Residents of Cranbrook and the East Kootenay got the chance to hear a best-selling author and highly sought-after speaker on the subject of physical and mental health last week.
Dr. Gabor Maté put on a two-day seminar at the Heritage Inn last Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 21 and 22, on the subjects of stress in our society and Attention Deficit Disorder and addiction.
Dr. Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction. He is widely recognized for his unique perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder and his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health.
“The war on drugs is really a war on drug addicts,” Maté said during his first presentation on Wednesday evening. “Most addicts—male and female—were traumatized sexually in childhood. They need help, not incarceration.”
Krystal Oleson, who operates Life Roots Consulting in Cranbrook, had the chance to bring Maté in for the seminars and jumped at it.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to give people in our community a perspective on physical and mental health that would be different from the standard, and also be consistent with what I do,” Oleson said. “The Heritage Inn was the perfect venue and they were really helpful and accommodating.”
Life Roots Consulting offers parents, caregivers and professionals opportunities to understand their children from a developmental point of view, based on the works of Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Maté. Oleson, in fact, brought Neufeld into Cranbrook last year for a seminar, and he and Maté have collaborated on a book (Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers).
“I reference (Dr. Maté’s) material all the time in my classes,” Oleson said.
Almost 300 people took in Maté’s Cranbrook talks. On Wednesday evening, his subject was “Fostering Health in a Stressed Society: The social basis of illness and well-being.” Maté spoke about the impact of our materialistic society on our health and development and on our children’s health and development.
“When a developing brain is overwhelmed with stress hormones it creates developmental problems,” Maté said. “And developmental problems are not diseases.”
He explained that Western medical studies are confirming what traditional cultures have long known, that stress is at the root of most disease.
“Chronic stress is bad,” Maté said. “Too much of the stress hormone adrenalin raises blood pressure, and a high cortisol level over a long term is the major factor in the development of osteoporosis.”
One interesting note about stress hormones Maté shared is that taking a deep breath (whether you count to ten or not) instantly clears them from the bloodstream, thereby increasing health.
On Thursday evening, Maté’s topic was “From ADD to Addictions: Understanding the Links, Causes and Treatments.”
Maté described how Attention Deficit Disorder and addictions are linked, and how most of it is rooted in childhood.
“The child has two needs,” he said. “Attachment, the pursuit of closeness for the purpose of being taken care of, and authenticity, to know what we feel and be able to manifest it when necessary.”
Oleson said she has great feedback from attendees. “People who went have been deeply impacted,” she said. “I even had someone phone me this morning, saying they’ve been processing it for two days, and are seeing the addiction in someone they know through different eyes.
“That’s what we wanted to achieve.”
Maté is the author of four best-selling books: In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers (co-authored with developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld), When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder. The latter two have become bestsellers, translated into nine languages.