How our coping mechanisms in childhood show up in our parenthood with Dr. Gabor Mate

00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 222. I got to hang out with Dr. Gabor Mate and dive into his new book, "The Myth of Normal". It is such an incredible book. We had a rad discussion about how of our coping mechanisms in childhood show up in parenthood. What makes this culture toxic and what is trauma? Why is it widespread and yet so misunderstood? And what can we do to help support our tiny humans? I am so grateful to have been able to have this conversation with him. I've loved his work for so long. You all run, don't walk to go get "The Myth of Normal." It's a New York Times bestseller. And deservedly so. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:01:11    Alyssa

Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:01:33    Alyssa

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today I get to hang out with renowned speaker and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Mate. He is so brilliant, and I've been absolutely loving his latest book, a New York Times bestseller that I am sure you've been exposed to at this point, "The Myth of Normal". Dr. Matte, I'm so excited to get to hang out with you today. How are you? 


00:02:00    Dr. Mate

I'm very well, thank you, and I hope you call me Gabor. 


00:02:03    Alyssa

Okay, great. I can. Gabor, I am curious what when you were coming to this book. I mean, you've written so many incredible books. I love your work, specifically around ADHD, and thinks that it's really crucial. What was it that inspired the creation of this book? 


00:02:25    Dr. Mate

Well, this book took a long time to generate itself and to gestate itself, about ten or eleven years. My previous books had all tackles certain aspects, the important aspects of the human experience, child development, childhood mental health challenges, if you can call it that, such as ADHD, addiction and the mind body unity in health and illness, which is the subject of my book. When the body says no. But as a physician and then also getting into the therapeutic world, it's impossible to escape the knowledge that it's all connected, that these individual issues don't develop in a vacuum, out of isolation, that really we have to look at the whole context in which people develop and in which they either do well, they thrive or they suffer. And so many people are suffering these days, and so one has to look at the whole culture and the relationships, personal interactions with others, and the cultural context in which that takes place and how all that affects our minds, our brains, our physiology, our health or illness. So, really, I was compelled to look at the large picture and to bring it all together and hence was the genesis of "The Myth of Normal".


00:03:54    Alyssa

I think it's so powerful. I think of it as like going upstream to look at the source of a problem rather than staying downstream and pulling people out of the water. And it had me reflecting on my own life and my world as an Early Childhood Educator and so many of the things that are day to day experiences that I navigate with kids as a teacher or as a mom, I have a toddler. And the things that we just chalk up to, like, this is normal, this is how it is, without taking that step back to say, is it just standard because of our culture or is it normal? And your book really challenged me to take that step back and really look at the whole picture. One thing that I'm curious about I find myself being like, okay, I don't want to repeat the challenges from my childhood. Right? And so there's kind of like this pendulum swing sometimes inside of me. And I think that one of the challenges in parenting today and maybe it's always been and I'm just living it now, is this idea of perfection, of making sure that our kids don't experience anything hard and trying to show up perfectly and what happens if we don't sort of thing. And I'm curious about your thoughts on that. 


00:05:27    Dr. Mate

Well, yes, here's the reality. Life is hard. The Buddha said 2500 years ago that life is suffering. Not that it needs to be, but that it is. And the fact is our children will get hurt. They'll have disappointments, their friends won't want to play with them sometimes. Their grandmother may die, the parents may fight. All kinds of things happen. So the real question is not how to safeguard our kids from difficult things happening, but how do we help them develop the resilience and the trust in themselves and the belief in the world and a capacity to ask for help so that they can negotiate and navigate these challenges. That has nothing to do with perfection and that has nothing to do with trying to save them from the hardships of our own childhoods. And even the desire to be perfect. And the desire to protect them comes from our own difficulties facing reality, which does reflect our own childhood. So on the one hand, we don't want to expose our children to unnecessary pain. We don't want to hurt them with our own hurts. We don't want to pass on to them our own traumas that we haven't dealt with. I mean, I did. I passed my traumas on to my children. I didn't know I had traumas to pass on. When I passed them on. I was just being who I thought I was being. That I was being someone who was still carrying their own trauma and unwittingly manifest him in my life and in a way that would affect my kids. I had no idea about it's as much as possible we want to work that stuff through. But on the other hand, to be over anxious about having to be perfect and to protect our kids from all manners of difficulty and pain, that itself is going to make them anxious and they're going to absorb our own anxiety about life. So how to say this in a nutshell we have to protect them from unnecessary pain at the same time give them the resilience and the capacity and the stress and the strength to handle what pain does inevitably come along. 


00:07:54    Alyssa

Yeah, I think that that's so huge and so hard to keep front of mind is that it is okay and they are going to experience hard things and one of the things you dive into in your work is how our coping mechanisms from childhood show up in parenthood. And I think personally building awareness of that is so key to being able to regulate it and go to those next steps. Just like you said, you passed on some trauma to your kids unknowingly. It wasn't like you were like I'm going to pass this on. It just happens when we have unresolved traumas. And so can you walk us through like how do our coping mechanisms in childhood show up in parenthood? What might that look like as an example? 


00:08:45    Dr. Mate

Well, so let's begin with what children's needs are and these are not arbitrary, they're not invented. They are really what evolution has ingrained in us. Now, every creature has certain needs. You might say every creature has certain expectations. In fact you might say even more deeply every creature is an expectation. A fish is an expectation for water and for a certain salinity in that water and a certain nutrients. It's not that the little fish is hatched on the egg expecting that it is very resistance expects all that and what those expectations are like. Our lungs don't expect oxygen. Our lungs are an expectation for oxygen. If it wasn't for oxygen, our lungs wouldn't have developed. So when I talk about childhoods, children's needs I'm talking about what evolution has ingrained in us. So what are those needs? Unconditionally accepting safe, secure attachment relationship with nurturing adults. Not negotiable. Not negotiable in the sense that we can survive without it but we can't thrive without it. That's the first one. The second one is really essential is that within that relationship, within an attachment relationship the child should not have to work to make their relationship work. In other words, and this is outlined in the myth of normal so that the child should have rest in that relationship. There's nothing the child should be able to do to break their relationship with the parent and there's nothing the child should have to do to rebuild it. That work is 100% on the parent and on the parenting environment, I should say. 


00:10:46    Alyssa

I think that's so important. That need that you just outlined. 


00:10:51    Dr. Mate

It's crucial and denial of it leads to pathology. And I'll explain a moment why. The third need that the child has is the freedom to experience all their emotions. Now, our brains are wired for certain emotions which include joy and love and also fear and panic and grief and anger. Not only our brains are wired for it, so are the brains of all mammals. This is pure evolution. And first, to be healthy we have to be able to experience all those emotions and have those emotions be accepted and validated by the environment. So that's the third need. The fourth need, non negotiable for healthy child development is spontaneous fee play out in nature. Not play on the internet, not games, not cell phone games, but free, spontaneous, creative play out in nature. Those are the four needs. Now, if those nodes are met, be a healthy child development. For most children in our society, those needs are not met, number one. Number two if those needs are not met, the child has to cope somehow. So for example, the child need to be experienced their anger. There's nothing wrong with the two year old being angry, sure. But if the parents regard that based on the advice of any number of, and I stated advisory, "stupid" parenting experts, that the child's anger should be punished and discouraged, the child will cope. The child has a decision to make. The child can say to themselves unconsciously I can belong to my parents and be accepted by them or I can experience my genuine emotions. But it seems they can't have both. Because if I express my genuine emotions my parents gave me a time out, they banished me from their presence. This is in what I call in one of the chapters the conflict between attachment and authenticity. The need for the child to attach to the parent, which is nonnegotiable and the need for the child to be able to express themselves as they truly are. Well, if the parents unwittingly give the message they do not acceptable the way you truly are, the child will then cope by repressing their anger, by pushing down their anger. Now, what's another word for pushing down? Depression. 


00:13:39    Dr. Mate

That child will then be prone for depression later on and because of the mind body unity, which I can't even go into in this conversation, but I write about it in my book when the body says no. And in this one, "The Myth of Normal". When we suppress our healthy anger, we're also suppressing our immune system. So that coping mechanism that was essential for the child to maintain the attachment relationship. Therefore it was the wisdom of the organism that the child should repress their anger. But the same coping mechanism, once ingrained creates mental and physical health issues later on, or if the parents are emotionally needy and upset and their relationship is not functioning, the child automatically takes on the work, trying to make peace in the family by being good and being nice and being cooperative. That's the coping mechanism. That same coping mechanism will lead the child to ignore their own needs and to focus on the needs of others. That is a cause of pathology later on. So these early coping mechanisms, when our essential needs are denied, these early coping mechanisms, they are not mistakes, they are important for childhood survival. But the same coping mechanisms become the sources of pathology and dysfunction and self rejection later on. 


00:15:08    Alyssa

Yeah, sorry, go ahead. 


00:15:11    Dr. Mate

No, I just hope that's clear enough because it's muddy, but it's essential. 


00:15:17    Alyssa

It is essential. And I was thinking about as I was reading the book, like, what does this look like for me as a parent? And I grew up in a large family, I have four brothers and was a low income household and my mom waitressed on weekends to make ends meet and all that. And one of the things that I learned growing up was that having needs and expressing my own needs was not how I would receive or give love. Right. That was not a basis for love. And that having low needs, was it that if I could just be the easiest, that that was lovable and really looking at like, what did that look like down the road? When I experienced trauma as a teenager, I couldn't ask for help because that would be a burden to them, right? And then in parenthood, even now, like, the idea of saying like, hey, I have needs too and I need to lean on other people in my village so that my needs can get met, there's a part of me that is constantly showing up and saying, that's not how you receive love, that's not how you show love. You won't be lovable if you have those needs. 


00:16:32    Dr. Mate

Yes. So a couple of points here. First of all, no infant is born like that. I mean, they have a matter of one day old infant that doesn't know how to ask for what they need. They're so good at asking for what they need. So something happens that disconnects us to ourselves. And so by the time you become a teenager and say you're bullied, you don't ask for help. As a matter of fact, the bully knows that. That's why they bully you. The bully can pick up with 100% certainty. They have laser like awareness of who is defenseless. And the kids who get bullied repeatedly are the kids who are cut off from asking for help. And I've talked to a lot of people over the years. Were you bullied? Were you ever abused? Yes. Who did you talk to? The answer is nobody. So that early message that you're not entitled to ask for your needs then creates all kinds of problems later on and yet nobody is born like that. So it's a coping mechanism that helped you fit into your family of origin. And by the way, two things I need to say one is nobody's parents are being blamed here. 


00:17:44    Alyssa

Sure. 100%. I have fantastic parents. 


00:17:47    Dr. Mate

They did their best, but they weren't present for you emotionally. 


00:17:50    Alyssa



00:17:52    Dr. Mate

Which is an essential need that you had. There's not a question of do we love our kids and do we do our best? The question is, what are our own limitations? And the other limitation, the big one you talked about the village. Well, we're meant to parent in villages, we're meant to parent as we evolved as human beings and as we lived until a blink of an eyeball, historically speaking, we lived in small band hunter gatherer groups where all the kids were parented by all the adults and they were with the parents the whole day. How we evolved. In today's culture, parents are so stressed, so isolated, so belabored and so that when we see the preponderance of childhood mental health conditions, ADHDs and so called diagnoses, like the nonexistent oppositional defiant disorder, which is total nonsense, and the rising rate of childhood suicide, all the kids being medicated in North America, which is unbelievable. What is that a sign of? Not lack of parents loving or trying to do their best, but parents being so stressed that kids mental health is being affected by the conditions under which they grow up. And this is what we considered to be normal. 


00:19:11    Alyssa

Yeah. That's the toxic culture part of it. 


00:19:14    Dr. Mate

That's a toxic culture. 


00:19:15    Alyssa

Yeah. And I feel it even with the awareness of it. It's like, yeah. For me, that challenge can sometimes be the balance of meeting my needs and my child's needs and how do we do both? And for my parents, it wasn't that they didn't want to meet my needs, it was that they didn't have the bandwidth to meet my needs, that they were trying to meet needs for our survival. That came first. Right. And I have so much compassion for that. 


00:19:51    Dr. Mate

In the world's richest country in history, the United States, which is where you live, the average family is within two paychecks of bankruptcy. That's an incredible stress on the parents. 


00:20:09    Alyssa



00:20:10    Dr. Mate

And that stress. And we know that children absorb their parents stresses. So if you look at who gets diagnosed amongst kids, it's not surprising that kids of color and minority and poverty who get diagnosed, more likely to get diagnosed and medicated for things like ADHD and other things. So rather than looking at the conditions that generate these problems, we keep trying to just deal with the manifestations and the symptoms. In fact, my profession, the medical profession, is basically trained to deal with symptoms rather than causes. So whether it comes to cancer or autoimmune disease or depression or anxiety or bipolar illness or psychosis, we're dealing with symptoms. These diseases themselves are symptoms. The underlying causes being people's life experience, which is physicians we're not trained to look at. 


00:21:07    Alyssa

Yeah. It's such a broken system. And while we're looking at the United states here. It's so much of my work is with early childhood educators, too, and talk about stress and being below poverty wages. And when parents are stressed and we're working and we're then passing our children off to now this village that we pay for, we often pay more than our mortgage for, and we're passing them off to teachers who are stressed because they're receiving low poverty, below poverty wages often and are working long days in really trying environments where they're not supported enough. And it just is the cycle that every adult that this child is interacting with so often is in a similar state of kind of like spinning on a hamster wheel. Well in the book "The Myth of Normal", I quote my friend, the children's singer Rafi, with whose music my kids grew up at, the generations of other kids. And Rafi had this concept of what he calls it a child honoring society. What if we had a society that begins with the question, what are the needs of children? How do we honor them? Well, then we take different care of the food we give them, the food that we manufacture, the air that we breathe, and so on. And if you look at you talked about teachers and childcare workers. These are amongst the lowest paid people in our society. They're doing the most important work because there's nothing more important. We could live without any number of corporate executives or any number of historians of the Middle Ages. I'm not putting down those professions. I'm just saying, what's the priority? But how would we do without people that really know how to nurture and educate our kids? But we don't value that at all. These are most underpaid professions, which means as a society, we actually don't think that kids are very important. We pay less service to it. But look at the conditions in our schools and look at the education teachers get, which is all about conveying to kids facts and skills rather than how do people more healthy child development.


00:23:42    Alyssa

100%. Yeah, I have a master's in Early Ed, and there was such a giant focus on, even when it looked at, like, social emotional development, classroom management was what it's called, right? Behavior management. And so much of what I learned in social emotional learning was outside of my degree program, which is outrageous, because what we're doing then is grooming teachers to have kids stand in a line. And I was just chatting with an administrator the other day about a preschool teacher who was having a really hard time getting her group of kids. They were going to a physical education class, like a gym class, and they needed to walk in the hallway, and she wanted them to be quiet as they were walking. And this one kid didn't want to go, and then she's telling him he's not going to get access to the reward jar if he doesn't go. And like bribery and series of punishment reward systems. It's all in the effort to just get him to walk in this line, to be not seen or heard or valued. There was no connection, and without connection, we won't have that collaboration. But I think so often we don't slow down to just say, like, what's really going on? 


00:25:11    Dr. Mate

Well, it's all about behavior, and we don't realize that behavior is the auto and manifestation of internal and emotional dynamics. So there's this phrase acting out. Kids are acting out. Now, Alyssa, when I say a kid is acting out, don't give me an understanding of it, because I'm sure you have a good understanding of it. What's the image that comes up in your mind? What does the average person think of when we talk about a kid acting out? 


00:25:39    Alyssa

Yeah, I'm seeing a kid, like, scream or push or hit or push boundaries, not do what they're supposed to. 


00:25:46    Dr. Mate

Good. Let's speak English for a minute. In fact, I used to be an English teacher before I became a doctor. And acting out it's a good phrase we act something out when we don't have the words to say it in language game of charades, where you're not allowed to speak, what do you have to do to convey the message you have to act out? If I landed in a country where nobody spoke my language and I didn't speak theirs, and I had to portray hunger, I'd have to make some gestures with my mouth and my hands to indicate hunger, not to act it out. Kids are acting out, but what they're acting out are there are unmet emotional needs and their frustrations. Now, what if we, teachers and parents were actually trained to understand the message and rather than respond to the behavior, we actually responded to the message? So maybe that child that doesn't want to walk in line lacks the connection with the teacher, so they don't trust or heed the teacher. And what if that teacher learned how to build a relationship? That child will want to then walk with that teacher. What if the child has been pushed on too much by the adults and he's pushing back? Then you call that oppositional? Even this diagnosis "oppositional defined disorder". Think about how stupid that is. It's really literally stupid. I keep using that word. Because here's the thing about oppositionality. Like, in the case of this kid, if I was talking to you right now, and if I had a cold or a flu, would I have less of a cold or a flu whether I was on the line with you or not? 


00:27:34    Alyssa



00:27:36    Dr. Mate

Or if my ankle was twisted, would it be any less twisted because you're talking to me? 


00:27:42    Alyssa



00:27:43    Dr. Mate

But could I oppose you if I wasn't in interaction with you? 


00:27:49    Alyssa

Technically, yes. We could have opposing viewpoints, but you could? 


00:27:53    Dr. Mate

No. If I wasn't in relationship with you, could I oppose? 


00:27:56    Alyssa

Ahh, no. 


00:27:57    Dr. Mate

Okay. In other words. Oppositional, by definition implies a relationship. Why are we diagnosed in the disorder in the child? Why don't we look at that child's relationship with the adult world? 


00:28:11    Alyssa

Yes. Well, because it's about power and control. 


00:28:14    Dr. Mate

Exactly. Rather than understanding the child's needs. So if we really want to help these children, some of them are oppositional, but it's not a disorder. It's their response to how they've been treated by the adult world. And if you want them to change, all we have to do is to change how we relate to them. And believe me, they'll change very quickly. But instead, we diagnose them with this so called disorder. I don't need to characterize it. It misses the point entirely. 


00:28:52    Alyssa

That's just it is that, like, I think the word stupid comes up here because it's like it's just not effective either. If what we really want is to connect with kids and collaborate, we have to bring awareness to our desire for power and control and realizing that when we say our goal is connection with kids, if that is the goal, then we have to slow down. Then we have to slow down and take a bigger look. Just this morning, my child was angry because he couldn't go into the basement at the moment that he wanted to go into the basement, and he was screaming, and he threw his body on the ground. And in reality, he hadn't eaten breakfast yet, and he was hungry. And he receives that information at another point, and he isn't throwing his body on the ground. Right. So the external reaction was, I feel hungry. And now this experience of not getting to go in the basement feels really big. And I think for us, it's the ability to slow down and say, yeah, I don't have to punish him or yell at him or teach him that he can't scream. Right now I have to make sure that he has food earlier in the morning so that he can do it in the world. 


00:30:10    Dr. Mate

Yes, that's all true. And there's more to it. We don't want power and control for its own sake, but we do have to, in a sense, dominate our kids. 


00:30:21    Alyssa



00:30:22    Dr. Mate

I mean, like, a two year old kid doesn't get to vote on whether to crawl out into the winter snow. 


00:30:29    Alyssa

Sure. Or whether or not to be in a car seat. 


00:30:32    Dr. Mate

When it's 10 below, so that it's a question of domination for the sake of keeping them safe and supporting their development. We shouldn't be afraid of our power as parents. The question is, what is that power based on? The real power is not based on because they're bigger and stronger. It's based because they want to connect with us, because they trust us. And it's an attachment relationship that gives us the power of the parent, number one. Number two, 


00:31:11    Dr. Mate

there's nothing wrong with the kid being angry because even if they're not hungry, they want something children don't have the capacity to distinguish their needs from their desires. 


00:31:25    Alyssa

Same as adults. For a lot of us. 


00:31:28    Dr. Mate

I was about to say that. Nor do a lot of adults, which is and by the way, this whole economy is based on confusing our needs with their wants. They keep convincing us that we need something that we don't. They make us want it so bad that we confuse it with our needs. The whole consumer economy is based on that misapprehension. But anyway, there's nothing. So the kid wants to go down to the basement and you say, for good reasons, no, this is not the time to go down to the basement. You get they get angry. Now the question is how do we respond time out. Or do we say, oh, you're really angry. You really want to go into the basement and you really don't. Like, the mummy doesn't let you correct. You validate the emotion without allowing the behavior. That's all the kid needs to have their emotions understood. So it's not that they shouldn't be angry, they're going to be angry. How do we respond? What's the message that we give when they are? 


00:32:31    Alyssa

Yeah, it's huge. But that's where I think people can confuse the perfection part of this idea that they aren't supposed to be angry or they aren't supposed to throw their body on the ground and express it. It's almost as if, like, sure, you can be angry and here's exactly how you have to show up when you're angry. And it's this regulated state that's unrealistic. 


00:32:57    Dr. Mate

Well, you know what? One and a half, two year old is probably too young for even for you to tell them how they should show up. What they just need to experience is that you got their anger and you're regulated. You won't get this regulated by their dysregulation. Now, you may know the work of Dr. Dan Siegel. He wrote a book about the developing mind, and Dan says in the developing mind, that the child relies on the regulated circuitry of the adult brain to regulate the immature circuits of the child's brain. So the basic thing about regulation is not that we teach them ways to regulate themselves, but that we stay regulated ourselves. That will allow for the healthy development of the child suffering regulation circuitry. I'm not sure I necessarily agree that you have to tell a two year old how to show up later on. It is once they're a little bit older and they can actually comprehend, you say, well, next time you're angry, can you just tell mommy, mommy, I'm really angry with you. But basically what they really need from us is to stay regulated when they're not.


00:34:07    Alyssa

100%. I meant it as like that's a shortcoming. I think that that's something that we are expecting from any human that we're saying, like when you are angry, when you are disappointed, you can only express it in these ways because of my comfort, because that makes me feel the most comfortable, or it doesn't feel embarrassing for me in public if you express it like this. And I think so often we see this come up in parenthood, where we're expecting kids to express their emotions in ways that make us feel comfortable. 


00:34:43    Dr. Mate

Well, first of all, to ask a subversive question why would I be embarrassed because my two year old throws a tantrum in public? 


00:34:53    Alyssa

I think it happens all the time because it feels like a reflection on us, like they're not supposed to throw a tantrum. 


00:35:00    Dr. Mate

Wait a minute. Now, that's only because I care about what other people think. 


00:35:03    Alyssa



00:35:04    Dr. Mate

I'm asking you, why would I really be embarrassed? What's the big headline in New York Times? Two year old throws tantrum in supermarket. Oh, my God. Stop the presses. Part of it is our own need to fit in socially and to look good to others. Then we use our kids to make sure that we don't look bad. But that's using our kids. Those kids shouldn't be used. It's not the child's job to make me look good in front of others. And if I have a big need to look good in front of others, I need to examine, well, what is it in me that doesn't accept me enough that I need to rely on the extension of others? So our kids have a way of confronting us with their own challenges, don't they? 


00:35:51    Alyssa

Yeah. I mean, put it on a billboard. It's so real that that trigger, it's so much of it's about us. So much of it's about us. The CEP method that I co created with a colleague, it's five components. One is adult child interactions. The other four are about us. If we're not taking a look at ourselves, what are we doing? 


00:36:22    Dr. Mate

So my parents asked me, actually, how to avoid passing on their stuff to the kids. My first advice is work on yourself. Deal with yourself. Don't put it about don't make it about the child. Make it about yourself. And take Nadhan, a great Buddhist teacher. He said that the biggest gift that a parent can give to their child is their own happiness. 


00:36:49    Alyssa

Yeah, it's so true. It lets them know that their happiness is valued. So they get to value their own happiness. 


00:36:57    Dr. Mate

That's right. 


00:36:58    Alyssa

Yeah. That's huge. 


00:37:00    Dr. Mate

And so they don't have to work to make you happy, correct. 


00:37:04    Alyssa

Yeah. They're not responsible for my happiness. Someone asked me the other day about I was speaking at an event in the evening and missing bedtime, and it was another mom that had asked, like, she was also in attendance and was missing bedtime, and she was like, how do you navigate that feeling? The guilt of not being there for bedtime. And the truth is that I want my child to see that I have joy and things that bring me joy outside of him. Because if it's only him, then he's responsible for my happiness. If he's the only thing that brings me joy. That's a lot. That's a big weight to carry. And I want him to see me live my life and experience it fully, because I want that for him, too. I don't want him to look to somebody else for his happiness either. I want him to be able to experience things that bring him joy. And I think it's okay for him to experience the disappointment of me not being there for bedtime. 


00:38:04    Dr. Mate

Yeah. As long as you repair that. 


00:38:07    Alyssa



00:38:10    Dr. Mate

And here's the problem for a lot of parents in our society. In the United States, 25% of women have to return to work within two weeks of giving birth. It's outrageous. Which is amounts to a massive abandonment of infants, because there's no way other than this abandonment, the child can experience that. And the message they get is that they're not worthy. 


00:38:35    Alyssa

Or that their secure attachment caregiver isn't there, that they're not safe. 


00:38:40    Dr. Mate

Yeah. And so it's not just a matter of, like, for certain class of parents, it's a matter of choice. Do I honor my own joy for a lot of parents in this society? There's not a whole lot of choice involved. 


00:38:59    Alyssa



00:38:59    Dr. Mate

They have to leave their kids in the hands of strangers very early on just to bring bread to the table. 


00:39:10    Alyssa



00:39:12    Dr. Mate

Really, what amounts to is that and furthermore, even in good daycares, very few daycare workers are trained in attachment, understanding the needs of the child to attach to their caregivers. But they're not emotional nurturers. And so if it so happens that the way we live today, we can't go back to hunter gatherer days, we can't recreate with the best of goodwill that attachment village that used to exist, but we can understand what we've lost. And if we need to spend so much time away from our kids, we need to make sure that the environment in which they go, the adults there, are connected with us and with the child, so that the child so that what can I say? That attachment baton is passed on from one adult to another. So the child is always in the context of supporting nurturing relationships. And that should happen all the way through schooling, because the child's brain develops from before birth until adulthood, which means that every environment a child goes into, whether it's preschool daycare, kindergarten school, needs to be emotionally informed to promote healthy child brain development, which depends on nurturing emotional relationships. And this is pure brain science. It's not even controversial. An average physician, teacher, daycare worker, policymaker never even hears about it. 


00:40:53    Alyssa

Yeah. It's that shift to classroom management and behavior management right. When that's what we're focused on. We're not focused on the relationship. We're not focused on attachment and connection. We're focused on power over. 


00:41:08    Dr. Mate



00:41:11    Alyssa

No, absolutely. Oh, I am so grateful for your work and for your brilliant brain and for you sharing it with us today. Can you share the full title of your book and let people know where they can connect with you, find you, follow you, learn more about your work. 


00:41:28    Dr. Mate

Sure. Well, thank you. The book is entitled "The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture." This is the fifth of my books. It's currently still on the New York Times bestsellers list, and it's being published in 30 languages internationally. My other books, "Scattered Minds", is on ADHD, which is not an inherited disease. It's a response to the environment. As I put it, when the body says no on the mind body connection and illness and health, "Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers." Do you know that book? 


00:42:07    Alyssa



00:42:08    Dr. Mate

You might really want to have the main author of that book on sometime. He's the most adept, deepest developmental psychologist in the universe. I wrote the book with him, but that book is really his.


00:42:21    Alyssa

Yeah, I would love to have him on. 


00:42:24    Dr. Mate

Send me an email and I'm happy to put you in touch with him. Thank you. Yeah. And then my book on addiction is called "In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction." There's a million of my talks on YouTube. There's nothing to sign up for. You just put my name into YouTube and you're going to find any number of talks on child development, addiction, health, mind, body unity. But there's also my website,, where you can sign up if you want them to be on my mailing list, where all the resources on my books and so on events are listed. So there's also a film you can find online called "The Wisdom of Trauma", which was published a year and a half ago, and it's been seen by about 10 million people internationally. You can make a donation to the filmmakers if you want to fund their next project, but you don't need to. You can put in zero, $0. You still get to watch the film. It's called The Wisdom of Trauma. You can find it online. And finally, there's an organization called that has some of my programs for fairly inexpensive purchase on trauma and addiction. They're really good programs. It's hard to avoid me, is what I'm saying. Google my name and find it. 


00:43:54    Alyssa

That's awesome. Thank you so much for all of your work. And I hope folks wheels are turning, whether they're thinking about what this looks like in the classroom and some of the practices that we have in the environment that they're in and what it creates. And also for our parents that are tuning in, really looking at what this means for us, and go out, get that book snag The Myth of Normal. And I'm excited to hear how it shifts their perspective. 


00:44:24    Dr. Mate

I also have an Instagram account at this point. We have about 1.2 million followers, and I do Instagram live stuff. No cost to anybody with my daughter who is studying psychology in New York. And the next one we're going to do will be on Sunday, which is, I think the 26th of this month. People sending questions and we just answer them. So it's always a lot of fun. Anyway, listen, thank you so much for giving me this platform, for your interest in my work and for the work that you do as well. Not enough people are doing that kind of work. 


00:45:04    Alyssa

Thank you. 


00:45:05    Dr. Mate

But I think there's a tide that's rising. I really do. 


00:45:09    Alyssa

I think so too. I mean, there is investment in it and hopefully we can see some shifts. 


00:45:17    Dr. Mate



00:45:17    Alyssa

Thank you. 


00:45:20    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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