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The Hacking of the American Mind: Inside the Sugar-Coated Plot to Confuse Pleasure with Happiness

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,635 ratings  ·  219 reviews
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 toxic and addictive properties of sugar for his New York Times bestseller Fat Chance, Robert Lustig made an alarming discovery—our pursuit of happiness is being subverted
...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Avery
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Michael Perkins
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Elizabeth Gillingham
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.
...more
Sonja Arlow
3 ½ 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 needl
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Tonstant Weader
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
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Patricia
Pleasure is not the same as happiness. Don’t eat sugar. The end.
~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ Wells
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)
Lynda
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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Emre Sevinç
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a weird title for a book whose first half is an excellent exposition of very important and critical biochemical pathways in the brains of all human beings, including people of USA. Dr. Lustig explains the mesolimbic pathway (reward pathway) and serotonin pathways, as well as how one of the major hormones related to stress, cortisol, interacts with dopamine and serotonin. In layman's terms, he manages to clearly explain the fundamental biochemical differences between short-term pleasure that ...more
Audrey
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Faith Justice
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Alexander Fitzgerald
I'm going to do what another reviewer did and copy a review that was on Amazon which surgically breaks down the content of this book. You'll understand once you read it why I copied and pasted.

This is one of the deepest books I've ever read. It is dense. It is not an easy read. You have to take your time with it.

Crazily enough, it's still entertaining. Despite what a mental giant Robert H. Lustig is, he's still able to relate with normal people.

Once you're done reading however you will be a d
...more
Mike
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, science
_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
...more
Edward
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Luther
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Ellen
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Brahm
Oct 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 with
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Stacey
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amona
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author uses biochemistry to educate the reader about the toxic environment we are in which is entirely interesting up until a point but how many times can you emphasize how addictive sugar is in relation to cortisol levels and dopamine? Too many times and I have to start looking for more carrots to keep me finding fascinating or life changing details to help finish the book.

In American society it is probably essential to understand the difference between pleasure and contentment because mark
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Jay Rain
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating - 9.1

Comments
Don't have the mindset to appreciate all of the science & brain chemistry however a great job of connecting the dots between happiness & pleasure & the primary contributors to the decline of contentment

Happiness is People, Happiness is Experiences & Happiness is You is a fantastic mantra & should be posterized; Also respect the amount of research/corporate examples used to support the main points

Notes
Don't have the mindset to appreciate all of the science & brain chemistry ho
...more
Mack Hayden
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psych
The subtitle of this book is a little misleading. While Lustig certainly does allude to ways our society has driven us to unhealthy habits, the focal point here is still on the bad habits themselves. The key insight of the book is that we're so anxious to trigger dopamine kicks (through drugs, sugar, social media, consumerism, etc) that we've wrecked our serotonin levels. The layman's translation is that our constant pleasure-seeking has ruined our ability to experience contentment or a general ...more
ElmerFudd28
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Roni
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, health, 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 ...more
Assad
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very informative.
Stephanie
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was extremely insightful and scary. I learned a lot.
Liz
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you want to understand the science behind why so many people can't look away from their phones, this is a good book to read. Lustig explains the neuroscience behind various constructed addictions in our society (including sugar) and then lays out a plan on how to break away from those addictions. It's a very interesting read with lots of food for thought. ...more
Tim Johnson
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
...more
David Lloyd
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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

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24 likes · 6 comments
“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.” 6 likes
“But fear not, there does appear to be one dietary item that can mitigate the damage that sugar does to the brain and promote the biochemistry and the processes that can predispose us to happiness. And perhaps not surprisingly its presence in the diet correlates positively with tryptophan and negatively with sugar. What is this magic chemical? It’s omega-3 fatty acids, of all things.” 1 likes
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