The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains
"Explores how industry has manipulated our most deep-seated survival instincts."—David Perlmutter, MD, Author, #1 New York Times bestseller, Grain Brain and Brain Maker
The New York Times–bestselling author of Fat Chance reveals the corporate scheme to sell pleasure, driving the international epidemic of addiction, depression, and chronic disease.
While researching the toxic and addictive properties of sugar for his New York Times bestseller Fat Chance, Robert Lustig made an alarming discovery—our pursuit of happiness is being subverted by a culture of addiction and depression from which we may never recover.
Dopamine is the “reward” neurotransmitter that tells our brains we want more; yet every substance or behavior that releases dopamine in the extreme leads to addiction. Serotonin is the “contentment” neurotransmitter that tells our brains we don’t need any more; yet its deficiency leads to depression. Ideally, both are in optimal supply. Yet dopamine evolved to overwhelm serotonin—because our ancestors were more likely to survive if they were constantly motivated—with the result that constant desire can chemically destroy our ability to feel happiness, while sending us down the slippery slope to addiction. In the last forty years, government legislation and subsidies have promoted ever-available temptation (sugar, drugs, social media, porn) combined with constant stress (work, home, money, Internet), with the end result of an unprecedented epidemic of addiction, anxiety, depression, and chronic disease. And with the advent of neuromarketing, corporate America has successfully imprisoned us in an endless loop of desire and consumption from which there is no obvious escape.
With his customary wit and incisiveness, Lustig not only reveals the science that drives these states of mind, he points his finger directly at the corporations that helped create this mess, and the government actors who facilitated it, and he offers solutions we can all use in the pursuit of happiness, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. Always fearless and provocative, Lustig marshals a call to action, with seminal implications for our health, our well-being, and our culture.
Praise for The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains
"Our health, resistance to disease, and ability to function on a day-to-day basis have essentially been hijacked, all in the name of corporate profits. Dr. Lustig explores how industry has manipulated our most deep-seated survival instincts to motivate our food choices in a way that directly undermines our ability to survive. But more importantly, The Hacking of the American Mind eloquently reveals how we can disengage from this influence and re-establish ourselves on a path to wellness."
—David Perlmutter, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Grain Brain and Brain Maker
“A provocative, persuasive plea to stop seeking the wrong kind of happiness. Take it from the neuroscientist/endocrinologist who sounded the alarm about sugar: chasing rewards is far less rewarding than finding contentment.”
—Adam Grant, author of New York Times bestsellers Originals and Give and Take, and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Option B
"Robert Lustig takes on one of the greatest paradoxes of our time: how can it be that we have more sources of pleasure than ever before in human history, and yet are increasingly sick, broke, and unhappy? By deftly weaving together neuroscience, history, economics, and more, he provides a much-needed explanation of how the 'pernicious peddling of pleasure' causes real happiness to elude so many of us — and also provides a desperately needed roadmap for escaping the pleasure trap."
—Sharon Begley, coauthor of the New York Times best seller The Emotional Life of Your Brain
"Pleasure and happiness are not the same thing – as our addictions to everything from unhealthy food to cellphones show. In this book, Dr. Lustig unpacks the science of pleasure versus happiness to explain the true causes of the last 40 years of addiction, depression, and disease. The good news is that the solution is easy — well, maybe not so easy — put down your cellphone. And sleep. You’ll be happier, and you’ll live longer!"
—Arianna Huffington, author of the New York Times best seller The Sleep Revolution
"Dr. Robert Lustig examines our culture of illness, an industry-created fog that, despite our best efforts to cope, has left us stressed, isolated, addicted, and depressed. With The Hacking of the American Mind, he empowers us with the science of mind, brain, and love in a delightful, insightful, and humorous way. You can live by pursuing pleasure, sugar-coated as 'happiness,' or you can read this book."
—Elissa Epel, coauthor of the New York Times best seller The Telomere Effect