In When the Body Says No, physician and writer Gabor Maté explores the mind-body link and the connection between stress and disease. Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there a relationship between the ability to express emotions and Alzheimer’s disease? Is there such a thing as a “cancer personality”?
Drawing on scientific research and years of experience as a practicing physician, Maté provides answers to these and other important questions about the role that chronic stress and one’s individual emotional make-up play in an array of common diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, and multiple sclerosis.
Maté carefully explains the biological mechanisms that are activated when stress and trauma exert a powerful influence on the body. He illustrates his ideas with interviews of famous people who’ve experienced chronic illness (Ronald Reagan, Gilda Radner, Stephen Hawking, and Pamela Wallin), interspersed with intimate life stories collected through his years of practice. Chapters deal with stress, emotional repression, hormones, the “cancer personality”, the biology of relationships, and the power of negative thinking. He backs up his claims with compelling evidence from the field, citing many controlled studies that have demonstrated correlations between psychosocial factors and disease.
Maté emphasizes that to decipher the hidden factors in chronic illness is not to blame the victim, and the book is free of assumptions that all illnesses are the result of ego issues. Rather, he provides the opportunity to address the unintentional transmission of stress and anxiety through the body and across generations.
Dr. Maté has a gift for making complicated medical findings accessible for the lay-person, while still relevant to the professional. Both will be grateful for the final chapter, “The Seven A’s of Healing”, in which Maté presents an open formula for healing and the prevention of illness resulting from hidden stress.