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  • Dopamine Nation

  • Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence
  • By: Dr Anna Lembke
  • Narrated by: Dr Anna Lembke
  • Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (654 ratings)

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Summary

All around us people are looking at their phones too much, eating too much, drinking too much. Our world is addicted to fleeting distracting pleasures that get us nowhere. Dr Anna Lembke provides a clear way back to a balanced life.

This audiobook is about pleasure. It's also about pain. Most importantly, it's about how to find the delicate balance between the two, and why now more than ever finding balance is essential. We're living in a time of unprecedented access to high-reward, high-dopamine stimuli: drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting.... The increased numbers, variety and potency are staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. As such, we've all become vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption.

In Dopamine Nation, Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author, explores the exciting new scientific discoveries that explain why the relentless pursuit of pleasure leads to pain...and what to do about it. Condensing complex neuroscience into easy-to-understand metaphors, Lembke illustrates how finding contentment and connectedness means keeping dopamine in check. The lived experiences of her patients are the gripping fabric of her narrative. Their riveting stories of suffering and redemption give us all hope for managing our consumption and transforming our lives. In essence, Dopamine Nation shows that the secret to finding balance is combining the science of desire with the wisdom of recovery.

©2021 Anna Lembke (P)2021 Penguin Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Dr Anna Lembke is a whiz on why we get hooked on things - and how we can enjoy pleasurable things in healthier doses." (The Guardian)

What listeners say about Dopamine Nation

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A htealthy read

The author is notably empathetic and instills self-belief in the reader by assuring us that not only are we capable of enduring the initial stress of abstinence, but also can potentially find value and joy in the process itself, rather than just focusing on the extrinsic end goal.

The delivery is patient, concise and, unlike the vast majority of modern authors, spares us that sense of urgency that the self-help cult always insists on. She does that by also avoiding superlatives, exclusive and categorical statements.

There's a refreshing perspective on relapses, wherein she makes them an opportunity to learn right then, rather than when we've regained clarity and exited hypofrontality, so to speak...but, it does stray on the lenient side at times and leaves room for justifying a relapse if the reader comes across a certain chapter during a so-called open crisis.
E.g. Having listened to about half of the book, I paused to binge a bit of that toxic youtube shorts vortex, which turned into four hours...when I realized it, not only did I snap out, but I also felt a kind of self-compassion, undoubtedly instilled into me by the book...the next evening while listening to the book, I felt the urge to go in youtube, paused the book and just...witnessed the urge...it was unpleasant to the point of making me dizzy and nauseous..but there was still that one synapse, that one axon in my pfc goin "I'm stronger thsn this jedi mind trick"...and I was.

The neuroanatimical breakdown is just enough to reinforce the explanation of some phenomena, but not too arduous with the nomenclature...in fact, I was surprised she didn't use the term hedonic adaptation when talking about pain or hypofrontality when talking about making decisions with our limbic system. I know that just knowing these two terms has helped me immensely, so I'd say there's an opportunity to just insert those in the next edition.

I could go on, but..it's just a wonderfully insightful book, quitr balanaced and what I like the most is it doesn't promise to change your life. Also, kudos for the self-disclosure...that really bridges the typical "I'm a shrink, therefore I'm normal and you're not, so listen up" elitist propensity that some psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and neyroscientists have.

I've offered to translate this book into Serbian, but haven't heard from the publisher yet...fingers crossed. The rate is preposterously low, but I know I'd do a great job and would enjoy the process.

Sorry for such an extensive review, it's just that the quality of the book is multilayered.

Oh yeah, perhaps most importantly - rather than focusing on the benefits of getting help from others, fiiiinally an author that emphasises our own capacity to just, pathetic as it may sound, love our past, present and future self enough to not resort to escapism...and it also makes us aware of how gradual and non-linear the process of recovery can be, thus equipping us with the insight crucial for those bad days. It feels like she's right here yslking ti me, rather than just me reading a very good book. I wish I could convey that when writing.

29 people found this helpful

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Spread the Word.

To those reviewers complaining this book doesn't say more about the science behind dopamine and addiction, I think you are missing the point. This is not a science book! If you want to learn about science read a scientific journal. I believe the point of this book is to spread the message of how addiction to pleasure in our modern society is causing untold dissatisfaction and unhappiness with life, not to mention fuelling a life of limitation and disability. I am a GP and I could recommend this book to patients suffering with chronic pain - preferably those embarking on this journey rather than those at the destination for whom it is almost impossible to retrench. Anna Lembke presents her message in a form which is highly accessible to a lay person. It is not just about pain - or avoidance of it - but about the dangers of escapism from the realities of life. It is about the life long harm we do to our kids by protecting them from those realities thereby failing to arm them with the resilience needed to navigate those realities. I see the effects of that lack of resilience on a daily basis in my job. I fear for our future. The sad thing is that if more people understood the dangers of these behaviours they might have a chance of changing them. This message needs to be widely available.

8 people found this helpful

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Actively anti - scientific piece of writing

The author seems to take great pleasure in making fun of non-English native speaker's accents and focusing on details on people's appearance. Active cherry picking of scientific evidence is obvious in this story; on many occasions, author fails to provide context to a scientific study and evidence to an anecdotal observation. There is no tangible argument for altering problematic behaviours, it's more of a 'some people have it bad but drugs don't help so oh well'. I fully expected to like this book due to my own background in research and modern evidence that things like antidepressants have little to no scientific evidence behind them; this book throughly let me down.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

unskippable fluff

I'm at the first useful chapter (ch4) and she's going into unnecessary details of what her room looks like

I get that it's an attempt at immersion, but give me a way to skip without losing the important stuff

4 people found this helpful

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Decent listen - not mind blowing

Interesting listen but nothing mind blowing.
No direct, practical takeaways that I was expecting might be the case.

4 people found this helpful

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Utterly compelling - excellent

I never leave reviews but had to for this. I heard Dr Lembke on the Huberman podcast a few months back and then when I was in a mental health hole last month her book popped up as recommended reading. I started this book a month ago feeling lost and hopeless, wondering if I was using food as substance abuse or if I had an eating disorder. Through the stories she tells in her teaching I’ve implemented some big changes that have helped me in my marriage, work and feeling like I am hopeful of improving my mental health and relationship with food. Her inspiration about ‘radical honesty’ helped my husband and I open up a much needed honest discussion about finances and after 15 years together we are being truthful and sorting it out. I will listen to this again and I NEVER listen to or read any book twice. Highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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Worthwhile

A book about addiction for a general audience, this is an well-paced and interesting listen. Using a range of examples, it sets out some broad principles that the author has found useful in tackling addiction and compulsive behaviour in herself and her patients. Most listeners will be able to glean something relevant to them. The author’s narration is good.

2 people found this helpful

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A modern life handbook

I read this book since learning about the symptoms of dopamine depletion and wanting to understand more about this mysterious hormone. DN didn't provide much biology... instead it provided something unexpected and far more valuable: a useful perspective on how to deal with the inevitable pleasures and pains of life. 5 stars.

2 people found this helpful

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Changed my thinking by chapter 5!

Really good, loved the honesty - felt connected with the author over extreme life experiences, including own! Not suitable for younger people as I feel it could give unhelpful ideas, but still interesting to hear! Not for the squeamish!

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useful tips and very interesting

fantastic book and makes me feel motivating. great insight into how the brain works and how we can all find a wee bit of balance.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-06-22

Fantastic read

Finnished in a day! Great insight, good mix between academic and practical! Definitely recommend to those looking to make changes in their outlook and behavior.

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  • Colin
  • 24-06-22

Recovery

This was a gripping listen from start to finish, and only took 3 days, I was surprised when it ended. As someone in recovery I learned a lot from it. I really appreciated her views on AA and the 12 steps, which unfortunately isn't typical of therapists. I also loved her bravery and openness in sharing her personal experiences, also very atypical!

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  • Ellen Nel
  • 04-05-22

Essential

It has a lot of context in the first few chapters and binds conclusions together beautifully at the end.

The terminology used makes the information accessible to everyone and the narration is perfect. Thank you Dr Anna.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-02-22

So relevant

Loved it. brilliantly narrated by author. relevant and helpful. a must listen enough said

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  • Tim Wolfenden
  • 31-10-21

An excellent deep dive into addiction and the roles dopamine plays

A compelling listen, with real life insight at times unnerving but excellent in assisting the storytelling. Amazingly valuable book. A must read or listen!