When the Body Says No

When the Body Says No

The Cost of Hidden Stress

Book - 2003
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In this accessible and groundbreaking book -- filled with the moving stories of real people -- medical doctor and bestselling author ofScattered Minds, Gabor Maté, shows that emotion and psychological stress play a powerful role in the onset of chronic illness. Western medicine achieves spectacular triumphs when dealing with acute conditions such as fractured bones or life-threatening infections. It is less successful against ailments not susceptible to the quick ministrations of scalpel, antibiotic or miracle drug. Trained to consider mind and body separately, physicians are often helpless in arresting the advance of most of the chronic diseases, such as breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and even Alzheimer's disease. Gabor Maté has found that in all of these chronic conditions, there is a common thread: people afflicted by these diseases have led lives of excessive stress, often invisible to the individuals themselves. From an early age, many of us develop a psychological coping style that keeps us out of touch with the signs of stress. So-called negative emotions, particularly anger, are suppressed. Dr. Maté writes with great conviction that knowledge of how stress and disease are connected is essential to prevent illness in the first place, or to facilitate healing. When the Body Says Nois an impressive contribution to current research on the physiological connection between life's stresses and emotions and the body systems governing nerves, immune apparatus and hormones. With great compassion and erudition, Gabor Maté demystifies medical science and, as he did inScattered Minds, invites us all to be our own health advocates. Excerpt fromWhen the Body Says No "Only an intellectual luddite would deny the enormous benefits that have accrued to humankind from the scrupulous application of scientific methods. But not all aspects of illness can be reduced to facts verified by double-blind studies and by the strictest scientific techniques. We confine ourselves to a narrow realm indeed if we exclude from accepted knowledge the contributions of human experience and insight. . . . "In 1892 William Osler, one of the greatest physicians of all time, suspected rheumatoid arthritis to be a stress-related disorder. Today rheumatology all but ignores that wisdom, despite the supporting scientific evidence that has accumulated in the 110 years since Osler first published his text. That is where the narrow scientific approach has brought the practice of medicine. Elevating modern science to be the final arbiter of our sufferings, we have been too eager to discard the insights of previous ages."
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : A.A. Knopf Canada, 2003
Description: 306 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780676973112
Branch Call Number: 616.98 Mat
Additional Contributors: Maté, Gabor. When the body says no


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Sep 06, 2019

This was a thought provoking book. Stress is considered necessary in life with malignant stress considered to be the price of success. The book points out that repressed emotions and it’s associated worm burden of stress may result in an internal environment that might be conducive to disease. This is an interesting idea because although I don’t find any scientific underpinnings for this idea, it makes intuitive sense.

I think the concept of malignant stress or “excessive stress” is something that is important when we consider a well balanced life. How can we be healthy if we are subject to excessive stress? It’s obvious that too much stress is destructive.

But how destructive? Does this sort of stress cause cancer for example? I’m not sure. An association between a personality type that strives to please everyone else while ignoring oneself and the occurrence of cancer doesn’t mean in my opinion that being this way results in cancer. It’s an association. But why would there even be this association if the pleasing others personality wasn’t changing the internal milieu of the body in some way -to make it unable to manage an adequate defence mechanism?

Stress resulting from emotional repression is often something folks are oblivious to unless they spend time thinking about things or yapping with a psychologist/psychiatrist who is somehow seeking to find these matters in patients as this doctor is.

Another interesting section of the book was the section on prostate cancer. I knew a bit about this but it was surprising to find out that this cancer isn’t worth treating since few of them develop into life threatening situations. So then why are we testing for it? Why are we doing treatment?

Why isn’t a holistic approach present now in the treatment of cancer? I’d say because medicine is stuck in the rut of established genome based practices that have been lauded as the cure all for cancer when the reality is that this is nonsense. The cure for cancer cannot be found in the genome sequencing and it’s results because guess what-- we don’t know how it all works do we?

In other words, a map of the genome gives us a place to start but we don’t know where we’re going to or what the components of the map mean so basically we have no way to cure cancer by using genomic methods. Once they establish what the genes are doing, they still have to look at the environment of these genes and other interactions with hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, activating and repressing proteins; so basically it’s all a cookbook of soups and we don’t have the recipes.

At least this doctor questions why we’re not using a holistic approach with reference to prostate cancer.

While the book depends on examples pulled from the files rather than studies the book is useful in getting patients (if not doctors) thinking about holistic approaches to treatment. In other words, we need to go beyond the science aspect and look at patient centred treatment process where the patient decides what sorts of treatment best suit her with the cooperation and input of the medical team. For example if you want to look at metabolic approaches to treating breast cancer why should you have to beg for this? Why should you have to beg for tissue to send off for chemosensitivity testing? Who has the most to lose from this situation?

The case studies in this book show all the ways that generations of folks mess up and pass on the stresses of these messes on and on and on. It’s a good thought provoking book that I will read again before returning to the library. I recommend it highly.

Aug 08, 2019

Interesting book, especially the stories of famous people and their illnesses. Major take away: children can get really messed up if raised in difficult situations, sometimes raising their chances of developing a medical condition. There are some suggestions in the last chapter "The Seven A's of Healing" for improvement in these people. Reading between the lines though, one would imagine it would take a lot of therapy to really make meaningful changes.

Oct 14, 2017

Absolutely wonderful book for anyone wanting to understand themselves, their physical and emotional health. It made me reflect on my own life and childhood and how I can undo unhealthy thinking and behaviour patterns. Absolutely recommend it!

Sep 05, 2016

Dr Mate's book resonated with me. He is caring and very human - his book has lifted my spirits towards hope of healing my dis-ease by the empowerment through knowledge and biology of belief. Rating would be 6 stars if possible.

Apr 01, 2013

This book resonated with me on very many levels. It is compassionate, wise and utterly convincing.

Jun 19, 2012

a doctor who confirms 'the biology of belief' and 'molecules of emotion' by viewing his own patients - very perceptive. "you are what you think"."Stress, toxic emotions and non-serving beliefs held in the sub-concious will create dis-ease in the body and lead to chronic illnesses.
every doctor and patient should read this book.

Aug 22, 2011

Gabor Mate always brings a fresh look into the topics he covers. It was definitely an eye opener to keep the stress levels down and to display your anger in a productive manner. But his profile of personalities and their corresponding auto-immune illness is riveting. I only wish all doctors showed his level of compassion for the emotional aspect relating to illness.

Jul 05, 2010

A great read!

Dec 16, 2009

Physician Heal Thyself
This human has led by example. Thank you.

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