BOOK REVIEW: In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Mate, M.D. “The basic cause of addiction is predominantly experience-dependent during childhood, and not substance dependent. The current concept of addiction is ill-founded” -Dr. Felitti
Lack of proper mothering is the main cause of addiction
The mammalian brain develops largely under the influence of the environment. The size of a mother’s pupils and how she looks at her baby bill instantaneously affect the chemistry of her child’s brain.
Repeatedly firing nerve patterns become wired into the brain and will form part of a person’s habitual responses to the world. Cells that fire together wire together. The infants of stressed or depressed parents are likely to encode negative emotional patterns into their child’s brains The absence of good experiences or the presence of bad ones distorts development in essential brain structures.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Adverse experiences will lead to deficits in the personal and social lives of people who suffer them in childhood, including a reduced ability to anticipate the consequences or to inhibit irrelevant or inappropriate, self-destructive behaviors.
Abnormal child rearing causes brain damage
An abnormal or impoverished rearing environment can decrease a thousand fold the number of synapses per axon (the long extension from the cell body that conducts electrical impulses toward another neuron), retard growth and eliminate billions if not trillions of synapses per brain, and result in the preservation of abnormal interconnections which are normally discarded over the course of development.
For the infant and young child, attachment relationships are the major environmental factors that shape the development of the brain during its period of maximal growth . . . Attachment establishes an interpersonal relationship that helps the immature brain use the mature functions of the parent’s brain to organize its own processes.
Severe adversity causes addiction
The majority of chronic substance-dependent adults lived, as infants and children, under conditions of severe adversity that left an indelible stamp on their development. Their predisposition to addiction was programmed into their early years. Their brains never had a chance.