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Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  11,790 ratings  ·  361 reviews
The good news is that anxiety, guilt, pessimism, procrastination, low self-esteem, and other "black holes" of depression can be cured without drugs. In Feeling Good, eminent psychiatrist, David D. Burns, M.D., outlines the remarkable, scientifically proven techniques that will immediately lift your spirits and help you develop a positive outlook on life. Now, in this updat ...more
Paperback, 706 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Avon Books (first published 1980)
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Steve
Many years ago I had a confluence of tragic events in my life and I decided to see a psychologist for a while. One day the psychologist told me that I needed to "deal with my feelings". I told him in frustration that I heard that many times before, but that I did not understand what that meant. I asked him what exactly do people do when they "deal with their feelings". He was silent for a few moments and then he wrote the name of this book down on a slip of paper. This book will tell you how to ...more
Jamie
Dec 31, 2011 Jamie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone that wants to help alter their moods
Shelves: self-help
A therapist recommended this book to me. It is basically about how you choose your moods based on how you choose to respond to different situations and events. It really helped me to be in a better mood more often and be more positive about things. You must read this book with an open mind; there is no point if you are skeptical from the start. But it can definitely help you become a happier person.
Jennifer Anders
Need to change your thinking? Need to find the will? Need to find hope? Need to find your worth?

This book doesn't do that for you.

But it teaches you how to change your thinking so YOU can discover these things that were there all along. I'm depressed... super-depressed and when I'm in a good frame of mind nothing is all that bad. But when I am in a slump, it's hard to even see the point in trying. Much less reading a stupid book. But this book even shows you what to do when you don't even want t
...more
Mike
Yeah, I'm reading self-help books now. Surprised?

There are a lot of components to Feeling Good that still grated on the self-help misanthrope-hopeless-fuckface-jaded-dickhead that I usually am, and it's mostly in David Burns's overtly assertive and "it's-so-simple" prose styling. Sometimes it's great because he's gifted at taking highly nuanced and sophisticated concepts about cognition and psychiatry and making them digestible and applicable; other times the tone sort of crosses into the sort
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Daniel Slabodar
When you feel bad, you go to a doctor, doctor looks at you and gives you pills for fixing your hormonal apparatus (which is fine, I promise you). You start taking pills, just for sleeping, then for overcoming depression, and then for something else and etc'. At some point you think, I cannot live without the pills, I'm addicted. But what about the real reason (which was wrong in the first place) your reasoning mechanism you are trying to shut down with pills?

This book is a self-help guide using
...more
Michael Alexander
A pile of Seneca, a dollop of Zhuangzi, some good takedowns of Freud and Skinner, some 7th grade reading level and a lot of charts. Put it together, and you get the surprisingly functional methodology that is CBT. Feeling Good is exactly the self-help book one would imagine when reading the phrase "drug-semi skeptic psychiatrist with long history of clinical work writes highly structured, accessible cognitive therapy book for the lay audience." If that sounds a little less than utterly transform ...more
Billie Pritchett
David Burns' Feeling Good is about the science of cognitive therapy. The theory states that your emotions are caused by your thoughts, and most negative emotions are caused by distortions in your thoughts, a series of illogical thoughts. They are:
(1) All-or-nothing thinking: Everything is perfect or everything is imperfect; everything is good or everything is evil; everything is correct or everything is incorrect; etc.
(2) Overgeneralization: One instance of something is used to explain all other
...more
Jan
I seriously love this book. I've referred to parts of it multiple times throughout the last 8 years or so of my life. This is the first time I've read it all the way through - in the past I've felt better about halfway through and quit reading. I don't recommend you do this - read it all!

Dr. Burns is a cognitive behavioral therapist who uses this book to teach you how to use your own thoughts to improve your moods. The basic premise is that all of our feelings are created by our thoughts, and ou
...more
H.A.
Jan 30, 2011 H.A. rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one -- get a newer edition
I wanted to enjoy and recommend this book, but I suspect they must have extensively rewritten the newer edition. I don't see how any self-respecting person can get far being called "delusional" and "silly" among other things, over and over again. The tone of this edition is just horrible, and the "blame the victim" mentality on top of the dismissal of often life-saving medications, forced me to just give up on this book before I was even through the first three or four chapters.

As a former psych
...more
Shannon Simmons
I credit this book with helping to save my life! I'm sure I was at a point where I was ready to hear and put into action the advice in this book which made it easier for me to receive and incorporate the advice into my life. But I think anybody would benefit from the advice and exercises in this book.

Our thoughts shape our perspective and there for shape our lives and our experiences. Changing those negative thoughts that form and turning them into positive ones are the key to success. This boo
...more
Declan
Read this as Carey Tennis off Salon had recommended it. Its basically Cognitive Behavioural Therapy you can do on your own, so like Cognitive Behavioural therapy it basically consists of totally avoiding any depth or introspection, and constantly screaming at yourself "Im utterly happy, Im the best me I can possibly be!"

If the way human beings felt inside themselves had any connection at all with the statements they makes, this might be a good approach. As humans are infinitely more complex tha
...more
Ariel
Jul 12, 2014 Ariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ariel by: Psychologist
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John
A great way to learn the essence of cognitive therapy. The central premise: depression is rooted in overly negative, illogical thought patterns ("cognitive distortions") that pervade the thoughts of those who suffer from it. These are the typical depressed thoughts that sound so cliche when made explicit: I'm a failure, I don't deserve , I'll never improve, etc.

The book starts by discussing these thought patterns, along with tools and techniques to recognize when you're having an overly self-cri
...more
Jane
This book can help you identify twisted thinking and then change it to something more realistic. It was amazing to me to discover just how twisted, unhelpful and just plain irrational my thinking was! Most negative thinking falls into these categories. But so does "positive thinking" and affirmations -- they can be just as black and white, twisted and unhelpful. Feeling Good teaches you how to identify what Burns calls cognitive distortions and replace them with more rational and reasonable thou ...more
Tatiana
Jan 28, 2010 Tatiana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ANYONE struggling with depression or anxiety
Recommended to Tatiana by: Infinite PhDs and Counselors
This book saved me from the brink 5 years ago, by helping me to take control of my own negative spinning thoughts and applying Cognitive Rationale to them one at a time. It helped me go much farther in life and now, according to my new therapist, I have to revisit it. Bah!! Will i never learn to stop my catastrophic thinking permenantly? Anyways, whining aside, it's a much better option to do these simple exercises than drive myself to the madhouse for good. And the relief of not being a slave t ...more
Breanna
This book changed my life.

Dr. Burns is really easy to understand, and funny too, though I'm not sure if he means to be. I got through the book fairly quickly for its size, and I have currently been reading and re-reading it. It has become my bible. It comes with me everywhere. Once I read through it once, it became even easier to go back and find a certain subject if I felt I needed a little catch-up on something, so it is really excellent even after you do your initial reading. I wish I had th
...more
Natalie
This book helps people get over depression by realizing your thoughts sometimes lie to you, exaggerate or basically make no sense. For example, all or nothing, discounting the positive, or magnifying the negative. I can't believe how frequently I did this. The author is so persuasive and easy to read. This is literally one of the top life changing books I've ever read. I would definitely recommend it for depressed people AND average every day people.
Sheila
Oct 15, 2013 Sheila added it
This book is basically CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) in a box; I read it a couple of years ago in conjunction with a therapy program and picked it up again for a refresher. The anti-drugs bit is almost as annoying as I remembered, although he doesn't argue you should never take drugs. He's just not a fan. The actual CBT part is what I read it for.
VeNicia
As I've said before--there are 5s and there are "super 5s". This is a Super. It was recommended to me by someone after a divorce in Jan 2008. I ordered it and when it arrived was discouraged by it's small print & 700 pages, so it sat on my shelf for nearly 7 years. It was recommended to me a second time last month--different issues, different phase of life. I picked up the book again and read the first page. This man had me sold in the introduction. He knows his stuff. I'm on p123 currently ...more
Valerie
This was recommended to me by a therapist I respect greatly, who has studied with Dr Burns - a pioneer of Cognitive Therapy. However, i found the book very difficult to digest.
I think his style far too wordy and analytical for me, altho Burns is clearly an expert in the field and has definitely pinpointed the 'cognitive disfunction' or distorted thinking that leads to depression and loss of self-esteem or self-defeating behavior. He defines 10 main categories of Cognitive Distortions: All-or-Not
...more
Michael
This book provides an introduction to the methods of cognitive therapy, which starts with the idea that all feelings/moods are created by cognitions a.k.a. thoughts, and thus tackling distorted thoughts will improve one's mood. This methodology has a very modern and empirical ring to it; its insights are consistent with other (neuro)psychology books (e.g. Thinking, Fast and Slow) in that the latter books demonstrate our thoughts are filled with all sorts of distortions which lead to suboptimal o ...more
Courtney
"Feeling Good" outlines cognitive techniques for battling depression in the early chapters, then in the final 200 pages engages in a fairly in-depth discussion of brain chemistry and prescription drugs.

I came to this book already as a convert to cognitive behavioral techniques as a successful tool for conquering depression and anxiety, and author David Burns does a good job of explaining how these concepts work. The underlying idea is that people can overcome even severe mental health problems
...more
Suzy
May 08, 2008 Suzy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who get depressed
Recommended to Suzy by: my old therapist in Brooklyn
All-time best all-around self-help book!

This book identifies some very common errors in our thinking that lead to depression, helps you become aware of them and arms you to defeat them. Some of them, using the author's terms, are All-or-Nothing Thinking, Disqualifying the Positive, Should Statements, and Labeling and Mislabeling.

For example, you tell yourself (even without realizing it), "I didn't do a perfect job on that project, it was a failure. I never do anything right." These thoughts actu
...more
Elaine
I use David Burn's techniques from this book sometimes weekly, sometimes daily. I was familiarized with this book about 10 years ago and I still flip to page 40 to sort out "cognitive distortions." He has ways to pinpoint the thought processes that lead to sadness, anger, frustration, low self-image-- it is a logical and empowering tool to know how to quickly put out mental flares.

Just a few of these "cognitive distortions" include: All-or-nothing thinking ("you always forget my birthday"), Min
...more
Nick
This is one of the basic books for cognitive rational therapy. If you want to be a clear thinker, this book will help you. The work is conceptually simple but difficult to do; you have to stick with it. Highly recommended, and not just for depressed people. It's useful for anyone who wants to shed conceptual thinking problems and think like a champ. Every wannabe high achiever should read it, and act on it.
David
If you ever think "I'm sort of an okay person, why do I feel so BAD all the time?" you'll want to pick this up. An introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that's chatty and entertaining as well as thought-provoking and well-documented. Clearly written, with an endless supply of concrete examples as well as questionnaires so you can start applying the techniques yourself. It's also well structured: After briefly setting out the basic theory and citing research, he quickly gets to the nuts an ...more
Susan
Feb 28, 2009 Susan is currently reading it
Distortions:
1. All-or-Nothing Thinking (dichotomous thinking)
2. Over generalization
3. Mental Filter (selective abstraction)
4. Disqualifying the Positive (reverse alchemy) One of
.........the most destructive forms of cognitive
.........distortion.
5. Jumping to Conclusions
6. Magnification (Catastrophizing) Minimization
7. Emotional Reasoning - Negative feelings guide actions ....................(I feel it therefore it must be true.)
8. Should Statements - Create self loathing,shame & guilt ...
...more
Irina Preda
This is an INCREDIBLE book! It helped me so much change my perspective on things! I will definitely read it again because I feel that I need to integrate better all the helpful info that I found in it but just by reading it one time I learned so much about the various techniques to fight anxiety and depression. People should get educated about this topic and no longer consider it a taboo. Unfortunately anxiety and depression and mental illness in general is still a taboo whether we admit it or n ...more
Wendy
Jan 12, 2014 Wendy added it
Shelves: couldnt-finish
I decided not to finish this one. One therapist recommended it, and I eagerly began reading it only to find that it's extremely dry, repetitive, and not all that insightful. The next therapist I spoke to gave me a flyer that had all the information that I'd gathered from the first third of the book all neatly summarized on one page.

I'm thinking that maybe this wasn't the book for me in the first place. I don't think that I'm clinically depressed, even though I do have a lot of the distorted thi
...more
Patrick Fleet
This was a good read. I picked this book up, because although I am not depressed, I have some shy streaks that make me not as happy as I could be, and I tend to fall into routines frequently. I liked the advice in this book.
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David D. Burns is an adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the author of the best-selling book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Burns popularized cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) when his book became a best seller during the 1980s.

Burns received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1964 and his M.D. fro
...more
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“Table 3–1. Definitions of Cognitive Distortions 1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. 2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. 3. MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that colors the entire beaker of water. 4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences. 5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. a. Mind reading. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out. b. The Fortune Teller Error. You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact. 6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.” 7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.” 8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment. 9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: “He’s a goddam louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded. 10. PERSONALIZATION: You see yourself as me cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.” 4 likes
“Much everyday anger results when we confuse our own personal wants with general moral codes.” 1 likes
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