Most stressors are emotional

BOOK REVIEWIn the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Mate, M.D.:  At pages 398 and 399, Dr. Mate writes that “For human beings most stressors are emotional ones. Anyone wanting to gain mastery over their addiction process must be ready for self-examination. Through counseling or some other means, sick people must look honestly and clearly at the emotional stressors that trigger their addictive behaviors. Whether these stressors arise at work, in their marriage, or in some other aspect of their lives.

In our culture, the suppression of emotion is a major source of stress

Because suppression of emotion is a major source of stress, suppression of emotion is also a major source of addictions. Science tells us that not even in rodents can the link between emotions and mental organization be ignored. In her Berkley laboratory Dr. Marian Diamond found improvements in the problem-solving abilities of rats. When treated with tender, loving care, this corresponded with the growth of richer connections in their cortex. Dr. Diamond has written that, “Thus, it is important to stimulate the portion of the brain that initiates emotional expression. Satisfying [one’s] emotional needs is essential at any age.”

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Where do we keep ourselves hobbled and stressed?

The release of addiction’s hold requires awareness. Awareness of where we keep ourselves hobbled and stressed. Where we ignore our emotions, restrict our expression of who we are, frustrate our innate human drive for creative and meaningful activity causes emotional stress. Where do we deny our needs for connection and intimacy?

The mind assigns the meaning

As the famed stress researcher Dr. Bruce McEwen has pointed out, a key determining factor triggering the stress response is the way a person perceives a situation. We ourselves give events their meaning. Our mind assigns the meaning depending on our personal histories, temperament, physical condition, and state of mind at the moment we experience them. Thus, the degree to which we’re stressed may depend less on external circumstances than on how well we are able to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally.”


Reading, studying and applying Dr. Mate’s book to my life has greatly assisted in the healing of my trauma. Thanks to a recent article in the New York Times, I now know that I also have the intergenerational trauma inherited from my family. The past can never be healed but our awareness of the past can be healed. Only our minds can be healed by trauma awareness. Trauma consciousness is now sometimes discussed in A.A. meetings. Now I know why I walk around babbling like a psycho. I have been acting out my unconscious emotions. Dr. Mate stresses through out his book that awareness is key. It all comes down to mindfulness. Mindfulness matters.

most stressors are emotional
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By Dean McAdams

Born a poor peckerwood in a Tujunga holler, Dean overeducated himself beyond his social station to end up a retired paralegal in the coastal paradise of West L.A.