Dr. Gabor Maté — The Myth of Normal, Metabolizing Anger, Processing Trauma, and Finding the Still Voice Within (#620)

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“The essence of trauma is loss of contact with yourself, loss of connection to yourself.”

— Dr. Gabor Maté

Dr. Gabor Maté (@DrGaborMate) is a renowned speaker and bestselling author, highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics that includes addiction, stress, and childhood development. Dr. Maté has written several bestselling books, including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with AddictionWhen the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection, and Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It. He has also coauthored Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. His works have been published internationally in nearly thirty languages.

His new book is The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

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The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#620: Dr. Gabor Maté — The Myth of Normal, Metabolizing Anger, Processing Trauma, and Finding the Still Voice Within

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Would you like to hear the last time Dr. Gabor Maté was on this podcast? Have a listen to our conversation here, in which we discussed redefining addiction, opportunities opened by the use of nontraditional therapeutic methods, examining the causes of addiction rather than just the consequences, the role genetics play in addiction, the value of psychedelics for treating addiction, how Dr. Maté’s practices changed after the use of ayahuasca, what he means when he says “The task which hinders your task is your task,” and much more.

#298: Dr. Gabor Maté — New Paradigms, Ayahuasca, and Redefining Addiction

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.



  • Connect with Dr. Gabor Maté:

Website | The Myth of Normal Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • [05:30] How COVID affected Gabor.
  • [06:33] Exploring plant medicine with Indigenous First Nations.
  • [13:29] How Gabor got fired from his own ayahuasca retreat.
  • [16:35] Can Indigenous medicine ever be understood through a Western lens?
  • [21:37] How does Gabor clear himself of the trauma he takes from others?
  • [22:48] Was writing The Myth of Normal more labor intensive than Gabor’s other works?
  • [25:40] A personal story about how past trauma can show up in everyday life.
  • [29:01] Coping with rage and anger.
  • [40:01] Attachment versus authenticity.
  • [45:12] Where does depression originate?
  • [48:23] Raising a child to learn self-regulation.
  • [52:24] What Gabor hopes The Myth of Normal readers don’t miss.
  • [57:20] Finding the right balance of self-care when caring for a family.
  • [1:01:18] The harm of focusing on correcting a child’s behavior rather than their underlying emotional dynamics.
  • [1:05:47] Rehabilitation versus punishment of incarcerated, traumatized adults.
  • [1:14:55] If he couldn’t write, what would be the focus of Gabor’s clinical practice?
  • [1:17:50] Finding and listening to one’s inner voice or calling.
  • [1:25:58] Are you bargaining with your authenticity?
  • [1:30:41] Parting thoughts.


“Depression is not this inherited brain disease. It’s a result of having to push down one’s emotions as a child.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“The intent of good parenting or good child-rearing is to help the development of self-regulation. The question is how to get there.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“The potential of rehabilitation and bringing people back to their human selves is enormous, given the right circumstances. … I’m not saying that we should allow murder or that we should encourage crime. What I’m saying is if we apply the light of understanding to what drives people, and … the correctional system really becomes a system that corrects people rather than just punishes them, we could do so much with what we already know. And you know what? It wouldn’t cost more. It would cost less.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“I’m looking at this beautiful mountain and this bison and the sunset, and nobody had to convince me that nature contains us all.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“The shamans told me that when they knew that 24 healers, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists are coming from the West, they thought we’d have an easy job because they said, ‘We absorb a lot of trauma from other people as well, but we clear it out of ourselves. So we expected you would have done the same thing.’ They said they’ve never worked with such a heavy bunch of people in their whole lives than these Western doctors.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“The world keeps feeding me information that demands to be metabolized and synthesized and written and spoken. And then over the last few years, as we’ve seen crisis upon crisis, it just occurs to me somebody’s going to write about how life in this system affects the health of human beings.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“If I were to infringe on your boundaries, either physically or emotionally, the healthy response for you is to mount an anger response. ‘No. Get out. Stay away.’ That’s healthy. Healthy anger is in the moment. It protects your boundaries and then it’s gone. It’s not necessary anymore.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“We have another need as creatures and as human beings, which is to be authentic. Now, I don’t mean any kind of new age, woo-woo concept by this. I mean knowing what we feel and being able to know how to act on what we feel.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“The essence of trauma is a loss of contact with yourself, a loss of connection to yourself.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“If you landed in a country where nobody spoke your language and you had to portray hunger, you’d have to act it out. The kids are acting out their emotional needs. The question is, are we going to respond to the child or are we going to try and suppress the behavior?”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

“So much of what’s taught as parenting advice is designed to manipulate or shape or suppress kids’ behaviors rather than understanding the child. And by the way, this is also true of adults. We look at human beings and we don’t see what’s really driving them. We just either approve or disapprove of how they’re behaving.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté


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25 Replies to “Dr. Gabor Maté — The Myth of Normal, Metabolizing Anger, Processing Trauma, and Finding the Still Voice Within (#620)”

  1. Thanks a lot for this conversation. I was looking forward to it ever since I read that he has this new book in the works. I did not find/make the time to read it yet, but I wonder if he references any studies that point to a causation relation between specific diseases and specific type of traumatic events. He alludes to it in his talks, but trauma and disease are very broad terms. John Sarno talks about a similar connection, but again anger/rage and stress are very broad terms.

    The reason why I’m interested is because there is an author here in Turkey who publishes a very detailed list of trauma-disease pairings and I would love to see scientific studies around the topic.

    For instance, he links acne and many diseases in the dermis to attacks, verbal or physical. Diseases of the epidermis to traumatic experiences regarding separation, being abandoned, or loss. He links MS and Parkinsons to events that leave one paralyzed, being unable to do something or run away, unable to make a decision; asthma and lupus to events where one’s boundaries are violated; Alzheimers to losing someone very close, usually a child or a younger sibling.

    The anecdotal evidence that the list is based on is getting so strong that not many cases of healing are surprising to his listeners/readers any longer. The real crazy stuff is when for instance a mother works on her trauma and the child heals.

    Sounds all very crazy until you try it out for yourself. Scientific studies around the topic are needed.

  2. I loved this episode. I especially enjoyed the “experiment” at the end when Tim articulated his interest in animal communication as a way to investigate “other ways of knowing” or in Gabor Mate’s words “pure knowing.” I have no particular expertise in this topic, but I just finished reading a memoir that I think speaks to this topic in a very non-academic non-intellectualized way through the author’s direct experience, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in “other ways of knowing.” The Fox and I : An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven. Also Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

  3. Career bartender took a year off drinking. Found Gabor Mate and proceeded to open a non alcoholic bottle shop and bar in SF, 9 months into Covid, to build community.
    Almost 2 years in, I’ve witnessed a massive community that I look forward to hosting in my AF Lounge in the heart of SF. Ocean Beach Cafe; follow the white rabbit.

  4. Hi Tim,

    I just listened to your latest with Dr. Gabor Maté. I really enjoyed the whole conversation. It spoke to my current state of mind on these topics of healing past trauma and learning to hear that still small voice within. May we all learn to discern it through the haze of our current day society. That knowing.

    Thank you for showing up authentically. Happy you’re a part of this family on Earth.

    Blessings on your pursuit in with animal communication.


  5. Hi Tim, I really enjoyed this interview. You mentioned at the end a desire to experience other ways of knowing that aren’t cerebral. May I recommend chanting, singing and playing an instrument as well as dancing, especially not choreographed

  6. Thanks Tim for a great conversation. As a single father with ADD and a daughter with ADD who is recovering from self harming I recognised a LOT of what Gabor and yourself were discussing. And I concur with all of Gabors observations and theories on the source of ADD and self harming / addictive soothing processes.

    What really struck home for me was your curiosity in regards to the “little voice” which Gabor mentioned that he followed to write his latest book. And which has been whispering to you in regards to animal communication.

    I have been waiting for you to discover or get curious about this internal anchor/guide/truth. As someone who has made a career out of trying to hack/control/intellectualise life due to anxiety brought about by past trauma ( I apologise for the over reaching assumption 😊). I have been hoping that you would discover this phenomenon of life. And Gabor gave a great introduction to it.

    I have been exploring Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and meditation for years. As a way to find greater peace in life from chronic anxiety, and also as a way to try and beat the system of life 😂 to gain some kind of foothold. And like any control freak, life eventually beats you down until you let go. And what is left? The most reliable source of information available “the little voice”. Which eclipses the mind , while also utilising all that it has learnt, and with respect for you as an individual and your journey in this life.

    I strongly encourage you to continue to pursue the interest for animal communication. I have been researching equine therapy and experienced the deepest, most centring moments with horses. As a form of self awareness, and trauma healing via reconnection and regulation of your nervous system, it is second to none. And that is the only way to the truth of anything. Deep connection to yourself, so that you can hold yourself to be connected to those around you. To then co create new futures, and new neural pathways. If you are interested, come out to Australia and Byron Bay and check out the work being done here.

  7. Such a great conversation. Understanding attachment and authenticity — how most of us ended up choosing one or the other when we are littles, explains so much. Eager to read Gabor’s new book. And so glad he plowed through the resistance and wrote it. Thank you!!! I hear you don’t accept unsolicited books — so want you to have mine which teaches a simple process for accessing that “still, small voice within” easily and reliably. There is a free overview of the process on the home page of my [Moderator: business name removed] website.

  8. Hello Blog readers,

    I want to ask a simple Question.
    What paths could you see, to get into the human performance optimization and health business?
    The potential Dreamline would be working as a human performance optimization and healing coach, within a group of highly functional individuals to strive for greater goals together.
    Baseline is, not having any representable business experience or connections to the genre.
    Only thing to rely on is personal experience, general knowledge, sharpened intuition and willingness to learn.
    Do any steps come to mind that could be taken to get there?

    Thank you, for your time and service.

    Yours sincerely,
    Robin Michel

  9. I always love the show but this was one of my favorite episodes. Covered a lot of ground that is applicable to ourselves but also society and how we interact and understand the emotions and actions of others. Particularly interested in the trauma therapy among the prison population.

    In regard to what sounds like how to justify a whole-hearted dive into the communication of animals/other forms of knowing, a book that mirrors the explorative structure of Laurence Gonzales’s Everyday Survival might be a good path to take. It’s one of my favorite books, even though (and maybe because) he seems to let his research take him from his original intention to another place, and the reader kind of gets to follow along in that intellectual adventure.
    And good luck with whatever you do.

  10. Loved the episode! Tim you asked questions related to parenting, I’d highly like to recommend Dr. Becky Kennedy. She gives great explanations and scripts using day to day situations with kids, and they’re absolutely aligned with the way Dr. Maté explained his approach e.g. to an angry kid in the episode. She really makes you understand why kids react the way they do and why and how to approach them consciously and in a way that aligns with your own and your childrens needs. In fact she also gives explanations and scripts on how to face our own difficult feelings that are triggered in those parenting situations.

  11. Dear Lord. Butcher box. Ethical? You’re murdering animals who feel pain and emotions and don’t want to suffer. Free range is a myth. Animals are NOT treated well. Also any animal agriculture is bad for the environment- and believe it or not, Health.

  12. Dear Tim,
    I’ve been following your content over the years since reading the 5-Hour Work Week many years ago.

    Thanks for your ongoing authenticity within your show. It takes a lot of bravery to go through ‘therapy’ with a therapist, let alone on a podcast with different guests with different views.

    You mention animal communication. I would like to recommend an amazing animal communicator, Jeni Ji Cousins [Moderator: website removed.] that I highly recommend for you to get in touch with to see more of this part of yourself, in addition to your lead with the Indigenous community (which will be awesome as well!). Best wishes!

  13. A very interesting and inspiring conversation on many levels. As a Veterinarian and student of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy, I am consistently drawn into many of the topics Tim discusses. It is my hope to mirror the work Dr. Mate accomplishes with health professionals and psychedelics, within the struggling veterinary community. We are also exploring these methodologies in domestic animals. Can psychedelic medicines help heal traumatized animals? Victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, long term captivity, etc. Can we move from a purely experimental model to a healing model? Drawing from a One Health framework, can we encourage the long term sustainability of our psychedelic flora & fauna? I am fascinated to see where Tim’s interest in animal communication leads. Thank you for your consistent love & support of animals. And thank you to Dr. Mate for supporting the mental health of healers around the world.

  14. Tim
    I thoroughly enjoy your podcasts….as I am an advocate for finding that still voice within. It was great to hear of your interest in animal communication. I work in mental health as an equine specialist at a wellness resort here in Austin. I regularly see transformational change occur with individuals doing equine assisted therapies. Horses are naturally wired to reside in a state of deep peace and coherent regulation. They are wired for joy, freedom and connection. When you hang out in a herd of happy horses, your nervous system receives an informative download of important information on how to live the same way. My training is in trauma focused equine assisted psychotherapy. In addition to the wellness resort, I work at a non profit that provides mental health services to children who have experienced significant trauma. I also have extensive experience using horses to help with drug and alcohol addiction. I encourage you to investigate working with horses…..you will be amazed at the insight available through spending time with these amazing creatures!

  15. Hi. I loved this podcast. I am a veterinarian and after 10 years of open handedly considering the idea of Animal Communication, I have finally started successfully studying and practicing it. Tim, if you want to discuss this any further, I would be completely open to the conversation. I love that you are exploring it.

    1. Hi Tim, I have thought about your podcast with Dr. Gabor Maté and my comment to you for the past several days. I want to add something – Your need to pursue Animal Communication in a respectable way makes complete sense to me. Searching for a way to practice Animal Communication with complete integrity is one of the things that has held me back from pursuing it for the past several years. I know that it is now my time to move forward with it. I know that my vision for Animal Communication could give you more than enough to chew on if you resonated with it. I read and respect all of the things you are no longer doing from your contact section. I also believe that a one on one conversation about Animal Communication could be incredibly beneficial – literally to animals everywhere. Please feel free to email me at the email address associated with my comment. No matter what, I wish you all the best in your pursuit of this important work.

  16. Hi Tim:
    it gave me hope to hear your intentions in preparing yourself as a potential parent. In your sharing I experienced a resonance with the child spirit intending to come on earth. We do a disservice to ourselves, our self-growth, when we say “I did not choose to be borne.” If that is so, what is the whole meaning of existence, of life?What if we consider the thought that, I chose to be borne at this time, in this place, in this family? Could we be more open to take ownership of our struggles, and overcoming them, as one’s path in life, of becoming a human being.

  17. Hi Tim, this is the second time I thought ” I have to give him this information, cause apparently no one asked or told him that” when listening to you and Gabor.. Have you tried working/talking with your inner child? Do you know the concept or method? I think it is not that common in the states and it is just spreading more here in Germany. it helped me, when everything else failed, as I was abused at around the same age as you were.. But dont do it alone. please. I tried it and retraumatized myself. Dont know if you will ever see this, but then maybe it helps someone else…

  18. @Tim and Dr. Gabor, this episode moved me deeply. During the calling exercise, my answer was “people”. I feel I’m being strongly pulled toward helping people out of trauma (maybe particularly in the prison system), and away from my current job as a business jet pilot. A month ago I made a commitment to leave aviation in the next 3-5 years. I didn’t know what comes next, but after listening to this podcast, I feel I have a general direction now. This is a big ask, but, I’m having trouble figuring out what steps I can take to work towards over the next few years. Any help or insight you can give would be greatly appreciated!

  19. Hey Tim,

    I loved that episode with Gabor who is from my hometown (one of his sons also did student politics at university at the same time I did.) You and I also have friends in common.

    On animal communication: out of sheer curiosity I tried the openly-available techniques by Anna Breytenbach with my pets and with random wildlife encountered during long ultracycling adventures. Sometimes the results were shockingly transformative of the relationship. Sometimes it totally failed. The technique is about transferring images and feelings in a shared open but intimate space without pushing knowledge or meaning into it. I do not vouch for her as I do not know her, but this may be an interesting bit to factor in your research.

  20. Tim’s Team: Animal Communication: “Project Interspeak” 1979 book by Tom Wilkes may be of help. May I donate this book, currently gathering dust in my shed? Where do I send it? Karen Tracy

  21. I have much respect for Dr Mate but I’m with Dr Petersen on the topic of parenting. It’s not that you repress them but they need to know when, where and with whom to express. They live in a society and we need to adapt to it. I have 2 teenagers now and they are very functional, happy, curious, artistic and respectful. When they go through the inevitable adolescent crisis, they express it without any problems.

    Also I find it very difficult to go back to the memories and try to “fix” out past. Memories are maleable and each time we recall them we tweak them a bit, voluntarily or not, so it’s very probable we manipulate them with undesirable outcomes. Our past is part of who we are but also our present decisions and our attitudes to life we should fix what we have right in front of us, our present.

  22. A physically and mentally sound future should be every child’s fundamental right — along with air, water, food and shelter — especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter. And mindlessly minding our own business on such matters has too often proven humanly devastating.

    Many people seem to perceive thus treat human procreative ‘rights’ as though they [people] will somehow, in blind anticipation, be innately inclined to sufficiently understand and appropriately nurture our children’s naturally developing minds and needs.

    In the book Childhood Disrupted the author writes that even “well-meaning and loving parents can unintentionally do harm to a child if they are not well informed about human development” (pg.24). I strongly believe that every parent should be knowledgeable about factual child-development science.

    Also noteworthy is that, regarding early-life trauma, people tend to know (perhaps commonsensically) that they should not loudly quarrel when, for instance, a baby is within clear-hearing range; whether they know about the intricacies of why they shouldn’t, however, is another matter.

    Since it cannot fight or flight, a baby stuck in a crib on its back hearing parental discord in the next room can only “move into a third neurological state, known as a ‘freeze’ state … This freeze state is a trauma state” (pg.123).

    This causes its brain to improperly develop. It’s like a form of non-physical-impact brain damage. Also, it’s the unpredictability of a stressor, and not the intensity, that does the most harm.

    When the stressor “is completely predictable, even if it is more traumatic — such as giving a [laboratory] rat a regularly scheduled foot shock accompanied by a sharp, loud sound — the stress does not create these exact same [negative] brain changes” (pg.42).

    Since so much of our lifelong health comes from our childhood experiences, childhood mental health-care should generate as much societal concern and government funding as does physical health, even though psychological illness/dysfunction typically is not immediately visually observable.

    Unhindered abuse readily results in a helpless child’s brain improperly developing. The emotional and/or psychological trauma acts as a starting point into a life in which the brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines.

    It can amount to non-physical-impact brain-damage abuse: It has been described as a continuous, discomforting anticipation of ‘the other shoe dropping’ and simultaneously being scared of how badly you will deal with the upsetting event, which usually never transpires.

    The lasting emotional/psychological pain from such trauma is very formidable yet invisibly confined to inside one’s head. It is solitarily suffered, unlike an openly visible physical disability or condition, which tends to elicit sympathy/empathy from others. And it can make every day a mental ordeal, unless the turmoil is prescription and/or illicitly medicated. I know this all too well from personal experience.

    The health of ALL children needs to be of real importance to us ALL — and not just concern over what other parents’ children might or will cost us as future criminals or costly cases of government care, etcetera — regardless of how well our own developing children are doing.