Why are we obsessed with the things we want and bored when we get them?
Why is addiction “perfectly logical” to an addict?
Why does love change so quickly from passion to disinterest?
Why are some people diehard liberals and others hardcore conservatives?
Why are we always hopeful for solutions even in the darkest times—and so good at figuring them out?
The answer is found in a single chemical in your brain: dopamine. Dopamine ensured the survival of early man. Thousands of years later, it is the source of our most basic behaviors and cultural ideas—and progress itself.
Dopamine is the chemical of desire that always asks for more—more stuff, more stimulation, and more surprises. In pursuit of these things, it is undeterred by emotion, fear, or morality. Dopamine is the source of our every urge, that little bit of biology that makes an ambitious business professional sacrifice everything in pursuit of success, or that drives a satisfied spouse to risk it all for the thrill of someone new. Simply put, it is why we seek and succeed; it is why we discover and prosper. Yet, at the same time, it’s why we gamble and squander.
From dopamine’s point of view, it’s not the having that matters. It’s getting something—anything—that’s new. From this understanding—the difference between possessing something versus anticipating it—we can understand in a revolutionary new way why we behave as we do in love, business, addiction, politics, religion – and we can even predict those behaviors in ourselves and others.
In The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and will Determine the Fate of the Human Race, George Washington University professor and psychiatrist Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD, and Georgetown University lecturer Michael E. Long present a potentially life-changing proposal: Much of human life has an unconsidered component that explains an array of behaviors previously thought to be unrelated, including why winners cheat, why geniuses often suffer with mental illness, why nearly all diets fail, and why the brains of liberals and conservatives really are different.
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About the Author
Trained as a physicist, Michael E. Long is an award-winning speechwriter, screenwriter, and playwright. As a playwright, more than 20 of his shows have been produced, most on New York stages. As a screenwriter, his honors include finalist for the grand prize in screenwriting at the Slamdance Film Festival. As a speechwriter, Mr. Long has written for members of Congress, U.S. cabinet secretaries, governors, diplomats, business executives, and presidential candidates. A popular speaker and educator, Mr. Long has addressed audiences around the world, including in a keynote at Oxford University. He teaches writing at Georgetown University, where he is a former director of writing. Mr. Long pursued undergraduate studies at Murray State University and graduate studies at Vanderbilt University.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Enthralling exploration of neurotransmitters and behavior. Neurobiology is a discipline that has interested me for years. Apparently, research on dopamine frames its importance in human behavior, because we are the known species with greater segregation of this chemical and therefore significantly defines certain behaviors. The authors distinguish how our brain uses certain "Here & Now neurotransmitters" to be empathetic, to bond emotionally in the long term and connect better with our emotions and the present moment. And on the other hand, how dopamine drives intelligence, imagination and creativity, participates in the pursuit of future goals, desires and dreams, keeps us motivated even to work hard to maximize future resources, and by suppressing the H&N emotion allows us to keep “cool head" in chaotic situations. Very interestingly the authors explain that the "dopamine desire circuit" can lead us to evade reality, the use of force, fraud, and on the other hand the use of some very addictive substances because they cause the euphoria dopaminergic and self-efficacy efects. It is therefore important to mature the "dopamine control circuit" and develop the H&N circuit to balance and readjust consequences of alternate choices. I could not stop reading the Domination chapter, in which ADHD is mentioned as a result of dopamine weak control. Also, they indicate the existence of a genetic component of a dopaminergic character, characterized by excessive dopamine in the desire circuit, related with creative geniuses and also with schizophrenia and other mental illness. As an educator, facilitator and coach, to better understand these neural circuits and the associated behaviors has been very useful and of great importance to have a neuroscientific basis of the specific problems that my clients face. The "dopamine desire circuit" promotes behaviours that can hijack an endless cycle of "Do to have", fall prey to our own endless desires, addicted to achievement without being able to experience fulfillment. In addition, I think this may partly explain the increasing rate of depression and loneliness at epidemic levels in America. Therefore, it is fundamental to mature and develop the "control circuit" in order to manage between both circuits and give balance to our lives. One of the activities that has helped me balance my dopaminergenic and my clients' abilities is the art therapy and developing our natural capacity for mindfulness, self-knowledge, enjoy what we do and create, value what we are and have, strengthen our bonds. Some ways to balance the dopaminergic dominance in synergy with the H&N circuit proposed by the authors is creativity combined with sensory experience, for example handicrafts (Waldorf education includes many of these activities for the development of children), coloring books, making music, cooking, gardening, playing sports. "It takes both dopamine and H&N to attain happiness, ... a mixture that can set us down the path to a more balanced way of being human".
Once I started reading The Molecule of More I couldn’t put it down. I was engrossed. The book is both engaging and informative. The Molecule of More dives into dopamine’s role in human behavior in a comprehensive and captivating manner. Dopamine is a chemical that is never really satisfied. It eagerly waits in anticipation of more. It has little regard for morality, emotions, rationality or how much one already has, subsequently propelling us to chase more…. sometimes for good and sometimes for not so good. If you want to understand how this neurochemical influences our everyday basic behavior or are curious about dopaminergic personality, start with this book. It’s well-written and compelling.