Addicted to Ideology? With Gabor Maté

gabble mate' is a world-famous expert on addiction in his book in the realm of hungry ghosts he talks about how addiction is best viewed not as a crime or an illness but as a coping mechanism for a personal spiritual crisis addiction is a response to human suffering it's an attempt of a human being to feel actually normal and so rather than a disease or a choice it really is a coping mechanism social media there's been a lot in the press around our addiction to social media so what do you feel drives that are our unhealthy relationship with it because of the same dynamics there's more to it well you can use social media responsibly just you can exercise responsibly or you can exercise addictively or you can use social media effectively so stay internal relationship to them these activities that defines whether addictive or not now if you're using something for temporary relief for pain pain relief or pleasure and you crave it despite negative consequences you were an addiction whereas if you're using social media not to escape the emotional distress not because you're craving it but something because it's a useful modality and you don't suffer negative consequences then it's not an addiction so it's not the external behavior I mean you can drink alcohol not addictively you can have sex not effectively you can go shopping monitor activity or you can engage in all the activities in a purely compulsive addictive fashion depending what the internal automatic dynamic is does it provide temporary pleasure pain relief do you crave it and you continue with that despite negative consequences that's what toys whether it's an addiction now broadly speaking social media are highly addictive and a lot of people addicted and then having a devastating effects on their lives but not of course everybody especially on social media or just in general we that this polarization seems to be increasingly ideological you mentioned people are really in their specific tribes and speaking from you know let's have a chance to hit the other tribe okay can we be a dictatorial adji well again if you define addiction as I do as any behavior that a person craves finds temporary pleasure or relief and suffers negative consequences and cannot give up despite negative consequences that's an addiction again I don't care whether it's sex gambling ideology or cocaine and and the brain circuits are the same the same brain circuits are involved in all the addictions so we think there's all these different addictions if you actually look at the addicted brain it's the same brain circuitry that's involved in all addictions so an ideology that allows you free expression of the impulses you will get to hit somebody if you're angry get it through a window to a rock through somebody's window or a verbal bombed to their personal sense of self if it if you're lacking a sense of personal power but the ideology gives you a pseudo environment may belong to something really important if there's no meaning in your life and the etiology gives you a pseudo meaning if you're lacking genuine pleasure in your life and you get the pseudo pleasure of connecting with people who see things the same way an etiology can function like an addiction and furthermore it invites denial it's just like addiction of is the right so now when I was in my addicted behavior which I have been I was in total denial that was an addict to me was just a natural thing to do it doesn't matter what the cost was to the people are on me hey doggies can do the same thing you're in total denial about the impact on yourself or on others so yeah it is you can function like an addiction and you mentioned the the word meaning which really is is the word that's come up a lot with a lot of our guests and you know there's there's a sense that what we're seeing now with the increased polarization the chaos and world Paulette is driven in large part by a spiritual void a loss of connection and meaning I remember in the book as well you mentioned that's an aspect of drug addiction as well would you agree with that general sense that we are facing a global maybe void in meaning well there's an American psychologist who had the human beings are all creatures with special needs and I think one of our special needs is for meaning our lives are not meant to be just lived for the daily sake of physical existence now that meaning in a tribal setting is automatically provided for you because you're bigger than yourself and you belong to something greater than yourself and when you're connected with nature you're connected with some spiritual practice or belief you have some meaning that transcends your daily struggles for survival of a society as feelings reduce stuff like we talked about meeting a lot and we talked about broad values such as freedom and democracy and so on but that's not what people experience in their daily lives nobody experiences democracy in our lives mostly people work in institutions we're told what to do and they had no voice in a matter whatsoever and the freedom is really used to making choices in meaningless alternatives so there's a deep and and as more more disconnection as we've already mentioned so there's there's a deep lack of meaning in people's lives the addictions can actually certainly come along and provide a false temporary but momentarily satisfactory sense of meaning and meaning is is important to all of us we all want to feel there's something more significant about our lives than simply the fact that we have dinner and evening and we in the morning on that point around this devastating effect we've talked a lot on the channel and some of our guests have talked about that what feels like an increasingly polarized world you know the people are very entrenched in camps particularly on social media and you know we've also talked around how we get trapped in kind of fight or flight I suspect I know social media seems like a very reactive space we seem to behave differently on there so it's curious can you can your work also help us kind of get an understanding of that a broader understanding of how we behave on social media well first of all what's the case in this society is that people are less than as connected human beings were not meant to live in these from the evolutionary point of view we're not designed to live in these complex vast aggregations were meant to live in small hunter band hunter-gatherer bands where everybody knows everybody else and there's a deep connection in between people and that's how we've lived for the most part for millions of years hundreds of thousands tens of thousands of years of evolution until really quite recently there's a lot of disconnect in in society people that literally don't know their neighbors neighborhoods are no longer neighborhoods they're isolated domiciles for the most part which means is a deep hunger for connection and the social media provides a simulacrum of connection the pretense of connection and so what do people have on social media they have friends they like each other these are attachment dynamics these are connection dynamics but the friends aren't real friends cause real friends know you and you're not afraid to show them who you are on social media people have concocted an artificially adorned persona and it's these artificial entities that then people like so the individual never gets the sense of being really liked because they know that it's just an image that's being liked and and the so-called friends are not there for you when you need them and you'd use the same language liking and friends are very strong language but social media is a pale so the less it meets your real needs the more addictive it is because the more more what you need to get number one number two I'm not sure that it's caused but it certainly revealed the many subcultures in the society and allows people who belong to various ideological groupings to identify one another and to band together and to have sort of a pseudo camaraderie so we can all hate the same thing we can all be hostile to the same people and anybody can express an opinion in the old days of newsletters to the newspapers people have to repeat irresponsible what they wrote they had to identify themselves social media you can say anything you want about anybody doesn't matter hurtful or wrong hateful really and not even identify yourself so it allows people who otherwise are on the margins of society to aggregate in these pseudo groups that then promote one another's most negative tendencies and there's no good guidance there there's no leadership there's nobody to call you to your senses there's nobody to say really do you really mean that is that what you really intend what's really going on so there's peer groupings without any kind of guidance it's really like a teenage gang phenomenon where people band together mostly for negative reasons they're lacking contact so they need to band together so that's legitimate but they they get they band together without mentorship without tradition without adult guidance and so we see what we see yeah and so is you feeling that in those groups specially if there's a lot of hateful rhetoric in it what would be your kind of immediate sense of what a way through that would be or a way to reach those people well I don't know that there's a way to reach those people except to a personal contact I think that should take the analogy of the teenage gang only if somebody comes along who can provide genuine guidance that these people will trust but with the social media groups who knows where they live who knows how to contact them individually who knows how to speak to them in a way that's compassionate and enrolling at the same time that'll open up a different parts of themselves so but I don't know that the social media causes all that or simply reinforces it or maybe makes it more manifest I think you've always had these bookings they just haven't found a way to at least evolves that such people they just haven't found a way to reinforce and validate so they're quite at the same degree as you have it now yeah I was very interested reading in the book you use the example if there's an area of the brain called the OFC yeah and that's kind of it mediates in part it picks up on physical emotional cues and that's a big part of how we trust each other and as I was reading it I was thinking well that's something we certainly can't do online and can only happen face-to-face and so yeah it sounds like to have these authentic conversations we need to be in contact well you see the as you and I are speaking to each other early uh we're tracking each other's face and and our ear muscles are actually adjusting themselves automatically to hear not just what's being said but also the tone of voice image being said and you will nod when I say something or I might nod or smile when you say something so communication is as much about these nonverbal cues which are meeting it to a nervous nervous system as it is about the verbal content now none of that exists on social media it's not genuine communication human communication is almost mentally face-to-face and even if I would a lot write a letter to somebody that was gonna mail that's a much more conscious and deliberate process than dashing something of a social media and pushing the send button in a state of tizzy you know so that it's much less impulsive so social media really takes away the the nuts and bolts of human communication and provides only the surface manifestation of it so what masquerade as communication is really diatribes very often and I know what it's like because I get an email and which might trigger me and then right away I want to write it out and then push the send button and boy have I had to learn not to do that because there's no reflection there just whatever emotion arises you express it and then you communicate it right away without any reflection if I'm talking to somebody as long as we're connected by and large I'm going to reflect on what I say before I say it by and large I'm going to be modulated by the fact that I'm talking to a real human being and is that point in my book the what the addicts lack very often is emotional self-regulation they they they the parts of the brain had regulator emotions including me orbital frontal cortex just don't develop and addicted people because the conditions for development are adequate so the brain does develop an interaction at the environment so they have a lot of people with brains that are not fully developed there might be intellectually adult but the emotional circuits aren't so now you have a lot of people with emotional under development communicating impulsively on social media and that's what we're saying and so people will say horrible things of social media that might not they might never even say in a real person agreement a lot of the understanding that's in the book has come from working with with people in states of distress working with individuals how do you see that as being applied more widely to society do you think that we have a crisis with with the same issues that people are struggling with individually in society and if so how do we deal with that well in in the book in the realm of novels I pointed out that addiction is rooted in trauma now then I look at society as a whole and if society let's look at British society or American society were to be seen as an individual how would we see these individuals as beginning when I look at the the two individuals that ran for the presidents of the US are both deeply traumatized people one of them so much' says that the world is a horrible place those are his words that sense of the world's horror arose from his Rea dysfunctional childhood where he was demeaned and attacked and humiliated by his father one of the brothers dragged himself to death really traumatized person and a Tomasulo penis impulsivity is lack of attention in his emotional shut down in his ex activity in his paranoia the person who ran against him was an emotionally shut down person who learned from her mother very early that she mustn't be vulnerable they literally told the story about that during a convention how the mother basically tells her you mustn't be afraid you mustn't let me have be vulnerable this person then as pneumonia without even telling the world about it during the election campaign this a person puts up with the philandering 'he's of a highly immoral husband and protects it that's a sign of emotional shutdown in trauma so you had to traumatize individuals running for the presidency of the most popular I should say the most powerful nation on earth that means it's a traumatized society they had a choice of in two kinds of dramas are we getting further and further into that realm of hungry ghosts well none of us is a Buddhist image where there are several realms as the animal realm of our age and our appetites and our lusts the human realm with the ordinary selves the hell realm with actually the animal realm is actually our drives in our lusts the human realm is ordinary selves the hell realm is the unbearable emotions of hatred and rage and loathing and terror and so on there's a couple of other realms no the hungry ghosts roam the creatures are depicted as ones with large empty bellies insatiable got got guts small narrow of gullets and small mouths so they can never get enough from the outside always trying to feed themselves in other words they're always buying the products of this consumer society always trying to fill themselves with more fame more food more fantasy more Goods and my contention is is that we dwell so many of us and I endorse Trump as our attempt to escape the Haram there's emotions in us we can't stand we try and stuff them down with consumables with drugs with behaviors with social attainment with social approval with meaningless activities so yes this is society of hungry ghosts where people are by and large alone they haunt our lives without being fully engaged and their insatiable and their insatiable insatiability then finds its cultural expression on television you have a food channel not just all about eating nothing wrong with eating but this but this cultural obsession what is that a substitute for and you talked before about the the realm of the hungry ghosts and that's a Buddhist metaphor do you find the Jungian framework to be useful the idea of the shadow and integration of the shadow in this work well we all have our shadow side which has to be integrated I mean there's a part of me that's full of rage and hatred and jealousy and envy and sometimes homicidal fantasies that's just a part of me nothing wrong with that as long as I'm aware that they're in me and they're not me my problem with unionism however is that it ascribes these qualities to the shadow side to sing over an archetypical thing they don't talk about Toronto very much whereas I think ins were pointed in my book in irrelevant of course is that these dark impulses and people and the need to escape from them actually arise a little genuine human experience they're not simply part of human nature they're really outcomes of trauma and that trauma is experienced in a childhood and in my view unless you deal with the trauma you're not really dealing with the shadow side it's one thing to acknowledge those titles that it's there but if you look at that unless you look at a traumatic basis of it so I do think that Freudianism and even unionism unity is much more sophisticated I think than fighters and has much more meaningful things to say about the human functioning for all the great insights that they both had and I learned a lot from both but they both ignored trauma and I think the trauma is the missing piece in modern psychology and modern education modern medicine and so I think that without looking at trauma speaking of the shadow side remains somewhat shallow and you're you're from Canada yeah one of the the biggest phenomenon of the last couple of years has been Jordan Peterson yeah what have you made of him his rise and what it says about the culture that people are so thirsting for what he's talking about Peterson first was very bright extraordinaire tick youlet and in some ways a compelling speaker so he said he's an attractive figure in some ways when I read him I sense a lot of suppressed rage in him in fact I think his voice is choking with a rage alot of time it's anything if he talks about rage that he have to deal with it I don't think you'll understand just angry yet and it's and if you look at his websites the comments were full of rage by his young acolytes now that's an energetic thing it's his energy that draws people as much as what he actually teaches secondly he teaches a repression I mean he he very rightly takes an issue where somebody mandates the cencon language and he very rightly and righteously since above all not be dictated to about what language I'm gonna use well good for him I'm on favor of not mandating language on one hand on the other hand he basically advocates repression in his book he talks about how an angry to your child needs to be sit by themselves until they get over it rather than understanding why a child would be angry rage – what frustrations are having and what human contact they need to help them move through that anger he says repress the anger so he's all about repressed anger for example circuit and it's very interesting when he talks about children you have some little varmints and little monsters and so on I know that's meant to be humorous but it's also certain way of thinking of the young human child so fundamentally I steam as an agent of repression he posing as an agent of libertarianism not to mention he's got this big in his bonnet about what he considers to be seems to consider to be conspiracies by left-wing intellectuals they seem to be his Buettner are being a left-wing intellectual myself I'd like to talk to him so now what were you so upset about Jordan what are you so afraid of you know he talks about these bloody Marxists and and any any points are very accurately all the horror that occurred under so-called Marxist regimes particularly in the Soviet Union he's absolutely accurate about that but then he promotes Christianity shall I tell him about the mass murders that occurred in the name of Christianity should I tell him about all the millions that were slaughtered in the names of the gentle Jesus in other words let's be fair about it he seems to pick ideologies to attack and abhor and embrace other ideologies that are just as murderers in practice sometimes it's a much more interesting question for me what happened in Eastern Europe how come under an ideology it was meant to be liberate people so many people were oppressed I come from Eastern Europe I was born in Hungary he doesn't have to tell me about what was like but how about asking how come a religious philosophy that was meant to promote love and acceptance and compassion has become such an agent of two million a of repression oppression and and-and-and-and-and killing so can we be objective or we're gonna be simply tribal about it I have a lot to say to Jordan or a lot to as much as I appreciate actually some of what he says and as interesting as I find them I think is a very mixed figure largely an occasion to of repression you


  1. Wonderful. I have felt the same things without being able to articulate them. Wish I was as sensitive and aware as Gabor.

  2. I like Peterson and Mate, such amazing insights they both have, I'm sure a conversation between them will happen in the future which will be so fruitful for all of us listen to. Maybe Gabor could offer Jordan some Ayahuasca treatment for his anger… /sarcasm (kind of).

  3. I agree with much of what Mate says, particularly in my parenting style, however I was disappointed to hear his gross misrepresentation of Christianity, in doing so he proved himself intellectually dishonest whether purposely or not. Christianity has and continues to do charitable work throughout the world and bring communities together, Marxist ideology has done the opposite. To compare the two is disgusting.

  4. This is much delusion envy. Reds have killed 140M so far thru tribally created communism. Leftist ideology is to oppress, destroy everyone from envy, always a conspiracy, still at it today. Christians have killed no one since we are not allowed to.
    Hitler was not Christian. The more Christian the more successful are ppl due to the love philosophy.

  5. Peterson uses the Jewish and Cristian experience to help explain our cultures situation without ever being pushed into promoting Christianity.

  6. Phlegmatic luddite. Social media is flimsy, but so were the first looms. Old people using the word 'triggered'- Douchechills!

  7. Really? Because Peterson believes in giving little kids a timeout he promotes repression. Also where is your professional courtesy? Just because you are asked to there is no need to pull a Vox Day and criticize the man in place of his ideas.

  8. Good video. Very interesting. I clicked on a link Jordan peterson had in his Twitter to see what it was. I think gabor doesn't quite understand his left wing bias. Peterson goes just as hard on the fascists as he does on the marxists. He is not stuck on the left or the right. As I see it, jordan is capable a moving from one side to the other. Never far from the center. Gabor is clearly stuck on the left. Not capable of movement. Which is fine but I think he may be in trouble debating jordan. One of the dead giveaways of this is I will almost guarantee gabor would never say a bad word about a Muslim. But has no issue going after a Christian. But I admit, this is the first time I have listened to him. I better get to know him better. He seems incredibly smart and a genuine good guy. It's nice to learn from these guys. Very helpful for guys like me.

  9. Gabor Mate, you choose to see life through the lens of trauma. There are many other ways of perceiving reality. The trauma crowd loves to tell everyone else about their trauma.
    Some people are more susceptible to trauma than others. Everyone has varying degrees of inherited temperamental differences. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps your a bit more temperamentally sad while Peterson is bent more toward anger, Dr. mate? Instead of pathologically diagnosing Peterson you could of appreciated the different approaches you both take. Publicly diagnosing him for having “repressed rage” is clinically irresponsible and you certainly don’t have enough evidence other than “I can hear it in his voice and see it in his comment sections.” Wow. I can see why you’d identify with Marxist politics because from a social constructionist perspective, everyone is the result of what happens to them. I.e. trauma.

  10. OK — I have watched DR P a bit much – and I do not agree with this Gabor's statement that Dr. P embraces Christianity ( publicly). In fact DR. P is bothered by the simply question of "do you pray" If you ever hear him talk this out – it is never a reference to Christianity. His reply is always an inward mental or spiritual focus, a personal prayer or introspection to know how he might realize how is one a lesser person than he could be…and that his focus is to a better person today than he was yesterday.

    I do see is Dr. P. leveraging archetypal stories of the Old and New Testament to explain Young or a psychological concept. He does this with Walt Disney Cartoons too.

    As an example of this — DR P. is called Courageous by an interviewer because he takes on this public posture and he pushes back on the insane negative ills of people. And he disagrees with the descriptor of being "courageous" and tries to explain that he is not courageous, it is that he is compelled to act.

    ….using an old testament statement… Jordan goes on to say….That somewhere in the Old Testament it says the Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom…. and Jordan goes on to say….I am not courageous, it is more like that "I am afraid of the RIGHT Things!" and thus he is compelled to act because not acting will bring on a worse outcome.

    Considering that Gabor correctly credits Jordan with his expertise on WW2 and Nazi's – Then Gabor goes on to chastise Jordan which detracts from his credibility…by saying I grew up in Eastern Europe, he doesn't have to tell me what it is like —- well there you go…Jordan has invested his academic career studying Nazi behavior, often referencing multiple novels and historic figures…and to be dismissed as a non-expert by Gabor because he didn't "live in Eastern Europe" is dismissive and unbecoming.

  11. Ironic how Gabor can be a Leftist promoting Leftist ideology that led to the Oppression, and Murder of his people, and very family, from which he fled. Amazing. You flee a communist regime only to drink their political poison. Mind blowing.

  12. No. Not addicted to Ideology. Averse to deconstructionists bungling through Historical Meaning and attempting to change the FOUNDATIONAL NORMS of American Society? Yup. You bet. This dude sits around talking to heroin addicts all day… but has NEVER gone out and partied with them for a month.
    Ask me how I know.

  13. Christians Churches so called killings were the result of both a repulsion of invasions by the Muslim Caliphate whether invasion of Poland and Europe and attacks on Russian borders or was the attempt to protect Pilgrims who were being killed and robbed on their way to Jerusalem. Essentially a repelling of invading forces. Communist Atrocities were in the name of invading like in Ukraine, the horrible slaughter through hunger, or otherwise was done on it's own people to suppress and control and lock on manacles to the populace. Mostly done to unarmed civilians who were carted off to prisons( which is still happening today in China.) never to be heard of or killed on the spot. In this way they removed whole populations who knew how to farm and thus starved the rest of the population. China's killing of mass amounts of its population was also for power by way of death and attrition. Time, confinement and suppression and its threats would remove all rebellion or independence out of its people. Solitary confinement can take only days to make one forever willing and broken, it is why the US prison system is so fond of it. Takes less guards. This may be a disputed point but they are in stark contrast between the two. No One begrudges the brutality the Russians imposed on the Germans and its people as it was the Germans who invaded. This may be play school philosophy but it is how it has been written in the history books. In the end Civilization is still as barbous as in the days of Hammurabi eye for eye, but I still believe the context should matter.

  14. I wonder at the historical veracity of Gabor's glib comparison of the 2000 year history of Christianity with the monstrous behaviors of the leftist authoritarian governments in the mere 100 years of the 20th century. Sounds like a lot of the casual talk I've heard from my Jewish friends – I'm Jewish BTW. This is especially so since the Christian Ideal or doctrine so frequently clashed with the statist forces so during that 2000 year history, whereas Islam and the 20th century leftists ( I include all the Axis governments) had no contravening ideology contesting their horrors – they didn't tolerate any.

  15. Why did the interviewer change half way through randomly… enjoyed the interview but this distracted me.

  16. Interesting, But!
    I'm not in favor of his view on Christian aspects. Some theological knowledge he is missing.

  17. Concerning Trump, Gabor Mate doesn't seem to see any problem with giving his professional diagnosis (publicly) of a person he's never spoken to let alone medically examined and based only on what he has heard second hand from the press. So much for ethics in medicine, I guess.

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