Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being

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All human beings have spontaneous needs for happiness, self-understanding, and love. In Feeling Good: The Science of Well Being, psychiatrist Robert Cloninger describes a way to coherent living that satisfies these strong basic needs through growth in the uniquely human gift of self-awareness. The scientific findings that led Dr. Cloninger to expand his own views in a stepwise manner during 30 years of research and clinical experience are clearly presented so that readers can consider the validity of his viewpoint for themselves. The principles of well-being are based on a non-reductive scientific paradigm that integrates findings from all the biomedical and psychosocial sciences. Reliable methods are described for measuring human thought and social relationships at each step along the path of self-aware consciousness. Practical mental exercises for stimulating the growth of self-awareness are also provided. The methods are supported by data from brain imaging, genetics of personality, and longitudinal biopsychosocial studies.
Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being will be of value to anyone involved in the sciences of the mind or the treatment of mental disorders. It will also interest theologians, philosophers, social scientists, and lay readers because it provides contemporary scientific concepts and language for addressing the perennial human questions about being, knowledge, and conduct.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Cloninger, a distinguished US psychiatrist, starts this book with the question, 'why is it so difficult to be happy?' He is critical of conventional scientific psychiatry's approach to the answer to this question, and throughout the book invokes concepts which science finds it difficult to grapple with—like 'coherence.' He ranges with profound insight widely over philosophy and history plus many other sciences, including mathematics, to take an intelligent stab at the central problems of well-being." —British Journal of Psychiatry

"Cloninger, a distinguished US psychiatrist, starts this book with the question, 'why is it so difficult to be happy'? He is critical of conventional scientific psychiatry's approach to the answer to this question, and throughout the book invokes concepts which science finds difficult to grapple with—like 'coherence'. He ranges with profound insight widely over philosophy and history plus many other sciences, including mathematics, to take an intelligent stab at the central problems of well-being." —British Journal of Psychiatry

". . . a product of vast erudition . . . radical, comprehensive, audacious, brilliant . . ." —PsycCRITIQUES

"A remarkably ambitious and scholarly masterpiece from a gifted psychiatrist with a deep understanding of human nature. By weaving a fascinating tapestry of philosophy, psychology, mystical experience, the latest neurobiology and genetics, Cloninger has produced fresh and practical insights into the human mind."—Frederick K. Goodwin, M.D., Former Director, National Institute of Mental Health, Host of public radio's The Infinite Mind

"In this audacious new book, Robert Cloninger provides a rare synthesis of the biological, the psychosocial, and the spiritual. The author manages to be comprehensive in scope, scholarly in method, yet accessible in his prose style. He forges a new integrative understanding of what it means to be human in a provocative and imaginative tour de force."—Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., Brown Foundation Chair of Psychoanalysis and Professor of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine

"...a book that demands slow reading, over time, careful chewing and repeated reference."—Nassir Ghaemi, M.D., M.A., M.P.H., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Director, Bipolar Disorders Program, Emory School of Medicine

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Diana Marta, BSN, RN (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: In the age-old debate of mind vs. body, which route is the true one to well-being? This is the question posed by the author as he attempts to integrate the disciplines of biomedical and psychosocial theory into a single, though complex, path to self-awareness and ultimately well-being. The work is based on the author's 30 years of research and clinical practice.
Purpose: Although many have attempted to explain how to attain happiness, none have done such a thorough scientific study incorporating psychology, philosophy, biology, sociology, and genetics. In an age where material goods have often failed to bring such happiness, the author gives hope and reinforces the promise that much of what an individual seeks in within him.
Audience: This book will be of interest to a wide variety of professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and sociologists, philosophers, and virtually anyone serving mental health clients. However, its complexity will realistically limit that audience to those wanting to delve in great depth into the theory of well-being and the contingent controversy between biomedical and psychosocial approaches. Despite its complexity, the book also shares some of the same goals as today's more simplistic self-help books. For those who can stay with it, it is quite a cleverly presented theory and, clearly, the author has extensive experience as both a researcher and a clinician.
Features: Having expressed his desire to explore all the disciplines that in any way relate to the pursuit of well-being and his strong argument that mind and body cannot be separated, the author welcomes criticism and feedback on his work, which he suggests will guide him in refining his theories. I find this and his acknowledgement that it took him several false starts to complete this book quite refreshing and unusual in the academic arena. The detail and degree to which he examines all the contributing theories may be off-putting to some readers.
Assessment: This is a complex book with a very simple goal: to better integrate the sciences of the mind and body into a path to better self-awareness and well-being. It is a major contribution to the literature and a refreshing approach to the subject. What particularly resonated with me was the issue of intuition and how individuals must know and trust their own instincts before they can find their own path.

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195051377
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,518,413
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Washington University School of Medicine
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Table of Contents

1. A brief philosophy of well-being
2. The search for an adequate psychology
3. The measurement and movement of human thought
4. The social psychology of transcendentalism
5. Psychophysical theories of contemplation
6. Psychophysiology of awareness
7. The epigenetic revolution
8. The irreductible triad of well-being
Appendix: The Quantitative Measurement of Thought

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Dr Cloninger talks about well being but he is well known to have

    Dr Cloninger talks about well being but he is well known to have been a witness in trials against tobacco companies, supporting the tobacco industry by testifying that nicotine addiction and cigarettes somehow don't get people "hooked," and blames it on the smokers themselves. He has been paid handsomely (tens of thousands of dollars) by tobacco companies to support them in litigation. So how can he now write a book on health and well being when he has this terrible record and has disagreed with almost every doctor in the world that cigarettes and the nicotine in them are addictive and a massive health problem that can be significantly helped by reducing the tobacco industry's grip on people?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2004

    A Book of Great Significance

    Perhaps the most important book written in the last half century. In addition to the inevitable impact that it will have on the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and genetics, the implications of 'Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being' on theories in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, and other associated disciplines is staggering. As a student of history and philosophy, this book was of enormous help to me in tracing the concept of well-being throughout the centuries and the timeless attributes and characteristics that lead to lasting harmony and happiness. I was also deeply touched by the author¿s ability to develop a variety of notions related to well-being in the context of the natural sciences and especially the field of quantum mechanics. Although the book integrates a number of different areas of study, it presents these topics in such a way that both the everyday reader and the specialist can benefit immensely from every chapter. Dr. Cloninger offers insights on the notion of well-being that are very different from the vague and often flaky treatments of the subject given by other authors. His observations are both clear and profound, a combination of attributes rarely found in writings about the deeper questions of human consciousness and existence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2004

    A truly insightful book

    I bought this book because I have recently been thinking a lot about what makes a person happy. A close friend of mine knew this and recommended it to me. I was a bit wary because she is a scientist so I thought it may be over my head, but a few pages into the book, I realized it is not solely directed at the scientific community. As I continued reading, I was amazed with the candor and openness of Dr. Cloninger's writing. Much of the book felt more like a conversation than anything else. From the beginning, Dr. Cloninger is straight forward about his approach, giving the reader a short background in the evolution of his theories and ideas. Never had I heard a scientist so humbly reveal the changes in his research. In the course of underscoring the influences and aspects that can affect our happiness and well-being, he draws upon an amazing wealth of knowledge from just about every scientific and artistic field you can think of. If you are interested in science, art, philosophy, or spirituality, and how they relate to a person¿s well-being, this is a book you will get a lot out of. I¿m very interested to see the effects it will have within the scientific community. It has the potential to revolutionize the way scientists approach the human mind, and the human being.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2004

    The path to the peace of mind

    Why do some people almost always act or feel as if they are permanently miserable, while others seem to live happily in harmony with themselves and unity with the world around them? How is this balanced state of well-being achieved? Dr. Cloninger, drawing from his long experience in psychiatric practice and research, in his encyclopedic study 'Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being', with references to almost all fields of science, offers the answers to these questions and presents a comprehensive argument that the growth of self-awareness provides a path to well-being. It explores the most fundamental questions of human self-aware consciousness in a readable and convincing way. We live in an age when great advances are taking place: in Genetics, in Medicine, in Neurosciences, and in technologies. We are finally beginning to understand how the whole genome works, and how the interplay between complex adaptive structures at different levels, from metabolic networks, to neural networks in the brain, to internet networks, leads to coherent functioning of the whole. Yet, the state of human well-being seems to be largely unaffected by this. It is listening to our psyche that will tell us how to overcome the internal conflicts and find our place in the world in a creative and satisfying way. If the issue is presented in dualistic way such that the different views are on the inevitable course of head-on collision, we may be sure that the issue is not well presented. 'The Science of Well-Being' explores the ways to find coherence and unity. Reading the book brings us closer to those rare moments in life when we realize, in the phrase of Apostle Paul, that although we may know in part, we are also a part of what we know. Enjoyable and though-provoking reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Guideline for bringing positivety back into life.

    One of the first books that I have found that gives a liveable guideline to feeling good, a new approach. Anyone looking for a rock to stand on in the river of life, I can recommend this book might be that rock. It will help you get above it all, then merrily float down the river with an awareness never none before.

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