Gabor Maté Quotes

Who is Gabor Maté?

Dr. Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician with a background in family practice and a special interest in childhood development and trauma, and in their potential lifelong impacts on physical and mental health.

Gabor Maté wrote the books 'Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder.', 'When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress' and 'In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction'.

Born January 06, 1944

Books by Gabor Maté


Best 70 Quotes by Gabor Maté | Page 1 of 3

“A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviors.. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.”

Gabor Maté

“A long-term substance abuser, a few months before his death, penned this poem:

Went downtown, Hastings and Main,
looking for relief from the pain.
All I did was find a ticket on a one-way train.
Give me peace before I die.
The track is laid out so well;
we all live our private hell;
just more tickets on the hell-bound train.”

Gabor Maté

“Addiction is not a choice that anybody makes; it’s not a moral failure. What it actually is: it’s a response to human suffering.”

Gabor Maté

“Addiction is not a choice that anybody makes; it’s not a moral failure; it’s not an ethical lapse; it’s not a weakness of character; it’s not a failure of will, which is how our society depicts addiction. Nor is it an inherited brain disease, which is how our medical tendency is to see it. What it actually is: it’s a response to human suffering, and all these people that I worked with had been serially traumatized as children. All the women had been sexually abused. All the men had been traumatized, some of them sexually, physically, emotionally neglected. And not only is that my perspective, it’s also what the scientific and research literature show. So addiction then, rather than being a disease as such or a human choice, it’s an attempt to escape suffering temporarily.”

Gabor Maté

“An addiction is any behavior, substance related or not, that an individual pursues because they find pleasure, relief, or they crave it temporarily, so they pursue the pleasure and relief despite negative consequences. And they don’t give it up, in the face of negative consequences. I said any behavior. So that could be sex, gambling, eating, shopping, work, relationships, or substances.”

Gabor Maté

“Autonomy is impossible as long as one is driven by anything.”

Gabor Maté

“Children are a great incentive and impetus for parents to learn about themselves, about each other and about life itself. Unfortunately, much of the learning may occur at their expense.”

Gabor Maté

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“Collect them before you direct them.”

Gabor Maté

“Human biology and human neurobiology are interpersonal. The brain is a social organ, and it’s affected by the environment, and particularly it’s affected by the psycho-emotional environment.”

Gabor Maté

“I believe that ADD can be better understood if we examine people’s lives, not only bits of DNA.”

Gabor Maté

“I think normalcy is a myth. The idea that some people have pathology and the rest of us are normal is crude. There’s nothing about any mentally ill person—and it doesn’t matter what their diagnosis is—that I couldn’t recognize in myself. The reality is that, in every case, mental illness is an outcome of traumatic events. And by trauma I don’t mean dramatic events. There’s a difference.”

Gabor Maté

“If our environment cannot support our gut feelings and our emotions, then the child, in order to 'belong' and 'fit in' will automatically, unwittingly and unconsciously, suppress their emotions and their connections to themselves, for the sake of staying connected to the nurturing environment, without which the child cannot survive. A lot of children are in this dilemma – Can I feel and express what I feel or do I have to suppress that in order to be acceptable, to be a good kid, to be a nice kid?”

Gabor Maté

“It’s not an automatic outcome of living in the world that we should become disconnected. It’s a product of a certain way of life and a certain way of parenting and certain childhood experiences, where it becomes too painful to stay connected so disconnection becomes a defense.”

Gabor Maté

“Knowing oneself comes from attending with compassionate curiosity to what is happening within.”

Gabor Maté

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“Love felt by the parent does not automatically translate into love experienced by the child.”

Gabor Maté

“Medical students and psychiatrists, for example, never learn that stuff. Most physicians don’t even hear the word “trauma” in their education and they have no understanding of it. Every time they see somebody with an autoimmune disease or mental illness, they’re looking at somebody who’s traumatized, but they don’t realize that. So therefore we deal with only with the physical manifestations, but not the actual causes.”

Gabor Maté

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“Most of the heartbreak that life contains is a result of ignoring the reality that past behavior is the most reliable predictor of future behavior.”

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“Medical thinking usually sees stress as highly disturbing but isolated events such as, for example, sudden unemployment, a marriage breakup, or the death of a loved one. These major events are potent sources of stress for many, but there are chronic daily stresses in people's lives that are more insidious and more harmful in their long-term biological consequences. Internally generated stresses take their toll without in any way seeming out of the ordinary.”

Gabor Maté

“Not why the addiction but why the pain.”

Gabor Maté

“Our birthright as human beings is to be happy, and the addict just wants to be a human being.”

Gabor Maté

“Our true nature is to be connected. In fact, if that wasn’t our true nature, there would be no human beings. The human species – or any species — could not evolve without being grounded in their bodies. You couldn’t have a bunch of intellectuals walking around out there in the wild, wondering in an abstract sense about the meaning of life, when there’s a saber-toothed tiger lurking behind the next bush.”

Gabor Maté

“Since we live in a society that largely denies human developmental needs—doesn’t even understand them, let alone provide for them—you’re going to have a lot of people affected in adverse ways. Most of the population, in fact. And so then to separate out those who meet the particular criteria for a particular diagnosis from the rest of us is utterly unscientific and unhelpful.”

Gabor Maté

“The attempt to escape from pain, is what creates more pain.”

Gabor Maté

“The automatic repression of painful emotion is a helpless child’s prime defence mechanism and can enable the child to endure trauma that would otherwise be catastrophic. The unfortunate consequence is a wholesale dulling of emotional awareness.”

Gabor Maté

“The DSM defines attention deficit disorder by its external features, not by its emotional meaning in the lives of individual human beings.”

Gabor Maté

“The essence of capitalism is to separate the mind from the body. And, basically, people are all considered material goods. People matter only insofar as they produce, consume, or own matter. If you don’t produce, consume, or own matter, then you don’t matter in this society.”

Gabor Maté

“The essence of trauma is disconnection from ourselves. Trauma is not terrible things that happen from the other side—those are traumatic. But the trauma is that very separation from the body and emotions.”

Gabor Maté

“The very same brain centers that interpret and feel physical pain also become activated during experiences of emotional rejection. In brain scans, they light up in response to social ostracism, just as they would when triggered by physically harmful stimuli. When people speak of feeling hurt or of having emotional pain, they are not being abstract or poetic, but scientifically quite precise.”

Gabor Maté

“Trauma is a psychic wound that hardens you psychologically that then interferes with your ability to grow and develop. It pains you and now you’re acting out of pain. It induces fear and now you’re acting out of fear.”

Gabor Maté

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“Trauma is not what happens to you, it's what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you. ”

Gabor Maté

“Trauma is that scarring that makes you less flexible, more rigid, less feeling and more defended.”

Gabor Maté