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Meet Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin Paperback – February 14, 2012
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About the Author
Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD is Professor Emerita at California State University, East Bay, and a docent at the Oakland Zoo. She founded the Inner Mammal Institute to help people make peace with their mammalian brain chemicals. Dr. Breuning is author of Beyond Cynical, and I, Mammal, as well as the Psychology Today blog, "Your Neurochemical Self." She spent a year in Africa as a United Nations Volunteer, and has lectured worldwide on resisting corruption. She's a graduate of Cornell University and Tufts, and the mother of two tax-paying adults.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was looking for a book on neurotransmitters to read after college because I missed learning and wanted to keep my brain active. I was worried that this book might be a bit hokey and end up being a self help book in a science facade. It turned out that, while there is definitely a self help component, this book does more than your typical self help book. You learn a bit about the neurochemistry behind each recommendation and you learn just enough that anyone will be able to grasp the science concepts.
The one thing that got to me was some of the writing. It did seem a bit childish at time (referring to neurotransmitters as "happy chemicals," for example.) Otherwise, a worthwhile read. You can learn something about the brain and how to apply it to your life!
In my opinion, the book is well written and easy to understand. The author uses a good selection of intelligent and eloquent words, which can paint a picture in the reader's mind. The book made a big different to my life style in way of thinking and also what makes me happy and as the author of the book said "Don't worry, be happy". There are a bit of information is complex and difficult to understand, but that does not means the book is not helpful or it's too complicated. I really enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about neurochemicals. I recommend this book for younger people, who are interested in knowing how the brain works and also how we can rewire our brains. This will help them when they get older.
Why do I feel attracted toward something or someone and repelled from something else? Why am I impelled to act some way, sometimes to my benefit and sometimes perversely against my benefit? In this insightful and vulnerable book, Dr. Loretta Breuning, a professor at California State University, tells us.
Our brains have been evolving for several million years. As the brain developed, it added functions on top of the old parts -- but those evolutionary leftovers are still in there, and they matter! Dr. Breuning lays it out in the following simple scheme: the oldest and simplest functions are our lizard brain, then the mammal brain built on top of that, and finally the cortex of the primate brain. The lizard brain manages our routine bodily functions. The top level, the cortex is where we do our thinking, remembering, dreaming, and talking to ourselves. It's the middle part, the mammal brain, that's the focus of this book because it's the mammal brain that released various "feel good" and "feel bad" chemicals that motivate our behavior.
While the release of these chemicals may provide the motivation for action, they don't actually force us to do anything. Our primate cortex gives us the final decision about whether to run from something or stay put. But the mammal brain does have a powerful influence over our behavior by triggering these chemicals which are responsible for a whole host of feelings, good and bad.
The role of serotonin is particularly important because of its impact on how we interact with other humans and its affect on our leadership instincts. In mammalian life, those with higher social status had better mating opportunities. Our brains evolved to give us the motivation to climb the social ladder in order to foster the continuance of our DNA. It is serotonin that encourages this behavior. Even though one could argue that there are plenty of mating opportunities around, we retain this chemical programming for social dominance.
I think this is responsible for our ideas of leadership and for the fundamental leader-follower structure. The issue for those who want to create leaders rather than attract followers, and give control, rather than take control, will be that their instincts will signal it's the wrong thing to do. Fortunately, Dr. Breuning explains how we can rewire our brains. Those feelings may never go away, but ultimately the cortex gives us the deliberateness to be in control, not our instincts.
Her other book:
I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Happy chemical was for me a breakthrough in understanding the way human behave, because it gives a new and unknown prospective.Read more