Conversation with Gabor Maté:
“If you have no meaning in your life, ideology gives you a pseudo-meaning”
“The less it meets your real needs the more addictive it is”
I’ve been thinking/talking an awful lot about loss of a sense of meaning and narrative collapse and this brief discussion breaks down life in a world of spiritual disconnectedness pretty well. What do we do to fill this void? We form what the doctor calls a “simulacrum of connection” with inherent ideology and latch onto it for comfort.
“a pseudo-cameraderie where we can all hate the same thing…”
Meaning and belonging… It’s everything really, but it should be something real, correct? Alcohol and cocaine are certainly real, but the sense of well-being they provide is absolutely not. That’s what he’s saying, really. It’s tribalism in the most basic sense but real tribes have functions and traditions that meet real needs.
Anyway, this is an interesting talk. It also includes perhaps the most compassionate and pointed diagnoses of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton I’ve ever heard. It’s a holy shit moment in the talk for me. He describes them both as deeply traumatized people with the trauma rooted in their childhoods. I think we forget sometimes that these people were once children, and that they were human children being raised by other flawed humans. I think I had them beginning with their adoptions of ideologies and how the ideologies shaped them, rather than what brought them to these ideologies in the first place. So… a shift of perspective for me.
I might get more into analysis at a later point but anyone who may read this is as intelligent as I am and can draw their own conclusions. I would only suggest that they listen with an open mind. They may hear things that challenge how they approach the world.
My basic takeaway though is that a person should have practical reasons for believing what they believe. Otherwise they’re just looking for an opiate. Politicians in this very divisive world sell opiates that deliver solutions that don’t really have a lot of substance. If you take these ideological opiates you can relax into an idea that you are part of an agent of change and that everything you fear (that you may not even be able to actually name) will be neutralized, when nothing at all will actually be changed. Your decline into meaninglessness and spiritual crisis will only gain depth.
So… just watch.