Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping” as Want to Read:
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  4,673 Ratings  ·  410 Reviews
Renowned primatologist Robert Sapolsky offers a completely revised and updated edition of his most popular work, with nearly 90,000 copies in print

Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky's acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder an
ebook, Third Edition, 560 pages
Published September 15th 2004 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1993)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 16, 2010 Punk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Non-Fiction. Twelve chapters on how stress is going to kill you, followed by six chapters on why stress is stressful, when it's not, and what we can do about it.

If you're a worrier, this may not be the book for you. I won't lie, it upset me in the beginning. There are so many ways that stress can affect your health, your memory, the way you age, how you deal with stressors, and even how your children deal with stressors. The book can become a source of stress itself, one that far outweighs the f
Sep 21, 2007 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: non-fiction
I encountered a link to a speech by Sapolsky on Pharyngula, I think, and was immediately engaged by his speaking style. His books, or this one at least, is similarly easy to get into, and manages to discuss topics of fair complexity in an incredibly approachable way. He's clearly aware that his book might be read by a wide range of audiences, and strives to provide something for everyone. I'll definitely be working my way through the rest of his catalog.

The book is fascinating, too, although as
Chung Chin
This is a book packed full of information on how stress can cause our body to go haywire. You will find explanation for how stress affects your weight, sleep, and health in general.
Although there are still lots of jargon and terms in the book that you will find alien, the explanation is given in the most simple way possible, making it an accessible material in general.

However, after reading through all the chapters on how stress can wreak havoc to our body, you don't actually get a lot of materi
Dec 29, 2011 susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is hands down the best medical book I have ever read. In a series of memorable and highly amusing stories and anecdotes Sapolsky explains the complex biology behind why well known principles of psychology, religion, new age philosophy and even voodoo curses work.

The central story of the book is how the fight or flight response – the most powerful force that has shaped vertebrate evolution for hundreds of millions of years - is now being turned against modern humans through chronic stress a
Atila Iamarino
Gostei muito do primeiro livro do Robert Sapolsky, o Memórias de um Primata. E este não me desapontou. Muito bem embasado, com bastante pesquisa (e prática) sobre o que é o estresse, como funciona e como nós lidamos bem ou mal com isso. Com aquela discussão necessária de natureza vs. criação, bons exemplos e um bom humor que te mantém ligado ao texto. Do tipo de livro que recomendo para leigos também.
Troy Blackford
Feb 03, 2016 Troy Blackford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Sapolsky is everything you could want from an author on a serious topic like stress: a world-class leader in the field of research, a clear and perceptive writer, and equal parts hilarious and profound. Learning about the physiology and psychology of stress would be interesting either way, but learning about it through his book is at least doubly so. Highly recommended.
Apr 03, 2016 hayden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is hi-la-ri-ous.

not only does sapolsky brilliantly explain the science in an easily digestible way, he does it with flair and humor. had to read this for a class about stress and coping, and i found myself looking forward to each assignment.
Abdullah Al-Abri
Jan 14, 2017 Abdullah Al-Abri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
الكتاب يتناول موضوع القلق وتاثيره على الجسم والانسان بشكل عام منذ قبل ولاده وحتى طفولته وحتى موته وهل يؤثر قلقه وقلق امه ومجتمعه ومن حوله عليه بطريقة مباشرة او غير مباشرة

وفي الختام يعطي نصائح على كيفية التخلص من القلق والتقليل منه

قرأة ممتعة للجميع
Nick Weeks
Well researched book. Sapolsky, who I am a big fan of, explains why certain types of stresses like long work days end up having more serious negative effects on your physiology than do other types of stress such as a lion chasing after you. Sure the lion stresses you out then and there but a week from now your bodily functions won't still be affected by it.

My one beef with this book is that it doesn't give you much in the way of how to handle stress. I felt somewhat more stressed after reading
Chris Herdt
May 11, 2010 Chris Herdt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a good introduction to stress and its effects on physiology and psychology (Nicola's area of expertise). Although it is written for a lay audience, I often got the feeling it was written for a lay audience of primarily MDs.

By the end of the book, you will feel like you and epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucocorticoids are all old friends--but in spite of the terminology, it is really an easy read and full of good humor and interesting anecdotes (e.g. hyenas are very peculiar).

Aug 07, 2011 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sapolsky's primer on neuroendocrinology benefits greatly from a new edition in that the metaphors are more topical and a great deal of old theory has been validated by modern research, showing that psychological stress does indeed ultimately have a physiological component (organ stress due to wildly fluctuating hormone levels). The upshot is that we all need to find our own unique ways of coping with stress based on our personality types and numerous other factors in order to live long and healt ...more
To summarize: Adrenaline is a DEATH drug. It's designed to keep you alive for the next 15 seconds, or to ease your death. As such, it's necessarily thriftless. If you can survive to the 16th second only by losing a limb, it's worthwhile to sacrifice the limb. Otherwise, it's wasteful and disabling.

Zebras don't get ulcers because they (mostly) only release stress hormones 'in the event of an actual emergency'. Humans deliberately evoke stress on an everyday basis, and the reckless decisions the b
Sep 12, 2010 kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, Sapolsky is a delightful writer. For a rather depressing book on all the scientifically understood harmful effects of stress, this book is often laugh out loud funny. But beyond that, Sapolsky is brilliant. He makes complex topics seem simple, but doesn't simplify to the point of losing the complexity. Quite a feat. If you are ever curious about examining what stress really is, and what effect it has on your body, this book is a must-read (especially useful I think for yoga teachers).
Oct 02, 2011 Rosalía rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Mr. Sapolsky attacks a very scientific subject with wit and charm. If you're a biologist or anthropologist or like me, just a reader who's interested in finding out more about our bodies and about my disease, multiple sclerosis, you will greatly enjoy this book. I took it in chunks and that was probably the best thing to do but I do recommend it for anyone who's curious about how chronic stress affects the human body.
Alex Strick van Linschoten
More like 3.5. This is an excellent book if you like *explanations* for why things happen (stress, i.e.) and its (multitudinous) effects on the body. If you're looking for ways to mitigate stress, this probably isn't the book for you. Overall, a useful framework for the physiological effects of stress.
Apr 28, 2016 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Well written and really funny. This all sums up for a really easy read even with all those scientific terms.
Teo 2050
~8.5h @2x. After finding some of Sapolsky's lectures amazingly entertaining & informative at the same time, I had high hopes for an audiobook. IMO, Peter Berkrot's narration fit Sapolsky's style well: at least they've now both managed to surprise & induce laughter in a similar manner. Some combination of the book's structure & its narration caused me to conclude that it's a bit too entertaining for five stars, so I gave it four & a favorite tag. I mean, this is a great and humoro ...more
May 01, 2016 Asim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book but think for most people this book will not be more than a 3.5* hence the rating. My bias is simply that I and am a big fan of Dr Sapolsky after attending his course on Human Behavioral Biology. He covers the driest of things with humor and charm. I would recommend the first four lectures to everyone.

Our body is designed to respond to stressful situations. We are, just like the zebra, wired to temporarily alter our physiology when a lion shows up during our leisurely aftern
Jun 13, 2012 Meg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book! A highly readable (and very funny) exploration of how stress affects human health. The book is a little long (as it covers a lot of ground) but it reads quickly, and the science descriptions were extremely lucid and easy to follow. I appreciated that the author repeated frequently that the mind-body connection can never be reduced to either "It's all genes" or "It's all in your mind", and refused to buy into either extreme. I felt he had a very sane approach to th ...more
Jan 26, 2012 Terence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I like to throw a little nonfiction onto my night stand every now and then to help broaden my horizons and to learn a little more about new subject areas. And this was the perfect book for just that. The author writes in a lucid style infused with a sense of personal familiarty and playfulness that helps ameliorate some of the denser concepts. And though I didn't take notes as I was reading there is a little part of me that regrets that I didn't. Even so I come away from this with a much great a ...more
Theresa Truax-Gischler
I read this book several years ago, and still go back to it periodically for a refresher course. If you ever thought that stress was not a killer, that we are not heavily influenced by our environment and our responses to it, think again and read this book. Sapolsky’s meticulously detailed research and literature survey on stress is a lovely biology science complement to implementing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approaches to your own life. The structure of our brain, our metabolism, our ho ...more
Aug 22, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliantly written analysis of stress. The basics are simple and well understood, but Sapolsky gets into the details and they are fascinating. For example, if a child suffers extreme stress, he/she can simply stop growing. In a Victorian example, a family with two sons suffered the death of the older child from one of those dread Victorian diseases. The mother took to her bed and refused to recognize the younger son for the rest of her life, instead greeting him as the ghost of her dead son w ...more
Bob Klein
Sapolsky is an amazing writer and Primate's Memoir ranks as one of my favorite books. That said, the title, cover, and prior experience with Primate's Memoir led me to have unrealistic expectations of this book. It is thorough and well-written, but approaches the topic of stress from a phsyiological perspective that doesn't spare any of the details. As such, it often calmed my stress by putting me to sleep. The subtitle's promise of a section on "coping" with stress didn't pan out, and amounted ...more
Loránd Szakács
A good introduction to the effects of stress on human physiology, as good, and comprehensive as a lay-person can wish for. It elaborates greatly on the negative effects of artificially, and repeatedly triggering stress responses that were evolved to get us out of mortal danger, at the same time giving clear headed explanations as to why these responses might be useful in the first place, and why they are beneficial when controlled, and used sparingly.

All in all, for someone who had little knowle
Dec 25, 2013 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Years ago I read A Primate's Memoir and was enthralled at Sapolsky's style of writing, sense of humor, and ability to communicate complex scientific ideas into fully graspable concepts for non-scientists. This last year, I've been battling stress related illness, and I was recommended this book by health professionals. This book is no exception to Sapolsky's brilliance, style, humor, politically nuanced lessons, outstandingly easy to understand explanations of complex neuropharmacology processes ...more
Sarah Evan
I really appreciated this Stanford academic's take on stress - he involved his exceptional understanding of human biology as it relates to stress to real-life scenarios. Additionally, the chapters were well separated so the reader can bounce around to what interests her. I highly recommend the whole book for anyone who is interested in the topic of stress (reduction), but also if you suffer from one of the chapter headings (e.g. depression or weight issues) the single chapter can help you get a ...more
This is a pretty good book on stress, in animals as well as humans. I like his scientific style (though as with most academics, his prose style could be improved). He has a straight-forward way of presenting complex information without dumbing it down too much (I've been comparing it to an actual endocrinology textbook).
The end of the book also provides a much-needed element of perspective on what it really means to be poor in America, discussing why universal health care won't make a huge diff
Charles Gallagher
In Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, acclaimed biologist Robert Sapolsky combines humor and science to deliver fascinating information about stress and the many diseases caused by stress.
As far as nonfiction goes, this was the most entertaining and informative book I have read. This book would be great for anyone interested in learning the science behind stress and it's effects on the body while enjoying themselves.
Mar 19, 2011 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's be clear this is not light-reading. It is funny fairly often but it is long and fairly tough going. This is not because the author is a bad writer, he is a great writer. I wouldn't want to read this by any other author. This is not a medical textbook but this is not your normal pop-science book. You will learn a ton about your body and how it functions. I still need to re-read the chapters explaining immune system functioning, heart disease and a few others to really get those.
Rebekka Steg
I listened to the audiobook, can't believe I waited for so long. For some reason I thought that a book that had been out for over a decade would be outdated - I was wrong. Not only has the book been updated for the latest release, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers is thorough, detailed, funny and full of fascinating information on how stress affects us even before birth. Highly recommended.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: # 124 - Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers 1 1 Dec 20, 2015 11:13AM  
  • The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions
  • A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers
  • The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life
  • The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit
  • The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates The Complexities of Human Thought
  • The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness
  • Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution
  • Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding
  • Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition
  • Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America
  • Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology
  • Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique
  • The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach
  • Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World
  • Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia
  • On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not
  • White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine
  • The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing: The Experience and Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Robert Maurice Sapolsky is the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences, and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, and by courtesy, Neurosurgery, at Stanford University.
More about Robert M. Sapolsky...

Share This Book

“If I had to define a major depression in a single sentence, I would describe it as a "genetic/neurochemical disorder requiring a strong environmental trigger whose characteristic manifestation is an inability to appreciate sunsets.” 60 likes
“On an incredibly simplistic level, you can think of depression as occurring when your cortex thinks an abstract thought and manages to convince the rest of the brain that this is as real as a physical stressor.” 17 likes
More quotes…