The Gray Area with Sean Illing

The Gray Area with host Sean Illing is a philosophical take on culture, politics, and everything in between. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we do offer a space for real dialogue. Resist certainty, embrace ambiguity, and get some cool takes on a very hot world. Formerly the Vox Conversations podcast. New episodes drop every Monday and Thursday.


If society is making us sick, how can we heal?

Sean Illing talks with Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician, speaker, and bestselling author who has written on subjects like addiction, stress, and attention deficit disorder. In Maté's new book, The Myth of Normal, he argues that the Western paradigm of health is fundamentally flawed in its attempt to separate inner, emotional well-being from bodily health. Sean and Dr. Maté discuss how our society and culture can contribute to illness. They also talk about the adverse effects of trauma, the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, and parenting.

Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area

Guest: Dr. Gabor Maté (@DrGaborMate), author; physician


  • The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté, MD, with Daniel Maté (Avery; 2022)
  • "Mothers Are the 'Shock Absorbers' of Our Society" by Jessica Grose (New York Times; Oct. 14, 2020)
  • "'It's Life or Death': The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens" by Matt Richtel (New York Times; Apr. 23)
  • Scattered Minds: The Origin and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder by Gabor Maté, MD (Jan. 2023; Avery. Previously published as Scattered, 2000)
  • "The brutal mirror: What the psychedelic drug ayahuasca showed me about my life" by Sean Illing (Vox; Feb. 19, 2018)
  • "How to discipline your child and toddler, without hitting - Jordan Peterson" (YouTube; Mar. 15, 2018)
  • Hold On to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, MD (Ballantine; 2006)
  • "A Theory of Human Motivation" by Abraham H. Maslow (Psychological Review vol. 50; 1943)


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This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Erikk Geannikis
  • Editor: Amy Drozdowska
  • Engineer: Patrick Boyd
  • Editorial Director, Vox Talk: A.M. Hall

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 2022-11-28  57m