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I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness Paperback – January 12, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
I can see a lot of overlap between some of the theories in this book, and some of the work written by people such as Daniel Kahneman, for example Kahneman's recent book `Thinking Fast and Slow', which talks about humans as almost two separate entities, instinctive and impulsive on the one hand, and deliberate and calculating on the other. When looked in light of 'I mammal', one can almost see the root causes of Kahneman's findings.
One can also see many other examples in this book of potential causes of what are labelled,'biases, heuristics, and self-defeating behaviors' in the fields of the behavioral sciences.
An excellent book with some very interesting and plausible theories that I hope gets a wider audience, I do hope that more people read this and come to understand and appreciate themselves and our society better.
I wont say this book "cured" my anxiety and depression, but I no longer take any medications because of the information I found in these books and what it spawned me to find outside of them. It is not an understatement to say they changed my life. The downside is that my wife is TOTALLY sick of hearing me talk about them.
The mammalian brain equates status with survival. When a person does something which the mammalian brain views as something which can enhance its status, the feel good chemical serotonin is released thus creating a neural pathway in its limbic system for future reference. The activity/strategy used to create this pathway often becomes a default position for obtaining future serotonin because "electricity follows the path of least resistance."
Aside from money, fame and muscles, a few of the things that the mammalian brain finds status in include: good looks because from its point of view, beauty equals health and therefore better chances at reproductive success (legacy extends survival); reputation because "your mammal brain knows that losing the acceptance of the herd means survival-threatening vulnerability to predators" pg 37 (one cause of anxiety); educational credentials because no one wants to receive root canal from an unqualified dentist; status positions at work, home and with friends. These and other forms of status, including "junk status" (ie: cynicism), release serotonin.Read more ›
However, what Bruening fails to recognize is that there is some difference between traits that are naturally selected for and traits that have been domesticated for. For example: with sheep, Breuning points out that sheep who stick together were more likely to survive predators but doesn't mention that when humans first began to domesticate sheep the most aggressive rams and the most curious females were killed first so that after many generations what remained were docile and easy to herd sheep. Breuning points out that humans are social but doesn't point out that much of this has to do with how prematurely human babies are born. Even among mammals we're a serious outlier. Kittens and cows can walk and get by on their own after a few weeks. Human brains don't finish developing for over two decades. Without out social instinct humans couldn't exist, so then it becomes a sort of a chicken vs egg thing.
This book would be better if Bruening focused less on telling and more on showing. Comparing humans to other mammals is certainly a difficult topic and glossing over our differences doesn't help. For a more in depth look at why we do what we do I recommend How the Mind Works or Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book helped me understand myself and my interactions with others and the interactions of others with me.Published 8 days ago by Encee
Wonderful explanation about why we care about what people think of us. Beyond describing the evolutionary underpinnings of status anxiety, the author provides some clues about how... Read morePublished 8 months ago by John
Brings relief and increases understanding through the enhanced awareness about how we as humans are so consistently connected as social creatures, yet we are also able to... Read morePublished 8 months ago by C
When I picked up this book, it was because I do research on love. I have read other works by Dr. Graziano Breuning who is always insightful. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Rita E. Watson
This is an important book for me. I work with people recovering from depression and addiction. It's wellness recovery coaching, and I use an approach which focuses on nutrition,... Read morePublished 9 months ago by missdawes
This is another good book by Breuning. After reading it I am seeing evidence of status seeking behavior all around me and in me. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kristi A
Essential book for understanding ourselves and our behavior.Published 9 months ago by Herbert S. Watson
Loretta Breuning is an important writer on a key subject for future wellbeing. I've read all her books and this, like the others, is concise and clear. Read morePublished 9 months ago by J
Loved this book. It leaves the reader with revolutionary new insights into the evolution of nature and man. This book opened up my mind to a whole new world of information. Read morePublished 9 months ago by nac