Mate on Chronic Illness
Is there really a cancer personality? Can
we hasten death through stress and ill-defined personal boundaries?
Is there a relationship between unexpressed emotions and Alzheimer’s?
If so, what can we do about it? In When The Body Says No, Dr
Gabor Mate reveals clear links between serious, often terminal
illnesses, and the psychological state of sufferers.
‘In over two decades of family medicine, including seven
years of palliative care work, I was struck by how consistently
the lives of people with chronic illness are characterised by
emotional shut-down - like one of Woody Allen characters we no
longer get angry, we ‘grow a tumour’. Those suffering
from chronic illness are incapable of considering their own emotional
needs and driven by a compulsive sense of responsibility for
the needs of others.’ Put simply these individuals all
had difficulty saying no.
According to Dr Mate patterns of repression tend to start early.
Many children respond to abusive or challenging backgrounds by
reconstructing their childhoods and idealising less than ideal
parents. They also tend to over-identify with parental needs.
Dr Mate has no doubt that the resulting stress and unresolved
emotions compromise the immune system, cause tissue damage and
high blood pressure, and impair the heart.
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