Addiction, Psychedelics and Reframing Trauma—Big Talk with Dr. Gabor Maté - Transcripts

January 09, 2023

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No matter what you’ve been through in life, your true, undamaged self can never be destroyed. In this Big Talk, Dr. Gabor Maté shares his unique perspective on how to undo our suffering and reconnect with our authentic selves. This episode will...

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podcast is a dear media production. Hi there, Gabby here. This podcast is intended to educate, inspire, and support you on your personal journey towards inner peace. I'm not a psychologist or a medical doctor and do not offer any professional health or medical advice. If you are suffering from a psychological or medical condition, please seek help from a qualified health professional. I hope the start of the year has been great for you and I just want to acknowledge how exciting it is when we start the year and we've got all this momentum and we're feeling so connected and then boom we can start to feel like we fall back into our old patterns. Don't do it, don't do it. So I'm gonna help you out. I've got a little prezzy for you. My son would say, Mom, you have a prezzy? He would hate this prezzy because you can't open it with wrapping paper but you're gonna love it because it's super easy to access. I'm gonna give you two of my most requested meditations.

They're about attracting your greatest desires. They're about stepping into the human you want to be. So for instant access for these 2 free meditations just go to DearGabi.com forward slash free meditations. If you want to really feel into the power of these meditations come back and listen to them day after day. Just really return to them. I promise you will feel a radical shift when you step into these practices. So just head over to DearGabi.com forward slash free meditations to get instant access today.

Hey there! Welcome to Dear Gabby. I'm your host Gabby Bernstein and if you landed here, it is absolutely no accident. It means that you're ready to feel good and manifest a life beyond your wildest

dreams. Let's get started. Welcome back to Dear Gabby. I am pumped that you are here. I'm so so excited to share this gorgeous big talk with you. I had to take a sigh of breath for this one because this is just one of the most important topics that we could have today. In this episode of Dear Gabby, I have a beautiful, profound conversation with Dr. Gabor Mate. He's my new friend and such a major transformational leader in the world. Dr. Mate is a renowned speaker and bestselling author and is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress, and childhood development. Dr. Mate has written several books including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Close Encounters with Addiction and he has co-authored Hold On to Your Kids which I highly, highly recommend. I read this book Hold on to Your Kids while I was nursing my son. This is a book that's been a lifesaver for me and most recently, he came out with a book called The New Normal.

It is one of the most profound books I've ever read and I recommend it to every human. It's a book for humans and I can't wait to dive into some of the topics from that book today and in today's episode, we touch on everything from psychedelics to parenting. We go so deep and this man is doing such profound work and I'm so grateful he has supported me so much with my addiction recovery and with my trauma recovery and his wisdom is priceless. So, I really want to encourage you to listen all the way through to the end. This is a very special episode.

Enjoy the show. Well, look what strikes me reading your book is that I think you're both more spiritually gifted than I am and also more spiritually disciplined than I am. We all

have our strengths. That's not one of the mine. Yeah, we can jump into that actually because what I share often is that there's the spiritual foundation that was such a strong through line before I found the therapeutic work and that foundation in a way, it was almost like a protector part for a while, right? So, it's like almost using my spiritual

practice as a way of getting above the suffering. They call

it a spiritual bypass. That's right. That's right and I can think that part of me because that's all I could do at the time. I think that the integration of the two is what's mattered most. So, let's start with that. A lot of my listeners may not know this but maybe they have been spiritually bypassing for a long time because that's all they knew how to do. That was another form of protection and when we start to get more integrated in our therapeutic journey, the two can really coexist and support and interestingly, I've personally been guided to many therapy practices that I believe are really spiritual practices. I can say that for Dick Schwartz. Yeah. So, I'd love to hear where that intersects for you and what that means to you.

Well, behind my left shoulder is a bookshelf and that's a whole shelf full of spiritual books which testifies to my own spiritual poverty because whenever I went into a crisis, I go out and buy a whole bunch more spiritual books which then I don't necessarily read or read only very cursively. I've not been somebody with a discipline in spiritual practice and reading your book Happy Days. I also don't have the faith that you have. I can only call it that. You know, you really do pray and you call to a higher part that you speak to you. So, for me, it's been the other way around. My journey started more with working on my traumas and the traumas of my patients and all that manifested in all kinds of illnesses of mind and body and it was only later that I was guided to spiritual work with my ADD personality. I've never been very disciplined about spiritual practice. So, it's almost like spirituality is something that's descended upon me willy-nilly. I've done a 10-day repassive meditation. I've done other retreats. It's not like I haven't but in terms of daily practice, it's really been missing from my life.

I haven't pursued it and so it's more that I have to keep coming back to it when I find that all the emotional and therapeutic work just leaves something missing and what's missing, of course, is the deep connection to the capital S self that Dick Schwartz would call it or the authentic self that I call it or other people call it. Now, some people use spiritual on the other hand as a way of not dealing with the emotional issue. They go into these wonderful states on the meditation cushion and they talk about God and heaven and the true self but really, they're quite disconnected from themselves because they haven't done the emotional work. So, that's what's interesting in spiritual practice is that they're great spiritual leaders who've taught millions who've been exploiting and abusing their followers which gets revealed years later. This happens, of course, not just in the Catholic Church but several great Buddhist teachers that have been outed as serial explorers. I don't want to name names. So, here are these people who've genuinely reached deep space of spiritual awareness and realization but have not worked out their traumas and therefore, they inflict their traumas. They use their power and their influence to inflict their traumas on other people and from my point of view, not that there needs to be a competition but if somebody wants to get whole, I say do the emotional work first and that's what I've been up to. Not to denigrate or dismiss the other because I think we're not complete if you just go one way or the other but I think the bigger danger here is that people get spiritual beliefs and practices and realizations and they leave their traumatized selves essentially untouched and they're not even aware of it. So, I think that's the bigger danger here.

Completely agree. We have this shared language around different parts. The compassion I can see for myself and the decade of spiritual bypassing is that I wasn't quite safe enough yet to even remember my trauma. My trauma was associated trauma and the foundation of my spiritual practice actually helped me create that safety to remember. Now, upon remembering and doing the deeper work, I couldn't agree with you more. I think that deeper work is the true healing and I thank my spiritual practice for helping me get there but I couldn't sustain that. You know, throw yourself against the wall and then peel yourself off the wall and then pick yourself up back again with your spiritual practice. That wasn't sustainable for me and so the deeper work is the greatest spiritual practice of my life.

Yeah and from that point of view, I might say that my

marriage has been the biggest spiritual work in my life.

After 53 years, and it's ongoing, as I was telling you, I just came back from this speaking trip, and I was shocked to find how I'd lost myself in all the publicity on the book, and the attention, and all the speaking I was doing,

and came home, and I was missing in action. What does that look like when Gabramati comes back from a book tour, and has been so filled up from the outside world, and you come home,

what does missing in action mean? It means that we go to a restaurant five days ago, my son who's visiting from New York, and my wife, and the waiter brings me the wrong size of poop, and I lose it. I get aggressive, and critical, and hostile. It means that when I'm challenged, I defend myself rather than listen. He might be speaking about compassion, and understanding, and all this kind of stuff, and in happy days, you describe a scene that really spoke to me, because you were on stage talking to thousands of people, and channeling the truth, and the size of just being authentic, actually. You weren't faking anything, but something was flowing through you that you haven't opened to yourself quite yet, and your husband is just so proud of you for the beautiful job you did, and you get off the stage, you find you're missing in action. I think whether you come at things from the spiritual perspective, or from the emotional, psychological trauma-informed perspective, it takes constant work and integration. The old patterns just reassert themselves. The Buddha talked about our habit energies, and our habit energies are those inguain patterns that just automatically take over, unless we're vigilant, and mindful,

and unless we take care of ourselves. What is the feeling of being in that situation

in the restaurant? When I'm in it, I'm just self-righteously hostile. Yeah, well, Osori afterwards immediately got it, but the full depth of it, I didn't get, and so the hand I feel about it, I was shocked in a really positive sense, so just shocked into realization of my God. Here I am, still capable of being that triggered and losing awareness, and being really unkind toward a human being who was just trying to serve me. At this point, I don't reject those aspects of myself. I'm just curious as to what happened here, and what happened here is I got too busy, and I got too focused on the outside. Mm-hmm, and you also might have been tired. You know what, I've been up since five in the morning that day, and I was tired, so I wasn't taking care of myself. So that's all that happens. I don't go on a big self-hatred safari about it afterwards. I just, okay, what happened here? What were the conditions, and how do I take care of myself?

How do I integrate everything I know and teach? I was in a similar situation in a nail salon, and I've talked about it on the podcast, where I just lost my ass in a nail salon, and by the grace of God, one of my readers was sitting next to me. Thankfully, I had come back to self before she acknowledged her presence, but as shameful as it was in that moment, I found it to be such a beautiful opportunity

to just use the tools and to have compassion for myself. It always is a commonality between both ourselves and other people that we know is that these experiences,

they're always learning opportunities, you know? That's right, and I really wanna reflect back to you also, I actually saw you live for the first time when we were in Florida together at the HiWatch conference, and I just want you to know that the man that's on that stage is fully integrated in authentic self, as you would say, and just even that presence is very soothing. You spoke with so much clarity, and it was direct, but the presence alone was enough for me.

It was just everything for me. Yes, and I'm told that. I'm glad that that's the case. Sometimes I'm reminded, though, of something that the great Russian dancer Nijinsky said. Do you know Nijinsky? So he was a great ballet dancer about 100 years ago, the Nureyev and Baryshnikov of his day, and he would execute these amazing leaps on stage, and he was asked, how do you do it? He says, I don't do it. He says, when Nijinsky's there, it can't happen, you know? That's right. So it's probably the same for you. It's both my presence, and it isn't. It's something greater than we are, I think.

This is not to aggrandize ourselves, it's actually to say that's just how it is. There's something that comes through.

The work actually is in making us as open to it. That's exactly right. It's just releasing the blocks to the presence of that truth. That energy. Also, I think that the idea that we're not there, I don't agree with that entirely because I think it's a collaborative energy. It's allowing ourselves to be in our truth and allowing that truth to elevate and enhance.

I see it as a collaborative effort. It is, and it's also collaboration, not just internally but also as an audience there, and in that case there were 2000 people there, and they trust you, or in this case they trust me, and there's respect there and there's openness there. Dan Siegel talks about these nervous system's are joined with the nervous system everybody else is sort of all one. So they can't do it for me, they can be there. And I can still show up as completely egotistical, not anymore though but I used to. So they don't do it for me and I don't do it for them

purely, but it is a collaboration. Well, they're co-regulating with your energy. It's a beautiful experience to have that kind of collaborative energy with others and particularly an audience, but even with children or with your household. I want to thank you for your vulnerability and your truth. I genuinely believe that these moments that feel like suffering or uncomfortable are the most important moments because here you are this famed teacher, author, doctor, but that you can be in that truth and share it so openly. Here is the first topic is the teachings in my opinion and I thank you for that. And I'm a sober woman of 17 years and I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for the commitment that you've made to addicts in helping us recognize that as you say the source of addiction is not to be found in the genes, but in early childhood environment. And I want to let you just riff on that because it's been very helpful for me as a recovering addict and also having respect for my addiction and my journey. And I think that those out there need

to hear it from you. Sure. So my views on addiction emerged over the years, both in dealing with my own addictive behaviors and also working with a highly addictive population. A lot of people may not be aware, but Vancouver, British Columbia, where I live has got a district called the downtown east side, really a few square block radius where there are thousands of people using drugs of all kinds. And it's just absolute misery central. People are shocked when they walked on these streets, what they see. And I worked there for 12 years as a physician and my patients were suffering from HIV and hepatitis C and every mental illness you could name and heavy drug dependence as well. And every single one of them, very traumatized people over the 12 years that I worked there out of hundreds of women that I treated, not one of them had not been sexually abused as children. And I know at some point you recovered some repressed memories of the same. Yeah. So what emerged for me is two things that addiction is not, it's not a culpable choice to anybody makes. Nobody decides to be an addict.

People may decide to use a drug, but whether they get addicted or not, they don't choose that. I remember anybody who woke up one morning and said, I want to be a drug addict, you know, who would choose it? People may choose the temporary relief that the addiction gives, but they don't choose the addiction as such. Number one, number two, it's not an inherited disease. In fact, it's not a disease at all. And so I really resist the medical mantra and the treatment industry, man, that this is a disease, it can behave like a disease in the sense that it has causes physical and mental harm, it has relapses and remissions, but that doesn't make it a disease. And what it actually is, is if I give you my core definition of addiction, then addiction is manifested in any behavior in which a person finds temporary pleasure or relief and therefore craves, then suffers negative consequences and has trouble giving up despite the negative consequences. So pleasure relief, craving in the short term and difficulty giving up in the long term. And so then if I asked you as an identified formerly addicted person, and you've had addictions to substances, but also to behaviors, any one of them,

I don't care which one, but what did they do for you in the short term? What did you like about them? They gave me relief. Relief from? Relief from terror. And who needs to be numbed, by the way? Who needs to be numbed? In that instance,

the child parts of me. No, I don't mean analytically. I mean,

when do we need to be numb? Oh, when we're in pain. There you go.

Yeah, exactly. So now relief from terror and pain relief are the good things are bad things

in themselves. In themselves, they're good things.

Yeah, yeah. So that's my point. The addiction wasn't your primary problem. It wasn't any kind of a disease. It was an attempt to solve a problem. It was a doomed attempt to solve a problem. Their problem with emotional pain. And so hence my mantra, which I lay out in this book, The Myth of Normal, as in my previous book on addiction. Don't ask why the addiction, ask why the pain. And I don't care what addiction you're talking about or anybody's talking about, whether it's cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, sex, gambling, pornography, eating, shopping, self-cutting, internet, gaming. I don't care what. They're always in attempts to solve a problem of emotional distress.

So again, the mantras don't ask why the addiction ask, why the pain? And if you want to understand why the pain go back to the person's childhood. And that's where the pain was incurred in my case. Just it was incurred in your case. Sometimes the memories are available. Sometimes they're repressed. Sometimes they're a bit confusing in that nothing really terrible happened, but terrible things don't need to happen like you were sexually abused and I was a Jewish infant separated from my mother under the Nazis in Second World War Hungary but it doesn't have to be that bad it can be a sensitive child not

having their needs met and suffering emotional pain and being alone with it

because even in your case this terrible thing happened to you that was bad enough but you didn't talk to anybody about it and of course you have a four year old if I asked you if anybody even looked at your child the wrong way who do you want them to talk to about it you would say me right away to the fact that you didn't talk to your parents already means that there was trauma there even before totally that disconnection that separation I'm not blaming your parents totally they did their best whatever that happened to be given their own limitations and traumas and so on but that being cut off from our own feeling so that we don't even ask for help that's the trauma and then the sexual abuse happens on top of that but that emotional pain is always there And that's the problem that the addiction tries to solve. And treating it like a disease or as a choice just misses the mark completely.

In a sense, you'd consider it a trauma response.

It's a trauma response. And Dick Schwartz, our mutual friend, calls it a firefighter. When a pain gets too much, you just douse the fire. And the firefighters, when they come to your house to put out the fire, they'll destroy your house if they have to. Because they're just trying to put out the fire or make sure that neighborhood doesn't catch on fire. So they'll break your windows, your doors, and if necessary, they'll break down your walls. And addiction does that. So addiction does a lot of harm, but it's trying to douse the fire of pain that's burning inside you and has been since childhood. So in that sense, they cannot see it very much the same. You just use different language.

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That's calm.com slash Dear Gabby. It's interesting because in early recovery, it's very hard to start to touch into that pain. And coming back to the spiritual part, when I was in my early recovery, there was no way that I could start to even contemplate. I didn't actually even remember what had happened to me— it was dissociated. I was only a decade into my recovery that I could even remember.

If I may say I'm sorry Indigenous, but that's because you didn't have competent therapy. I think that you had the proper therapy and the safety. I'm not criticizing anybody. I'm just saying that I know you had a good therapist and I'm sure they did wonderful things for you

But I don't think it should take 10 years. Well, you know, it's so interesting It was probably a few years before I remembered that I started with my now therapist Who's also a part-strain therapist and excellent and I remember the trauma I said why did I remember it now and she said because you're safe enough to remember it Yeah, because you're ready for sure and many only been two years of working with her so we can give her that credit exactly I do agree with you that the treatment that I was having before my addiction and even in the early days was not good So much so that my nose would be bleeding in therapy and there was no acknowledgement. I was a hundred pounds There's no acknowledgement of the addiction. I got myself sober it was a very transformational therapist that I chose to seek out through hazelton a man called dr Rick Barnett and he in a few months was able to direct me on my sober path, you know There are those angels along the way, but really appreciate how you just get straight to it You're not afraid to piss people off and I appreciate that. It's really valuable because thinking right now about that person that's listening who is Suffering with addiction but doesn't have the resources to get into treatment and who will not necessarily ever get to that therapist Who has the skill set to help them go to those deeper wounds?

What can they do? Well, there are peer support groups 12 step and there's a good the 12 steps now my critique of the 12 steps is Fundamental to my critique of the whole treatment industry. They don't deal with trauma. It's true It may come up but it's not built in and since all addiction is rooted in trauma That is to say in some pain. You don't deal with the source of the pain. You might be getting all kinds of useful up I love the 12 steps and I recommend the 12 steps They're life-enhancing for anybody but you can do them and never deal with the trauma But anyway, so what can people do this may sound self-serving I can only tell you that I get this report all the time that people watch my YouTube lectures on addiction and trauma Or they read my book Yeah in the realm of hungry ghosts on trauma or my read my new book the myth of normal on addiction and which Chapters and addiction trauma and people say that alone has changed their lives I don't think it's that simple. But what I'm saying is there's information out there It's a first step at least you can inform yourself. See one of the problems with addiction is there's a deep shame Is that anybody who's addicted? Deep shame or just to find out this isn't your fault. It may be your responsibility to deal with it But it's not your fault that it happened and you're not a miserable Faulty unworthy individual you're just a human being Wasn't so much pain that you tried to escape from it. The only way you knew how that's what happened

That makes you very normal. It's a first step So that understanding alone is transformative for people even like we said earlier seeing the addiction as a firefighter Just trying to put out the fire that shift in perception of seeing it as some part of us is trying to protect us that gives you such a deep level of compassion and connection to that addiction and I think that's the 12 steps and I can speak for myself Create this safe course community and path To help one get their nervous system to a safer baseline Sure And when that individual gets that that baseline moving and going and get some time together their life starts to expand of course and hopefully they start to create more abundance in their life and can afford deeper therapeutic services or Be guided to them or attract them into their life because I remember being 10 years into my recovery and sharing about my Sexual abuse and remembering it and it was a woman's meeting and at the end of the meeting all the women cut to me They're like, yeah me too. Me too. Me too But they're like, I don't deal with that or I don't really ever want to know anymore about that I'm gonna push that down and I had so much compassion for them because it showed that okay, they want recovery They're doing whatever it takes to stay clean, but they're also still terrified of the trauma and I get it

Sure. Yeah, and the tosses to it The fact is that on the energetic level, the groove lifts everybody up more than they could be lifted on their own. And not to mention the specific value of each individual step properly understood. I'm very respectful of 12 steps. I just think that what's missing in the myth of normal, I make this case repeatedly, that in medicine, in psychiatry, in psychology, in education, in society in general, there's a real lack of awareness of trauma. And that lack of awareness of trauma really hobbles our capacity to help people or to help ourselves. And even take the word recovery. So what does it mean to recover? It specifically means to find something. Now, if you ask people when you recovered, what did you find? What would you say, Gabby? What would you say?

What did you find? I found me. Exactly. Okay. So you find yourself. That means that the true self was never destroyed. It never, ever is. You lose sight of it. You lose touch with it. That disconnection from the true self is the fundamental trauma. As I pointed out, it underlies virtually all mental illness and a lot of chronic physical illness as well. Doctors don't get a single lecture on trauma, on the relationship between trauma and physical illness, which is amazing.

Given all the research, study three years ago, four years ago now, showed that women with severe PTSD have doubled the risk of ovarian cancer. Women who are sexually abused in childhood have increased risk of irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, raising my hand, breast cancer, all this kind of stuff. The relationship between stress and trauma, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis. In Canada where I live, indigenous women who are the most stressed and traumatized segment of our population have six times the rate of rheumatoid arthritis than that of anybody else. In the United States, it's women of color who have much higher rates of autoimmune disease, women in general have much higher rates of autoimmune disease than men do. Why? Because women take on the stress of looking at everybody else. What I'm saying is that this trauma awareness and the impacts of trauma on physical and mental health are completely ignored in medical education and not to mention the law, not to mention in the schools. In the schools you have a lot of kids who are traumatized, who can't pay attention or who are acting out they're seen as behavior problems rather than, oh, this child is demonstrating and crying out for help. And so that lack of awareness just blinds us.

It's why I believe your book, The Myth of Normal, is having such extraordinary recognition. Been on the New York Times list weeks and weeks and weeks in a row. This book is just, it's a huge book and people are reading it to the end. And it is because you're speaking for those psychosomatic effects that the root cause condition of trauma causes. And you're also

speaking about the why we got here because no one cared for that. Psychosomatic, just to clarify, sometimes when we use the word psychosomatic, people think we're just saying that just imagine it's all in their heads. But the word that you used it, and as I employ it, is a very specific scientific meaning. Everything is psychosomatic in the sense that the psyche or emotional lives and the soma, our bodies inseparable their one unit. So that most chronic illnesses are truly psychosomatic, not that in the sense that we imagine it, but in the sense that our emotions and our bodies, our psychology and our physiology and our relationships with each other are inseparable, so that if somebody has an illness, they're not just looking at pathology in a particular organ. We're actually looking at that person's history, in relationship to their family's origin, their multi-generational family's origin, their culture, their internal psychological life, as it's affected by the relationship and the impact of all that on the immune system, on their nervous system, on their physiology, on their hormones, on their guts. and it's also simple, conceptually and also scientifically not controversial and there's so much research, not to mention traditional wisdom behind it, and yet we ignore it and you go to the average doctor with any kind of a physical problem they'll never ask you about stress, and they'll ask you about trauma in your life, they'll never ask you about how are you doing with your spouse, how do you feel about your work, how you feel about yourself as as a human being, and all those questions are so

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was never addressed in the medical field? I think there's a number of reasons for that, which goes back a long ways in Western history, in the Western civilization. Indigenous cultures and Eastern cultures were always more holistic, so that in Ayurvedic Indian medical practice or the Chi medicine of China, the energy medicine, or the indigenous ways of shamans in North America or South America or anywhere in the world, it was always clear that mind and body are inseparable. In fact, in North American indigenous medicine, you have the medicine wheel, which has got four quadrants, the physical, the mental, the social, and the spiritual. And health resides in a balance between those four quadrants. So that understanding was always there. But in the Western mind, we got incredible achievements to its credit, let's face it. But the separation has been endemic. So Socrates said that the problem of the doctors of today, he said, 2,400 years ago, that they separate the mind from the body. So that's been going on for a long time. With the rise of industrialization and the amazing emergence of science and the left brain, we've completely forgotten that unity. So that's the first part of the second part of it is that doctors themselves are often very traumatized people.

I was before I went to medical school when I went into medical school. I had a bunch of motive, some conscious and some not so conscious. The conscious motive was both good and selfish. The good of us that we wanted to serve humanity and I wanted to promote healing in the world. That's good and laudable. This was genuine. I also wanted to be well-paid and respected. But I didn't realize though, and this is the unconscious part. I also had a deep hunger to be seen as important in people's lives because the message that God is an infant was what that I wasn't wanted. And so I internalized the sense of somebody who's not wanted or lovable, not being a doctor is a great way to make yourself wanted and needed, indispensable as a matter of fact. And that's very addictive because nothing that comes from the outside will ever fill you up. So it doesn't matter how many accolades and odds of respect I received as a physician.

It was never enough, which means that was a workaholic, which means that I ignored my own family and my own kids whenever small, in significant ways. I wasn't available for them. So this is how the trauma is passed on. But the point is a lot of people who go into medicine are like that, whether they know it or not. And then the training itself is often very difficult and painful and you can even be traumatic. I could tell you real horror stories. And then you get paid and then the harder you work and the more you ignore yourself and the less you deal with your own emotional stuff, the more respected you are. Everybody thinks, oh, great. He's available to everybody all the time. So you get rewarded for the wrong things. You know the story from your own life. And then there's the money aspect that the more patients in the shorter time you spend with them, the more money you make.

I could go on. There's many of these causes, but this separation of mind and body and ignoring of trauma is deeply entrenched.

And also looking at trauma is painful. It's reactivating. Yeah. Yeah. And I think the idea that a lot of doctors are traumatized people, I mean, of course, most people are traumatized people, but those of us who enter into, and doctors particularly enter into that kind of commitment, have some trauma there. And then the idea of looking at trauma, why would we want to do that? That's way too overwhelming. And especially if you're a doctor or a human who has not looked at their own trauma, how could you hold the space to look for somebody else's?

Well, in medical training, actually, you get a new word to your own trauma. You're sleepless. You don't eat well. You're demeaned. You're shamed. You're given way too much responsibility before you're ready for it. And if you complain or if you can't handle it, then you're weak and you're just not good enough material and you're demeaned. So many doctors afterwards have written about this. Yeah. No. I think it's getting better. I think from that point of view, a younger generation of doctors probably have it better

than say my generation did, but this has been the routine. Yeah. Yeah. I think there's awareness now around the core issues and really so much of it is thanks to you. I just want to just say bravo. Thank you. Thank you for very clearly and eloquently expressing the truth about the medical industry, about the human condition. And I think we're in a time where people are like, well, what do I do? I need to feel free. I can't waste any more time. And you've been really heavily involved in the research into psychedelics and you were really helpful to me. I had a nice conversation about it in Orlando where I said to you, I'm sober 17 years and I've done so much therapy and spiritual practice and I've come to a place where I'm feeling very, very free and very, very spiritually connected and led by a lot of self.

But there's some stuff that I know is still so buried and it feels really hard to get there at this stage. And I mentioned that I was talking to my therapist about different medicines and I spoke to you about the part of me that feels very afraid because of my addiction history. And so I wanted to give you a chance to speak about that here and get a sense from you of how you would, one, speak on behalf of that, but also what are the sort of conditions through which that is appropriate?

Sure. I've been working with psychedelics now for about, oh, 13 or so years now, including the Amazonian plant Ayahuasca. I worked with the African plant Iboga. I worked with MDMA, with mushrooms. These are the main ones. When I say I worked with them both in my own healing and also providing guidance to others. So now I don't want to be an evangelist for psychedelics. I don't think they're panacea and they're not for everybody. So in the myth of normal, we have 33 chapters, eight of them are on healing and one of them is on psychedelics, just to put it into proportion. There's no doubt that they can offer release and openings that are unparalleled in many ways. So first of all, in terms of addictions, I've treated many people with addictions with psychedelics in order to get them off their addictions. And so the fear that this is another substance, I can understand the fear, but it's misplaced because when you did alcohol or whatever drug you did, it wasn't to get to know yourself, it was to escape from yourself, to escape from what you were feeling.

So the intention wasn't to know yourself, it was actually to numb yourself. The intention of a psychedelic session or ceremony or therapeutic endeavor is to actually get to know yourself very deeply. It's not to run away from pain, it's actually to be able to feel whatever is there. If that's pain, you're going to feel pain. So number one, mindset is very different. Number two, the setting. You're doing this with guidance, ideally with people who know what they're doing or experience or have integrity and who have knowledge.

So they can help you, hold a space for you so you can be safe. How would you define that guidance just in terms of the difference between some random person who's like yesterday, I decided I'm a shaman? What is it that we'd be looking for in that guidance?

Well, for one thing, nobody decides yesterday. If they decide yesterday, we're a shaman, then today they're not a shaman. shamanic training, let me tell you, it's not for the faint-hearted. You want to give shaman? Spend two weeks alone in the jungle in a tent with a plant. And that's only like 1% of your training. I'm not a shaman. I never claimed to be one. I don't lead ceremonies. I facilitate them, help people formulate their intention and to integrate them afterwards. But I leave the shamanic work to real shamans. People are really deeply trained in a way that I would never have the interest of the discipline.

So the guidance has to be there. Not MDMA. You don't need shamans. You need good therapists who are well familiar with MDMA and who have trained to work with people under the influence of MDMA. It's called MDMA or sister therapy, mushrooms, you know, whatever it is. It has to have its own kind of expertise. So what the psychedelics do is they remove the membrane between yourself and your own conscious. So it's stuff that you've been carrying and actually running away from all your life, all of a sudden becomes very clear to you. In a psychedelic experience, you might have got in touch with your sexual abuse much earlier. I'm not saying you should have done it. I'm just saying I've seen that happen. Because what happens is under the psychedelics, the parts of the brain that carry childhood emotional memories get enlivened.

But you're there as a conscious adult to witness it. Imagine witnessing your child self with the presence and compassion of an adult who's safe and is being guided. Yeah, it's a retrieval. So it's a retrieval is what it is. And number one, and number two, you also may get in touch with that authentic self that you disconnected from. So in a nutshell, they help you get in touch with repressed emotional dynamics, allow yourself to feel your emotions without fear, or at least with courage. And you get a deeper sense of who you actually are. No, this is an idealized, very encapsulated version, but that's the ultimate intent. And a lot of people have benefited from it in significant ways. And they can offer possibilities that Western medicine can barely even dream of. So that's my little thing on psychedelics. Mentioning only that Ebola, that African plant that I mentioned, actually has the capacity to eliminate opiate withdrawal so that you could be on heroin for 20 years and do Ebola with the right guidance, because it's not for the faint hearted.

And you got to work with people and know what they're doing. But if you do it, people know what they're doing, being well prepared and tested for it. The Ebola can get you off your opiates almost overnight. And there's nothing in Western medicine that can even dream of coming close to that. And yet the United States, it's completely illegal. I know Americans who are working with us south of the border, with veterans, with PTSD. So the psychedelics offer a lot of potential. They're not the answer. They're not the answer. They're not the panacea. They're not for everybody. They're not easy to access.

They're also not inexpensive either. Not everybody can afford to fly to Peru to go to the

Amazon jungle. Right. Well, one of the other questions I asked you was, how have you been speaking on behalf of the recreational journeys and this new phase of just a lot of people popping up saying, I'm doing this and I'm doing that and not doing it necessarily with the trained shaman or a trained therapist? Because for me, I'm trying to really settle any judgment there, but I get concerned about individuals who may be misusing these kinds of medicines. And I'm definitely concerned about people getting re-traumatized because they don't have the right support in

those settings. That can certainly happen. Remember that Walt Disney film, The Sorcerer's Apprentice? Mickey Mouse is this little apprentice of this sorcerer and the sorcerer leaves the house and Mickey starts playing with all the magic and he creates complete disaster. While working with psychedelics, when you're not trained and when you're not ready, without that kind of guidance, can be just like that. You can create disaster. So your concern is quite valid as far as I'm concerned, I'm concerned about the same thing. So we're talking about the right mindset and the right setting. That's what we're talking about. I'm not telling people what to do. I'm just saying that when it comes to therapeutics and healing, I'm not talking about the recreational use.

I'm talking about a very intentional and guided use. Where could somebody find some resources? And we can also just put them in the show notes, but to get to the right therapeutic guidance for using these kinds of medicines.

That's a tough one because, first of all, in the United States, it's all illegal. The only medication that has some psychedelic qualities that has been approved for use in the United States is ketamine. And of course, all kinds of corporations are jumping into the game because there's money to be made. There's all these ketamine clinics all over the place now. That's available. MDMA, they're ongoing studies, legalized studies. They hope to make it FDA approved for PTSD and then possibly related conditions in a few years. Those studies have been going on. But I can't worry about going on. I can tell you about some places in South America that I worked at or I can recommend to work with Ayahuasca. But on a whole, this work in North America is not legal. The legality is totally irrational.

And the fear that's been generated around it is so entrenched that you can't legally recommend it to somebody. Do you think that ketamine with the right therapist could be very valuable for somebody? Look, a lot of people swear by it, so I'm not here to talk again. But I'm far less

impressed with ketamine than I am with other possibilities that are not really available. Okay. Interesting. Okay. Thank you for going there. I probably could speak to you for the next five hours, but I'm not going to. But I do want to just touch a little bit on childhood development and trauma as we close out our conversation. My faith is that one of the forms of prevention and healing for the future is helping parents understand these concepts. Because as a mother of a young child, I can see in real time the shame cycle and I can see the dissociation. I'm witnessing all of it in real time. And so educating the parents is our future right now. And I'd love to just give my audience a little understanding of what happened to us as children and how it affects us as adults and what can we do about it now.

So the SHINee is that the human brain develops an interaction with the environment beginning in uterus. And when I say interaction with the environment, significantly an interaction with the emotional environment. So according to modern neuroscience and brain developmental research, virtually the most significant influence on the healthy development of the circuits of the brain is the emotional relationship with the nurturing caregivers. So the more troubled and stressed those relationships are, the more healthy development is interfered with. And that begins already with the emotional states of the mother doing pregnancy. It's not even controversial. So in the book, The Myth of Normal Life, chapters on prenatal life, on birth, and then several on child development, because that's the time when our attitude towards ourselves, towards the world, our template for relationships, how we understand things, whether or not we're emotionally grounded or easily triggered, whether we're grounded, calm, or in a post-traumatic state, that's when it all happens, is in early childhood. And there's actually some research that shows that a child, if you get the first few months or years or right, and then they suffer all kinds of problems, they do better than children who have difficult influences in the first few months and years, and everything is good afterwards, because the template, the basis for everything naturally, is in our very, very beginnings. So in my own work, I can trace the sources of most chronic physical illness, at least some of the important sources of most chronic physical illness, mental illness, addictions, back to what's happened in childhood. That's the first point. Number two, human children are born with certain needs, and we can judge a society pretty much by how well they meet children's needs. Children have four basic needs for healthy development.

One is a strong, loving, connected, safe attachment relationship with nurturing caregivers, not negotiate. Number one, number two, they have the need for rest, what my brilliant psychologist friend Gordon Newfield calls rest, and rest means the child shouldn't have to work to make the relationship with the parents work. Now in your case, I happen to know you had to work to make the relationship with your parents work, which is not the way it's supposed to be, the young child. That's why you didn't tell them when you were sexually abused. That's the second essential need. The third essential need is the freedom to experience all the emotions that nature gave us. That means love and joy and playfulness and fear and panic and grief. Whatever emotions arise in the child, they have to be understood, attuned with, and held by the adults. That's the third essential need. In this society, parents are forever told to trample on the child's feelings and to suppress certain feelings, cheer up, it can't be that bad, or suck it up, or you angry, go sit by yourself, this kind of stuff, toxic, toxic to children. Children are crying, don't pick them up when they're crying. Indigenous people always picked up their babies, they never even put them down.

Monkeys don't let a baby cry. Human mothers are told to ignore their babies crying by so-called experts who don't know what the heck they're talking about. That's the third need is to experience all our emotions. I'm talking about these are needs given to us by evolution. And number four, free spontaneous play out in nature. And we've taken that away from kids. We've given them gadgets and screens. They barely see nature anymore. When you look at the studies on play, now, play is essential for healthy brain development, people. I'm telling you, play is not frivolous. The kids shouldn't be listening to baby Mozart or going to classes. They should be playing freely, spontaneously, creatively.

That's what promotes healthy brain development. Why do animals play? Because it's essential for brain development. And we have a circuitry in our brain for play. Those are the four essential needs. Now, if you look at modern society, we fail on our foregrounds. We stress the parents so that they're not available for their kids. Parents haven't been taught to deal with their own trauma, so we pass it on to our kids. We make our kids work. They have to be pretty or smart or compliant or to please us so that we're not interested in their needs. We're interested in how we feel about them and what we want them to do rather than what nature wants for them. We don't let them experience all their emotions.

And for God's sakes, we sure don't let them play anymore. Then we wonder, why are so many kids anxious, diagnosed with ADHD, diagnosed with this, that, and the other, medicated for this, that, and the other? Why are more kids trying to commit suicide, which is actually the case? Why are they so late to do their screens? Because we haven't given them the right template for development. So what I'm saying is that child development is not an arbitrary, expert-driven dynamic. Nature has dictated for us what the child's needs should be. We should honor those needs, and our children will be fine. And if we don't, which we don't in this culture, our kids are going to be in trouble, which they are.

They really are. I really want to echo, as we've been living in the opposite way, the simplicity of those four needs and exactly what you said. If we honor those needs, they'll be fine. And I appreciate that clarity because I think that parents can look at this experience of bringing up a child and just feel so lost, so activated and triggered in their own ways. And reading a book like The Myth of Normal, educating yourself, picking up your book, hold on to your kids. Actually reading that when my son was in utero and then in his early days, that was actually one of the top books next to my bed at that time. I just think just educating yourself in any way, shape, or form about your own re-parenting process and journey so that you can then offer the greatest source of safety for your child. And I just want to come back to where we began, which is respecting and honoring your authentic self, your ability to be standing in the seat of your truth and speaking on behalf of your truth, talking openly about situations that may feel shameful and then giving the light to that circumstance. And it allows you to be such a transformational leader in this world at this time when you will, my friend, go down in history as being a major catalyst for change. I'm just a recent friend of yours, but I love you and I'm

grateful for you. Well, thank you. The love is reciprocated for sure. Ever since I met you, just a month or so ago and hitting with your book now and getting to know you more deeply,

and we're telling the same ground, aren't we? Yes, we are. Yes, we are. Just giving you all the love and energy and asking all of your angels to surround you and protect you and guide you throughout this journey of being the light in this world at this time. Thank you.

Thank you, Abby. Thank you.

If you made it to the end of this episode, that means you're truly committed to miracles. I'm really proud of you. If you want to get more gabby, tune in every Monday for a new episode. Make sure to subscribe so you don't miss any of the guidance or special bonus episodes. Your experience at this show means a lot to me, so I really want to welcome you to to leave an honest review. And you can follow me on social media at Gabby Bernstein. And if you want to get in on the action, sign up for a chance to be Dear Gabby live at deargabbie.com. See you next week.

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