Episode 182

The Myth of Normal with Dr. Gabor Maté | Win the Day
April 16, 2024
Dr. Gabor Maté is a physician, public speaker, and bestselling author. He is an expert on trauma, addiction, and mental health.
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In this episode of Win the Day:

The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.” — Dr. Gabor Maté

During World War II, just after the Nazis had taken over Hungary, infant Gabor and his Jewish family were raised with little guarantee except for death.

The Nazis had killed Gabor’s grandparents and forced his father into hard labor.

When he was one, Gabor’s mother put him in the care of a stranger for five weeks to save his life. Upon their reunion, Gabor was so hurt by the abandonment — despite how well-intentioned it was — that he avoided looking at his mother for days.

Yet, in that trauma, the seeds of a great career were planted.

Today, Gabor Maté M.D., C.M., is a Canadian physician (retired), public speaker, and bestselling author whose work has been translated into 30+ languages. His award-winning book on addiction, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, is used as a text in many institutions of higher learning throughout the world.

His most recent book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, is both a #1 Canadian bestseller and New York Times bestseller. This book is making waves everywhere. It’s a 500-page nonfiction book that’s as riveting as a fictional thriller. I couldn’t put it down. There’s so many incredible insights in there, it’s so well-researched, and it’s an instant classic.

For a bit more of his background, Gabor had a 20-year stint as a family doctor and palliative care director. After that, he spent 12 years in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness, and HIV, including in North America’s first Supervised Injection Site.

Gabor is also an expert in childhood developmental issues, ADHD, mind/body health, trauma, and parenting. He is in constant demand as a speaker and has addressed judicial bodies in Canada, the U.S., and Australia on the links between trauma, addictions, and dysfunctional behaviors. He has worked with many Indigenous communities around these issues.

He has received an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University and an Honorary Degree (Laws) from the University of Northern British Columbia. For his groundbreaking medical work and writings, he has been given the Order of Canada, and the Civic Merit award from his home city of Vancouver.

A film based on his work, The Wisdom of Trauma, has been viewed by over 10 million people and has been translated into 20+ languages. It is shown regularly in many institutions, including schools and prisons, in Canada, the U.S., and abroad. At the time of our interview, his therapeutic method, Compassionate Inquiry, has been studied by over 3,000 health care providers in 80 countries.

In this episode:

  • Why the medical system is keeping us sick.
  • How schools are destroying our children’s future – and what to do about it.
  • The role of trauma in bringing kindness and unity back to our society.
  • How to prioritize healing and happiness in your daily routine.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Gabor Maté!


0:16 Who is Dr. Gabor Maté
2:34 Interview starts
3:10 The problem with our medical system today
5:15 How doctors can apply mind-body unity
6:49 Individuals vs corporations
8:09 Parenting has become a source of stress rather than joy
9:38 Why we all suffer from trauma (and how to create more kindness in the world)
11:08 Are kids less resilient today
13:54 How can I boost my child's self-confidence
15:40 Should we encourage children to do hard things
17:24 The developmental pyramid
19:12 Win the Day action plan
20:02 How two people can experience the same event with vastly different outcomes
22:15 When to connect children with sensitivity or strength
23:56 How can I be optimistic after trauma
25:00 Are we responsible for our trauma
26:23 3 questions to upgrade your daily routine
29:56 What is the link between childhood trauma and chronic illness (e.g. multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma) – and how chronic stress impacts your immune system
34:07 Is addiction genetically inherited (e.g. alcoholism, depression, etc.)
36:03 Why ADHD is a developmental problem rather than a disease – and what conditions children need for healthy brain development
39:20 Should we be compassionate to violent offenders and criminals
43:55 How do I find my calling and purpose in life
45:12 What does Dr. Gabor Maté think about Donald Trump and Joe Biden
48:02 Affirmation
49:26 Rocket Round

Resources / links mentioned:

🎯 Download your FREE Win the Day action plan

📚 ‘The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture’ by Gabor Maté

⚡ Gabor Maté website

📷 Gabor Maté Instagram

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💚 Give the Win the Day podcast a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts

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📝 Win the Day newsletter [weekly LinkedIn exclusive]

Inspiring quotes in this episode:
  • “The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Children whose parents are stressed are much more likely to have asthma.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Your average medical student does not get a single lecture on emotional trauma.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Parenting has become unduly stressful – and it doesn’t need to be.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “It’s not fair to compare generations.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “You don’t need to push your children to do hard things. Give them confidence and they’ll naturally take on hard things.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “You can’t protect your children from the world, but you can give them inner armor.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “You can never compare traumatic experiences.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Nobody goes through the same event because everybody's got a different nervous system, a different temperament.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Trauma is not what happens to you externally. It’s what happens inside you.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Stay present, calm, supportive, and connected to help regulate your child.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Patients who question their doctor heal better.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Three questions to upgrade your daily routine: 1. How conscious is my day? 2. Do I have time for myself? 3. Where am I not saying no?” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “If people don’t say no, their bodies will say no in the form of illness.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “All addictions are about soothing some kind of pain.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Addictions are not genetic. For example, it’s not the alcoholism that we pass on, it’s the trauma.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
  • “Be aware of what’s going on so you can make sure you don’t identify with it.” – Dr. Gabor Maté
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