am).
    Despite my feeling that you were more inclined to the spiritual theory in the begining, I want to add that it is clear for me that you tried to be unpartial.
    It is stated from the begining that maybe some of the psycotic episodes could be spiritual callings.
    I just guess you were betraid by the way the story unfolded and by your own beliefs. I don’t blame you for that, because, as I said above, I was wishing to confirm your hint on the spiritual hipothesis.

    Maybe I got it all wrong and nothing I said makes any sense…
    I hope I don’t hurt your feelings with my comment, it’s not my intention.

    Good luck and keep up the good work!

    Miguel Borges da Silva
    From Portugal

    • Phil Borges

      Hello Miguel,

      So wonderful to hear from you. I see we share a family name — my father was from the Azores.

      As far as my beliefs at this point I think I would say.

      The mental, emotional and spiritual growth process that all of us are involved in can unfold in a steady,slow and mild manner or erupt in an extreme and overwhelming way. Even though the more extreme and spontaneous forms of the process can be frightening to the individual and the people around him or her, pathologizing or stigmatizing this potential growth process severely reduces its chance of success. Success being an unfolding realization that we are all connected to each other and to everything around us. This growing realization gives us access to special gifts like compassion and inner peace.

      Stated more simply there is a ‘Myth of Normal’, as Gabor mentions, that divides humanity into ‘normal’ and ‘mentally ill’ which obscures the fact that we are all facing the same challenging process of growth no matter how it is served up to us whether mild, strong or extreme.

  5. Jonathan Dinsmore

    Wow, YES. I am searching for graduate programs (in psychology), and I would love to find one that approaches mental illness and humanity with this type of attitude. If anyone knows of any such program, please let me know.

    • Ria Swift

      Jonathan; I don’t think you’ll find this in any western psychology. it isn’t meant to heal but simply to manage. A terrible system if you ask me. I use Family Constellation work and Shamanism to do this sort of work. That is probably the closest you’ll get in this country. We are so far behind the truth of what it means to heal someone, especially when it comes to medicine and psychology. They just don’t go deep enough. AND they do not yield good results. Anyone worth their weight in that field does not practice psychotherapy but something way beyond. Won’t find it in schools that is for sure.

  6. Amy Fonarow

    Aloha! Jonathan, you may also be able to find what you are looking for at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Good luck!

  7. Katie

    Jonathon, in case you are still searching, check out Saybrook University in California. I learned about it when hearing an interview with Stanley Krippner on the Joe Rogan a few years back. He is a professor there, and is an expert in Parapsychology. I work in mental health, and hope to be able to take some courses there at some point myself. Good luck!


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