Power of Addiction & Addiction to Power TEDx Gabor Maté | We Can’t Wait for Those in Power to Make Changes

I’ve taken notes and paraphrased Gabor Maté’s speech. The Power of Addiction and The Addiction to Power: Gabor Maté at TEDxRio+20

Gabor Maté, an erudite doctor, describes in his TEDx talk in Rio the reasons for addiction.

Gabor Maté, speaks, Power of Addiction and Addiction fo Power, TEDx, Rio de Janeiro

Gabor Maté speaks about the Power of Addiction and Addiction fo Power at a TEDx in Rio de Janeiro

What are the addicts getting from their addictions? Calmness, soothing, a sense of control.

Many of these addictive substances are pain killers, taking away pain.

Why the pain?

He states that Keith Richard’s in his autobiography – a long time heroin addict – mentions the contortions that we go through just to avoid being ourselves for a few hours.

Gabor mentions that the psychiatrist R.D. Laing states:

There are three main things people are afraid of: death, other people and their own minds.

Both brilliant and unconventional, RD Laing pioneered the humane treatment of the mentally ill. But as a father, clinically depressed and alcoholic, Laing bequeathed his 10 children and his two wives a more chequered legacy.

Maté mentions his own previous addiction to shopping. Like any addict, he would lie about it.

His definition of addiction is any behavior that gives you temporary relief and temporary pleasure, yet in the long term causes negative consequences which one can’t give up.

There are many different types of addictions: the addictions to drugs, the addiction to consumerism, sex, the internet, shopping, food.

The Buddhists have the idea of the ‘hungry ghosts’; creatures with large empty bellies and small scrawny necks and tiny little mouths, so they can never get enough. They can never fill this emptiness inside of themselves.

We are all hungry ghosts. And so many of us are trying to fill that emptiness, from the outside.

Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician

Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician

When you are looking at the emptiness of people, you can’t look at the genetics but you have to look at it from the outside.

It is very clear why many addicts are in pain. They’ve been abused all their lives. Hundreds of his patients had been physically or sexually abused, abandoned, emotionally hurt over and over again.

Don’t look for the people in power to change things, in terms of environmental degradation, global warming, the pollution of the oceans, rivers and skies. Don’t look to the people in power to change the immigration and social injustices. The people in power are very often the emptiest people in the world, suffering from their addiction to power. We have to do this ourselves. We have to find that light within ourselves. We have to find that light within communities. We have to begin being an active democracy of the commons; with our own wisdom and creativity. We can’t wait for the people in power to make things better for us because they are never going to. Not unless we make them. They say that human nature is competitive, aggressive and selfish. In fact it’s the opposite. Human nature is cooperative, generous and community minded. TED talks are examples of human nature, people committed to learning and contributing to a better world. If we find that light within, we will be kinder to ourselves, kinder to other people and kinder to nature.

The human brain develops an interaction with the environment. The kind of interaction a child has with the environment can shape the development of the brain. Dopamine is the incentive, motivation chemical. Dopamine flows whenever we are motivated, excited, curious, vital, vibrant. Without the dopamine, we have no motivation.

The addict gets a hit of dopamine in the brain. Drugs are not by themselves addictive? Drugs are not by themselves addictive. Some people become addictive to drugs, but many do not. Food is not addictive, but to some people it is. Shopping is not in itself addictive, but to some people it is. Television is not addictive, but to some people it is.

Why the susceptibility? Genetically the receptors, chemical binding sites in the brain for endorphins, morphine like substances, that make possible the feeling of love and attachment to the parent.

Heroine and morphine act on the endorphin system. For abused children, those circuits don’t develop. When you don’t have love and connection in your life when you are very young, you don’t develop those receptors.

As a baby of Jewish parents in an Eastern European country as Hitler was gaining power – the speaker Gabor Maté was picking up on the stresses and terrors of his mother, which were shaping the child’s brain. Children get the message that ‘my mother must not want me’ if she is not happy around the child.

So he becomes a workaholic because if his mother doesn’t want me, then he wants to be needed. Yet because he’s responding in this way by working so much and not being available for his own children, his children receive the same message, that the parent must not want him.

In this way humans pass on the trauma and unconscious patterns from one generation to the next.

Each person feels the emptiness in a different way, stemming back to when they are very small.

We may all point the finger to the ‘addicts’, yet look at what we’re doing to the earth? We are injecting all of these terrible things into the earth, the environment, the air, water.

A man was killed in Brazil for protecting the rain forest. As in Brazil, many of the indigenous people in Canada are the ones who are heavily addicted after suffering the trauma of losing their land, being side-lined and disregarded.

The people on the opposite side of this, who are crushing the Native American territories and destroying pristine nature, are those addicted to wealth and power.

Many of the historical figures who were extremely addicted to power, Stalin, Napoleon, were people of physically small stature. They were outsiders, coming from a population outside of the mainstream. Their sense of insecurity and inferiority came from emptiness they were trying to fill from the outside.

In each of the stories of Buddha and Jesus, both were tempted by the devil for power. Each said no, because they had the power within themselves. They wanted to teach people through soft words, wisdom and their actions.

Jesus: “The power is within. The kingdom of god is within.”

Buddha: “Don’t mourn me and don’t worship me. Find the lamp inside yourself. Find the light within.”

I’m bringing up his point twice, because it is so vital. “Don’t look for the people in power to change things, in terms of environmental degradation, global warming, the pollution of the oceans, rivers and skies. Don’t look to the people in power to change the immigration and social injustices. The people in power are very often the emptiest people in the world, suffering from their addiction to power. We have to do this ourselves. We have to find that light within ourselves. We have to find that light within communities. We have to begin being an active democracy of the commons; with our own wisdom and creativity. We can’t wait for the people in power to make things better for us because they are never going to. Not unless we make them. They say that human nature is competitive, aggressive and selfish. In fact it’s the opposite. Human nature is cooperative, generous and community minded. TED talks are examples of human nature, people committed to learning and contributing to a better world. If we find that light within, we will be kinder to ourselves, kinder to other people and kinder to nature.”

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

Carol Keiter, nomadbeatz, donations, writing, photography, illustrations, eBook, music composition

Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

Carol Keiter le_blogger, writer & illustrator, musician & composer

Carol Keiter le_blogger, writer & illustrator, musician & composer

About carolkeiter
Aspiring writer, artist, musician and composer who was born and raised in the United States and has resided in several European countries. Communication is my forte; both through using various tools and in approaching people of divers backgrounds to gather information. Speak conversational - advanced intermediate - French, German and Spanish. Love interacting with people in cultural centers as much as going to remote places to learn more about the different creatures that share our planet. Love of the outdoors and of a variety of outdoor sports. Driven to learn and expand my own consciousness and understanding through curiosity and love of life. Creative skills merge with analytical ones, leading to an interest in a myriad of topics; ranging from politics, economics, science to environmental. Motivated to use my art, music and writing to support and educate people towards humane practices that support and respect all of life, including practices supporting a healthy planet.

One Response to Power of Addiction & Addiction to Power TEDx Gabor Maté | We Can’t Wait for Those in Power to Make Changes

  1. Loren Booda says:

    Addictions can be changed. Some people die fighting them, and some others morph into a new, sober paradigm. For instance, love comes in many forms, such as finding and exercising the reward of giving. When one is conditioned toward deeds of good, trial and error often leads towards a kind heart. If life were just a cakewalk rather than tribulations, people would fall into addiction rather than taking on challenges to better their community and strengthen themselves.

    I reacted to abuse and genetic susceptibility with addiction and mental illness, only to lose the friends with the great potential and glom onto those without. Eventually, I found love to be the middle way, eschewing panaceas and enjoying simple, yet profound things. One can be strong without the extremes of mania and the distortions of delusions. The object of addiction is mostly illusory, while the true pleasure we achieve guides us to positive people, experiences and caring.

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