December 18, 2017
The Executive Corner is a new weekly feature of the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin. We send our participants forty questions and ask them to choose twenty they would like to answer. It includes a short profile and a link to their website. We hope you enjoy it.
Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician with a background in family practice and a special interest in childhood development and trauma, and in their potential lifelong impacts on physical and mental health, including cancer, ADHD, addictions and a wide range of other conditions. Author of: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Q. If you are in recovery, what was your Drug Of Choice and when did you discontinue its use?
A. I have never had a substance addiction, but have engaged in behaviors that have been addictive in nature and in their consequences. These have chiefly been in the areas of compulsive shopping and workaholism.
Q. Do you believe artists are made or born?
A. Artists are both born and made. The talent and the underlying sensitivity are inborn. But Mozart would not likely had composed 41 symphonies and some of our greatest operas had his father been a peasant tilling the soil rather than an accomplished musician and had not he, Wolfgang Amadeus, put in thousands of hours learning and developing his craft.
Q. Which film have you watched the most?
A. My Dinner With Andre, at least four times. Two intelligent, earnest souls discussing the meaning of human existence, activity and art. Who knew that watching having a dinner conversation could be so engrossing?
Q. Who is your favorite celebrity in recovery?
A. Jamie Lee Curtis, Ashley Judd.
Q. Do prefer to living by the ocean, lake, river, mountaintop, or penthouse?
A. My wife and I have a summer place on Hornby Island, British Columbia. With sandy beaches, forest trails, a well-rooted artists’ colony and whiff of 1960’s flower power, it offers privacy, nature, and companionship in just the right mixture.
Q. How do you measure success?
A. Success is finding peace of mind while being engaged with the world as fully as one is called to.
Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to? .
A. I can only fantasize. There is too much suffering and injustice in the world to think that any one million dollars can ever be more than a drop in the bucket. But given one cause to support, I would send it for medical aid to the children of Gaza. Having been born a Jewish infant in the midst of war and oppression, and having suffered illness and trauma as a result, their tragically dire situation especially weighs on my heart and mind.
Q. Who was your biggest influence throughout your life?
A. The greatest influence in my life was probably Adolf Hitler. In what he did to the world, to my family and the impact on me and, therefore, on what I have had to learn, he was paramount. However, if you are asking who my greatest teachers were, they were all the people beginning with the Buddha and Jesus and Alice Miller and A.H. Almaas and Eckhart Tolle and many others from whom I have come to know that Hitler was a frightful and palpable nightmare, but not, ultimately, REALITY.
Q. What prominent fe/male figure would you most like to date?
A. I’d love to have dated Scheherazade. Born too late.
Q. If you were giving a dinner party for your 3 favorite authors, Living or dead, who would they be? (you can choose 4 if you think one might be too drunk or stoned to attend.)
A. Cervantes. Karl Marx. Dostoevsky. Might there be room at the table for Eduardo Galeano?
Q. What is your favorite: TV/cable/digital series?
A. The Wire. The most revealing show ever made about the American dream. Or the American nightmare.
Q. What is your favorite: Non-fiction book genre?
A. Historical biography, having read one of Darwin recently, two of Napoleon and currently reading three of Karl Marx.
Q. What is your favorite: Museum?
A. Met, Louvre, British Museum—three of the greatest collections of stolen goods in the world.
Q, What is your favorite: Band/composer/musical artist?
A. I’m an old guy. Band: The Beatles. Composer: Beethoven. For, as Ludwig himself said, “he who divines the secret of my music is delivered from the misery that haunts the world.”
Q.What is your favorite: Psychology or school of thought as related to psychology?
A. It’s not a question of favorites. It’s a question of truth: hence schools of psychological thought that explore a., the nature of attachment, the most important dynamic in human development and b. trauma, the greatest and most common impediment to healthy human development.
Q. Who is your favorite: Activist?
A. Noam Chomsky, a living encyclopedia and embodiment of truth in action.
Q. What is your favorite: Restaurant?
A. No contest. The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive, just south of Bellingham, WA.
Q. Have you ever been arrested and, if so, what for?
A. I was arrested for 45 unpaid parking tickets a friend of mine with ADHD had incurred while borrowing my car. And for being arrogant to the cop who quizzed me about it.
Q. What is your favorite album of all time?
A. Beethoven’s complete string quartets, by the Végh Quartet.
Q. What music of who means the most to you?
A. Beethoven. For, as Ludwig himself said, “he who divines the secret of my music is delivered from the misery that haunts the world.”
Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, a disease, a choice, or a wicked twist of fate?
A. Addiction is none of those, exactly. It looks like a disease, but it’s much deeper than that. It’s a complex psychological and physiological and behavioral and emotional response to psychic pain and suffering. It’s an attempt, doomed, to escape pain. And that pain is rooted in childhood experience. My mantra is: not why the addiction, but why the pain?