Welcome to the age of behavioral addiction - an age in which half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior. We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and we spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones. Half of us would rather suffer a broken bone than a broken phone, and millennial kids spend so much time in front of screens that they struggle to interact with real, live humans.
In this revolutionary book, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction and explains why so many of today's products are irresistible. Though these miraculous products melt the miles that separate people across the globe, their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. The companies that design these products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist.
By reverse engineering behavioral addiction, Alter explains how we can harness addictive products for the good - to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play - and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being and the health and happiness of our children.
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- Natalie A. Schaffer
Untested Speculative Solutions
I really enjoyed the description of the problem. There was so much science introduced to outline the problem of addiction. The book takes a big turn for the fantasy when Alter suggests he knows how to conquer addiction and he presents idea's that lack any proof at all. AT ALL! That's the thing that was so disappointing. There are a couple anecdotes, but the treatment facilities that he highlights provide absolutely no evidence that their approach succeeds. He conflates bad habits and addictions. After misrepresenting the program of Alcohol Alcoholics, He dismisses AA, the only treatment program with actual success in treating addiction. He never once even mentions the 12 step program that works for tens of thousands suffering different forms of behavior addiction, and a program most treatment centers use for the current success experienced. He states,"surround yourself with temptation, and you'll be tempted. Remove temptation and you won't be tempted." That seems to sum up his prescription for overcoming internet addiction, after acknowledging that none of us can live in the modern world without technology.
Alter uses some of the work presented in the Power of Habit, but in a lot less effective way. Sort of butchers the original theses to fit into his scattered program for recovery.
Understanding brain chemistry as it relates to gaming was fascinating.
I really wish Alter would have read the Power of Habit more thoroughly, because had he, he might have been able to present a more intelligent description of the 12 step program. I'm returning this book because in the last section of this book the prescription he he presents is almost malpractice. (if he were actually a doctor or counselor trained to dish out advice.) I feel sorry for those suffering from an addiction that might think this book provides a credible solution. After most inevitably fail, they will be left feeling more hopeless. Such a disappointing end to what started as such an interesting discussion.
- Terry Van Loon