Gabor Maté

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Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté - 01 (cropped).jpeg
Born (1944-01-06) January 6, 1944 (age 79)
NationalityHungarian Canadian
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia (BA, MD)
SpouseRae Maté (m. 1969)
Children3, including Aaron
Scientific career
FieldsSubstance dependence, ADHD, and psychology

Gabor Maté CM (born January 6, 1944) is a Canadian physician and author.[1] He has a background in family practice and a special interest in childhood development, trauma[2] and potential lifelong impacts on physical and mental health including autoimmune disease, cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),[3] addictions and a wide range of other conditions.

Maté's approach to addiction focuses on the trauma his patients have suffered and looks to address this in their recovery.[4] In his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Maté discusses the types of trauma suffered by persons with substance use disorders and how this affects their decision making in later life.

He has authored five books exploring topics including ADHD, stress, developmental psychology, and addiction. He is a regular columnist for the Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail.

Life and career[edit]

Maté was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944.[5][6] His maternal grandparents were killed in Auschwitz when he was five months old.[6] His aunt disappeared during the war, and his father endured forced labour at the hands of the Nazi Party.[7] When he was 1, Maté's mother put him in the care of a stranger for over 5 weeks in order to save his life. Upon their reunion, the infant Maté was so hurt that he avoided looking at his mother for several days. He claims this trauma of "abandonment, rage, and despair" continues to manifest in his adult life, leading to similar altercations when he perceives a threat of abandonment, especially from his wife.[8]

In 1956, Maté emigrated to Canada.[6] He was a student during the Vietnam War era in the late 1960s[9] and graduated with a B.A. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

In 1969, Maté married artist and fellow UBC graduate Rae Maté; together they have three children including writer and journalist Aaron Maté.[10]

After working as a high school English and literature teacher for several years, he returned to the University of British Columbia to obtain his M.D. in general family practice in 1977.

Maté ran a private family practice in East Vancouver for over 20 years. He was the medical coordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital for seven years. For 12 years, he was the staff physician at Portland Hotel, a residence and resource centre located in downtown Vancouver. Many of his patients had co-occurring mental health and substance use concerns, in addition to chronic health concerns, such as HIV. He worked in harm reduction clinics in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.[11] He has written about his experiences working with persons with substance use disorders in In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.[12]

Maté made national headlines in defence of the physicians working at Insite (a legal supervised safe injection site) after the federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement, attacked them as unethical.[13]

In 2010, Maté became interested in the traditional Amazonian plant medicine ayahuasca and its potential for treating addictions. He partnered with a Peruvian Shipibo ayahuasquero (traditional shamanic healer) and began leading multi-day retreats for addiction treatment, including ones in a Coast Salish First Nations community that were the subject of an observational study by health researchers from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia. Although preliminary and limited by the observational study design, the research results showed that participants had significant improvements in some psychological measures and reductions in problematic substance use, suggesting that Maté's claims of therapeutic efficacy may be well-founded.[14] However, when the Canadian federal government learned about Maté's work with ayahuasca in 2011, Health Canada threatened to refer the matter to the RCMP if he did not immediately stop his activities with an illegal drug.[15]

Writings and views[edit]

In his books and lectures, Maté emphasizes the role of biopsychosocial aspects of pathology, and the role of psychological trauma and stress. He underlines the importance of relations and social attachment for learning and for health. His ideas are consistent with a trauma-informed care framework.[16][17]

Maté defines addiction as any behaviour or substance that a person uses to relieve pain in the short term, but which leads to negative consequences in the long term. Without addressing the root cause of the pain, a person may try to stop but will ultimately crave further relief and be prone to relapse. By this definition there are many things in modern culture that have the potential to become addictive such as gambling, sex, food, work, social media, and drugs.[5] He argues the "war on drugs" actually punishes people for having been abused and entrenches addiction more deeply, as studies show that stress is the biggest driver of addictive relapse and behaviour.[12] He says a system that marginalizes, ostracizes, and institutionalizes people in facilities with no care and easy access to drugs, only worsens the problem.[12][18]


He has received the Hubert Evans Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.

In 2011, Maté received the Civic Merit Award of the City of Vancouver "for his extensive work on addiction treatment and his contributions to understanding mental health and youth related to addiction, stress and childhood development".[19]

On May 11, 2018, Maté was awarded his country's highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada.[20]


He has been criticised by some for attributing all addictions to early childhood trauma, and for downplaying genetic factors in addiction/ADHD.[21]

In his high-profile live-streamed interview with Prince Harry in March 2023, Maté diagnosed the prince publicly with PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, and depression based on his conversation with him and reading his autobiography Spare.[22] During the chat, the doctor told the Duke of Sussex that he had diagnosed him with ADD after reading through his book and hearing about his life experiences.[23][24][25] His decision to do so was described as unorthodox and reckless by some critics.[26]


  • Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 1999. ISBN 978-0676971453.
    • Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It. United States.
  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 2003. ISBN 9781785042225.
    • When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection. United States.
  • Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. Co-authored with Gordon Neufeld. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 2004. ISBN 9780307361967.[10]
  • In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 2008. ISBN 9781785042201.
  • The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, Co-authored with Daniel Maté, Toronto, Canada, A.A. Knopf Canada, 2022 ISBN 9780593083895

Films and videos[edit]


  1. ^ "Gabor Mate". Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  2. ^ "'How we cope with this has a lot to do with our past'". Irish Independent. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  3. ^ "Care to incarceration: what happens to those without a fair start in life". The Independent. September 25, 2015. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  4. ^ "Addiction is a Response to Childhood Suffering: In Depth with Gabor Maté - ICPPD". ICPPD. March 2, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "How dealing with past trauma may be the key to breaking addiction". The Guardian. November 24, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Malley, JP O'. "Addictions guru channels survival of the Holocaust into self-help empire". Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Gutman, Abraham. "How a traumatized America finds relief in hate". Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  8. ^ Dr. Gabor Maté — The Myth of Normal, Metabolizing Anger, Processing Trauma, and More, retrieved January 31, 2023
  9. ^ Nov 18, Ryan Meili; Share, 2014 10 min read. "Gabor Maté: On Storytelling, Health, and the Ruling Class". Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  10. ^ a b "'If you focus on control, you have lost the battle': how to win back your kids". The Guardian. March 23, 2019. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  11. ^ "How the Stigma of Drug Addiction Hurts All of Us". Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c ""In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts": Dr. Gabor Maté, Physician at Vancouver Safe-Injection Site, on the Biological and Socio-Economic Roots of Addiction and ADD". Democracy Now!. February 3, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  13. ^ "Doctor calls Clement's Insite comments 'repugnant'". The Canadian Press. CTV News. August 20, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  14. ^ Thomas, Gerald; Lucas, Philippe; Capler, Rielle N.; Tupper, Kenneth W. & Martin, Gina (2013). "Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy for Addiction: Results from a Preliminary Observational Study in Canada". Current Drug Abuse Reviews. 6 (1): 30–42. doi:10.2174/15733998113099990003. PMID 23627784. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  15. ^ Posner, Michael (November 9, 2011). "B.C. doctor agrees to stop using Amazonian plant to treat addictions". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  16. ^ Maté, Gabor (2012). "Addiction: Childhood Trauma, Stress and the Biology of Addiction". Journal of Restorative Medicine. 1 (1): 56–63. doi:10.14200/jrm.2012.1.1005.
  17. ^ Treisman, Karen (2021). A treasure box for creating trauma-informed organizations : a ready-to-use resource for trauma, adversity, and culturally informed, infused and responsive systems. Volumes 1 and 2. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 978-1-83997-136-5. OCLC 1255846476.
  18. ^ MacBride, Katie. "This 38-year-old study is still spreading bad ideas about addiction". The Outline. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  19. ^ "Civic Merit Award". Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  20. ^ "Dr. Gabor Maté". The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  21. ^ "The Seductive, But Dangerous, Allure of Gabor Maté". Psychology Today. December 5, 2011.
  22. ^ "Prince Harry Diagnosed with ADD, PTSD, Etc ... In Sit-Down with Dr. Maté". March 3, 2023.
  23. ^ "Trauma expert Gabor Maté diagnoses Prince Harry with ADD but says it 'can be cured'". March 4, 2023.
  24. ^ "'This is dangerous': How people have reacted to Harry's conversation with Gabor Maté". yahoo news. March 6, 2023.
  25. ^ "Response to the Dr. Maté - Prince Harry Interview: Debunking the Trauma Industry". Dr. Mario Martinez Channel. March 5, 2023.
  26. ^ "No, Gabor Maté Did Not Actually Diagnose Prince Harry with ADHD on Live TV". Additude Magazine Online. March 13, 2023.
  27. ^ "Drunk on Too Much Life (2021) - IMDb". IMDb.

External links[edit]