A leading brain scientist's look at the neurobiology of pleasure - and how pleasures can become addictions. Whether eating, taking drugs, engaging in sex, or doing good deeds, the pursuit of pleasure is a central drive of the human animal. In The Compass of Pleasure Johns Hopkins neuroscientist David J. Linden explains how pleasure affects us at the most fundamental level: in our brain. As he did in his award-winning book, The Accidental Mind, Linden combines cutting-edge science with entertaining anecdotes to illuminate the source of the behaviors that can lead us to ecstasy but that can easily become compulsive. Why are drugs like nicotine and heroin addictive while LSD is not? Why has the search for safe appetite suppressants been such a disappointment? The Compass of Pleasure concludes with a provocative consideration of pleasure in the future, when it may be possible to activate our pleasure circuits at will and in entirely novel patterns.
“Linden's conversational style, his abundant use of anecdotes, and his successful coupling of wit with insight makes the book a joy to read.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Holy smokes! This is a clinical journal.
- J Emmons
Great technical, mediocre presentation
This book discusses the dopamine pleasure circuit in the brain and the differences between how different human behaviors (eating, taking drugs, nicotine, gambling, exercise) manipulate this circuit and can lead to addiction. The discussion was highly technical but delivered at a level where a layman with some scientific background can understand.
I found the sections on exercise and food cravings very interesting and highly relevant. I always found it amazing that I felt great during and after exercise, but I could never seem to get motivated to do it. Now I understand a little better the underlying biological mechanisms behind this.
Not if I can help it. The delivery of the narrator was not that inspiring and I often found myself realizing 5 minutes later that I had daydreamed and not taken in the content. Needless to say, the rewind button came in very handy.
Although, no one in my family suffers from addiction, the section which discusses addiction makes me much more empathetic with people who are addicted to drugs.
I wish they had gone further into the physiology of how food chemistry can affect both flavor and cravings.