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I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness Paperback – January 12, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD is founder of the Inner Mammal Institute, which helps people get the best from their mammal brain. As Professor of Management at California State University, and as a mom, she learned to question the presumption that happiness is our natural default state. She learned from studying animals that unhappiness is part of our survival system, and happiness is a learned skill. She retired from teaching to build alternatives to the disease-based view of the brain. Dr. Breuning wrote three books on making peace with your inner mammal, and writes the “Your Neurochemical Self” blog on PsychologyToday.com. She is a Docent at the Oakland Zoo, where she gives tours on mammalian social behavior. She constantly marvels at the overlap between a wildlife documentary and the lyrics to a country western song. Loretta spent a year in Africa as a United Nations Volunteer after graduating from Cornell University and Tufts. She lectured worldwide on resisting corruption pressures, based on her book "Grease-less: How the Thrive without Bribes in Developing Countries.” Ms. Breuning loves to help people discover their power over their mammalian operating system. Many free resources are available at www.InnerMammalInstitute.org. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453750460
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453750469
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,531,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book almost by accident, when researching some info, and I am delighted that I did. Loretta Breuning's theories about the similarities between our behaviours and those of our mammal cousins are extremely well thought out and presented. Loretta keeps her explanations simple and undramatic, which adds in my opinion to some fantastic ideas about how we behave both individually and in groups. Every now and then Loretta adds anecdotes some from her own experiences and from relevant cases, as well as details of empirical research, though without over-complicating matters.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I cannot overstate how important this book was for me. I have had Depression and Anxiety all my life and this more than any other book as explained the mechanism of depression and anxiety to where I can understand it and better combat it. I have recommended this book to everyone who would listen, as well as her other book "Meet Your Happy Chemicals."

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This "owner's manual for the mammalian brain" I think is very hopeful because it clearly teaches how the mammalian brain works so that we can be less influenced by it. From this perspective, I think this is a very human book.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book. I can really have more compassion and respect for myself for being an open and kind soul for having read this book. Of course I can analyze people based on their choices with this material, but even better is to know and experience my own subconscious triggers so I can enjoy the position in life I am in while advancing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book stands traditional psychological explanations of human behavior “upside right.” You will laugh, be challenged, and most of all – be informed. Dr. Breuning is a very practical, scientist who can speak both to the professional and to the lay person. I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Paperback
Essentially what this books boils down to is that we humans can't be euphoric all of the time and that we should recognize that there is a very good reason for that. This is a very useful message.

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
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