When the Body Says No


We recommend this…

if you are interested in holistic approaches to illness, the mind-body connection and how our emotional health impacts our physical health, or if you feel your emotional state or your past experiences are impacting your health.

A quick summary

Gabor Maté trained in conventional evidence-based medicine but as he gained experience with patients, he came to an unconventional conclusion about the link between physical illnesses and emotional states. The ‘mind-body’ connection has frequently been dismissed and underestimated and remains much misunderstood. Maté explores it here for his patients with serious, life-limiting conditions and provides a wealth of research evidence as well as case studies from his medical practice. At times it’s a hard read, but we think it’s an important one.

Content note: contains multiple references to death, bereavement, childhood abuse, and life limiting conditions e.g. cancer, ALS, MND. Please go gently if these may be triggering.


Our full review

Gabor Maté’s book – When The Body Says No – can come across as a controversial read at first. It may be startling, or hard to believe, that a life-limiting condition could be caused or worsened by repressed emotions. You may have a strong emotional reaction to that idea. However, Maté has come to this from his life’s work as a caring doctor, who has done this research in order to do better for his patients.

Maté takes us through the physiology of emotions and stress. As the book explains, emotions are not simply all in the mind. Emotions are bodily reactions to events and experiences, and they impact the physical functioning of the body. The book is packed with research that shows a link between physical illnesses and patterns of beliefs, behaviours and experiences. Maté also shares conversations with his patients that illustrate his points and bring the theory to life.

It is a captivating read, but it can be difficult in places where his patients’ conditions are terminal, and their histories are painful. However, it does end on a positive note and walks the reader through seven A’s of healing. These are: Acceptance, Awareness, Anger, Autonomy, Attachment, Assertion, Affirmation. This is not a self-help guide with specific actions for the reader, but these offer a helpful framework. It is not a light book to dip in and out of, and we would not necessarily recommend it for anyone currently distressed by their physical health or a recent diagnosis. However, it is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the deep connection between mind and body.

Additional information

Format Paperback
Weight 224 g
Dimensions 195 × 124 × 20 mm
Book Author

ISBN 9781785042225


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