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The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  899 ratings  ·  132 reviews
"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 tox
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Avery Publishing Group
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4.15  · 
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 ·  899 ratings  ·  132 reviews

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Michael Perkins
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
In response to a reader question, I want to clarify by expanding on my original lead sentence "this excellent review from Amazon by an MD gives a clear picture of what this book is about" I am not that MD and I did not write this review. Had the reviewer used his real name, it would be included here, as well. I could not top this brilliant review, so wanted to share it for the benefit of GR members.

"I had the opportunity to review Dr. Lustig’s book and interview him before it was published. He
Elizabeth Gillingham
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Key takeaways:
Pleasure is linked to dopamine; serotonin is linked to happiness. Pleasure feels like a high. Happiness feels like contentment. Too much dopamine-stimulating activity will depress serotonin, thereby making you more unhappy.

How to be happy:
1. Be altruistic. Be involved in benefitting others' lives. Have close, healthy relationships.
2. Get exercise. Sleep. Avoid sugar, in all of its forms.
3. Take fish oil.
4. Stay off screens and reduce your consumerism.
Sonja Arlow
3 stars

You will be forgiven if you misunderstand the title. Had a friend not explained the content to me beforehand I would never have picked this up.

The book is really a medical look at the difference between desire vs happiness, between dopamine vs serotonin. The bulk of the book spends its time showing the difference between these two hormones and how it can influence our behaviour. I found it absolutely fascinating.

Most people picture addiction as a junkie that shoots up with a dirty needle
Tonstant Weader
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
The Hacking of the American Mind has important information about how we are getting unhappier and sicker thanks to several factors that are addicting us to bad things and encouraging to value things that don’t make us happy. It also has advice that can help us change and control those addictions and do things more likely to make us happy. It reads like a self-help book and has some of the breathlessness of that genre, but the book is full of real science and valuable information.

Robert Lustig is
Peter Mcloughlin
The author understands brain chemistry and how addictions and unhealthy lifestyles are pushed on people with convenient nudges in the corporations market products with an eye to the bottom line by using hacks in media and even the chemistry of products to hook us to consuming and buying them. This all makes sense for a business bottom line but not for individuals or the commonweal. The author understands the neurology of addiction but he does have few howlers when he leaves his specialty. He mak ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent information but its rough going with this one. I found myself reading a paragraph over and over to get the meaning. (its probably me)
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Pleasure is not the same as happiness. Don’t eat sugar. The end.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first came across Dr. Robert Lustig when he gave a video presentation called 'The White Poison" at UCSF a few years back. It was at times a little over the top of my head since I'm not in the medical profession, but it was enough to make me realize just how BAD sugar is. Naturally, 'white poison' is the term he used to describe sugar. I have always had a love-hate relationship with sugar, but finally, after much discipline, and trying to form new habits day in and day out, I have been able to ...more
Tom Kiefer
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tom by: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Disclaimer: My copy of The Hacking of the American Mind is an "uncorrected advance proof" expected to be a little short of the book's final published form. This is evident in that every chapter contains at least a few instances of grammatical confusion in desperate need of an editor which I'm presuming will be mostly cleaned up by the book's final publication (so I mostly ignore them here). That said...

Lustig takes the reader on an informative but relatively informal tour of building-block conce
Faith Justice
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-early-reader
Finished my neuro-science ARC The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains. Much of the science, I'd heard about before, but Robert H. Lustig presents it in readable everyday language. Highly recommend this for folks who are addicted to "the other white powder" (a.k.a. sugar), caffeine, alcohol, or junk food. Lustig not only paints a clear picture of why your addicted, but what you can do about it.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this five stars for being thought provoking and three stars for the writing and editing. I think the book would have benefited from an editor. There seemed to be a lot of repetition and although the style was accessible, occasionally it seemed a bit TOO informal.

Now on to the content. I haven't read Lustig's seminal book on sugar, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, but I've heard him interviewed. About a quarter of this book concerns die
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Dr. Robert Lustig has been warning us about added sugar in our diet and the fact that sugar is the culprit of the obesity epidemic and metabolic syndromes in the US and the rest of the world. I first learned of Dr. Lustig when I came across his lecture he gave at UCSF a few years ago titled "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" (video) in which he used science to describe all the problems with sugar.

In this book, Dr. Lustig went further and explained the substance, food and behavioral addiction through sci
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: health
I decided to read this book after hearing an interview with the author. He was very articulate, passionate, and knowledgeable about the subject of the book. . . . And there is some good material in this book.

Lustig argues that the American food industry and government organizations have colluded in bringing about the current health crisis in the U.S. (and internationally as the Standard American Diet (SAD) has spread globally). Following up on earlier work, he names sugar as the main culprit lea
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Lustig connects the dots from our current maladies in America (addiction, obesity, depression) to the powerful politics of big corporations, and the case he makes is air tight. Sure you already know you shouldn't eat too much sugar -- and you also know that the food industry uses added sugar for taste and shelf life. But the extent of their "pushing" is truly breathtaking and difficult to deny once you understand it. Avoiding sweets is not enough. Read the labels of all processed foods and y ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Picked this up as it was #1 on Neil Pasricha's September reading list. One of Neil's takeaways was to put your phone in black & white mode to reduce its influence and engagement, so I hoped the book would be packed with similar ideas.

I got about 60 pages in and couldn't handle Lustig's writing style. I felt that a lot of concepts were dumbed down into a single sentence with a bad simile or metaphor. Lustig deployed far too many pop culture references throughout the book which seems at odds
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Good core ideas (spoiler alert: to save ourselves, we need to spend more quality time building relationships in person; take care of our bodies and minds through sleep, exercise and meditation; contribute to a greater cause; and eat less processed food, especially sugar). Useful distinction of the dopamine (quick reward, addiction, habituation) and serotonin (long-term contentment/meaningful happiness) systems and how most patterns of stress and consumer culture in our lives hijack the former an ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written and very informational. The author presents the material in an entertaining and lively manner. His use of humor helps to keep things on a good level also. This book is a must read for those interested in taking care of their health. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Dr. Lustig shows us that human emotion and behavior are basic brain chemistry. Everything we do and feel is the result of chemical reaction. The book focuses on the difference between desire vs happiness, between dopamine vs serotonin. The bulk of the book spends its time showing the difference between these two hormones and how it can influence our behaviour.

As another reviewer put it the major take always are:

Pleasure is linked to dopamine; serotonin is linked to happiness. Pleasure feels li
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health, science, self-help
"To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, a great pleasure-seeker himself: 'Those who abdicate happiness for pleasure will end up with neither.' The science says so." ~Robert H. Lustig, MD
Mike Maurer
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, history
_The Hacking of the American Mind_ is a provocative title, but it is accurate. There isn't a single external culprit, but a number that target a specific brain pathway. Dr. Lustig makes the point that it is a fight between dopamine and serotonin. In our instant gratification world the overdoses on sugar, dopamine wins. We, as a society, are lesser for it.

I'm a huge fan of Dr. Lustig. A doctor of mine in the Bay Area knew him professionally, which was really cool. He helps kids and parents figur
Tim Johnson
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
As a result of reading this book I have decided to put all of my money into coffee and sugar and the I will stand the summit of my big rock candy mountain and look down upon you all and you will call me overlord. Muahahahahahahaha-ha!

Okay, now that my sugar rush is over I can analyze this somewhat competently.

First, Lustig does a good job of delineating the difference between pleasure (short-lived) and happiness (more sustainable). Pleasure is derived from the reward pathway and is driven by th
David Lloyd
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author begins by defining the distinction between what he calls happiness and contentment (that I call the difference between a momentary sense of accomplishment, and a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment). Then he discusses this concept contrasting dopamine with serotonin, and how dietary choices, medicines, attitudes, and lifestyles relate to each kind of "happiness," demonstrating with numerous examples how what makes us happy often destroys our changes for long-term contentment. From t ...more
Diane Dreher
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alarming account of how corporate interests have engineered fast food and social media to activate the reward center in our brains and produce a nation of addicts. Lustig cites a wealth of neuroscience research here and, fortunately, offers ways we can overcome this "hacking" of our brains and bodies to live healthier lives.
Antonio Nunez
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lustig’s Hacking is an exposition in what’s wrong about modern life in the US and much of the rest of the world. First, he describes how three neutral pathways work: the pleasure pathway, which is activated by dopamine, the contentment (happiness) pathway which is activated by serotonin and the stress pathway, which feeds of cortisol and adrenaline. All three are part off our mental kit but the pleasure pathway is much stronger than the contentment one. Pleasure works in “hits”, such as coition, ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So informative. Listened to this but will also read it because there is so much great info that I could not retain by listening. He discusses our search for rewards and happiness and our confusion between these two. Dopamine and serotonin. Sugar and other addictions. Fascinating and a blueprint for health.

Here is part of an interview with the author:

Fascinating! So there’s a neuroscientific basis to the distinction between pleasure and happiness?

Sure. Dopamine is excitatory. Neurons want to get
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
I give the author A for effort--he really tried to make this book accessible to non-scientist readers. But I do think that a chemist or neuroscientist would have better luck.

Premise: We've been tricked into thinking that pleasure/excitement and contentment/happiness are the same things, but they're not. Pleasure is controlled by dopamine, contentment by serotonin. Food companies have gotten us addicted to pleasure-inducing foods, which can be addictive, in order to make money. They've relied on
Wendy (bardsblond)
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: great-nonfiction
Robert Lustig is well-known in nutrition circles as the endocrinologist who was arguing that sugar was the culprit for American’s rapid decline in ill-health long before it became fashionable a few years ago.

In The Hacking of the American Mind, Lustig describes the brain systems that underpin our well-being, and focuses on two systems in particular: the dopamine system that drives “rewards” (which are short-lived, prone to tolerance and, hence, addiction, and distract us from meaning) and the s
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Un ouvrage dense qui se résume grosso modo à deux constats: 1. La confusion entre plaisir (dopamine) et contentement (sérotonine) profite à l'industrie agroalimentaire qui réalise des profits colossaux sur le dos des consommateurs crédules. En effet toute substance et tout comportement générant un pic de dopamine (drogue, alcool, tabac, jeux d'argent...) peut rapidement devenir hors de contrôle et mener à l'addiction. 2. Or Le plus pernicieux de tous ces vecteurs de dépendance est le sucre, qui ...more
Mark Isaak
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lustig's messages are relatively simple and presented clearly: Pleasure and happiness are two different things, moderated by different brain pathways. Pleasure is short-term, moderated primarily by dopamine; happiness (contentment) is long-term, moderated by serotonin. Too much pleasure can reduce happiness, causing addiction and/or depression. Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, and addictive behaviors (gambling, computer games, porn) are problems. Especially sugar, which causes the current epi ...more
Michael  Gajda
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very readable and enlightening book. Well reasoned and documented manifesto challenging the reader to learn the difference between "pleasure" and "happiness" and how we're being manipulated by big Pharma, big Food, and big Business, and a collaborating government into becoming pleasure addicts at the cost of losing the contentment that comes from non-addictive happiness.
You'll learn a lot about the difference between dopamine and serotonin and how the brain works and is triggered by what we
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Robert H. Lustig, M.D., is an internationally renowned pediatric endocrinologist who has spent the past sixteen yers treating childhood obesity and studying the effects of sugar on the central nervous system, metabolism, and disease. He is the director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital; a member of the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, ...more
“If you don’t know how to cook, you’re hostage to the food industry for the rest of your life and unwittingly will pass this on to your children.” 2 likes
“The most price elastic food item is eggs, at 0.32. This means if the price of eggs goes up 1 percent, consumption goes down 0.68 percent. Eggs are the highest-quality protein there is. Eggs have all the nutrients you need. They are literally the world’s most perfect food. And people won’t buy them if the price increases. Why? Because there’s nothing in an egg that has hedonic properties. Tryptophan (the precursor of serotonin) sure, but can it drive dopamine? Conversely, the most price inelastic consumable is fast food, at 0.81. This means if the price of fast food goes up 1 percent, consumption only goes down 0.19 percent. And the second most? Soft drinks, at 0.79. These two food items exert the most hedonic effects (due to sugar and caffeine) and happen to be the ones that people will consume no matter what. And of course they are the most addictive. So how can society turn an addicted, depressed, drug-addled, corpulent, and metabolically ill populace around?” 1 likes
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