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A transformative day with Dr Gabor Maté: Unravelling the connections between health, mind and society


By Dominique McMullan
07th Jul 2024
A transformative day with Dr Gabor Maté: Unravelling the connections between health, mind and society

Dr Gabor Maté, a world-renowned expert on trauma and mental health, led a transformative event in the RDS, organised by Jacqueline Kyne

Earlier this month, world-renowned author and expert on childhood development, trauma and mental health, Dr Gabor Maté led a unique immersive event at the RDS. Attending it, for this writer, was nothing short of a revelation. Dr Maté is known for his profound insights into the intricate links between chronic illness, the mind-body relationship, and societal influences on health, and in the RDS he delivered a day long experience that was both deeply personal and universally enlightening. For many attendees I spoke to, it felt like ‘Day One’.

From the moment the event began, it was clear that this was more than just a lecture—it was a journey into the heart of what it means to be human in today’s world. Gabor’s unique wisdom, borne over two decades of family practice, palliative care, and work in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, provided a compassionate lens through which to view our human struggles, especially with issues such as addiction, trauma, and mental illness—all the while challenging the conventional perspectives often held in Western medicine.

Gabor’s recent bestseller, “The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture,” served as a foundation for much of the day’s discussions, offering a framework for understanding how our environments shape our health. One particular sentiment that I will be thinking about for a long time, is Gabor’s thoughts on authenticity and attachment. Gabor spoke about how, as babies, “We’re born with a need for attachment and a need for authenticity,” and how “Most people abandon their true selves (authenticity) to please others and keep the relationships (attachments), even if they are are toxic and destructive.”

The day’s structure was designed to foster not just learning, but also healing and connection. Interactive sessions encouraged participants to engage deeply and directly with Gabor and indeed with each other, creating a sense of community that was so palpable in the room. The integration of live music and a guided meditation added a beautiful dimension to the event, allowing moments of reflection amidst the intense subject matter. What stood out most was the nurturing environment for all attendees. There was a real sense of safety and openness that encouraged vulnerability and honesty. Gabor’s empathetic approach made it easy to trust in the process of exploration and healing that he guided us through as a group.

A highlight of the day was the inclusion of Dennis Okwera from the Lumule Foundation, who shared his remarkable story, from leaving his war-torn community in Northern Uganda with his brother to be with his father in the UK, to now returning re-building that community. All proceeds from the event went to the Lumule Foundation and HUGG, Ireland’s national suicide bereavement charity.

The day finished with a panel discussion led by Newstalk’s Clare McKenna on the mental health challenges facing Ireland’s youth and opportunities for future collaboration. In addition to Dr Gabor Maté, the panel also featured Niall Breslin, Co-Founder of A Lust for Life and the “Where is My Mind” podcast in addition to Tammy Darcy, CEO of The Shona Project and Brent Pope, Co-Creator of the Elephant in the Room project.

Jacqueline Kyne, event organiser and well-being specialist said “I am honoured and humbled to host Dr Maté in Dublin and to help facilitate the sharing of his wisdom and insights with an Irish audience. This event has been a day of healing, understanding and hope – learning from one of the world’s leading experts, whilst also supporting impactful charities and inspiring collaboration, spreading kindness and paying it forward.” Jacqueline spoke movingly at the end of the day about her son’s leaving cert, and about how important it was, as mothers, to follow your dreams as well as support your children’s.

This event was a rare thing—a profoundly moving day filled with wisdom, connection, and healing that left an indelible mark on all who participated. A day that I know will live in the minds of those who attended for many years to come.

Further details on this and similar upcoming events can be found on jacquelinekyne.com.