By Brian O’Donovan, Counsellor at The Eaves
Book Review: The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté.
Maté is an acclaimed author and one of his early books “in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts”, which is widely read and cited, represents his own work and experience of addiction. This new book (written in collaboration with his son) is an investigation into the causes of illness, a bracing critique of how our society breeds disease, and offers a pathway to health and healing. In a way this book expands and elaborates the biopsychosocial elements of our lives, it provides context and environment and takes issue with the over pathologized models of mental health.
This is an excellent book on how early trauma which takes different forms, helps shape how we become the people we are. He draws deeply on his troubled past and his relationship with his mother who was Jewish and who had to flee Nazi persecution, an experience that had profound ramifications for her and for Maté.
Over many decades of clinical experience, Maté has come to recognize the prevailing understanding of “normal” is false, neglecting the roles that trauma and stress, and the pressures of modern-day living, exert on our bodies and our minds at the expense of good health.
For all our expertise and technological sophistication, Western medicine often fails to treat the whole person, it ignores how today’s culture stresses the body, burdens the immune system, and undermines emotional balance. Maté brings his perspective, huge intellect and psychological insight into untangling the common myths about what makes us sick, he connects the dots between the maladies of individuals and the declining soundness of society—and offers a compassionate guide for health and healing.
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