In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Part I

 In The Curriculum

Almost entirely anecdotal recollections, Maté does well to show the humanity of the people he treats. I found it easy throughout this section to substitute heroin & cocaine with screens and comparative, binary thinking—both addictions which ruin entire lives and allow humans to remain divorced from their true selves and thus, able to keep their distance from their perceived inadequacies, abandonments, or cruelties.
Maté makes it impossible to not see oneself in the struggles of the people he treats. He also has the difficult task of writing himself into the story without being a total narcissist, even when ever story naturally involves him and his responses to and reflections of his patients. He does an incredible job using foreshadowing as a technique to connect various threads throughout his stories, often giving the result before diving into the divergent paths a patient takes.
The biggest takeaway came early on page 29: “people jeopardize their lives for the sake of making the moment livable.”

  • Where do I jeopardize my own life?
  • What makes a moment livable or unlivable?
  • What are the neurological conditions, psychological conditions, or environmental conditions that define a moment as livable or unlivable?
  • Which of these conditions can I control sustainably?
  • Do I need to control?
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