Gabor Mate – tripping out of trauma raises concerns

Gabor Mate, the Hungarian-Canadian doctor/therapist with special interest in trauma and addictions and a million Instagram followers has been criticized for his promotion of hallucinogenic drugs as a cure for depression. His interview with Prince Harry has also raised alarm amongst parents and health experts about the blithe acceptance that cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and the Amazonian plant ayahuasca can be life enhancing and trauma eradicators.

There is some evidence that hallucinogenics given under carefully controlled conditions can help some but serious adverse reactions have also been seen including suicide. Taking drugs during teens and early twenties when the brain has not yet fully developed has also been shown to do considerable damage.

  Mate, born 6 January 1944 in Budapest, Hungary lost his grandparents in Auschwitz and was handed over by his mother when he was five months old for a few weeks for reasons of safety – which abandonment he says has left lifelong scars which have motivated his work. He is a Sun Mercury in Capricorn with a serious Saturn in Gemini and a flamboyant Jupiter in Leo.

  What dominates his chart is a Half Grand Sextile formed from an explosive Mars Uranus (Moon) in Gemini opposition Venus in Sagittarius sextile Pluto North Node in Leo sextile Neptune. Talented, ambitious clearly, controlling and influential, with his excitable (and thrill-seeking) Mars Uranus sextile Pluto drawing him towards crisis situations.

  Reading a couple of journalistic interviews with him, he seems to have focused in on his own issue and used that as a platform to give him prominence. He also seems a touch overly keen to feed his ego by giving definite diagnosis rather than follow the standard therapeutic procedure of facilitating patients/clients in finding their own answers.

 His get-it-together 5th Harmonic is strong, as is his self-defeating 10h and leaving-a-legacy-for-history 17h.

  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy. What suits one individual won’t do it for another. Mate sounds too evangelical for my taste and careless of those for whom a directive and forcing (scud missile) approach could do more harm than good.     

16 thoughts on “Gabor Mate – tripping out of trauma raises concerns

  1. I was prompted by VirgoFlake’s interesting comments to look at possible family patterns, specifically maternal ones in relation to Harry and Mate. I’ve only skimmed the surface. But how and why we get involved with others, especially when it comes to our challenges in life, is mysterious – yet astrology does offer one route to seeing more clearly I think.

    As Marjorie notes, Mate has that ‘explosive’ Mars 4 Gemini, Uranus 5 Gemini, Moon in 0 Gemini opposing Venus, 3 Sagittarius. Harry’s potentially analytical Mercury in Virgo is at 5 degrees. Pluto 0 Scorpio. Some push-me-pull-you going on there…But sticking to the early mutable degrees and family patterns, here’s some of it:

    Frances Shand Kydd (Princess Diana’s mother): Mars 4 Pisces, Saturn 7 Pisces, Chiron 11 Gemini possibly opposite Moon 11 Sagittarius. Uranus 1 Taurus.
    Princess Diana: Mars 1 Virgo, Pluto 6 Virgo, Chiron 6 Gemini
    Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother: Saturn 4 Pisces, Uranus 5 Virgo, Pluto 11 Virgo
    Prince William: Mercury 8 Gemini, Jupiter 0 Scorpio
    Harry’s great-grandmother, Baroness Fermoy (2 October 1908) only has Jupiter at 4 Virgo connecting with this pattern. However, she also has Mars in Virgo square Pluto in Gemini (24-5) which reflects in Diana’s mutable Mars/Pluto conjunction perhaps, and carries some kind of family intensity with it too.

    I haven’t looked at male relatives. But it is curious to see how Saturn in Pisces may be relevant to this family, and to Mr Mate himself – an older therapist (Saturn), with an interest in Piscean hallucinatory drugs.

    It could also be worth watching the 0 degrees Pluto opposition Mars, square Jupiter in Taurus in May.

  2. “Taking drugs during teens and early twenties when the brain has not yet fully developed has also been shown to do considerable damage”.

    Is this actually the nub of what is wrong with Harry?

    He admitted to drugs and a period in rehab in his book – but we will never know just how bad that drug problem was as the Palace will have covered up a lot of it.

    Kids – just say no.

    • The admission could be used against him in the instance of any divorce and custody arrangements. It’s clear he does not possess the brains to work that out, though.

      • Although if you look at it from Harry’s perspective – there is no chance of divorce or custody ever being a possibility. He has met his soulmate and they will be together forever. It’s beyond his comprehension that there could be an even bigger picture beyond the one he is seeing (but which the rest of us can see).

  3. Reading about Gabor and Harry’s net therapy made me very concerned. As what really came out of it for me, was two men who have not healed at all. There was absolutely no positivity or understanding of great loss: or the trauma ensuing from it. Yes, the loss will be with you forever, yet there are stages when your emotions slowly begin to heal and you start to let go. As you learn to see life from an adults perspective, you start to accept that life is not easy, can be cruel and complicated. Of course there will be triggers and some days more tears and great heartache, but you still move on and live your life. In many ways, you owe that to the people you have lost, as then their lives have continuity. If you are still carrying a rerun of that trauma and experience, after using drugs, therapy or 25 years after the huge loss and shock, then in reality there has been no healing taken place.
    Pluto begins its first trine to Mate Gabor’s Gemini Moon this Month and a wide conjunction to his 10th South Node ( past experiences). As Pluto is a small dynamic planet with quite a forceful kick, perhaps that net interview, is the opening shot for another revisit to past events? Yet with forced deep feelings, as Pluto will work purposefully with the Gemini Moon – perhaps meaning no more intellectualising and more dealing with feelings.

  4. I’m not convinced that a good therapist would go along with a patient or client wanting to broadcast their inner struggles and childhood wounds to the world, or that healing can take place in such circumstances.

    • Hmm quite agree. I keep wanting to say to Harry – boundaries, boundaries, boundaries – he has absolutely no idea. Incontinent. And Mate is too much ego

      • This is quite painful to witness really. Harry seems to be so raw and confused. I don’t believe anyone can heal or re-balance themselves by constantly spilling everything out into the world. The use of psychedelics is an interesting, controversial field in therapy. There’s the Temenos Center in San Francisco, for instance, which states:

        “Temenos provides integration services for people who have used psychedelics and want support for how to integrate the experience into their life.
        Sometimes people seek integration services because a psychedelic experience has triggered anxiety, depression or a difficult identity issue.”

        However, Jung’s ‘temenos’ means a sacred space, protecting the individual and the work they do with their therapist/analyst. Privacy is vital if things are to be transformed and understood. As Marjorie says – boundaries…..

        “The symbol of the mandala has exactly this meaning of a holy place, a temenos, to protect the centre. And it is a symbol which is one of the most important motifs in the objectivation of unconscious images. It is a means of protecting the centre of the personality from being drawn out and from being influenced from outside. “[“The Tavistock Lectures,” CW 18, par. 410.]

        In one way, perhaps Saturn – boundaries – in Pisces – the boundaryless unconscious seas – can help to highlight this?

        • “However, Jung’s ‘temenos’ means a sacred space, protecting the individual and the work they do with their therapist/analyst. Privacy is vital if things are to be transformed and understood. As Marjorie says – boundaries…..”

          Exactly Jane. I’m thinking of Jung’s alchemical ‘vessel’, in ‘Psychology and Alchemy’, the sacred container in which the inner work is carried out. Hence, the therapeutic space is strictly secret with the ‘opus’ taking place between healer and client. Only then can transformation occur. A properly qualified psychologist with integrity would be more beneficial than a Californian guru, I suspect.

          Mind you, the fact that Harry claims that he is serving mankind by being his ‘authentic self’ implies he dwells in a bubble of his own grandiosity.

          • Yes, VF, thanks for talking about alchemy! Thinking about the ‘nigredo’ stage, and its necessary darkness and chaos – the nigredo being associated with lead, Saturn’s metal, and the beginnings of transformation (Pluto?). Harry has Mercury at 5 Virgo – Saturn approaches. His natal Pluto is 0 Scorpio – Pluto approaches. Nigredo is the first step in the psychological/alchemical process, and the closed, secret space is required in the vessel, heating over the alchemical fire.

            In the fascinating way of symbols, asteroid ‘Hephaistos’ will be conjunct Saturn at the ingress at 0 Pisces. Hephaestus is the lame god of blacksmiths, metalworking, and fire, and husband of wild, unfaithful Aphrodite. More metal and fire!

            I see that Gabor Mate has no water in his chart. Not sure what to make of that. Overall, I think this is a troubling situation. My instinctive feeling is that Harry is not in a good place at all. He is being ‘influenced from outside’ as that quote I posted says, and the risk of ‘more harm than good’ as Marjorie notes, is very high. He may appear self-indulgent, and is certainly privileged and wealthy, but beneath this he’s just another human being. Right now, he is one without a solid core available to him it seems. I have seen this kind of situation in my own life, with two male individuals in particular – the wrong therapist can actually be quite damaging.

          • Yes, I feel the same. Incidentally, you mention H’s Mercury at 5 Virgo and how it will be opposed by Saturn in Pisces, well H also has Juno at 3 and Vesta at 4 degrees of Virgo sll gathered together on the cusp of the 8th house. Juno being the marriage marker of the asteroids, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Certainly, resources are indicated as a theme of the Saturn transit.

          • Brilliant spot VF, I hadn’t looked at the asteroids. And there’s Vesta, with her sacred hearth – fire again. I have found transiting Juno to be a very accurate signal of marriage/partnership matters, so far anyway. I started experimenting in lockdown (!), and was fascinated by what I found.

            I missed commenting on what you said about ‘grandiosity’. That particular way of expressing opinions and beliefs also marked the behaviour of the two people I mentioned who were not helped by therapists. It can be a symptom of mental health issues that often require medication, or at least a proper diagnosis. I think this is what’s making me feel so uneasy about this situation. Perhaps Saturn in Pisces might symbolise an older healer or doctor, but I suspect Gabor Mate isn’t the right one.

          • Yes, grandiosity can be a symptom of both bipolar and NPD. Also, the lack of nuance in H’s perception of his own family is worrying for someone approaching middle years.

            Though H is going to be Plutoed and Saturned this year and next, I also can’t help noticing transit Uranus is rushing through Taurus this year, conjunct his IC next month and then his Moon this summer, though it will trine his Virgo sun at the same time. The best one could hope for would be a Uranian awakening. Next June, ‘24, Uranus will conjunct his Ceres, which natally is conjunct Algol and then into ‘25 will continue to the end of Taurus and onto his North Node on the last degree of Taurus.

          • Thanks VF. Very interesting and apt. You prompted me to consider H’s maternal family members. Turns out H’s uncle, Charles, Earl Spencer (20 May 1964) has natal Saturn at 4 Pisces, Uranus at 5 Virgo, Mercury at 5 Taurus, and Venus at 5 Cancer. He has been open about the difficulties of he and his sister’s own childhood, and the effects that had on them both. Family patterns? Saturn brings up the idea of history, Uranus is sometimes called the ‘awakener’. The Earl’s connections with Harry’s chart prompts many questions for me.

            This is what Earl Spencer said in September, 2020:

            “I’ve been in and out of therapy for 20 years. I did a lot of very profound work on my unhappy childhood last year, which was agonising and horrible,” Charles continued. “I don’t say that out of self-pity, it was intriguing to me that it was so desperately unpleasant. But the result has been cathartic. Coming out the other side has been good.” MarieClaire magazine.

          • I was shocked that Gabor Mate felt free to diagnose Harry, a man he’s only met once in a non-therapeutic capacity, let alone on a television programme. It’s unethical.
            Harry may be a willing participant. He may even initiate it, but someone needs to help save him from himself. He needs protection.
            Effective therapy is not fun. It is not a public experience. It enables you to take responsibility, to integrate your life events and emotions. The process is painful, as Charles Spencer said. It’s really difficult. You experience a lot of very intense profound feeling.
            Harry’s manic grandiosity looks like the upward swing away from depression and despair. There’s this awful feeling that it will wear off. And then what?
            Perhaps the business people around him are egging him on. After all when you pay millions, you expect a good return and it was his publishers who arranged this latest outing.
            There’s something very wrong going on here. It’s worrying. It needs to stop.
            Thank you VF and Jane for your posts.

  5. This is a very interesting chart. SN Aquarius on the MC seems like a flag waving in the breeze here. It does suggest a career that’s perhaps too involved with the traumas of others. Your choice of the word “evangelical” is vey descriptive of SN Aquarius. His NN/BML/Pluto conjunction in the 4th does seem to describe the need to heal his early trauma. The mother is perhaps specifically represented in this chart as the 4th house Lilith. His description of his own trauma is eerily reflected by the astrology, which tells me he is quite self-aware–which also looks like part of his Leo/4th/NN healing process. I wonder if he is familiar with astrology–his own, at least!

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