This book is very readable. Much of the science is not very fascinating--while animal intelligence needs to be proven, it's something that many laypeo...moreThis book is very readable. Much of the science is not very fascinating--while animal intelligence needs to be proven, it's something that many laypeople and pet owners already understand quite well. However if you're a parrot owner or potential parrot owner, it is really interesting to see a method of teaching the parrot how to talk, not only so they can mimic you, but so that they can hold actual conversations with you. The human-parrot dialogues quoted in the book are quite funny or moving.(less)
The writing style is in the manner of an overhyped bestseller, but if you can get past that it doesn't detract from the value of its contents. It addr...moreThe writing style is in the manner of an overhyped bestseller, but if you can get past that it doesn't detract from the value of its contents. It addresses four biochemicals that are of particular importance to the brain, and to our mental, emotional, and energetic states: dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin. In short, and from what I understood, dopamine provides motivation, wanting, determination, and caffeine-like energy; acetylcholine provides memory, clarity of thought, inspiration, perception and an orientation towards that which is big-picture, artistic, and mystical; GABA harmonizes the brain rhythm and provides calmness, ease, and an orientation towards organization and support; serotonin provides a loving, fun-loving, personable quality, and renews the brain during sleep.
One detail that is fascinating to me is that these align perfectly with the four humors of traditional Western medicine; dopamine is choleric, acetylcholine is melancholic (see the etymological connection as well?), GABA is phlegmatic, and serotonin is sanguine.
The book is not arranged in a way that makes perfect sense. Once you get into the chapters for the specific biochemicals, taking dopamine as an example, they start with "the dopamine dominant personality" then they address "dopamine deficiency" but with a focus on the dopamine dominant person being dopamine deficient... then they address lifestyle approaches for the dopamine dominant person to moderate the possible overinfluence of dopamine. Most readers will probably find that they are deficient in a chemical other than their dominant one, so it doesn't make sense to emphasize deficiencies in the dominant chemical, although one can still use the information provided. Also there's nothing, as far as I can tell, on lifestyle changes to boost given biochemicals rather than to moderate them. What it comes down to is that the author will tell you which medications are compatible with that particular deficiency... and will provide a short list of protein-rich foods which the body will transform into the given biochemical. (Cottage cheese is apparently a miracle food. Yum.) He also provides a list of supplements that can aid in the boosting of the deficient biochemical, but this list is ridiculously long and he doesn't prioritize them at all; this is probably because he makes money selling supplements that are composed of these different materials, and it's in his interest not to make it *too* easy to go without buying his products.
I don't have enough scientific knowledge to really evaluate the accuracy of all this information. It basically makes sense to me, but he's addressing only a very small part of the body's symphony of nutrition and interactions. I've also had a hard time finding other sources for this subject on the web to provide context and second opinions. From what I have read, it seems that these biochemicals are influenced by a number of factors beyond one's diet, and I'd like to understand that more fully. "The Mood Cure" is on a similar subject, so I'll read that as well and see if it will fill in any of the gaps.
With all its faults, this book is definitely worth reading if you have any mental, emotional, and/or energetic issues that have defied other forms of treatment.(less)