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Gubar. Welcome to the show. Taim It's a great pleasure to be here. Thank you. I have been looking forward to this conversation for a really long time and I wanted to make an attempt at least to do it right. So I wanted to have video and the audio and anything else, because I think the work you're doing is very important. And we're going to cover a lot of ground, which I'm very excited to cover, because I think it's a real contribution.
And you have tools and frameworks can really help people. I thought we might start with books. And the reason I thought that could be a fun place to start. My audience loves books. Number one. But number two in Tribe of Mentors, the last book that I wrote or that my guest wrote.
You were featured. And I thought that many of the books you mentioned paint a picture of your life experience and also your life's work in many ways and we can go in any particular order. But I thought maybe it would make sense to start with the scourge of the swastika. And that was one that you mentioned had had an impact on you or that perhaps you recommended on occasion. Why is that?
Well, so this has to do with my family's history. I grew up, was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944. In January, two months before the Germans occupied the country. And Hungary at that time was the only country in Eastern Europe where the Jewish population had not been annihilated. And that was our turn. So I was 2 months of age. The day after the German army marched into Budapest, my mother phoned the pediatrician to say, Would you please come and see Gob?
Or He's crying all the time. And the pediatrician said, Of course I will come, but I should tell you, all my Jewish Basia were crying. And of course, that's the infant speaking up on their mother's terror and stress. And that's how I spent the first year of my life. We just had a huge impact on my development and my lifelong struggles with depression and ADHD.
Self shame and other issues jumping ahead. Now, I knew very little about that history. My parents didn't say much about it as I was growing up. I knew my grandparents had been killed in Auschwitz. I knew my father had been in forced labor and I never saw him for a year and a half.
But beyond that, I knew not much about the details until I was about nine or 10, maybe eleven years old.
And there was a book on my parents shelf in Budapest with the title The Scourge of the Swastika, which was written by a British civil servant and a member of the House of Lords. This man had served in the British Army and he was the first book published in the fifties that detailed the Nazi crimes. And I climbed up on a chair and took down the book when I was, I think 10 or 11 began to read it. So photographs of the horrors of the concentration camps and the extermination details in Eastern Europe and all of sudden I swooned because I got what happened to my family and that question of how can people do such things to other human beings which strike me every day and an almost every day.
This thought occurred to me for years and years and years on almost every day I almost got dizzy with the question. So why people suffer and my people make other people suffer. And what is the origin of all? That has been a motivating question in my life. So that's why that book was so important to me. Thank you. And I have to say that, you know, my life's work has been motivated by that question. As a medical doctor, I'm always looking at.
But what is it that makes people be the way they are? Why do we become cruel? Why have become victims? Why do we become perpetrators? What drives us? What kind of insanity covers our basic human nature, which I believe to be good and then positive? And what happens to us? We're going to spend a lot of time in that territory for sure. OK. She mentioned sanity or insanity. I'm not sure if that's a good Segway to Don Quixote, but I'll let you choose the next one.
So there are few that came up and you described them brief. In the pages of the book, but for instance, the back on you just gave me, it was much more in-depth. So we have a few and these are going to strike folks as eclectic. Winnie the Pooh. The Dumb Potter. The Drama of the Gifted Child. And Don Quixote. Which one of those would you like to explain?
Let's go with the Pooh. Let's go to Winnie the Pooh. Yeah. So that was one of the seminal books of my childhood. And my parents would have read to me long before I even knew how to read. The Hungarian title is Mitzy Much School. And it was strangely Moscow, Mitzy Moscow, Mitzy the Bear and the translator's a great Hungarian humorist. So if anything, the Hungarian book is even funnier than the original English, which is not something one usually says about translations.
But what struck me about Poole, of course, was number one, that there was this bear of little brains who was so some are so much wiser than everybody else. So fundamental. You found a piece inside despite the fact that his intellect is just under functioning, number one.
Number two, there was this relationship with the little boy, Christopher Robin. And there's a passage towards the end of the book where Christopher Robin was, you know, the real story. In fact, there's a movie there's a movie about it right now. But but Christopher Robin is father. A.A. Milne was a writer and he bought these toys for his son to make stories about them. And Christopher Robin actually suffered because he was secondary to his father's career.
They did not have a good relationship. So these characters that the father made that made up kind of dominated and squeezed out. Christopher rob his own life and himself became a bookseller later in his life and he wrote about his autobiography.
So there's something about the dysfunctionality in father son relationship. But. In the book, Christopher is playing with his toys. And then he starts to grow up and he has to go to school and he won't be able to play with his toys anymore. And at the very end of the book, there's a passage where the book ends with. But wherever they go in the enchanted forest, that little boy is buried will always be playing together, and that will just bring tears to my eyes.
For decades up on decades upon decades. Until recently, I had an experience, actually a psychedelic experience when I realized that does nothing to mourn because I'm both the bear and the little boy. And I always will be playing that nothing is lost. But when I read that book, there was a sense of loss. When I read that passage, though, something is being lost. Childhood innocence is being lost, playfulness is being lost, which resonated with my own childhood because I did lose innocence and then playfulness very early in life.
So both for the fun and the humor, then of course there's ÈÒä for whom everything always goes badly. And as a part of me, that's totally or always expecting the worst, and nothing will ever work out for me. And never mind, leave me alone. I'm OK with my own suffering. You know that. That's sort of determined victim attitude. That was also very much germane to my inner experience.
So that book just spoke to me and made me laugh. And it still does. It's one of the funniest books ever written. And one of the wisest as well. I'd need to. I've only I I'm ashamed to say this, but I've only seen the cartoon online. I know. I know.
Well, listen, listen. One of the sense that Walt Disney is gonna be burning in hell for the rest of existence is what he did with those stories. Does it Disneyfied them? Disneyfied them.
You gotta read the original. And you you would you would laugh your head off guy.
I mean, I mean, I wish I spoke Hungarian so I could read the show.
Which of these would you like to? And we can certainly touch on other books, but so we have three three remaining on my list. Naama part of the drama of the Gifted Child and Don Quixote.
Well, let's go to the drama of the Gifted Child.
Into the drama of the Gifted Child is by a Swiss, German, Jewish, Swiss psychotherapist named Alice Miller, who was for three decades a psychoanalyst.
But she realized that the Freudian psyche, the psychoanalytic method, wasn't helping anybody get better because it ignored trauma. So the drama of the Gifted Child, the German title of which was Prisoners of Childhood, was really all about the fact that stuff happens to us as children. Negative things happen. Then we adapt to those things by taking on certain defensive ways of being, and then we relieve the rest of our lives from those defensive moods. So we're not actually experiencing the present, but constantly reliving the past from a perspective that we acquired when we were helpless and vulnerable children.
And when she says the gifted child, she means the sensitive child. So the more sensitive the child is, the more he or she feels the pain and stress of the environment and the more affected they are and the more that shapes their lives. And that book came along for me when I was in my forties and I was a successful doctor and I was a father. But I was depressed. I was anxious. I was a driven workaholic.
You wouldn't have known that when you saw me on the job. But inside me, I was discouraged. I had difficulties in my marriage with my children. I felt they were afraid of me and they were because of my rages. And that book helped me understand. It was the first book to help you understand where all that came from. So that was for me. As for many other people, a seminal read.
And really my whole work since then has been to help liberate people from that prison. The childhood often imposes on so many of us.
This book has come up repeatedly in my life as a recommendation, as a recommended book from friends who benefited from it. We are very certainly, from any outward perspective, highly functioning.
In some cases, world class performers in their fields. And I'm. In retrospect. Sad that I ignored those recommendations, but it was in part because I didn't like the pairing of gifted child. Didn't want to label myself giving a child. We could certainly psychoanalyse that. But I was like, if this is a book written for people who are in, say, gifted and talented programs or have some God given talent for whatever reason had a resistance to that.
So I didn't read it. But the prisoners of childhood makes a lot more sense to me anyway.
I think it's a more accurate title, but there's two things I would say in response. First of all, why do you resist your own giftedness? You're clearly gifted. So why would you not want to find out about that? Dunno.
Yeah. So that's that's something you might want to consider. Sure.
Number one. Number two, really what she means is the sensitive child.
Yes. A sensitive eye that would draw me in because I've had. We don't have to necessarily go down this rabbit hole right now. But I've had a number of my friends recently ask me, when did you know you were so sensitive and not sensitive?
In a in a hyper reactive way, not in a negative way. Just in a perceptive way. And I'd never thought of myself. It would never have occurred to me to label myself sensitive. And just in the last year, I've been thinking about that.
So this the sensitive child would make. Make more, more sense or be more appealing, but you have to think of sensitive in terms of his word origin. The word sensitive, Kim, so in a Latin word sense here to feel so the sensitive person feels more, you know. So the example they often give is and that can lead to both very positive and very difficult consequences. For example, if I tapped me on the shoulder right now, you wouldn't feel any pain at all.
But if you were not wearing your shirt and your skin was exposed through them, or if you're a burden on your shoulders so your nerve endings were close to the surface. If I touched you with the same force, you'd feel extreme, excruciating pain, even though the external event was no different. Right. So sensitivity magnifies the pain that we have. Sensitivity also leads to more creativity. So very often the most creative people also have the most pain, which is why so many creative people escape from their pain through all kinds of dysfunctions like addictions and so on.
So there's a real link between creativity and sensitivity and creativity and sensitivity and suffering at the same time. That's the first point that would make.
Now, the other thing goes back to what you said about these people that you know, who are high performers. Look at that word performers. What does it mean to perform one meaning of it is to put on a show? Sure. That's one meaning and I would have been one of these people who is a high performer. In other words, look at us from the outside. Successful thank doctor. Director of the Palliative Care Unit at a major hospital.
National columnist for Canadian newspaper Abedi Medical. Cone's performing at a high level and inside. Again, anxious, frustrated, depressed, discouraged and in my personal life, a lot of suffering. So a lot of people who perform well. Are actually deeply troubled inside. And of course, there's many famous examples of that. Some of the greatest performers like Pressley or Marilyn Monroe and any number of people like the name. So they were they were performers. And even from themselves, they hid their own suffering.
Well, we are sitting in a venue right now recording this. That is is now known as LCR. And there is a mural of Prince outside because he performed his, as I understand it, last performance in this venue, really before he passed away and before he overdosed.
Before he overdosed. Yeah, exactly. And we can certainly come back to this. But part of the reason I wanted to. Big piece of the reason I wanted to have you on the show was that I spent in a much better place now for many reasons that maybe outside of this interview, but. Feeling the exact same way you just described the outwardly successful, inwardly tortured and. How do you answer the question if someone meets you and you just have a short interaction, what do you do?
What do I do if someone asks you? What do you do? I may be self-serving, but somebody once called me a people whisper. People whisper, I. Do have a gift for seeing inside because I've studied. I'm also sensitive and in some ways and I've also studied myself very deeply, I've had to because my whole life just wasn't working.
And as a medical doctor, I worked with all manner of conditions, terminal diseases, newborns, families, physical illnesses, mental dysfunctions. I spent two years working with addictions. I spent on exploring my own and other people's ADHD.
And so I worked with people to bring out the truth of their experience so that they're no longer prisoners of their childhood, but that they can make a conscious choice about how to live in the present moment, not based on how they were on in childhood. And but for that you have to do it in a way that the dog whisperer do in a very compassionate way.
Otherwise, people just shut down and they they shrivel up and they protect themselves.
So that's what I do. And I know I also write and I speak publicly and so on. But the intent is always to bring insight and liberation to people.
So I'm going to come back to the medicine mix, I'd love to know when your journey into medicine began. But first, since I know my listeners will say, but you forgot the other two books.
The other two books, The Dharma Pada, Don Quixote in any order you like. Well, let's go.
In the order that I discovered them, which is Don Quixote, which again, I read that as a child and then reread many times as an adult and he's my favorite character.
So Quixote, is this deluded? Spanish small nobleman who wants to revive the age of chivalry and chivalry knighthood so he guessed, is broken on a horse called Rozin Ante and he lands on his sword, and as he gets this, squire called Satchel Panza on his donkey and off they go off to these adventures and he does not see reality. He thinks windmills are giants and he attacks them. And of course, he gets hurt and he keeps getting hurt because because he doesn't see reality.
He but his heart is purely committed to liberating people, to truth, to justice, to to fighting oppressors, to liberating the oppressed.
So here's this guy who really wants to do good in the world. And he's just deluded in his vision. But he's far too and deeper and more human than all the people that scoff at him and laugh at him. So what a great character. And the book is both poignant and very funny. And it's he's one of the great creations of world literature. And of course, again, you know that yearning for justice has always burned in my heart owing to what happened to me and what I witnessed.
In the dumpster, then the thought is the Buddha's collection of sayings, and it begins with basically the idea that we create the world with our minds. He says everything is thought in the lead. So how we see the world is how it determines the world that we live in. So if I see the world as a horrible place, according the current president, the United States, then I will be defensive and aggrandizing and selfish because I want to take before they take from me.
I won't attack before I get attacked. I'll always be looking out for myself because the world is not to be trusted. So if that's the world you live in. That's the way you're gonna create. And the Buddha was a great psychologist.
You recognize that our perceptions shaped the world that we live in now. What he didn't say, and that's where modern psychology comes in, is that before with a mind, we create the world. The world creates our minds. So that the kind of world that we live in is very much shaped by early experiences.
But I didn't say that. But interestingly enough, when you think about his search for truth, what happened to him? If you read his biography, his mother died before he was a week old. So he's lost his most important relationship. So his life began with suffering. And then he spent all his life trying to find the nature of suffering and how to transcend suffering and how to get beyond it. And this is how he ended up with this particular method of meditation and contemplation and to seeking.
So that book was written 20, 25 years ago. And psychologically, we're still catch it, trying to catch up to the wisdom in it.
So let's talk about wisdom or perhaps science first. Yeah, maybe they're related in some fashion, although I know what we'll dig into. Certainly some things that might be missing. When did medicine enter your life or an interest in medicine? Interest in being a doctor? Either of those things.
Well, I've speculated on that. And there's a number of sources. Strangely enough or not, so strange enough. My grandfather, who was killed in Auschwitz in his 50s, happened to be a writer and a doctor. Grandson ends up as a writer and a doctor. So I think part of it was me trying to fill a hole in my mother's life. Mm hmm. That was a devastating blow to her. This is not conscious, but I'm speculating.
Looking back, it's not that she ever said you have to become a doctor. It's not that she ever said you have to follow in your grandfather's footsteps. But I think I consciously stepped into that role. Number one. Number two. Another reason is that as a Jew in Eastern Europe, you had every reason to feel insecure. And my mother never failed to tell me that as a doctor, you carry your profession in your hands. So you don't have to have a business.
You don't have to have riches. You just have to have the knowledge and they can go anywhere in the world and you'll be OK. Beyond that healing and and making this world a better place and help people help people lead healthy lives was just an ideal of mine. Then it was egotistical reasons.
Let's face it, doctors get respect. They have a role. They have a good income. People look up to them and they have a sense of authority that I think I lacked in my own life. So there's a combination of unconscious reasons and and and and idealistic reasons and and egotistical reasons. But but all all I know is that all my life, I had wanted to be nothing else but a doctor. I always grew up knowing I'll be a physician.
And when you were studying medicine, what did you think? Your specialty, your specialties might be?
Well, first of all, I should say I didn't end up following the dream because I in my late teens, I just couldn't concentrate and study hard enough to get through the sciences.
I could get through them, but I couldn't get the high marks needed to get to medical school. So I actually taught high school for three years. I taught English and history for three years. And then I would wake up and his voice in me, You got to be a doctor, that I'd be a doctor. And so then I went back to medical school and a lot of hard work. Already having been an older student in medical school and being enlisted in history and literature and in the larger picture, I always wanted to put medicine in the context of history and the context of society in the context of human experience, not just as an isolated science, but as part of the broader human experience.
And I was interested right away from the beginning between the connections between emotions and illness, between social factors and health and so on. So I was always a larger picture person. And so that is that was with me already in medical school.
So the integration of mind and body as opposed to the Cartesian duality and separation of mind and body.
Exactly. Not that anything in medical school prepared me for that. I mean, in medical school, you just don't get that information at all. But that was always my interest. And then I then I started practicing. If your eyes are at all open, you just can't you can't help but to see it that that who gets sick and who doesn't isn't accidental and who gets cancer, who gets doesn't isn't accidental and who gets addicted and who doesn't. Isn't accidental.
In other words, there's reasons and those reasons go beyond the individual. And it has to do with their emotional lives and their relationships in the society and the culture that they live in. So more and more over the decades, my own personal struggles in my medical experience showed me that these connections are important.
How did you end up in palliative care and hospice for those people? Isn't you don't know what palliative care is. Perhaps you can give just a brief explanation of what that is. Some people might think of it as hospice care, which which I'm not. I don't think you're necessarily identical, but. Well, how did you end up? Where was the road to palliative care and what is palliative care?
So I was a family physician and a very driven one.
And also I have A.D.D., which means that you want to move around and have these experiences. You know, it's because you get tired of the same thing. And really, in retrospect, I might say that there's some guidance in all this, but it had occurred as a series of accidents. So I've happened to be walking down. The Hall of Vancouver is a major hospital when the current director of palliative care said, I'm quitting. How would you like to come and work in palliative care?
And I said, sure.
You know, I didn't think it took me a not a moment to think about it.
He was just looking for someone to grab palliative care. Sure. Thank you. What is that? And deeply meaningful work. Because when people are facing death, they also come up against the truth of their lives.
And if you can face death, you can face life in palliative care.
Meaning you're helping people to transition with terminal illness.
These are people with many of for whom nothing curative or healing is going to happen. In the sense of physical healing. So they need to be helped with their symptoms were their pain or ability or weakness or nausea. But also, you have to help them go through the psychological process of adjusting to a very short future. And the people who get into palliative care work, the nurses and and then the doctors tend to be a special breed. It's not because many doctors are not comfortable with death.
They're not comfortable with not being able to do something to save somebody. So you have to develop a lot of patience and a lot of acceptance. You have to let go of your power to change things. So it's deeply meaningful and deeply transformative work. And you also have to work with a lot of people with multiple different attitudes towards life. And that's religious, non-religious, spiritual, non-spiritual, in denial, in acceptance in all the stages in between.
So it was beautiful, beautiful work. And I am one of the highlights of my my medical career.
All the same time I was still doing my family practice in when did when did a focus on addiction or in an acute interest in addiction start to steer your medical practice?
So as a family physician, I've always had substance addicts in my practice. Just a few.
And. Again, it was an accident. I got fired from a palliative care job and my.
My argument is that I was fired for gross competence. I was just too damn good at it. But also for gross arrogance.
In other words, with my spontaneous and insightful and rather radical non-traditional style, I could have great results and often did in palliative care.
Well, if I may interrupt for once I conclude what would be or might be an example of your approach that others thought was radical or something you would say, or something you would do with a patient. That's that that got great results, but that would seem very radical to others.
Well, I would engage them in deep conversations. Stuff would come up that'll be painful, but would be transformative. Physically, I would just use methods that had not been proven but occurred right to me and there seemed to be helpful in helping people out of pain or deal with issues and so on. I was very open in multiple approaches. It wasn't just for the following things by the book. So that was my competence. The arrogance was that I had a very busy life.
I was still delivering babies, running my family practice so I would get into palliative care. And then then the nurses said to working with me was like working in the eye of a tornado. And other physicians who didn't have my attitude or my particular mindset were legitimate question what I was doing. But I would regard all such questioning as an attack rather than as an inquiry. And I would react like a bulldog was being threatened. And that's the arrogance.
And that's what I ended up leading. We were fired. And it was a great firing because as always, I learned a lot about myself. Took me a while, but it took. And then three weeks after I was fired, I got this phone call from from our clinic in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Now, the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is North America's most concentrated area of drug use. We have more injection users in this few square block radius than anywhere in North America.
So I get this call saying, how would you like to come and work down here? And this is three weeks that a five foot third of care had I not been fired. I couldn't have taken that other job, which then led me to the high point for my career, which is working twelve years with addicted population and eventually leaving family practice and doing that full time. So who orchestrated all this? I have no idea. But it was a beautiful progression.
It's something that's come up quite a bit in interviews on this podcast is some variation of sometimes you need life to save you from what you want to give you what you need. Exactly. And I think about that a lot at the very least. It's a it's a pain relieving lens through which to view events that unfold. How? How do you define addiction? Or maybe a better question is what is addiction and and along with that, if you want to tackle it.
What are poor definitions of addiction or misconceptions?
Fair enough. So an addiction is a complex psychological physiological process, but which manifests in any behavior, any behavior that a person's enjoys, that a person enjoys, finds relief in and therefore craves. In the short term, but suffers negative consequences in the long term and doesn't give up. Despite the negative consequences. So craving pleasure relief in the short term. Negative consequences in the long term inability to give it up. Say has said nothing about substances. I said any behavior so it could be related to cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, whatever.
Could also be sex, gambling, internet relationships, shopping or eating work. Extreme sports. Working out pornography. Any number of human activities. So I said any behavior. Now, the official definition of addiction, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, is that this is primarily a blame. It's a primary brand disorder. It arises in the brain, wrote largely due to genetic reasons. This is how they see it. And I say that's just not true.
The other popular idea but addiction is that it's a choice that somebody makes that people choose to be addicted, which is what the legal system is based on. Because if people are not choosing, what are we punishing them for? And.
So I although I think the medical definition is closer to the truth. I don't see it as just that. It's a genetic disorder. And I don't see it as a primary brain disorder. So let me perhaps show you why. That's OK. So I give you this definition of addiction again, craving, relief, pleasure, short term negative consequences, long term inability to get up. Would you be willing to tell me if you've ever had an addiction in your life?
I don't care what to do. I'm not asking what.
Oh, yeah. Oh, I can I can say yes. And I can tell you exactly what it was like. I in high school. So so I suffered for from what I suppose most people would consider depressive periods beginning at latest age 10.
Right. And. Never found relief from that until I was.
Competing in wrestling very seriously in high school all throughout high school, and an older teammate introduced me to ephedrine, so a stimulant, a federal hydrochloride, which for those people who are curious is, well, at least at one point Federer was found at work, where at the very least pseudo frederich and something called primative mist used for asthma. And I think they also mixed with Gwyneth jennison. Nonetheless, the reason you cannot buy in many places large amounts of primative mist is because people freebase did into methamphetamine.
That's right. So you have Faron, which is a very strong stimulant combined with caffeine and aspirin, and we've combined those three. It's not an incremental increase in effect. It's I mean, it's probably logarithmic.
It's a very synergistic effect. Exponential. Exactly.
And he was recommending it for increased endurance. And there there is some effect, although it's also very highly thermogenic, which wasn't good for me. So it made me really hot, which was already a weakness of mine. But it ended up providing you with relief. It was a very strong stimulant. And I began to not only use it for sports, but self-medicate using it.
OK, so great. So let me quickly ask you, what did it do for you really from what are it's.
It's it made me or at least contributed to euphoria. Optimism, energy. So I didn't I didn't. I didn't feel the symptoms of what I in retrospect I would call depression, the lethargy, the pessimistic lens through which I viewed things. It seemed to magically just a race, all of that in about 30 minutes.
So euphoria literally means good feeling. It gave you energy. It gave you made you feel good. It made you optimistic.
Also, improved sports performance.
I'm sure that are those good things about things to feel optimistic. Those are all good things. Okay. In other words, the addiction wasn't your primary problem.
Your problem. Problem is that you're depressed. Right. That you lacked a sense of well-being. That you lacked energy. Right. So, in other words, the addiction is not the primary problem. It's an attempt to solve a problem. Right. And then the real question is, how did the problem arise? Right. In other words, this is where my theory is that it's always rooted in childhood trauma and that the addiction is an attempt to deal with the effects of childhood trauma, which it does temporarily, while it creates even more problems in the long term.
Right. I would have one more side question for you, given that estimate was a drug of choice. This may not be true for you, but do you think retrospect you might have ADHD could?
Quite possibly, because typically people with ADHD self-medicate with stimulants. Yeah, because how we treat ADHD, you know, we give people stimulants.
Yeah, Ritalin, methylphenidate, meth. And so.
So a lot of people that choose are stimulants of self-medication like nicotine and caffeine and crystal meth and ephedrine or actually self-medicating ideas. So it's very likely.
Yeah. And I was punished by teachers for I wouldn't say not paying attention, but being interested in other things in class. So I remember very distinctly my kindergarten teacher I'll name or by name IX. It's shameful. Mrs. Ms. Beven. Her Mrs BEVAN. I refuse to learn the alphabet because she wouldn't give me a good reason why I needed to learn the alphabet. It was just you need to learn the alphabet. So she maybe it's soap in front of the class and put me at the bad table.
Was that too? But I was always interested in doing many, many, many things. And in fact, the reason one of the reasons that I started wrestling is because I was very hyperactive. And as I believe the story goes, other mothers recommended to my mom that she put me into something called kiddie wrestling to drain my batteries before I got home. So that makes perfect sense. I've never been drawn to depressants. We've never been drawn to opiates, in fact, after surgeries.
I get very sick if I'm given Vicodin or anything like that. So I've opted out. I have never personally had any issues with alcohol, though a lot of people do. It's always been a draw to stimulants.
And once we don't have to go down this this this path X, I want to I want you to be able to focus on.
On these these definitions, but where I got myself into trouble was having never been physically addicted to any substance before I started using ESEA Stack once a day, my friend was using it twice a day. I start using it twice a day and then I stopped using three times a day and then develop a tolerance very quickly. All right. So I did it more and more. And if you stop the withdrawal, symptoms are severe. So I had never experienced that.
So I continued after sports to use this. And certainly in the long term, there are some some very nasty side effects. But I didn't stop me for many, many years.
Well, so there is a great link between 80 and addictions and not just because they both begin with the same three letters. And I can tell you, with my own ADHD and disability, go back to childhood again. So that tuning out that absentmindedness, the desire to scatter your attention all over the place. That's not a disease. They say it's a inherited disease. The hell it is that turning out dad divided attention is actually. But let me give you a personal question again.
If I were to become abusive towards you right now, verbally or otherwise, what would be your options right now?
I could ignore you. Well, but that's not what you would do first. Is it not likely? I mean, I would. Right now, I would probably just listen and pause. I shut down often if I get attacked verbally because I don't want to respond with rage, which has historically been my response.
I hear you, but. But let's get a bit more basic about it. The rational response if I were to become abusive, would be for you to just assert yourself saying don't talk to me that way. Right. Or it would be to leave saying this into years over. And if for some reason you had not the strength to do either of those. There's other people in the room here with us. You could ask for help. Right. But what if you couldn't escape, fight back or seek help?
Then you would shut down or tune out. Right now, there's the tuning out is simply a defensive response on the part of the brain. Now, put me back into my infancy when my mother so grief stricken that I'm crying cause she's in pain. And I'll read you a quote here, if I may. Yes, please.
And this has to do with the sensitive child. The child is very open and can feel the pain and suffering going on its immediate environment. The child is aware of his own body and can also feel the tension, rigidity and pain in the body of the mother of everyone else he is with. If the mother is suffering, the baby suffers, too. The pain never gets discharged. The organism does not develop the confidence that it can regulate itself, that things will happen the way they should.
Hence lack of optimism. OK. You know, my mom didn't abuse me. She did her best to look after me. But she was stressed, depressed, terrorized, grief stricken. I'm picking that up as a sensitive infant. Can I fight back, change the situation or escape? Now, none of those. What can I do? Nothing I can do. My brain will tune out as a way of dealing with the stress. So I'm not talking about abuse here.
I'm just dealing with stress, mothering or parenting. The child's brain then will tune out. When is the child's burning tune going out? When the brain is developing. So the tuning out then becomes a program. The end is the default setting. And that's why a._d._d. So it's not an inherited disease. It's not a disease at all. It begins as a coping mechanism, which then gets programmed to the brain and has a lot of these early coping mechanisms function.
They help you in the short term create problems in the long term. And that's A.D.D. one of these examples. And of course, it also makes more point, makes you more prone to be addicted, because now when you tune out, life becomes less interesting. You shut down emotionally, you protect yourself. Now you feel depressed. What is depression actually means? You said you were depressed. What does depression mean to depressed? Something is to push it down.
What do people push it on in depression that pushed on their emotions? Why would they? Because the emotions are too painful. So even depression begins as a coping mechanism. You push it down so you don't feel the pain. But then later on, that interferes with your life functioning. So it all begins as a coping mechanism. And later on becomes a source of dysfunction.
And all this is happening when the brain is actually developing, which you can talk about later.
So these are the links they began to make, including after I was diagnosed with it. So I and then despite the fact that a couple of my kids were diagnosed, I knew that this wasn't a genetic disease. That what it is actually is a coping mechanism which got programmed to the brain. And then when I read the literature on Brain Devo. And. Turns out the human brain is shaped by the environment and particularly by the adult child relationships. And so it all began to make perfect sense to me.
There are few things I'd love to underscore or reiterate because I think they're very astute and very helpful. And certainly if I had had some of these reframes, I think that I would have been able to be proactive with working on a lot of my own issues much, much earlier. Mm hmm. Me, too, by the way. Yeah. For instance. We can come back to this, I'm actually just gonna mention two things and then we can we can go where that takes us.
But the first is, rather than asking why the addiction, asking why the pain? So instead of looking at the the consequences, looking at the causes and not confusing the symptoms with the causes. So instead of asking why the addiction, asking why the pain and the the other, this this might take a moment for me to read. But I think it's worth reading. And I should say that compassion for addiction. This is an organization co-founded by yourself and Vicki.
I'm going to make a guess. I've never actually said her last name, but do lie or do lie.
Vicki, just for for context, for folks who are wondering, that was actually the very first person about five years ago to recommend that we meet. And I took a note of it in a notebook. I still have. And that's part of the reason that I reached out for the book and. Just because we may revisit this, I met Vicki at a gathering at. The home of someone named George Sarla, right, who has a lot and who shares a lot of common background with you and certainly common interests.
But what will come back to that? The part that I wanted to read. Is is the following. And I'm gonna make my make an attempt here. All right. So the mainstream view of addiction, you mentioned this compared to the clinical perspective, is that addiction is a matter of individual choice, moral failure or weakness, which is why so many approaches are based on deterrence and punishment, which includes self-help approaches for that matter. That that I've attempted myself.
The clinical view is that addiction is a disease of the brain with disordered brain circuits and behaviors and accurate yet narrow perspective. So I think that's that's a really important line and accurate yet narrow perspective. So. Perhaps accurate but incomplete. It is accurate that in the addicted brain, that the addicted brain is demonstrably physiologically dysfunctional brain, but narrow because it seeks to explain the dysfunction in strictly physiological and biochemical terms without recognize the emotional and social component, how the brain works.
And this was really driven home for me recently. In the last several years, I've gotten to know Tony Robbins this and I attended an event not too long ago with several of my very close friends called Date with Destiny. And at this event.
He asked the audience of 5000 people how many people here know someone who takes anti-depressants, pretty much every hand goes up. How many people here know someone who takes anti-depressants, yet is still depressed and is probably 80 percent of the people who raise their hands the first time? And I personally know quite a few people who take antidepressants, which seem to help on some level. Yeah, although the tolerance for some of these pharmaceuticals can also be developed very quickly.
And yet if if my experience is anything like the experience of or I should say if these appearances of other people's anything like my personal experience with friends, let's say you have depression, you witness these thought patterns and verbal patterns that can take them from the highest high or just a a baseline of optimism and drive them back into depression. And so there just it seems to be just from an empirical or observational standpoint, more to the story. And so I I really appreciate you putting into words what I've grasped to try to understand and also convey.
So with this definition of addiction. How do you work with patients? Well, let's go back to what I said, what you quoted me saying, not why the addiction, but why the pain. So if we understand that addiction in every case is rooted in some painful internal experience. And that and when you ask people what does the addiction do for you, they'll say, it numbs me.
It suits the pain. It makes me feel connected with other people. It gives me a sense of control. It gives me inner peace. The lack of inner peace, the lack of control, the lack of connection, the old forms of emotional pain.
If I ask the question not why the addiction, but why the pain, then that leads to an examination of that person's life rather than looking just at their brain chemistry. So I'm quoting from an article that appeared in the Journal of Pediatrics, which is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's about as prestigious as you can get 2012.
The article comes from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, Again, a prestigious child development research institution at Harvard University. This article did not present new information so much as it elegantly summarized decades of research and noticed what they say they see. A growing scientific evidence demonstrates that social and physical environments that threaten human development because of scarcity, stress or instability can lead to short term physiologic and psychological adjustments that are necessary for immediate survival and adaptation, but which may come at a significant cost to long outcomes in learning, behavior, health and longevity.
That's what I was saying before, that those early adaptations like pushing down your feelings when pushing things are too painful will help you as an infant. Young child. But then they cause problems later on the tuning out that you do to protect you from the stress in your environment. If you're very sensitive, it doesn't take a lot of stress helps you and your. In the long term becomes a problem. That's exactly what they're saying. No jump a few pages ahead to what they say about brain development.
Then this is so crucial and it's so crucial because they still don't teach. Does the medical schools, even though scientifically it's not even vaguely controversial.
The human brain develops an interaction with the environment. It's not genetically programmed purely. Here's what they say. The architecture of the brain is constructed to an ongoing process that begins before birth, continues into adulthood, and establishes either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all the health, learning and behavior that follow. Not some of the health learning, all the health learning. Notice what they say. First of all, the architecture, the brain is constructed, the ongoing process that begins before birth, which already means what happens in the womb.
Ideas is an impact on you. So if your mother is stressed and she's got high levels of stress hormone that's already affecting your brain development. I when you think of all the stressed pregnant women out there. No wonder we've seen so many kids in trouble. And we know from my own studies, international studies, that when mothers are stressed that placenta will naturally have more cortisol drill in the stress hormone. Those kids will be more likely to have stress, he shows later on abnormal stress hormone levels, even at 1 year of age, behavior problems, learning problems and so on.
Which tells us a lot as to why adopted kids, adopted kids have so many more problems.
That's another issue. But the next paragraph is key. The interactions of genes and experiences literally shapes the circuitry of the developing brain and his critique fline, critically influenced by, in other words, the circuitry, the chemistry of the brain and which centers and which circuits and which system to develop and which neurochemical will be present in a lot quantities depends on the early environment and is critically influenced by the mutual responsiveness of adult child relationships, particularly in the early childhood years.
In other words, the most important influence shaping the physiological development of the brain is the quality of parent child relationships. No one parents are stressed or distracted or workaholics like I was a young parent. If there is instability, economic troubles, relationship troubles, unresolved trauma on the part of the bank loving parents who are just stressed that'll interfere with the child's brain development. That's why we've seen so much ADHD now, so much more autism and so much of other problems because of stress in a society that affects the parenting environment.
In other words, yes, there's physiological problems with the brain, but it's not a genetic issue. It's really the early experience. So when you look at brain scans of adults that are troubled brain scans, as you do in addicts, you're not just looking at the impact of addiction. You're also looking at the impact of childhood trauma and childhood stress. And this has been shown over and over and over and over again. So there's no separation between the physiology and the psychology.
So if you come to me as an addict thing, you out such and such and I ask you, what does it do for you? You say it numbs the pain. That my question is where did you develop the pain? What happened? And then we have an inquiry. And not long becomes a shameful thing that you chose this. Nor does it mean that you're stuck with it because you've got this genuine problem. We get it as an adaptive response to something that happened and we can heal that.
The reason why addiction treatment is failing is because physicians don't understand is the key.
Dealing with the effects, which is the addiction and the behaviors, which are the effects of the addiction but not the cause, which is the child distress and the impact of childhood distress that carry into adulthood. You know, there is Hub's state prisoners of childhood and so present methods of treatment in psychiatry and addiction medicine and childhood psychiatry. Deal with effects rather than causes. And this is why we're so ineffective at. I've I've many questions. Yeah. So the first is just to to underscore something which is, you know, the ah, software, the genetics play a role.
But. But it's it's not a comprehensive explanation for what we're discussing.
Genes can predispose, but they don't predetermine. Exactly. No. There are very few genetic diseases. There's one runs in my family. Muscular dystrophy. If you've got the gene, you'll have the disease. My point, my mother had it right now a predetermines that's just pre-determine very, very those diseases. Let me tell an interesting study from either Australia and New Zealand. They looked at a group of people for aggression. They found that the most aggressive people had a certain gene variant.
Do you think they found a gene for aggression? No, they didn't. Because the least aggressive people in the group had the same gene. So the most aggressive and the least aggressive shared the same gene as compared to the average gene could not have been for aggression. Now, if you actually looked at the life histories of those people, the most aggressive people had been brought up in troubled, sometimes abusive, but always very stressed homes, the least aggressive or brought up in very nurturing homes.
What was the gene for sensitivity?
The more sensitive you are, the more you're going to be affected. When you're brought up in a peaceful home, you're gonna be that much more peaceful. You're brought up in an a stormy home. You're gonna be that much more aggressive. So there are these predispositions, but they're not for specific illnesses. Therefore, temperament. Right. Which means that you're gonna be more or less affected by the environment. And so, yeah, there's some predisposing genes.
But we know both from animal studies and monkey studies and human studies that even you find a gene that for similar reasons predisposes somebody to addiction. If that animal or if that human being is brought up in a good nurturing circumstances, their risk of addiction is no greater than creatures without that gene. Right. So it's just not a genetic disease, an effect that runs in families doesn't prove anything because, you know, as I always point out, I'm a medical doctor.
And if two of my kids become medical doctors, which is no danger whatsoever, but if they did, that wouldn't prove that the practice of medicine is a genetic disease.
Right. All right. It's it's not a it's not a catch all explanation.
Also, you have I mean, because of a few of the books I've written, I hear a lot of stories, both successful and unsuccessful about people attempting to lose weight. And they'll often say, well, it runs in my family. Like my parents are fat, my grandparents are fat.
And they'll society of pets will say, yes, I'll say, your pet's overweight. Oh, yeah, my pets are fat. Okay. Well, that's clearly, clearly not just a genetic issue.
Well, let me say something on it. Yeah, well, have you heard about the adverse childhood experiences studies? The AC studies? The average child adverse adverse childhood experiences studies. You know, I haven't. But I feel like there's a questionnaire or a series. There's a test. Yeah, there is.
So the other charge are expensive. Studies were done in California with, I think 17, 14 or seventeen thousand adults, mostly Caucasians, half of them university educated. And I looked at the relation between childhood adversity and adult outcomes. And an adverse childhood experience was defined as physical or sexual or emotional abuse. A divorce. A parent being jailed. Violence in the family. A brand being addicted. Appending mentally ill parent dying. These were the main ones.
And for each of these adverse childhood experiences, the risk of addiction goes up exponentially. The risk of autoimmune disease go up, the risk of depression goes up, the risk of ADHD goes up, the risk of relationship problems.
SD everything goes up now. You know, these studies started these studies started an obesity clinic. Dr. Vincent Felitti, who's a San Diego internist, wonderful guy, deep thinker and researcher. They noticed that at this clinic with rigorous dietary control and exercise, they could help people lose weight. But even they couldn't do. Couldn't ensure they continue those behaviors when they live. Exactly. They couldn't help and keep it off. And then phillida did something that's I have to say is unusual for a medical doctor.
He listened to his patients and they said, don't you get it? We're stuffing down our pain. This is all based on childhood trauma. And so obesity itself is a response to childhood trauma. It's just another addiction. I could talk about in many ways, but. And the other Shazad expereince studies have been repeated numerous times, nine other countries always with the same results. And so that the obesity epidemic right now is not just an epidemic of junk foods and sedentary lifestyles.
That is true. Those are contributing factors.
But but the underlying basis is people's self-soothing, the stresses in their lives. So it's really an epidemic of stress.
So let me return to another point or one thing you said in passing, which I'd love to dig into a little bit. And that was how at the time, say the example I think we were discussing. Well, actually, before that, let me mention one thing. So I've had my Tarji my full genome sequence, a predisposed predisposition to alcoholism is very prevalent. My family from a genetic standpoint, just from a software base. However, I mentioned earlier, I never had issues with alcohol as with stimulants.
So just just as just as a footnote. But what I was going to what I'd love to ask you and then I'd really love to hear what you do with patients once you start looking at their pain and the tools you use or the approaches you use.
But one of the epiphanies for me in the last very recent year or two has been looking at. My coping mechanisms very differently, and what I mean by that is for a very long time. I had certain behaviors, certain defaults that I hated, which of course means I'm hating a part of myself. That's right. And that included anger, rage, responses about use of stimulants, you name it.
A close friend of mine who who is a therapist, but I've never I've never engaged him as a therapist. And there are certainly plenty of bad therapists out there, which I think is a separate topic. Nonetheless, he was helping and I'm sure we'll get back to this. But in preparation for a very controlled, supervised psychedelic experience, he was helping a another friend of ours prepare us with MDMA.
This is with ayahuasca. I always go to. And this this person had a number of addictions and she hated these addictions. And she said, I hate these. I realize they're they're terrible. They've they've ruined my life. They're ruining my life. And it was all a negative relationship to these behaviors. And he said, did these ever serve you? Did these ever help? What did these do for you? Exactly. And she and she described how they helped her cope with very difficult circumstances early on.
And he said perhaps what you should do as an exercise and what we can do is for you to effectively thank those behavior for the role they played. And further, the necessity they filled. And to then recognize you thank them for their duty effectively, but to let them go because they're no longer needed. And that was a huge eye opener for me. And I began to this is coinciding with a number of things. And I won't take us off the rails, but begin to.
Use something called lovingkindness, meditation or metamour. Meta m._t._a meditation, which was introduced to buy German from Google, actually a formerly Google Schade Manc 10, and then also Jack Cornfield to really re-iterated for me, of course, but I never applied it to myself. I always applied this lovingkindness mentation to other people, to Irish. And what was recommended is that I apply that lovingkindness to these, to the younger Tim, to the other versions of Tim who had these behaviors that I had grown to hate and resent and to actually thank them for the role they played.
For instance, that rage, that anger was the fuel that got me out of Long Island and where I grew up there, a lot of serious drug issues, particularly with opiates. My best friend died of fentanyl. Many of my friends are addicted to opiates who I grew up with. Many have died. And I got out because I was angry. In part, I think that was the fuel. But that fuel ended up over the long term being very corrosive, but too in a way to reconcile myself with that.
I had to stop resenting it, and I suppose it's maybe more of a confession than a question, but your comment brought it to mind and maybe as a as a Segway, I'd just love to hear. And we can take it anywhere we want, of course. But once you have shifted the focus from why the addiction to why the pain and you start to work with someone, what approaches have you found to help?
Well, so I very much salute your friends approach. It's exactly the approach I would take myself and. I call it compassionate inquiry. So inquiry in a compassionate way. Now, why did I do this? But why did I do this right? The first one is not a question. It's a statement. It's a self-condemnation. The second one is a question. Mm hmm. Wonder why did this are is soothe my pain. And so what your friend said that it served you.
So think it. Love it. But legal of it is absolutely right. I call it the stupid friend, the stupid founders is the one who helped you in a particular way at a certain time, but it can't learn that that way doesn't function anymore. Right. Then instead of helping, though, it's hurting. So it's a friend because it's you turn out. But it's stupid. Good. Does not learning that you're no longer that 3 year old.
A 5 year old, that 15 year old, you know. So this not this leads to the question of trauma. Because it's one thing to recognize that all this originates in childhood pain. It's quite another to transform that pain. And for that, we have to understand what trauma is. So people often think that trauma is what happens to you. So trauma is a divorce. When you were small and your parents fighting trauma as your mother's depression, trauma as your father's alcoholism, trauma as your parents argumentation.
Trauma is physical or sexual abuse or some loss. Those aren't the traumas. Those are traumatic. But the trauma is not. What happens to you. The traumas of what happens inside you. And as a result of these traumatic events, what happens inside you is you get you get disconnected from your emotions and you disconnected from your body and you have difficulty being in the present moment. And you develop a negative view of your world and then negative view of yourself and a defensive view of other people.
And these perspectives keep showing up in your life in the present because they are stupid friends. And so the issue is not just to recognize what happened at 10, 15, 30, however many years ago, but to actually recognize the manifestations in the present moment and to transcend them. And how do you do that? By reconnecting with yourself, by restoring the connection with your body primarily and with your emotions that you lost. And once you do, when you found these things again, then you have what we call a recovery, because what does it mean to recover something?
It means to find it again. So what is it that people find when they recover? They find themselves. And the loss of self is the essence of trauma.
So the real purpose of of addiction treatment, mental health treatment, any kind of healing is a reconnection for people who are listening and want to reconnect with themselves, with their bodies, for instance.
What recommendations might you have, whether that's things they can do or resources they can can look to or both or something else?
What what recommendations? I'm sure I could actually. I am 100 percent sure because I've had people come on and for the very first time on this podcast talk about sexual abuse.
The interns as children and what they did to help recover from that. Many people listening, I am sure, have addictions, both traumatic past experiences and trauma. What what recommendations could you make for them? Sure. So I want to say, first of all, that for trauma, you don't need terribly traumatic events. So there's two ways to look at trauma. One is that bad things happen that shouldn't have. We've we've talked about those. But the other way to get traumatized is when good things happen that should have happened.
So if they're good, good things didn't happen, that should have happened. Sorry. So when you look at look at the trauma of a mission, trauma the nation with the pants, not that they didn't love you, not that they didn't do their best, but they were too stressed, traumatized, distracted themselves. Then you didn't get the kind of attention and the kind of acceptance and a kind of a tumed being with that you needed. That itself can make a disconnect from yourself.
The child needs that acceptance, that connection, that attunement. Our brain development requires that our emotional development demands it. And when we don't get it. Not because the parents don't love us, but simply because of their own issues. We can also suffer that disconnection. So that's what I call developmental trauma. And now how do we connect? Well, there are many, many forms of therapy is very difficult for anybody to do this on their own.
Some people do it. I certainly couldn't do it on my own. I've needed a lot of help in terms of therapy that helps me understand what happened to me. And so that there's there's a reason for it so that not as if there's a reason for it, then it's no longer me. I'm not somebody to be ashamed of. I'm just somebody who developed along certain lines for some very good reasons. But it's not in my deepest character and it's not who I am.
And I don't have to be that way. That's a relief to know. It's also not that I'm genetically programmed, so I'm doomed to stay that way. You know, number one. And number two, you have to reconnect with the body. There are various body therapies.
My friend Peter Levine and his somatic experiencing walking tiger is waking that waking the tiger. We're going to tag. It was his first book and he's written many wonderful books since then. So some somatic somatic experience.
And his method is called, which he develops just brilliant. There is MDR eye movement desensitization reprogramming, which is a way of bypassing the conscious mind and getting through the emotional brain and quicker than talk therapy by itself can do. That's combined with talk therapy, but it takes you past just a conscious, defensive egoic mind. There is emotional feet and tapping that people do. There's various variations on that. There is. There's motor sensory integration techniques. There is then there is the traditional therapies like yoga.
And yoga was not simply a physical modality when it first developed. Yoga actually means unity. So the very essence of yoga is, is to regain that unity, not just with ourselves, but also with the larger creation. And so yoga is practiced in its intended way, not just the hot yoga over. You get a good workout. That's great. I'm not against it, but I'm talking about intentional yoga with a meditative aspect to it, which is taught by a number of disciplines, body work of all kinds.
Second hit pause for once I could do practice yoga. And if so, what type do you practice?
So I have always said that with my ADHD, I'm not a yoga person. I can't do it until, you know, half ago and met actually a yogi. His name is Sadhguru and he's Indian Yogi with a big following. I was very skeptical, but I met the guy. I now have a 50 minute daily yoga practice, which I did this morning before coming to the interview and just made an enormous difference in my life with my ADHD mind.
I really have trouble just sitting there. When I sit on the meditation cushion, my mind is like all over the place.
But with the yoga, which is more body based, I can stay much more present. There is a meditation component to it. And so the answer is yes. If you had asked me 18 months ago, I would have said no. I supported, but I don't do it. But now I'm actually a very committed practitioner and really has made a difference.
Is there a particular is it a particular type of yoga that people could Google or learn more about?
Well, so I'm not your expert. And there's many forms of yoga that other people more knowledgeable than I am, could recommend.
But the one I learned is called in-ear engineering, and it's taught by either Sadhguru or as followers.
And you can look up into engineer online in engineering when I recommend it to friends and others. Everybody has been only being grateful. Second, highly recommended. Typically there's to me what seems to be a cult around the guy which I don't take too particular. But he's the genuine article in terms of having a deep experience and being able to transmit that experience to others and creating a practical system around it. So it's worked for me. I'm not here to recruit anybody else.
But since you're asking.
No, no, that's just my my fence pursuit. Yeah. Well, you know, I'm not going to blame it on my fans. I like specifics.
Yeah. So. So in our engineering, you can look up on it. And it's taught here in the states and in Canada internationally, actually. And I but I did interrupt you.
You're about to mention, I think, another technique or modality that can help. Talked about, for instance, the somatic experience and our emotional freedom technique, motor century integration, technique, techniques, yoga. And then there's something coming up after that.
Well, about ten years ago, I began to work with psychedelics. Now, if you're fifteen years ago, you were to ask me, will ever be working with psychedelics as a healing modality? I would've that you're out of your mind.
But then through a series of events, I became aware of the potential role of psychedelics in the healing, and I've been doing work with them now for 10 years. And they're another potent method. They're not for everybody. And I have to emphasize that whatever modality you choose of a psychedelic nature, you have to do it with adept practitioners, with deep integrity and deep knowledge and experience.
But in such hands and in such a context, it's can be like a super highway to self-awareness. Not in isolation, but it opens doors that otherwise might take years. And so it's not unusual for me to conduct a psychedelic session with somebody or a series of sessions either in a group or individual setting, and had them say that was like 10 years of psychotherapy in one day. And I've had the same experience myself. So again, it's not to be isolated from other kinds of work and it has to be integrated, but it's not a potent way of working.
And of course, as I know you're personally aware, there's an increasing movement amongst psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, other healers to find ways of incorporating incorporating psychedelic healing in the larger therapeutic scheme you mentioned as it related to MDR and some of these other techniques that you listed, that it is a potent way of bypassing the egoic mind.
Yeah. And certainly psychedelics literally mind manifesting. That's right. In that case. Our one very potent tool that or they are tools that have been used for millennia in traditional or ceremonial contexts around the world for many purposes, but including bypassing the analytical, rational prefrontal cortex in many capacities.
They mentioned a series of events and I will come back to the second orks and ask you which you've chosen and why you work with. But if if you can mention any of them.
What were the series of events that led you sure to best to psychedelics in 2008?
My book on Addiction in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters with Addiction was published in Canada and very quickly it became a number one national bestseller. Subsequently published in the States as well. And I was on a book tour and people kept asking me, what do you know about addictions and ayahuasca as a treatment? Ayahuasca being a Peruvian Amazonian vine that's made into a brew that has psychedelic properties. I knew nothing. The next speech or the next event, somebody else would ask, what do you know about I was going to do an addiction?
I think I started getting annoyed with it, like, leave me alone. I've just read the book. I've spent years researching it.
My life experience and all kinds of scientific exploration went into it.
Ask me about something I know about.
And then I realized that maybe the universe was knocking on my door and somebody said, did you know you could experience it here in Vancouver? There was a Peruvian shaman leading some ceremonies up in Vancouver. So who am I to say no? And I jumped right in and I sat in this tent with 50 other people. 50? Yeah, it was. That's how they set it up. It's not what it's not what I recommend, but that's how they set it up.
They played beautiful music and there was a little baby in the room. Mother and dad were there for the experience. The baby was in the room and the baby was cooing away and tears started flowing down my face. And these are not tears of sorrow. They were tears of joy. And I got in touch with such profound love that I had never consciously experienced before. And there were tears of love. And it wasn't love for anybody in particular.
It was just love. And then I saw in all the ways that I had closed my heart against love in my life. And I had betrayed love in my personal relationship and my spouse and and my children and in other ways.
So I just got this experience of love, something profound and universal and and life defining. But something from I had been cut off in so many ways. And I got it. Because. I close my heart against love precisely because when I was vulnerable and small, I'd be so hurt owing to my mother states of mind, she couldn't respond to me where I needed to be responded to. Not her fault. But she couldn't. And then when I was a year old, she gave me to a stranger to save my life and I didn't see her for a month, which is a huge hit.
Explain that for a second. So again, it's Budapest, Hungary. Second rule or January, the Russians are circled Budapest and not fighting the Germans. The government in power is a right wing fascist, anti-Semitic military force. And even though the deputations of Jews had stopped the Germans, Saadoun allocated half a million Hungarian Jews in three or four months. But now the Hungarian fascists for killing Jews in Budapest and including in the house where my mother were living.
So my mother gave me to a stranger in the street, a Christian woman, because she didn't know she'd be dead or alive next day. Well, or that I would be. And I was quite sick, so I didn't see her for months, which I experienced is a deep abandonment. Could good experience it.
So I had to close this. Against love. And I got all this. And so I got that if this plant.
This plant that, as you say, manifest the mind can show me both the ways in which have closed off from myself and that I don't need to because the love is still there. What healing potential it has.
Now, I wish I could say that after that experience, I became a loving husband and a loving human being. I didn't. It's not that simple. As my wife would tell you. Nevertheless, it opened the door for me. And I got right away. Now. However, the thought that I had was that I had no induction, I had had no introduction, I had no processing afterwards, ayahuasca is medicinal plant that has been used in the Amazon basin for hundreds of years, maybe longer in its cultural context.
In a tribe, in a village where people know each other well, they know the shaman, where they share the same assumptions and the same history. That's not the same as a bunch of Western strangers to each other come together for one night drinking the stuff and then going their separate ways.
So agreed. So immediately the question that came up for me was how can we create a setting that at least resembles as best we can, fashion the original setting?
So we came up with the idea of a retreat where a small number of people get together with properly trained shamans. Who have integrity and experience, deep experience. And with me facilitating people's preparation and their post ceremony integration. And so I've been doing that now for 10 years. And a lot of learning involved. You made mistakes, but it evolved. And the essence of it is that people don't come into it cold. They come into the preparation in a safe setting where pretty soon a group becomes a family to each other, which means that knowing that they love each other and support each other.
But they also trigger each other. I mean, basically, I tell people, I guess what, you're back in your family of origin and everything you've heard about your film origin is going to show up here. But in the context where it's safe for that to happen. Right. And so I've seen a lot of great healing.
I've had people with multiple suicide attempts heal from depression. I've seen people get much better with the autoimmune diseases. I've seen people deal with all kinds of addictions and life issues. Relationship problems come out of it much more themselves, much more able to deal with these issues. So long as the proper integration is done, I have to. So that was my personal experience.
Now, that then introduced me to the whole world of psychedelics and I realized that there's a lot of research being done these days that his organization maps Multidisciplinary Association for Association for Psychedelic Studies, which is a group of psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, therapists, counselors, interested people to study scientifically the role of psychedelics in healing.
And as you're probably aware, interesting studies have been done around psilocybin mushrooms and end of life anxiety studies have been done which are revolutionary in using MDMA assisted psychotherapy, MDMA being the medical name for the technical name for ecstasy. Again, in the right setting with the right leadership, these have proven to be very powerful modalities of healing.
And so there's a whole new resurgence of psychedelic research in a number of different areas, some of the manmade, some of them plant based. But there's a whole world that I was introduced to and I've learned a lot in the last 10 years. And again, I have both practiced it in my own healing work and I'm interested in it also as a participant. So it I'd love to add a few things to your second comment and then ask a bunch of questions about the first.
So for people who are interested in learning more about the current scientific studies and. Mechanisms of action related to some of these compounds. And what is being done? There are a number of. Very interesting and very competent organizations, as far as I can tell. Maps is one image and I'll actually be seeing the founder, Rick Doblin, in just a few days time. There is the Hafter Institute, which I've worked with primarily run by M.D. and p_h_d_, or at least the board and so on is comprised of of scientists, medical doctors.
It was through the Hafter Foundation and also directly with Johns Hopkins. So I've had some involvement with the S7 with psilocybin studies. And actually thank you to many of you. Servet smack in the mike to many of you in my audience who helped through crowdfunding funding campaign to raise funds for a study at Johns Hopkins related to treatment treatment resistant depression since 07.
So Hafter Institute, excellent organization, organization to look into. And then you Sona also, which I believe is primarily focused on psilocybin, whereas maps at this point has done great work on many levels, including helping to facilitate MDMA, being designated breakthrough therapy and effectively getting fast tracked into Phase 3 trials by the FDA. That's right. And these are all organizations that I would encourage people to look into. And. It's really an exciting time and also a fragile time as it relates to these compounds, which have certainly demonstrated historically accepting MDMA.
Let's just look at the studies, many of which were done starting in, say, 50s and 60s. Looking at the clinical efficacy of using these compounds for everything ranging from alcoholism to nicotine addiction to many of the things that you mentioned.
Well, your order, what is little known.
But Bill Wilson, Dr. Bill, who founded one of the founders of a right, actually had some powerful allies, the experiences which helped him and his in his spiritual growth. One was in AA.
They don't talk about that very much, but it's a fact, if any of parenthetically say as much as I support the twelve steps, what ails or doesn't tend to talk about is the trauma that first causes the addiction. And Bill Wilson himself was a traumatized child. He was abandoned by his parents. I mean, he was very young. And so it's interesting that a for all the good work that it does do, which I support, I don't support people being forced into anything to go for a treatment.
But as a self chosen form of treatment, it can be very helpful to many people. But they don't talk about two other interesting things, which is one is the psychedelic part. And the other is the trauma part.
Yeah, no, it's for me just looking at my own. Childhood experiences and. Exploring recovery defined as you defined it. Yeah, in in the last several years, especially last six months. It's been a fascinating and frustrating to discover and try to piece together these various elements. But the. What does the frustrating part? That there is. Well, there it may exist, but I couldn't find one stop shopping that checked all the boxes. There aren't any.
Right. So. So it's been a exercise in collecting various tools and piecing them together. Like you said, you have the AA does incredible work. And then they what they've done in terms of a distributed free service with social accountability in sport is incredible. So the psychedelic component, which Bill actually wanted to, as I understand it, make one of the steps in a needless to say, was hard to get widespread leadership support for that. And then you have the trauma piece.
So these are all tools in the toolkit that people can use for their own sort of bespoke approach in some respects. Coming back to the ayahuasca specifically. And I should just as a caveat point out, because I do think that these tools. I know these tools are very powerful. I have firsthand familiarity from past experiences and have been very engaged with this scientific community for some time now. They can be misused. There are many charlatans and unfortunately, there's more than I.
There's many there's some very powerful healers, shamans who unfortunately exploit people sexually and financial, very common. And this is, of course, not just restricted to the ayahuasca world. It's also happens in a spiritual world for many spiritual leaders with tremendous power, tremendous healing influence, have at the same time exploited men and women and created all kinds of further trauma. So unfortunately, when you have that much power and you haven't totally done your integration work, you can start misusing that power.
And that happens in all of the healing modalities, as we know. But it certainly happens in the psychedelic world as well.
Yeah, it's very it's. I wish I could say it's rare. It's not, but it's something to safeguard against, especially when you're in that vulnerable state. So I would actually recommend that people see a documentary called Kumara, which is very much worth watching. And the brief overview is it's an Indian filmmaker who begins studying various gurus and healers in the U.S. high in hopes of I believe the original impetus was to simply do a documentary on charlatans. And then he went to India and he said this just as bad here.
And he's centred just as bad or worse. And he decides to make himself a guru as exam, as an experiment. And it's it's a very thought provoking documentary that I think will becomes a kind of fake guru. Right. That's right. Yeah, I remember. Yeah. And he unveils it. Yeah. I do want to give too much away, but it's very well done, very well worth watching because it helps to prepare you I think psychologically to.
Not lose yourself in a dangerous way. And here's the problem you see, what I said about the essence of trauma is that you use you lose connection to yourself and that means you lose connection to your gut feelings. Right. As long as your gut feelings are with you and you honor them does protect you. But the very essence of trauma is the loss of that. Which means that when you lose connections to gut feelings, then you're very vulnerable to being exploited.
And when you talk to people who were exploited in any context, psychedelic or not. If you ask them, do you have any kind of vague sense that this is not quite right? They'll say, yeah, but I didn't listen to it. And the fact that they didn't listen to it is already a marker of trauma. So a sense is traumatized people, which is most of us who seek healing. It's also vulnerable people who seek healing. And this is what some of these people can exploit.
So the very portal into healing, which is opening up the vulnerability that we've shut down against, is also the portal for potential loss.
So people have to do their due diligence. Yeah. And I'm not trying to create paranoia here, but people just should be careful.
You just mentioned something that I'd really love to just pause and emphasize. Mm hmm. You mentioned a few things. So number one, is that your your gut feeling? Slash physiological intuition can help you. And that's something that for many reasons, I completely muted or ignored for a very long time. So it's been a process of getting reacquainted with that. And I would say two things that that I've found helpful and give any comments. And second in particular, I'd love to hear.
One was dramatically decreasing my caffeine intake, which I found was almost like turning up the volume on static. It made it very difficult for me to read or feel that other things that I was using it maybe for many reasons, but it had the side effect at least of muting. Maybe that was why I did it subconsciously. Many of these feelings.
The second was in fact a video that was recommended to me, but it corresponds to a book called The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker and who actually owns a company that does protective services and executive security. So you have to keep in mind, maybe you don't always want to ask a barber if you need a haircut. So keeping that in mind, it it also.
In brief points to the benefits of some of these. Reactions are emotional states that we are prone to labeling negative. And the. As you said, not to make anyone paranoid, but rather to inform them. These are currently existent risks. And one of the hopes certainly with say, ultimately better researching these compounds after they've been really unfairly, but for understandable reasons, politicized and put into the same schedule in the United States as heroin and cocaine. To have them rescheduled is that they are prescribed well.
And if then that happens, the ability to.
Certify therapists to regulate and to maintain a a broad type of quality control goes up. That's also one of the hopes is that that will decrease the likelihood of bad actors and allow appropriate punishment for bad actors because not you.
As we know, even in legalize legitimate professions, it still happens. This is still happening. So ultimately, you know, gut feelings are still the best response.
And let me address first why we shut down our gut feelings, if I may, please. So. A human being has two fundamental needs. Apart from the physical needs in infancy and childhood, one is for attachment, not attachment is the closeness and proximity with another human being for the sake of being looked after. Or for the sake of looking after the other human beings as mammals. And even birds are creatures of attachment. We have to connect and attach because otherwise we don't survive.
If there's nobody that's motivated to take care of us, to attach to us that way, and we're not motivated to attach to others, we just can't survive.
One additional thing is, is that the endorphins, which are the antibodies internal opiate make chemicals which heroin and all the other opiates resemble. They have to facilitate attachment. So you think infant mice and you knock out their endorphin receptors so they don't have endorphin opiate activity in their brain. They won't cry for help and separated from their mothers, which would mean that they would die in the wild and which goes back to what happens in early in childhood when there's stress and trauma.
These are these endorphin systems don't develop. And then when people do heroin, it feels like a warm, soft hug to them. They feel love and connection for the first time. That's why it's so powerful. But so we have this need for attachment, without which obviously the human infant was the most helpless, the most dependent, the least mature of any creature in the universe at birth, cannot survive without the attachment and that attachment to this ship.
Given that we have the longest period of development of any creature.
Well into adolescence and beyond, attachment is not a negotiable need. But we have another need, which is authenticity and authenticity. Although the self means being connected to ourselves, just knowing what we feel and being able to act on it, so that means our gut feelings. So let's look at our human beings evolved for tens of thousands of years and for 1000 years or so of this species existing on earth. Hard to believe we didn't live in cities and houses and somberly they're out there in the wild.
Until very recently in human existence, just how long do you survive in the wild if you're not connected to your gut feelings? Not very long. Not very long. If you start using your intellect instead of your gut feelings, you just don't survive.
So that's a powerful survival need as well as so attachment is a survival need. Authentic. It is a survival need. But what happens if your authenticity threatens your attachment to relationships? For example, is a two year old. You get angry because you didn't get that cookie before dinner. But your parents can handle anger because they grew up in homes when there was them and they're terrified that the very expression of anger. So they give you the message that good old kids don't get angry.
The message you receive is not that good. Look, don't get angry, but they get angry. A lot of kids don't get loved because your parents are not sullen. They won't look at you. They talk to you in a harsh way. You're not getting loved. Not experiencing love at that moment. No, but you've got to stay attached. Guess what? You're going to suppress. The authenticity every time. And this is how we lose connection to ourselves and through a gut feeling.
So that strangely enough, that very dynamic, which is essential for human survival in a natural setting, not becomes a threat to our survival in this in this more modern setting. Right. To stay authentic is to threaten attachment. And so we give up our authenticity. And then we wonder who the hell you are and whose life is this and who's experiencing all this and this life doesn't know. Who am I, really? And so that's where the reconnection has to happen.
And that's what the healing happens is with that reconnection.
But it because of that conflict, the tragic conflict in childhood between authenticity and attachment that most of us face, that we lose ourselves and lose connection to gut feelings. There's so many directions we can go with us. And I'm really glad you shared that, because I had an enormous. That observation has had an enormous impact on some of my close friends. And it's something I was only exposed to really today because our mutual friend Vicki recommended that I ask you to expand on it.
What I'd love to return to, if we can get it, isn't.
Of course. Sorry. In this building, there's a picture of Elvis Presley. Yes. So there's a song of his that I play at my retreats or my events all the time.
It's called Anyway, You Love Me. My heart goes. I don't. I could actually played for you, but it goes any way you love me. That's the way I'll be in your hands.
My heart is clear. I'll be strong as a mountain or weak as a. Willow tree, I'll be powerful, I'll be like a little baby any way you want me, that's how I will be. That's considered a love song. It isn't. It's a lack of love song. It's a song that says chest attached to me. I'll give up anything about myself. Just accept me the way you want me to be. So it's a sad song.
And when you hear him sing it, there's deep sadness in it. And some of the power of Presley actually came from his own suffering. He wasn't just singing a song. He was actually infusing it with all the emotions of loss. So even though it's presented like a love song, it's actually a song about the loss of love. And that's the situation of the infant who says, just love me. I'll be anything you want me to be.
And that's the that's the tragic conflict. There's no attachment and authenticity. Yes. So this ties into exactly where I was going.
Yeah. Which is related to your pre and post work with psychedelics. Yeah. And for people who are watching this or listening to it, I'm returning to this not because I want to hammer home psychedelics. They're not for everyone. And in my experience, the vast majority, I should say in my observation, the vast majority of psychedelic uses very irresponsible. And I would not recommend because you. It can it can certainly cause a good amount of harm, if not done in a supervised safe fashion.
But the pre and post-work. Could apply to many modalities. I mean, it it it does in this case, this example there about. Talk about apply to psychedelics, but it could. And correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like it could very easily apply to going into any intense or unusual modality like pass and like showing the person.
Yeah. Like this date with destiny. Tony Robbins I mentioned, which is certainly intense and very, very different, very powerful. That's why I'm coming back to this. But we can discuss it as it applies specifically to psychedelics and even specifically to ayahuasca. That is the primary. That's the primary compound we're talking about, which is really just for people who are wondering. It's one of the reasons ayahuasca is really tricky is that it is unlike, say, I'm going to get off topic for a second, but it's still on topic.
It's not quite like. Mushrooms and what people consider the primary psychoactive molecule of psilocybin. It's a bit different. It's more of an old fashioned like if you go to a bar and you order vodka and soda pretty much everywhere you go. Bodkin Soda. Yeah, very similar. Yeah. Assuming the poor is the same. Ayahuasca is more like an old fashioned. There are few ingredients that are almost always there. So if you go to let's say I want to say Culpo or other parts of Peru, it's going to be mostly the ayahuasca vine, plus a plant called Czech Koruna or a psychiatry of UDD, which is a DST.
I think Gestapo's it must be NSD empty compaign containing plant which is made orally active through the m.a. Oh inhibitors. I mean oxidase inhibitors in the vine. How they figured that out is a whole separate story, which is kind of wild. The plants told them is the short version.
I know, although I have a science scientific fan who gave me a start in this simple explanation which. OK, well let's see. Which makes more sense of the western mind. What is that?
When I was in Peru. They also told me the plants told us which on some level accept. But I just want to say something here, because we're talking in an extended way about the psychedelics. I don't create the impression that this is most of my life or work. It isn't. I do this stuff one or two or three weeks a year. So it's not like the major part of what I do, but it is a very interesting part because it illuminates everything else that I do in the sense that it goes very deep.
Now, this scientific finding, when the science friend of mine says actually there were, let's say, using the ayahuasca and boiling it up because it iosco itself, the divine has some secondary properties on its own without that scicluna. Yeah, very strong auditory. Yeah. Yeah. So then what happens is some leaf's of sugar fall into it.
Mm hmm. Inevitably over the years that's going to happen. They say, oh, well, this combination is even more powerful. So it need not be as esoteric as the. It could have been that rather simple discovery. So who knows what the real story is.
But in any case, the preparation and the processing. Yeah. So I was just gonna add to that, which is that is one combination. You then also have in certain regions of and it's found in other places outside of Peru. Most certainly in the largest ayahuasca sacrament, these churches are actually out of Brazil. Yeah, but the it can also be Ayahuasca Vine plus Yohei, which is a different plant. Also DMB containing but eh eh for some people, substantially different experience.
And then the only reason I this is so that people are aware of why I am particularly concerned when people are cavalier about my friends ordering some ayahuasca from Hawaii and we're gonna put in a slow cooker and have it at his house this weekend.
Bad, bad idea. Many, many centers, even well-intentioned centers in BIDU will also put other things in the brew because they think that foreigners want more of X.. So the coca leaves they'll put. So think cocaine, coca leaves they'll put Toei, which is even Datura, which is even scarier in some respects. Coca. Not that scary. So just be aware that when you say ayahuasca, not you. But when people think ayahuasca, it is not a standardized write-host that you getting.
And recently I was at a retreat in Costa Rica where really four different nights they had ceremonies and each time with a different concoction. Oh, God. So one night with the Peruvian ship people tradition preparation, one night with the OC from Colombia. And you know who prepares a homage to a bullet for what combination, what intention and so on. So that's by and large, true that you know that and really the people I've worked with that, you know, this is always not that it's always the same drink every night, but it's pretty much the same preparations in preparation.
Yeah. Yeah. And so I they took us down a little rabbit hole. But the question I have is with all of your clinical experience in recognizing that this is a therapy, but it's an adjunct therapy, it's not used in isolation. Yeah. And you've through trial and error and design. Come to a place now where you have maybe certain best practices or approaches to the pre, pre and post work. Could you tell us about either or both of those?
And ideally, maybe exercises or questions people could think about? On their own. I know nothing. It's hard to recommend that in isolation, perhaps, but I'd love to hear any any details that you're willing to share about the pre and post show because it's so, so important.
It just it's hard to for me, at least in my limited experience, even to overemphasize, but with with I also specifically.
Which is not dealing them with the day I work with. But that specifically there's a physical preparation, for example, no caffeine for a period of time, no red meat cutting down on salt, excluding dairy products. So there's a physical preparation just to cleanse the body and then to make it more receptive to the ayahuasca. From the emotional and psychological point of view, you want somebody to really form an intention. What I actually want to do is experience, because intention is everything.
So it's not like I don't take the stuff and then see what happens. Why am I here for? Why am I coming? What is my intention in going there? What do I want? Find out what issues am I working with? So intention setting and really considering what is my purpose in undertaking this. This experience?
When people arrive, we don't just plunge into ceremony. Well, in my I was IOSCO tweets.
We have a day and a half of group preparation, so everybody articulates their intention why they're there and we bdk deeply explore how that intention arised role sorry and what in our lives brought them to this point and what issues they need to deal with.
And my way of working is to get people very deeply to their core issues, which they may not be even aware of. But again, through this process I call compassionate inquiry.
And this is true whether I'm working with plants or not, they they they get to see what it is that they're really seeking and what are they seeking? They're seeking themselves. They're seeking connection ultimately. But there's steps that you go through and then we help them. A set a specific intention for that first ceremony. And the specific intention is what do I want to learn tonight? Much as what I want to learn in general. But what I will learn tonight some people want to learn about.
Tell me about my fear. Teach me about. My pain. Show me what love is. Show me with carriages. Show me what my strength is. See, it's not that the Iowas that comes with an agenda. It works through you and it manifests what's in you. So that your intention, the more specific it is to you where you are in life at that moment, the more effective it's going to be.
And then the shaman's work with you doing the ceremony and they chant to you. Based on what they're picking up from you at that moment, they work with you energetically. Sometimes their work Hands-On as well. And you both have your own experience and you share the group energy. And then people go to sleep and the next day and then the following day, we then process what happened to you? What? What the visions came to you. Now some people have visions.
Some people with more prosaic minds like me will or the ever get visions. I did originally get visions, but it's been years since I've seen anything. Some people will have bodily experiences. Some people have go to him in intense emotional states, which in my view, are all these memories of. Maybe.
Forgotten memories, but indwelling memories of very early experiences intense. Some people will have beautiful entities coming and teaching them, you know, Jaguar's and Anaconda's or various angelic entities, I've never been blessed with them.
I usually get frustrated. But actually, whatever experience you have, that's the expense you need to have a.. And for me, it's not about the visions or anything. It's about what is the teaching. And the teaching is always there. And the purpose of the processing is to help you find the teaching that was important to you by whatever experience you had. Not about comparing your experience to the night before or two nights before or to the experience of other people.
It's your specific experience.
What does it mean in your life? So this is. Post retreat then? Again, whether you do a program like Vipassana, would you do the landmark forum or ready to do Hofmann process or whether you do any kind of transformational work or meditation retreat. If you don't integrate what you've learned into your life and you build up some practice around it, it's gonna become a memory. A nice memory at best. Right. Yeah. Straight back into making hypercritical decisions massively.
Yeah. Twelve hours later. Awesome. Absolutely. Very destructive. Absolutely. So. The more integration we can and then and the general in the psychedelic work, this question of integration is becoming more and more recognized and then more and more practiced. So integration means keeping in touch with people that can help you stay on track, keeping in touch with the group that you shared the experience with, putting some practice into your life, such as journaling, meditation, yoga.
Perhaps you're going to return and do some more plant work or perhaps you won't. That's entirely up to you. There's no prescription to be made there, but. The point is to go from experience that is discrete and time limited to some kind of integration that is that happens over time. How do you format that? That integration, are you interacting with the people on your retreats once a week for four weeks or you have two sessions in the following week?
What is the actual format?
Well, that's evolving and that's different for different people. But in general, I would say that if you can talk to somebody regularly over time and if you can maintain your contact with the groups there, like a Facebook group, Facebook group, where people share experiences. If you take on certain practices and you do them together, or at least you do them simultaneously and then you talk share about the practices.
These are all forms of integration, which we've mentioned this few times applies to more than just the modality of using plant medicine. Absolutely. So after this, that sound like broken record. But this is very recent. After going to this Tony Robbins event with a number of people, including we have photo online. So I think he's fine with me saying it. Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Air B and B, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, was sitting right behind me.
He was part of the group, but he's a friend. Listen. Acquaintance getting to know each other. In any case, we kept a group of texts great going afterwards to hold each other accountable and also to set follow up group calls. Right. And so on. A number of things. I'd really like to underscore because you mentioned them and and I'd like to reiterate their importance and also how they transcend. The plan doesn't work, the psychedelics.
The first is you mentioned intentions and I'll just I'll just share my experience and also a number of recommendations that helped me tremendously with Clemetson work.
But then Life at Rock, which is you set a clear intention, but the clear intention is not the same as an expectation. That's right. And if you go in to and you have an expectation you can't let go of. That's right. You end up. Many people end up trying to white knuckle the experience.
And that's true in general in life and is very true for plant experience. Yeah. So together that this is going to happen. That's why this should happen. And some people sit there the whole night resisting their experience because it doesn't meet their expectations.
So there's there's a there's a card, a little car that was given as a gift, which I didn't come to appreciate fully until maybe a year or two. I've been carrying it a long time. And it's it was given to me by an ex-girlfriend. And it says the tax, the task which hinders your task is your task. And so you mentioned a few things. You said, well, that is the work for that night.
And I've come to know a few people I respect as I hesitate to use the word. But there are really only two or three people I've personally met. I would feel comfortable calling a shaman and they all have minimum 10 15 years experience in a traditional apprenticeship setting.
And by the way, that means deep personal work. Very. That means sitting in a jungle by yourself. Being bitten by mosquitoes and doing that means drinking various plants, tobacco and other plants, not beyond Iowa's run and really preparing. I know somebody on that path right now. Let me tell you very deep. It's deep committed work, not for faint. Very, very. I would never do it.
Yes, very intense. Very, very intense. And there are people who 15 months of isolation, dieting, various plants, no sex assault, pork, no red meat. You know, this really won't get into right now. And what's what? They've. They've shared a few examples with me of say, I've never. Well, that's not true. But I I have always in the past shied away from large groups. That's why I was taken aback with mentioning 50 people.
But it is it seems very common in any group, especially larger groups.
And this is true in psychedelics or at the of retreats. They actually the nickname for it that was given at the the 10 day silent retreat. I did it.
Spirit Rock was the Vipassana vendetta where you decide that someone is sitting close to you is coughing too loudly or clears their throat too often or whatever, and it starts to you start to perceive it and think about it incessantly and maybe get angry about it.
And instead of watching your own reactions and watching your reaction and you know that they're the example that was given to me by this this this particular little I'm just going to say ayahuasca to simplify things. I was skittle someone who works with ayahuasca and was he told me about this this this Westerner came down, I guess I guess they're kind of Westerners, too. They're just south of the border. So northern American who came down and was furious that someone in the group wouldn't shut up, but they're screaming.
He was just furious about this. And there are a number of ways an organizer can handle that. But he he took the guy outside. He said, that person is your work tonight. Absolutely. And if you think about that, reframe and how to view something that perhaps historically you would respond to as a problem or an annoyance or offensive to view that. There are certain times that you have to fight and stand up for yourself. I'm not saying you shouldn't.
But I think that in my case and in the cases of many folks, we fight too often. We were ourselves out. We get upset too often. How can you view that as a gift? How can you view that as your work?
What can I again give you a quote? Yes, please. Which I love. It's one of my from one one my favorite teachers. And his name is Age Onis. And he says your conflicts, all the difficult things are problematic. Stitchers situations in your life are not chance or haphazard. They're actually yours. They're specifically yours, designed specifically for you by a part of you that loves you more than anything else. The part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself.
You're not going to you're not gonna go in the right direction unless there's something pricking in the side saying telling you, look here this way that borders you. Love you so much, that part of you loves you so much, that it doesn't want you to lose the chance. It will go to extreme measures to wake you up. It will make you suffer greatly if you don't listen. What else can it do? That's its purpose. And I found this to be true of physical illness and mental problems and everything.
You've got to see what is the teaching here so we can look at all these things as problems to get rid of, which is what the person really wants to do. Or you can look at them as learning opportunities, which is what your true self wants to do. Now, two things. One is you talk about intention in life. So my wife and I had a holiday recently in Costa Rica. Part of it was a working holiday, but partly it was just a holiday.
Traditionally, we've had terrible times in holidays, partly because my workaholism and once I go into a holiday, I just collapse. And now my wife is dragging a corpse around, you know, because because I'm a workaholic. I hadn't cleared there. So so this time we actually wanted the holiday with intention. This has nothing do with psychedelics just to do it that we set an intention. What is it? Our intention? And if we have an intention?
I've learned from couple of very wise teachers what structures you want to set up to support our intention and how we're going to handle when there's gonna be disagreement or conflict. Made a beautiful holiday because it was the first international holiday that we've had. So that intention and life in general is absolutely essential like every morning. What is my actual intention? One of the a bit of an exercise. Sure. I'll get in. And, you know, if you don't like it, just tell me, when was the last?
This is something I do in my groups or when I speak or in the song I teach. So, yes, I ask people to tell me some recent episode when they're upset with somebody with their lives and something that they're open to sharing. So it doesn't have to be anything sordid or a thing, but just sent out. Whether it's your spouse, partner or the bus driver, I don't care. Sure. A friend. Okay. So you going to go there?
Anything I can share? Anything. Were you upset with somebody? OK. Yes. OK. So we'll have to describe it.
What happened? Yeah. All right.
There were a number of issues in my home, broken aspects of the home, things that were falling apart or needed to be fixed physically. Physically. Yeah, right. And I had hired someone to do these things right. While I was gone. Okay. And I came back and none of them are fixed. Okay. And your emotional reaction was anger, rage, anger. Okay. Anything else besides anger? I think they're close cousins. Frustration, frustration, frustration is anger.
Yeah, he was disappointed, disappointed, his sadness. Yeah, it's a different feeling. Disappointed in myself.
Also, because I start to look at how maybe this appointed is not so much an emotion as a state of mind and asking what the emotions were mean, what's inside disappointment. Something didn't happen. I want it to happen. How do I feel? There's no sadness there. Sure, yeah, there's sadness. I'm not talk you into it. I'm just asking. Well, Diaby, I suppose, um, I might be confusing state of mind and states of mind and emotions.
I'm not sure how to look at the raw emotion. Yeah. Sadness.
So there's anger and sadness. Those are the emotions. Let's let's go with that. OK. So I'm gonna ask you a silly question. What were you sad and angry about? Well, I suppose the answer, which is not the right answer I'm expecting was I was angry that someone had made commitments to me and not fulfilled those commitments.
We'll go with that. That's what happened. They've made the commitment. But that doesn't tell me what you're sad or angry about. What does that mean that they didn't fulfill their commitments, meant that they didn't care about? Me, they have that, they respect me. They don't care about you and respect you. What kind of person doesn't get cared or respected? I might need a lifeline here. I don't know someone who doesn't deserve to be cared for.
Respected. Exactly. Somebody unworthy, right? Sure. Will respect and care. OK. No. If two other people here, which there usually are when I do this exercise, I would ask them. OK. We just listened to Tim tell us about this experience. Are there other reasons why this other person might not have done the work? That has nothing to do with him or her not caring about Tim or not respecting him.
So what other reasons might there be a million in one? Name one. Yeah. He could have. You could be in the hospital. He could've been hurt or cared.
One could've been in a car accident. Exactly. He had a flight delaying a court in Puerto Rico during a hurricane.
Yeah. He's got ADHD. Yeah. He and he can't follow through. He's under stress and he couldn't.
Right. Okay. Okay. You know, the e-mail that I'm supposed to send is sitting in drafts and I thought I'd sent it. But in fact, he never received it. I mean. Okay.
And any number of possibilities? No.
Of all the possibilities that you've just outlined, including that they don't care about you or respect you.
Which is the worst one.
The one I immediately defaulted to. Right.
I mean, the worst thing is that it's it's bad. But internally. Yeah, internally, the worst assumption is the one that I immediately made.
So let's notice something. A U I should say we because we're all like this. We don't respond to what happens. We respond to our perception of what happens. Right. Okay. That's what the Buddha said. It's with our minds. We create the world so that if you'd find the ADHD or he was stressed or, you know, you might have been sad for him, but would not have been angry and you would not have been said, okay.
You might. You know. So, first of all, we don't respond to what happens or respond to our perception of what happens to our interpretation becomes number one. Number two, of all the possible interpretations, which was the worst one.
Number two. Thirdly, what I just said isn't true. We didn't choose it. It's not like you went through all these possibilities and you said it wasn't a multiple choice.
I chose option. Don't know. He doesn't care about me. He doesn't respect. And you didn't do that. Your brain jump there automatically. Right. My question is why?
I guess the learning first time in your life that you felt hurt and angry that you when you perceive something, didn't care about you or didn't respect you. Or has it happened before?
This is where the exercise might, might, might go sideways. I'm going to hit pause on that. I think that's probably for more of a conversation over one. But you've probably agreed it's not the first time is not the first time. Very good. And most people I talked to.
It goes back, way back. Yeah, this goes way back then into childhood. Mm hmm. Okay. And that's what trauma is. We don't respond to the present moment. We respond to the past. No. But along the lines of our discussion, it's a beautiful learning opportunity. Now you get to know now what if you assumed for a moment that you are the most lovable, most worthy of care, most worthy of respect person in the history of the universe?
And this guy doesn't do your home. What's your response? Any number of the other options, which does not trigger an intense, negative emotional state. All those other options would trigger that. So something in-use, I would argue still believes that you are not worthy of care and respect.
And that's what gets triggered.
So who's the one that doesn't care about you and who's the one that doesn't think you're worthy of respect? That would be me.
You know, that's a learning notice. And this is exactly what you're talking about. You see how these difficult things, how these problems are always teaching opportunities. And that's the beauty of healing, is that when you reframe things and you and you actually see the source within ourselves, all of a sudden, that's liberating because guess what? If you're feeling that way, because this guy did this or didn't do that, that makes you a victim. Yeah, but if you see that you are the source, you know, you're powerful.
Yeah. You're empowered in part as this is you.
This is something that a friend of mine here in Austin, Robert Rodriguez, recently said to me in a very similar way. I mean, it it completely different context.
Who's actually telling a story about someone else who is constantly blaming people for everything in the film world? Mm hmm. And he said, if you are the victim and you're and it's everyone else's fault, you're powerless. Mm hmm. And so we keep in mind every time you're pointing a finger at someone. And I'd never heard this. I know it now after the fact that there are other people who've said this. But he said everything. You're pointing a finger at someone.
Keep in mind that there are three fingers pointing back at you.
Exactly. And I thought about that. Wow. Yeah. That's just a good that's for his sentence to keep in mind.
No, this is a recording studio sometime. Was it this? Yeah. They do recordings.
They did they record in the past. I just I just did the Johnny Cash. Every record here. Any.
You know, I don't know if Johnny Cash is ever here. It's pop. I would say it's possible because he's only been around for a long time.
The reason I ask is because he's got a song that I play at all my events. It's gonna in your mind, it's called this. It all goes down in your mind. It's on the soundtrack of Dead Man Walking. And I think he would himself. It all goes down in your mind and it goes one foot in the fire, one foot on Jacob's ladder. And other than the fire. It all goes down in your mind. So whether you go into hell or you're on the way to heaven, it all happens up here, which is such a powerful teaching because this is what we can work on.
You know, if we've if we're victims of the world.
Ramona Maharishi was a great Indian guru. He said something like, if your foot hurts when you walk outside, you can do two things. One is to wrap the whole world in burlap where you can get a pair of shoes.
You can see yourself as the victim of the world and trying to change the world so that they won't hurt you anymore. Or you can actually empower yourself. And that's what the healing is all about. Well. I will say the reason I wanted to have you on now is because I've been so focused on trying to navigate these things myself over the last several years, but most intensely over the last several months.
And I wanted to. Be ready to have this conversation with you. And how you doing, Silver? I'm great. I'm great. I'm great. I'm doing very well.
I think I'm the sanest and arguably in the best place I've been maybe ever. So I feel so very good. That's it.
Which means that.
The hearing you just this is just available. It's just possible. You know, I I got an e-mail a few months ago. For a woman called Bettin, a goehring, Herman goehring was the chief of the Luftwaffe under Hitler.
God, that's right. I was wondering why now knew that name. Yeah. And he was the head of the Gestapo.
Just a an opiate addict, by the way. And a very clever, very ruthless man. His great niece sent me an email a few months ago to thank me for my work and she's been through a long process. Imagine the karma she was carrying. Yeah, and all the healing she has had to do. So there was a gun at her. Her great uncle tried to kill me and my people. And there's the great niece. Making contact with me.
And. To me, just in your example, my example and the example of so many people I know, it's not like I'm a big piece of cake. You know, it's going to continue as long as I live, but I've no experience internally the goodness and the healing that's available to us. And I didn't used to and I and I used to think I could help heal everybody, but but that I was beyond healing myself. At least that was my core belief, you know.
Well, that's been my core belief the last 10 years. OK. It just ain't true.
And anybody listening, I just want to know, it doesn't matter what state of mind you're in.
Doesn't matter what you're experiencing.
It's human. It. It is transmittable, it is transformable, because that too self that you got disconnected from is still available to you. So it's not a question of just talking about what happened in the past. It's a question of how do we connect to ourselves and what you're describing about your own state. If I can put it in one sentence, you'd probably agree with me that you're probably much more connected to yourself than used to be.
One hundred percent. Yeah. And that's and that's a prerequisite. I mean, that's that's why I feel the way I described.
Exactly. GUBAR I really want to encourage people to learn more about you and your work. And there are. There are certainly a number of places they could start. Where would you suggest people dig more deeply? Is there a particular book of your books you would suggest they start with? Is there a particular social media handle where they can pay attention and learn various announcements and see what you share of your work and others?
Well, thanks for asking. The simplest thing is my website. WW Dr. Garber mandate that these are G.B. or M-80 com. Where am I speaking events and I travel up in North America and five countries abroad this year. Speaking events are listed. Chapters of my books are available, right? It was about my books, articles I've written. I've multiple talks on YouTube that people have filmed and posted, seen by hundreds, thousands of people over Facebook video that somebody did about my work.
That's been seen 12 million times now. So there's all kinds of ways to discover me on Facebook, on YouTube, at my Web site. And I would also really hope that people check up my books, of which I've written for the first one. The American title is scattered and it's about ADHD. And I wrote it after my own diagnosis. And pretty much what I've said earlier, that they don't see it as an inherited disease. I do see it as a response to family, multi-generational and social stress, insensitive children.
People say you're blaming the parents. I'm not blaming the parents. I don't blame myself. But I know how stretched my family was when I was a workaholic doctor. And so that's my first book. And when you say, well, why are we looking at. The percentage of kids with ADHD is going up so fast. It's not because of a genetic problem. Genes don't change in a population over five or 10 years. It's a social problem.
There's much more stress in the culture now. There's much less connection in the culture now and less connected people are. And the more stress there is, the more pressure there is on sensitive kids. So that's scattered. And other parenting book of mine is the work of a brilliant psychologist friend of mine, Gordon Neufeld. Dr. Neufeld was the world's leading developmental psychologist, as far as I'm personally concerned. And I say that advisedly. And the book is called Hold onto Your Kids.
Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. That's been published in over 29, which is now. And it's about the fact that since kids needs attachment, the attachment need is the primary drive that we have. And we've talked about that. It's like a duckling. When the duckling hatches from the egg, the duckling would prefer to attach an imprint on the mother duck. But what will he do if the mother duck is not around? He'll imprint on a toy or a dog or a horse.
Are kids because the parents are too distracted and stressed in our society and are not on so much anymore physically as during human evolution. Now find themselves in the company of other kids. Guess what they imprint on their peer group. And now you have immature creatures influencing each other in moderately. And this happens through the social media. It happens in personal contact. And as that happens, the parents get pushed into the background. They get more frustrated. Now they get more authoritarian or they just give up.
And kids, therefore, don't go up. They don't mature. And they develop all kinds of problems, not because the parents don't love them, but because simply because in this culture, the connection between kids and parents have been really disturbed. And how do we store that connection is the subject of hold onto your kids. So three of my books are all of my own. This one I wrote with Gordon. My next book, which is on the Mind-Body Unity and Health and Illness.
And that's a conversation I could have another time. But again, where I show that cancer or autoimmune disease, A.L.S., multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's colitis, Crohn's disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia are not accidental and separate physical events. They had to do with the scientifically proven fact that mind and body can't be separated. And when things happen emotionally, they will also happen physiologically. In fact, it can't be any other way. And that the emotional system in our brains and our bodies and part and parcel of the same system that also governs the immunity, Nordic neurological response and hormonal response.
And therefore when our lifelink patterns of emotional repression, when people have to suppress themselves in order to maintain their attachments, that will have a negative impact on their immune system and their hormonal apparatus and the nervous systems as well. And that book is called When the Body Says No Exploring the Stress Disease Connection. And that's been published by over in over 20 countries internationally as well, including in the US. My final on to my mind, my favorite book is the most recent in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Close Encounters with Addiction, which explores addiction not from the point of view of disease model or a choice model, but how it is a response to childhood loss, stress and trauma, and how to address that and also how to deal with.
Look, if you look at the United States right now, you know what the facts are. The most common cause of death under the age of 50 is not overdose. And in the US, every three weeks you have the equivalent of a 911 in turn every three weeks to 911 in terms of the number of people dying. Where's the public outcry? Where's the resources? Where's the political will? Where's the mobilization of the media and all the public health energies compared to what happened after 9/11?
And we having this every three weeks.
And why? Because the treatment profession, the medical profession and politicians in the legal profession does not understand trauma and a solution to addiction. The average medical student doesn't even hear the word trauma in four years of education. Doesn't mean hear the word, let alone get a lecture on it. They don't get a course about it. The stuff I talk about, brain development is still not taught in most medical schools. So we have this response to addiction, which is just dealing with the effects, the behaviors, controlling the manifestations and not dealing with the causative factors.
That's why people don't get better. And if you look at why right now, it's because social stresses increased, economic insecurity has increased. You don't look at where do the opiate overdose happens more. It's where areas where there's despondency and despair. Totally. And so that's the book in the realm of hungry ghosts, but not lots of my talk show on YouTube. But I think the best hub to check all this stuff out is my Web site. And I hope to generate podcast, regular podcast fairly soon.
If the people around me can twist my arm strong enough in and organize me well enough to do it. There'll be a podcast and I hope that'll be up soon. But knowing myself, I don't wanna make any promises, but that will certainly be listed at my Web site if it happens.
And could you give your Web site your own moretime? OK.
Dr. Gobbo, on that day and Dr. Government did come and everybody listening and watching. There's the camera.
I will also put that in the show notes. So for everyone, everything we've discussed, the books, resources organizations, everything, including your Web site, which will be at the very top, will be listed in the show notes, which you can find a teamed up log forward slash podcast and they'll be right at the top, assuming all that would be very easy to find.
Just in closing, and we may very well end up doing around 2 at some point, it wouldn't surprise me even if it's off camera, certainly. We'd like to spend more time together idea of any final closing words or a request or suggestion to the audience. Anything for people listening that you would like them to consider after they finish this interview?
Yeah. OK. I hope people were listed as into you in a very personal sense, not just as a an interesting experience, but as possibly pertaining to themselves. And that discussion with you will help people look at themselves in maybe a new way with what I call a compassionate inquiry. So rather than self judgment about stuff that went wrong or. They did it to themselves or others. They get curious what made me do that. They get furious compassionately because we were all born in a sense, them are all born.
Just wanted to be loving and loved. And then something happens. And then this. It's a hard road back. But I hope that this conversation helps people reconnect with that path or can or encourage them to continue on it.
And then secondly, not to see it as an individual issue. It's a social issue. We live in a society that really does disconnect people. And so it's not just an individual problem or an individual family problem. It's multi-generational. We never even talked about the multiple multigenerational nature of trauma. What it is, we pass this on from one generation to the next. Not because we intend to, but because we can't help it. So it needs to be looked at in deep over the generations and broadly as the function of a whole society.
Let me give you one quick example, if I may. A study last year showed that American black women, DreamWorks experiences of racism, they have the greater the risk of asthma. And what does that tell us? What a gift would it be give people to to to to control their asthma. Give them inhalers that contain a copy of adrenaline and a copy of Cortazar. The stress hormones in others, asthma is everything to stress. I'm not going to the scientific details now.
I could, but it won't. But it shows this question. Is the asthma Mac and black woman an individual disease, but is it a dysfunction of entire society? Obviously, it's the latter so that the Buddha said that without the many, that cannot be the one thought, the one that cannot be the many. And he talked about the interconnected core rising of phenomena. So we are social creatures. Our brains are wired together. Dr. Dan SIEGEL talks about interpersonal neurobiology.
We're not isolated creatures. So whatever you're dealing with, you have to look at not just the individual enthrone environment, but also the broader social and cultural environment of which you are one particular manifestation. And as our mutual friend Joel Polish so fervently wants, we need to change the conversation or on these issues, particularly, for example, on addiction from a blaming and shaming and ostracizing and just medical model perspective to one that takes into account trauma and social issues and which brings compassion into it.
And that must be the same for all mental health issues as well. And moreover, if we look at we have to look at both the individual and the broader context. Thank you for that. And you mentioned. And we all begin loving and wanting to be loved or needing love. And then something happens and it's a hard road back. And what I'd like to add to that is it's a hard road back, but it's a worthwhile road back.
And it is possible to find your way back. You told me that a year ago. I would have completely dismissed it, but I'm in a different place now. And I would just like to thank you for helping people to navigate that. And it's very meaningful work that you do. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time today as well.
It's a great pleasure to speak with you. Thank you.
And to everybody listening and watching. As I mentioned before. Definitely. Also, visit the show notes. Revisit this. This is not a one and done something you listen to and then you go on as if you never heard it. Please look at the show notes. Look at Gabor's work. And you can find all of that teamed up log forward slash podcast. And to everybody listening, I would just say, as always. Thank you so much for joining.