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The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome

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What's wrong with being a people pleaser? Plenty!

People pleasers are not just nice people who go overboard trying to make everyone happy. Those who suffer from the Disease to Please are people who say "Yes" when they really want to say "No." For them, the uncontrollable need for the elusive approval of others is an addiction. Their debilitating fears of anger and confrontation force them to use "niceness" and "people-pleasing" as self-defense camouflage.

Featured on NBC's "Today," The Disease to Please explodes the dangerous myth that "people pleasing" is a benign problem. Best-selling author and frequent Oprah guest Dr. Harriet Braiker offers clear, positive, practical, and easily do-able steps toward recovery.

Begin with a simple but revealing quiz to discover what type of people-pleaser you are. Then learn how making even small changes to any single portion of the Disease to Please Triangle - involving your thoughts, feelings, and behavior - will cause a dramatic, positive and long-lasting change to the overall syndrome.

As a recovered peoplepleaser, you will finally see that a balanced way of living that takes others into consideration but puts the emphasis first on pleasing yourself and gaining your own approval is the clearest path to health and happiness.

285 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2000

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About the author

Harriet B. Braiker

17 books29 followers
Dr. Braiker was a practicing clinical psychologist and management consultant in Los Angeles/Beverly Hills and Pasadena, California, for more than 25 years. The author of many highly successful popular psychology books, she also authored numerous scholarly award-winning research books and other academic publications. Dr. Braiker was an internationally recognized authority on stress and women's issues who was always in great demand as a public speaker. She was a contributing editor and columnist for Working Woman and Lear's, and also wrote for many other national women's magazines. Frequently quoted in the media, Dr. Braiker appeared many times on such national talk shows as Oprah, The Today Show, Larry King, Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, Hour Magazine and Sonya Live, as well as on hard news shows such as NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and CNN.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 97 reviews
Profile Image for Tamila.
42 reviews320 followers
February 6, 2019
من ترجمه فارسی این کتاب ،مهرطلبی، را ایران خوانده بودم. یکی از کتابهایی بود که چشم من را به مشکلات درونی خودم باز کرده بود . بعد از مهاجرت دوباره خواندم که توصیه های نویسنده را فراموش نکنم. این کتاب را به کسانیکه درگیر این مشکل هستند خیلی پیشنهاد میکنم. به نظرم‌ پدر و مادرها هم باید بخوانند که یادشان باشه که هر جمله آنها چه تاثیری روی فرزندان داره. این نویسنده کتاب دیگری با عنوان ”اختیار شما در دست کیست؟” هم داره که خواندن‌آن هم خالی از لطف نیست.
Profile Image for Jill.
55 reviews2 followers
November 12, 2007
This book changed my life. I would recommend it to any who grew up Catholic & Guilty.
101 reviews15 followers
December 19, 2016
شاید فکر کنیم که با به دست آوردن تایید، تصدیق، تمجید و یا خوشنود کردن دیگران بتونیم محبت و احترام اونها رو به خودمون زیاد کنیم و شاید از ایجاد بعضی از مشکلات جلوگیری کنیم. اما این کار در واقع نه تنها این هدف رو تامین نمی کنه، بلکه برعکس باعث می شه تا بعد از مدتی احترام خودمون رو از دست بدیم و برای فرد مقابل پیش پا افتاده و بی اهمیت بشیم.
مرزبندی مشخص بین رفتار قابل قبول و غیر قابل قبول و داشتن اراده لازم برای اعتراض و مقابله در صورت رد شدن طرف از این مرز و البته استقلال فکری و متکی بودن به خودمون راه درمان این مشکله. این که فکر کنیم شادی و خوشحالی ما وابسته به تایید و رضایت دیگرانه، در حقیقت پشت پا زدن به زندگی خودمونه. و البته خیلی ها تلاش می کنن تا طوری به ما وانمود کنن که بدون اونها و یا بدون تایید و تصدیق اونها زندگی ما چیزی کم داره. شفافیت توی تعیین ارزشهامون و پیدا کردن شهامت نه گفتن در صورت نیاز و حتا مواجهه با موقعیت های ناخوشایند و یا درگیر شدن برای حفظ تمامیت جسمی و فکری و روانی خودمون برای رها شدن از خشنود کردن دیگران به هزینه خودمون لازمه. نیازی نیست حتما درگیر بشیم، اما نباید به خاطر ترس از ناخشنودی، ناراحتی و جلب رضایت دیگران، مواجهه و رو به رو شدن با طرف مقابل رو کنار بذاریم.
باید یادت باشه که توی زندگی تو، خودت اصلی‌ترین حادثه‌ای.
یک موضوع تصادفی:
وقتی به این کتاب گوش می دادم به الاغ فکر می کردم. خر حیوون خیلی آروم و سر به راهیه و خیلی مفیده و کمک می کنه. اما کسی براش اهمیتی قائل نیست. سخت ترین کارها در برابر بدترین شرایط تغذیه ای و نگهداری و توی خیلی از موارد مورد سوء استفاده واقع شدن، زندگی عادی این حیوونه. اما از طرف دیگه شیر، برای ما محترمه. با اینکه هیچ فایده ای برای ما نداره و البته یک خطر بالقوه برای جان و مال ماست. تفاوت این دو تا توی همون مرزبندی رفتار قابل قبول و غیر قابل قبوله: ما یاد گرفتیم که «با دم شیر بازی نکنیم» در غیر این صورت باید هزینه اش رو پرداخت کنیم که هزینه پایینی هم نیست. اما در مورد خر چنین مرزبندی ای وجود نداره. حیوون تا حد زیادی رفتار ما رو تحمل می کنه؛ یعنی چاره دیگه ای نداره. رفتار آدم ها با بقیه آدم ها هم از همین قانون تبعیت می کنه. به عبارتی مظلوم هم توی ظلم به اندازه ظالم مقصره. باید ایستاد و نه گفت و حاضر بود تا در صورت نیاز بهای اون رو هم بپردازیم. اما اگه یک بار این اتفاق بیافته، نه تنها فرد مقابل، بلکه دیگرانی که با ما مواجه می شن، حد و مرز ما رو به رسمیت می شناسن.
Profile Image for Zoe.
763 reviews175 followers
April 3, 2017
I know this isn't my usual genre and most of my GR buddies won't find the review helpful. I read the book to learn more about the subject and I did. It discusses 3 major types of the so called people pleasers and what conditions them to constantly put others' needs before themselves and finally discusses practical steps one could do to say no when they actually want to. I find the book very helpful and informative. I would recommend the book to anyone who has trouble telling people what they really think due to various reasons discussed in this book.
Profile Image for HMS.
136 reviews
October 16, 2011
As I'm reading this, I'm looking around at friends and family, colleagues and acquaintances and seeing the patterns that pop up in this book. It's really interesting: from overworking yourself to an inability to find your own self worth, to separating who you ARE from what you DO. I'm still waiting to see where it takes me and to see if I ever quite get the 'fix'.

OK after the fact: I liked it and found it helpful. Braiker did get around to helpful hints to break the self-destructive cycle. She also writes quite fluently about family dynamics that create this issue and I find myself looking a little more critically at what I do as a parent as well as what I do as a person. I've been able to make a shift to greater self-acceptance and not worry so much about others thoughts and realize that my motives aren't sinister, so I should accept the rub when it comes. I think this really boils down to learning to trust yourself and your judgement.
37 reviews
April 15, 2018
A surprisingly profound and life-changing read. (Keep in mind, this book is intended for people-pleasers, but I think everyone can learn something from it. Because even if you aren't one, you most likely know and interact with someone who is).

Some of my key takeaways are this:

- Your people-pleasing tendencies are likely the result of traumatic childhood experiences. You should delve into your past, and try to understand what circumstances/situations/events may have influenced your behavior. As a child, you are very vulnerable and sensitive. If you witness or experience conflict around you, then you might become a people-pleaser as a defense-mechanism/coping strategy. Your instincts tell you that your survival depends on the safety/predictably of your environment...so you may put your needs on the back-burner in order to not rock the boat or make yourself a burden on those around you. But these habits carry on into adulthood, when you be living independently and prioritizing your own needs.

- Approval can be like a drug. Seeking approval could develop into an addiction/compulsion, like gambling or drinking alcohol. When the occasional person commends you for your people-pleasing actions, this reinforces your destructive behavior...because it's like a hit of dopamine that drives you to seek more and more to get that feeling.

- Some people may never like you, regardless of what you say or do. So you have to accept that this may be outside of your control.

- If you prioritize other peoples' needs above your own, then you're setting yourself up to get burnt out and resentful.

- Anger is a natural human emotion, and you're not helping yourself by trying to suppress/deny/reject it.

- Conflict is inevitable and healthy. Trying to avoid conflict causes resentment and drags out issues longer than necessary. Conflict management and resolution are essential skills for leading an effective life.
Profile Image for Farideh fereydoonian.
66 reviews11 followers
December 29, 2018
جز بهترین کتاب های مربوط به حوزه مهرطلبی هستش. علاوه بر اینکه به خوبی مفهوم مهرطلبی رو توضیح میده، یکایک عواملی که منجر به مهرطلبی میشه رو باز میکنه و توی فصل های جدا با مثال توضیح میده. خوندنش میتونه حیرت زنده تون کنه، چون به نکات ریزی اشاره میکنه که دلیل رفتارهای مهرطلبانه رو متوجه بشیم. در اخر هم یه برنامه بیست و یک روزه داره برای کسانی که میخوان مشکلشون رو برطرف کنن. در کل اگر میخواید با این مفهوم عمیق تر و بصورت کامل آشنا بشین این کتاب انتخاب خوبیه
Profile Image for Jonathan.
86 reviews8 followers
December 21, 2014
Oh wow, I can't believe I even tried to read this, but I do have to say it came at the recommendation of a highly credible source. I can't say I regret reading it, but I'm happy to not have to deal with the author's unrelenting insistence that all the nice people in the world are suffering from some kind of pathological sickness in need of purification, or healing, or burning at the stake, or whatever. It's not all bad though, as I liked the idea of renewing our ownership of the word 'no', not needing to be nice all the time, and volunteering to take "time-outs" to help others control their anger. I'd really like to try that one sometime.
Profile Image for Aliya.
53 reviews
October 11, 2014
I was a people pleaser and would have panic attacks and actually have health problems from trying to please who don't even care about me. Once I realized that, I am able to breathe and focus on what is important to me, which is my health and disease ( multiple sclerosis ) and my family. Best book ever!
Profile Image for hannah.
23 reviews4 followers
January 27, 2018
While it may not be a page-turner, it's nonetheless a practical read for people having issue with over-niceness.
Profile Image for Nassim So.
2 reviews
March 6, 2023
I loved the last chapter about conflict resolution and the people pleasing behavior that was explained in details and the root causes of it.
Aside from that I think the book mostly talks about the symptoms of people pleasing rather than proposing solutions. I also didn't appreciate that the examples were mainly about women and their marriages and their husbands. These examples were important scenarios to make a point but the examples could be about all kinds people and different kinds of relationships in various environments.
Profile Image for ⚜Angela⚜.
307 reviews9 followers
December 14, 2019
DNF AT 64%

The book should be re-titled: The Disease to Please, Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome...In Women!! Why does the author assume only women tend to people-please? There is no mention of an example of a man. How close-minded, unprofessional and inappropriate. Not all women are mats to be stepped upon and not all mats to be stepped upon are women. All people have people-pleasing tendencies, not only women. What a limited viewpoint. Certainly, there is some good advice in this book about the matter at hand and that's why I gave it two stars but I simply could not bear another second of reading about women pleasing men to stop them from leaving them. How disappointing that this book was written by a woman. I am no feminist, at least not the modern, man-hating version, but this pissed me off enough to give up on it halfway which I hate doing to books.
Profile Image for Robin.
52 reviews4 followers
January 26, 2022
This is the first book that I've ever specifically read on people pleasing and I think it is a really great introductive resource. It was well broken down into easily digestible pieces, and easily applicable to a variety of situations. I really appreciated the amount of anecdotes available from people who dealt with this because it really helps solidify the identification of those behaviors coming from actual experiences. I'm really glad that I read this book because it's given me a great jumping off point to help mitigate and correct some behaviors that I've had in my person since childhood, and I am really determined to make that change. Some of the language is still pretty outdated though, and I would love to see this revised with the use of the singular they pronoun. The constant "he-or-she" negotiation is really notably dated, and could be easily changed.
Profile Image for Kristy.
468 reviews3 followers
May 18, 2019
Interesting read. The first half of the book I was pretty undecided about whether I had the disease to please. I do have a hard time saying no to people. As the book went along I came to more and more of the conclusion that I don't have the "disease". It pretty much comes down to your motivation behind doing nice things for others, and I decided mine were ok. :) Even so, there were some good take aways.
Profile Image for Bahman Bahman.
Author 3 books209 followers
May 26, 2019
پرسشنامه ای در این کتاب وجود دارد به نام “آیا با بیماری مهرطلبی رو به رو هستی؟” این پرسشنامه کمک می کند تا به علل و اسباب سندرم بیماری راضی کردن دیگران پی ببرید. با تکمیل این پرسشنامه متوجه می شوید، بیماری مهرطلبی شما ناشی از کدامیک سه ضلع مثلث بیماری راضی کردن می باشد: رفتار وسواسی و اضطرارگونه یا خطای شناختی و یا اجتناب از احساسات منفی است. همه مهرطلب ها در چنین موقعیتی قرار دارند اما به احتمال زیاد یکی از این سه بیشتر در شکل گیری بیماری آنها نقش داشته است.
Profile Image for Kelsey Danahy.
25 reviews
January 14, 2023
Insightful read recommended to me by my therapist. Although overall I feel like this book could have been more condensed, the chapters on navigating conflict were especially helpful and there were plenty of powerful one liners throughout. Approach this one with a take some/leave some mentality!
Profile Image for Zosia.
440 reviews
July 26, 2022
(3.5) Sometimes when I can't sleep, I decide I need to figure out what My Deal is and I borrow self-help books from the library. Last week I decided my deal was people pleasing and, well, here we are!

I got some nuggets that worked for me, namely the idea that trying to be a nice person 100% of the time is disingenuous and can turn you into a bad communicator and get you the opposite results you want. And it won't save you from rejection or criticism. That's helpful reframing for me and kind of the kick in the ass I needed.

The book was more geared towards people who have trouble saying no, which is not my thing (I love to say no), but if it's your thing, you'll get even more out of this.
Profile Image for Jordyn Williams.
91 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2022
I was honestly shocked to learn that I am a people pleaser and that this is where a good bit of my anxiety stems from. This book was a great tool in helping me learn more about this psychological challenge. I wish that there had been more diverse examples of people who struggle with people pleasing as I didn’t relate to many very well, but I still found the examples helpful.
Profile Image for AJW.
332 reviews12 followers
May 22, 2022
I found this book to be informative, helpful and practical and would recommend it to anyone who knows that they’re making life difficult for themselves because they can’t say “No” to anybody who makes a demand on them.

I bought this book following an incident when I was talking to a friend saying I didn’t want to participate in an all-day event, and was interrupted by somebody I barely knew who asked me to participate in the said event and my knee jerk reply in front of my friend was “Yes” though inside I was screaming “NOOOOOOO!!!!”. I couldn’t stop myself as I wanted to please. I felt such a hypocrite.

The book is very nitty gritty with loads of practical tips and exercises to do. I was particularly challenged by a chapter that said I had to stop thinking of myself as a nice person and no longer use the word “nice” to describe myself. Being nice was my core value. I loved it when people said I was nice. But wanting to be nice all the time meant I couldn’t say “No” as that wouldn’t be nice.

But the sad reality is that despite nearly killing myself in efforts in trying to please everybody, I still failed to do so :(

I want everyone to like me as I hate conflict, but this book told me that conflict can be constructive and gives practical tips on how to manage conflict.
Profile Image for Sarbook.
330 reviews40 followers
August 30, 2017
مهرطلبی نوعی رفتار است که دکتر هاریت بریکر در کتابی به همین نام به آن پرداخته است. او مهرطلبی را این‌طور تعریف می‌کند:
«بیماری راضی کردن حکایتی در باب کسانی نیست که گه¬‌گاه برای راضی و خشنود کردن دیگران راه درازی را می¬‌پیمایند. مهرطلبی یا بیماری راضی کردن در واقع یک مسأله¬ روانی رنجور کننده¬‌ای است که نتایجی جدی و ناخوشایند بر جای می‌¬گذارد.»
مهرطلبی به معنای فداکاری و گذشت نیست، و مهرطلب‌ها در حقیقت کسانی نیستند که می‌خواهند همه خوشحال باشند، بلکه افرادی هستند که بر خلاف میل باطنی توانایی نه گفتن ندارند. چنین افرادی در واقع به تأیید و جلب خشنودی دیگران نیاز دارند و غالب تصمیماتی که می‌گیرند در راستای دریافت تأیید اطرافیان است. این افراد از بروز هر نوع برخورد و تعارض با اطرافیان به شدت گریزانند.

دکتر هاریت بریکر در کتاب حاضر ضمن تعریف این رفتار گام‌های روشن، عملی و آسانی برای بهبود و دور ماندن از آن ارائه کرده است. او در کتاب «مهرطلبی» پرسش‌نامه‌های متعددی آورده است تا خواننده بتواند از جنبه‌ها و میزان مهرطلبی خود آگاه شود و با آن مقابله کند. راهکارهای ارائه شده در این کتاب می‌تواند موجب تغییرات مثبت، چشمگیر و بادوامی در رفتار فرد شود.

Profile Image for Jennilyn (Thiboult) Nevins.
242 reviews17 followers
October 11, 2017
It’s when you try to please everyone that it becomes a problem. In fact, more than a problem, a disease. Harriet B. Braiker called it “the disease to please.”

And it’s making you ill. Why? Because you want everyone to like you. To love you.

You dread disapproval. Pleasing everyone seems to be the answer, the safe way to inoculate yourself against conflict and confrontation in relationships, whether family, friends, or work.

So you fail to speak up, fail to say what’s on your mind, fail to allow yourself to be the real you.

Instead you become the go-to person:

The one who will always change their plans at a moment’s notice.
The one who will always take on more work and stay late.
The one who will always say yes.
The one who never says no.
Profile Image for Morgan.
496 reviews29 followers
February 12, 2018
This unlocked something inside of me.

I've always been a people pleaser. I've been noticing it more and more as an art teacher.

I feel I am constantly giving and giving and never feeling satisfied with myself.

I learned that this stems from multiple factors that originate as a child.

I loved listening to the audiobook.

Super insightful. Very profound.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brandy Briggs.
2 reviews
February 15, 2018
Nice read. Walked away learning something new. “Disease to please” this catchy title helps explain the ins and outs of being a people pleaser. Interesting to learn what makes ppl pleasers tick and how to “cure” it. Book is engaging it has several short questionnaires and daily assignments. I like these types of books where I can walk away knowing my brain has a new crease.
Profile Image for Hessam.
1 review
July 3, 2019
Being people pleaser just bring you overwhelming and self-sabotaging .bear in your mind your boundary must be defined just by yourself . Avoiding mind reading because we see the world with our limited view points which had been programmed based on our personal life nor the reality . it's just your choice and preference to be generous, helpful , and kind not your duty.
6 reviews
March 1, 2023
As a person who spent a lot my life people pleasing this book was refreshing. It provides great examples

I realized I was a people pleaser when I came across a quote that stated “He who trims himself to suit others soon whittles himself away” the quote hit close to home and made me uneasy. There weren’t any words that spoke so clear to how I felt. I want a shameless people pleaser I had dignity but I was a people pleaser in the way I would put everyone before myself and regret not polluting myself first.

I have gotten much better over time but reding this book made me see many other ways to improve and put myself first.

"The Disease to Please" by Harriet B. Braiker is a self-help book that explores the concept of people-pleasing and the negative effects it can have on our lives. The book provides practical advice and tools to help readers overcome their need to please others and learn to prioritize their own needs and well-being.

Here are some of my takeaways from the book:

1- People-pleasing is a self-defeating behavior: Trying to please everyone all the time is impossible and can lead to exhaustion, resentment, and burnout.

2- The root of people-pleasing is often low self-esteem: People who struggle with people-pleasing often have a deep-seated fear of rejection or a belief that their own needs are not as important as others.

3- Setting boundaries is essential: Learning to say "no" and setting clear boundaries with others is key to overcoming people-pleasing behavior.

4- Practice self-care: Taking care of your own needs, both physical and emotional, is important for overall well-being and can help you feel more confident and less reliant on others for validation.

5- Shift your focus from external validation to internal validation: Learning to value yourself based on your own beliefs and values, rather than seeking constant approval from others, is a crucial step in overcoming people-pleasing behavior.
Profile Image for Ecaterina Moraru.
70 reviews3 followers
June 12, 2022
Once someone told me that I act precisely like it was described in their psychology book. Everyone thinks they are special and unique, so hearing that you are just a classic example, can hurt your special feelings.

This is a very personal book. There are several quizzes throughout the book, but the first one is the most important. It's showcasing what areas feed your "disease": mindset, habbits, feelings. The level of overlap between your personality and the "psychology book material" will differ, but just a warning that it can be very scary to think that this is a book, not written for you in particular, but for so many other people. First, it is scary, then it is hopeful. Maybe this means there is a studied "cure". Maybe reading this book will be easier / cheaper than doing years of therapy (at least for the problem identification part).

I've learned that I'm addicted to pleasing others and that I do a lot of things just for random marks of appreciation. So, DON'T like this review. It would help me :)

Now, do you have any book recommendations for perfectionism?
Profile Image for Richard Felix.
37 reviews
June 14, 2020
This a a POWERFUL 💥 book📖 , took me a long time to finally finish it very PAINFUL excruciating to read page after page felt like the author was talking about me 😓, the author puts her 25 plus years of her craft into this book so well detailed easy to read, this is a valuable book for those unaware of this harmful internal decaying disease to please they may have, this book gives light 💡 into troubling circumstances thoughts n past experiences that Had me personally confused now with clarity, it’s AMAZING that there’s a book like this for people that want to change improve their lives unaware this disease holds one self to dangerous unhealthy ways of living a productive meaningful impactful greater horizons of life , do recommend this powerful Book 📖 definitely, there’s is so much in this book that blew my mind this quote stands out like a sore thumb to share from the author

“ While FEELINGS are neither Right or WRONG your THOUGHTS can be ACCURATE or INACCURATE” 🎤 💥
Profile Image for Mike Morris.
21 reviews
March 14, 2023
I got some good out of it, especially in getting validation of some of the ways my family background contributed to my fear of abandonment, and my feeling that I have to constantly prove myself worthy of friendship. But IMO, the “disease to please” is really the disease of ego clinging and acting out feelings of inadequacy to try to make oneself feel, and appear to be, good. This book gets into that a bit, but never very deeply, in my opinion. You might come away from this book thinking you shouldn’t be generous and put others first sometimes, when really it’s about motives, and being honest with yourself about what you’re hoping to get out your apparent ‘goodness’. I felt the book also promotes myths about “compassion fatigue”, and about adults who were abused as children growing up to abuse their kids. The latter does a disservice to the many, many former abused kids who would never hit or otherwise abuse a child because they understood deeply what that feels like.
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191 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2021
I was shocked and was amazed by this book. When I started reading it, I wasn't expecting to find something significant. I was expecting to identify how this syndrome works and maybe pick up a few mental tools. What I discovered to my shock, was a lot of complex patterns going on in my life. It really helped me figure out some difficult things going on for years in my life. It was a major blind spot for me and this book revealed every aspect.

Being written by a female author, this book has a few chapters that are aimed and written towards women. What I wanted to add is that not only women are affected by these issues and they still apply to men.

I would suggest this book to everyone that identify as being a "nice person". The people-pleasing behaviors, mindsets and habits are affecting your life more that you could've ever imagined.
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