The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture
The instant New York Times bestseller
By the acclaimed author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, a groundbreaking investigation into the causes of illness, a bracing critique of how our society breeds disease, and a pathway to health and healing.
In this revolutionary book, renowned physician Gabor Maté eloquently dissects how in Western countries that pride themselves on their healthcare systems, chronic illness and general ill health are on the rise. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug; more than half take two. In Canada, every fifth person has high blood pressure. In Europe, hypertension is diagnosed in more than 30 percent of the population. And everywhere, adolescent mental illness is on the rise. So what is really “normal” when it comes to health?
Over four decades of clinical experience, Maté has come to recognize the prevailing understanding of “normal” as false, neglecting the roles that trauma and stress, and the pressures of modern-day living, exert on our bodies and our minds at the expense of good health. For all our expertise and technological sophistication, Western medicine often fails to treat the whole person, ignoring how today’s culture stresses the body, burdens the immune system, and undermines emotional balance. Now Maté brings his perspective to the great untangling of common myths about what makes us sick, connects the dots between the maladies of individuals and the declining soundness of society—and offers a compassionate guide for health and healing. Cowritten with his son Daniel, The Myth Of Normal is Maté’s most ambitious and urgent book yet.
Praise for The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture
"In The Myth of Normal, Gabor Maté takes us on an epic journey of discovery about how our emotional well-being, and our social connectivity (in short: how we live), is intimately intertwined with health, disease and addictions. Chronic mental and physical illnesses may not be separate and distinct diseases, but intricate, multilayered processes that reflect (mal)adaptations to the cultural context that we live in, and the values we live by. This riveting and beautifully written tale has profound implications for all of our lives, including the practice of medicine and mental health."--Bessel A. van der Kolk MD, President, Trauma Research Foundation, Professor of psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, #1 New York Times Bestseller: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma
"Gabor and Daniel Maté have created a magnificent resource for us all in The Myth of Normal, a powerful, in-depth, science-packed, inspiring story-filled opus that helps us see how stress within our culture shapes our well-being in all its facets. By carefully reviewing medical and mental health through a wide lens of inquiry, they challenge simplistic views of disease and disorder to offer instead a wider perspective on human flourishing that has direct implications for how we live individually, at home, and as a larger human family. A thorough and inspiring work of the heart, this book urges us to question our assumptions and think deeply about who we are and how we can live more fully and freely, harnessing the power of the mind to bring healing and wholeness into our shared lives on Earth."--Daniel J. Siegel, MD, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine, Executive Director, Mindsight Institute, New York Times bestselling author of IntraConnected: MWe (Me plus We) as the integration of self, identity, and belonging
"Wise, sophisticated, rigorous and creative: an intellectual and compassionate investigation of who we are and who we may become. Essential reading for anyone with a past and a future."--Tara Westover, New York Times bestselling author, Educated
"Gabor and Daniel Maté have delivered a book in which readers can seek refuge and solace during moments of profound personal and social crisis. The Myth of Normal is an essential compass during disorienting times."-- Esther Perel, Psychotherapist, Author and Host of Where Should We Begin
"Gabor Maté articulates bluntly, brilliantly and passionately what all of us instinctively know but none of us really want to face: the entire social construct of the world we’re living in is deeply flawed, with toxicities on every level. Yet though the book makes clear what’s so terribly wrong, it also points to how we can make it right. Maté is a guide through the dangerous forest of our minds and our society, not letting us ignore the darkness but ultimately showing us the light. The Myth of Normal is exactly what we need."--Marianne Williamson, New York Times bestselling author, A Return To Love
"The Myth of Normal is an astonishing achievement, epic in scope and yet profoundly down to earth and practical. I believe it will open the gates to a new time where we come to understand that our emotions, culture, bodies and spirits are not separate and wellness can only come about if we treat the whole being. I will read this book again and again."--V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of The Vagina Monologues and The Apology
"The Myth of Normal may forever change the way you view your life experiences, and how they can shape your biology. But more importantly, Gabor Maté points us to a path of desperately needed communal healing."--Elissa Epel, PhD, Professor, UCSF, co-author of best seller The Telomere Effect
"In this brilliant, compelling and groundbreaking book, Gabor Maté unveils the societal trance that has blinded us to the death-grip of pervasive trauma in our world. He shows that this is not our 'personal' trauma. It is sourced in a culture that undermines meeting our basic needs for connection, authenticity and meaning. Drawing on his decades of pioneering clinical work, fascinating contemporary science and contemplative wisdom, Maté offers us a way to bring clear seeing and a greatness of heart to the crisis of our times."--Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance and Radical Compassion
"Gabor and Daniel Maté offer a powerful and surprising redemptive path out of the toxic illusion of 'normalcy.' This remarkable and revolutionary book will profoundly impact the wellbeing of self, society, and our earth at a time when wisdom and compassion are essential for our common survival."--Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
"At a time so many of us are struggling physically and psychically, Gabor Maté’s The Myth of Normal is a godsend, providing wisdom and realistic hope. Maté is a revolutionary thinker and gifted writer whose work has always inspired me. The Myth of Normal is no exception. It’s no exaggeration to say that this groundbreaking book can help us heal as individuals, families and a society."--David Sheff, author of NYT #1 bestseller, Beautiful Boy
"As if Gabor Maté hasn’t done enough already by depathologizing addiction, autoimmune diseases, and ADHD; now, in this magnum opus, he challenges us to expand our minds even further. In The Myth of Normal, he asserts that those problems, and the many other social ills that plague us, are not only related to the traumas we suffered but are also symptoms of the toxic nature of our materialistic, isolating, patriarchal, and racist culture. What’s remarkable about this beautifully written book is not just that he makes that bold contention, but how well he backs it up with an amazing amount of scientific research, compelling stories of his patients, and moving disclosures from his own life. Our culture is, indeed, very sick and I don’t know of a better diagnostician of and physician for it than Gabor Mate. This book contains a prescription that, if we have the courage to follow, will heal us all."--Richard Schwartz, PhD creator of the Internal Family Systems Model
"The Myth of Normal is a book literally everyone will be enriched by - a wise, profound and healing work that is the culmination of Dr, Maté's many years of deep and painfully accumulated wisdom."--Johann Hari, New York Times bestselling author of Stolen Focus
"This gripping book builds upon two key truths for our time, that everything is connected, including psychic wounds and physical illnesses, and that these are not anomalies but ordinary, even epidemic, in the society we’ve built. The Myth of Normal is a powerful call for change in how we live with, love, understand, treat, and think about each other, by someone ideally situated to map the terrain and to give us some valuable tools with which to navigate it."—Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me
"In this wide-ranging and beautifully written book, Gabor Maté and his co-writer son Daniel offer an acute diagnosis of what ails our culture and a blueprint for personal healing, while pointing the way to what is required to create a more hospitable, human-friendly world for ourselves and our children."--Dr. Shefali, New York Times bestselling author and clinical psychologist
"Gabor Maté’s latest book is a guide to self-awareness, social insight and healing that is deeply personal and utterly transparent. It merits becoming this generation's The Road Less Traveled. Written with fluid, crystalline prose, profound wisdom, great humor and hard-won humility, in my two-word summation The Myth of Normal is Fiercely Tender."--William M. Watson, S.J., D.Min., President & Founder, Sacred Story Institute
"The Myth of Normal is a detailed and wide-ranging look at what we all need to know--but all too often fail to live into--when it comes to human health, sanity, maturation, and happiness. It's also a clear-eyed examination of the benefits, triumphs, limitations, and blind spots of our health and mental health care system."--Resmaa Menakem, bestselling author of My Grandmother's Hands, The Quaking of America, and Monsters in Love
"The Myth of Normal is a tour de force journey into the dissonant experience of being human in our aberrant and toxic modern culture. The journey is both heart-rending and exalted in its underlying purpose—to heal the rift from our authentic selves and the collective trauma that stifles our natural expression and joy. If you are ready to do the brave and life-shaking work of examining the truth of your life and the culture that we are literally in the death grips of—this is your read."--Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD, MHS, ABoIM
"The Myth of Normal presents a unique perspective in viewing what we see as 'normal" and opens up a way to wake up to what is real and authentic in our lives. Gabor and Daniel Maté have written a compelling book which will challenge your views and help lift the veil of illusion to what is truly happening in your mind and in your body."--Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
"With rigorous research and painstaking detail, this book by esteemed physician Gabor Maté is a tour de force manifesto of how trauma impacts not just our individual bodies and psyches but our whole society. The Myth of Normal plants seeds for revitalizing what we consider 'normal' and giving ourselves permission to say no to what is making us unnecessarily sick."--Lissa Rankin, MD, New York Times bestselling author or Mind Over Medicine and Sacred Medicine
"This, Gabor Maté's magnum opus, is essential reading for us all. A genius writer, he gives it to us straight: From the mindbody to the body politic, we learn how loss of authenticity takes its toll psychologically, physically, spiritually, and socially."--Julie Holland, MD, author, Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, From Soul to Psychedelics
"Every once in a rare while a book comes along creating a new vision of the world, illuminating for us that which until now has been invisible, yet as vital to our health and well-being as water is to fish, oxygen is for our bodies, and love is for our souls. This work is such a tour de force, a humbling and brilliantly written exposition of what deeper healing requires."--Jeffrey D. Rediger, MD, MDiv, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Author, CURED: Strengthen Your Immune System and Heal Your Life.
"Gabor Maté is brilliant and passionate, tender and fierce, writing with an urgent honesty. His analysis is comprehensive and penetrating, combining deep scholarship, hard-earned clinical wisdom, personal trauma, and practical suggestions. This is a masterwork that reads like an intelligent thriller, highlighting our challenges with dramatic clarity while showing the way to their solutions. A must-have book for anyone interested in their own mind, in how our world got so crazy, and in the better future we can forge together."--Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness
"In The Myth of Normal, Gabor Maté exposes what happens when society becomes the addict, and how can we heal as a society. This is a book for our times--no, rather it is the book for our times. An illumination to therapists and healers, it is much more than that...Read and discover.”--Peter A Levine, author of Waking the Tiger and In an Unspoken Voice
"A sweeping analysis of the relationship between illness, trauma, and capitalism...Maté marshals an impressive amount of research to outline an original and persuasive vision of health focused on environmental influences and the interplay between the mind and body."--Publishers Weekly