Our Gut Feelings Are Not Luxuries | Gabor Maté, MD


From Sustainable Human: “Alienation is a separation. Being a stranger to something. You’re an alien to something. There are four alienations in this culture.

One is we are alienated from Nature . . .

The second alienation is from other people . . .

We are alienated from our work . . .

And finally and most importantly, we become alienated from ourselves. Let me ask you a question. How many of you have had the following experience? You had a powerful gut feeling about something, you didn’t pay attention to it, and you were sorry afterwards?

Well you know what you are telling me? You are telling me that at some point in your childhood, you got separated from yourself. Because no infant is born without gut feelings. Infants are totally connected to their gut feelings. Have you ever met a 2-day old that didn’t know how to express their gut feelings?

And that means in this culture, something very powerful happens to alienate you from your true self . . . your parents were too stressed themselves to honor and recognize who you really were. And then we become alienated from ourselves. We shut down our gut feelings.

And our gut feelings are not luxuries, you know. They tell is what is right and what is wrong. They tell us what is safe and what is dangerous. And they tell us what is true and what is false. So when we are alienated from our gut feelings, we no longer have a sense of reality, nor a sense of truth.”


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  1. This article is just tired postmodern hooey with no actual meaning at its core. Alienation is a useless term. Are we supposed to feel bad because, as adults, we no longer constantly express and validate as paramount our moment to moment salient emotion?

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  2. Most psychiatrists aren’t wired to be empathic; most are wired to dominate. And psychiatrists’ urge to dominate is soothed by having people dependent on them and their drugs which separate people from their gut feelings. I think most psychiatrists are afraid of their own gut feelings, which is why they spent their lives alienating people from theirs.

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    • Actually, I don’t think most psychiatrists are afraid of their gut feelings; I think most have become so disconnected from their gut feelings that they no longer know what gut feelings are. But that’s what most psychiatry is all about — being disconnected.

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  3. I like this text. It is not saying so much, but similar to a postmodern mantra or meditation, which reveals the World’s mental state. These are known things, but the mood is interesting in which the speech is held. It brings to the surface our inner knowledge. I haven’t heard Dr. Gabor Mate’s materials yet, but i will search for them in the future. One more reason to do this: the author is from the same country as me.

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