A fascinating exploration of the profound loss of pleasure in our daily lives and the seven steps for restoring it.
Pleasure. We know what it feels like and many of us spend our days trying to experience it. But can too much pleasure actually be bad for us? Yes, says Dr. Archibald Hart, clinical psychologist and expert in behavorial psychology. Backed by recent brain-imaging research, Dr. Hart shares that to some extent, our pursuit of extreme and overstimulating thrills hijacks our pleasure system and robs us of our ability to experience pleasure in simple things. We are literally being thrilled to death.
In this insightful book, Dr. Hart explores the stark rise in a phenomenon known as anhedonia, an inability to experience pleasure or happiness. Previously linked only to serious emotional disorders, anhedonia is now seen as a contributing factor in depression (specifically nonsadness depression) and in the growing number of people who complain of profound boredom. This emotional numbness and loss of joy are results of the overuse of our brain's pleasure circuits. In Thrilled to Death, Dr. Hart explains the processes of the brain's pleasure center, the damaging trends of overindulgence and overstimulation, the signs and problems of anhedonia, and the seven important steps we must take to recover our wonderful joy in living.
Reviews forThrilled to Death by Archibald D. Hart, Archibald Hart
Disclaimer: this review is written by a non-ChristianHad I read more closely and seen that this book was written by a professor of Fuller Theological Seminary I would have given this book a pass. That would have been a mistake. For some time now I've noticed how people, particularly teenagers, seemed to have a lack of emotional range. They seem to either be angry/frustrated or zoned out. I suspected that modern technology might have something to do with it but wasn't sure. This book confirms what I suspected, explains the problem and has directives on what can be done about it. The problem is called anhedonia and is caused by an over stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain. This causes a reaction very similar to drug addiction where more and more stimulation is required to achieve the same 'high'. Eventually the pleasure center wears down and no amount of stimulation has an effect. This then is the state of anhedonia which closely mimics depression. The author then explains a number of different ways the brain pleasure center gets over stimulated (and if you don't see yourself in some of these explanations than you are either Amish or have been living under a rock). But the news isn't all bad, these effects can be counterbalanced and the author provides a 7 step recovery process for doing so. This recovery process will be very eye opening for many people but none of the steps are impossible to do - most basically it is just a return of more healthful living. I found the book to be a fascinating read and very much enjoyed it. The Christian references were short, sweet and very general - until you to chapter 12 where the author discusses gratitude; there it starts to get a little more heavy handed. Then it is as though the floodgates opened for chapter 8 in which meditation is explained. There are no generic/non-Christian meditation techniques in this chapter at all (although all could be tweaked to make them so). I found this very unfortunate as there are many non-religious methods that could have been included (just one would have been nice). But the worst offense is in chapter 14 where the author states that it is impossible to have a contented life without a spiritual basis and goes on to give empirical arguments supporting this belief. I don't want to rant here but that is an opinion and not necessarily true; I had to remember to consider the source (after all, to a cobbler everything is a shoe). While these transgressions did not ruin the book for me they were off putting. In this I followed the author's own advice of forgiveness and not holding a grudge. I still hold the opinion that this book is a gem; I learned a great deal about a problem that could have far reaching consequences, now and in the future, and would recommend it with the caveat to the non-Christian to be prepared. Hopefully in the future there will be other books on this subject without the religious references.read more
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