- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 17, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039332849X
- ISBN-13: 978-0393328493
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #708,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Mania: When More is Not Enough Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The indictment of American society offered here—that America's supercharged free-market capitalism shackles us to a treadmill of overwork and overconsumption, frays family and community ties and leaves us anxious, alienated and overweight—is familiar. What's more idiosyncratic and compelling is the author's grounding his treatise in political economy (citing everyone from Adam Smith to Thorstein Veblen) as well as in neuropsychiatry, primatology and genetics. Psychiatrist Whybrow (Mood Apart) diagnoses a form of clinical mania in which "the dopamine reward systems of the brain are... hijacked" by pleasurable frenzies like the Internet bubble. Genes are to blame: programmed to crave material rewards on the austere savanna, they go bananas in an economy of superabundance. Americans are particularly susceptible because they are descended from immigrants with a higher frequency of the "exploratory and novelty-seeking D4-7 allele" in the dopamine receptor system, which predisposes them to impulsivity and addiction. The malady is "treatable," Whybrow asserts, not with Paxil but with a vaguely defined program of communitarianism and recovery therapeutics, exemplified by his friends Peanut, a farmer rooted in the land, and Tom, a formerly manic entrepreneur who has learned to live in the present moment. Whybrow's analysis of the contemporary rat race is acute, and by medicalizing the problem he locates it in behavior and genetics—away from the arena of conventional political and economic action where more systemic solutions might surface, but toward a place where individual responsibility can turn "self-interest into social fellowship."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Whybrow has seen the future. -- New York Times, Irene Lacher
Top customer reviews
Reading this book will make anyone re-evaluate your lifestyle, your diet and your family life. Whybrow touches on our daily activities, our addiction to material goods, what we truly value, and how we live, exercise and interact with one another. He even addresses the seeds of income inequality.
This book pairs nicely with Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" and "Collapse;" Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" and Bill Nye's "Undeniable."
American Mania illustrates the personal and cultural problems that arise when our rate of technological advancement outpaces our ability to evolve. The bottom line is that mechanisms that once served us and helped us to survive become self destructive. For example, a craving for fats and sweet things was good 100,000 years ago, but not so good now when we have all kinds of food available to us all the time and lead more sedentary lifestyles.
This book is wonderful for looking the implication of all of the above within the individual and at the level of culture. It is great food for thought. It will help anyone who is looking for balance to put things in perspective and understand why we have a tendency to err in the directions that we so often do as individuals and as a society.
As a student of Urbanism, I found this book fascinating. One of the distinctive characteristics of the American built environment- a pattern that repeats everywhere you look- is the instrumentalization of all things for some other material end. Whybrow explains (to my understanding) the mentality behind the landscape.
Whoever you are, whatever your interests or profession, this book is a must read if you want to better understand your country!!
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analysis of American society.Read more