Catalogue


American mania : when more is not enough /
Peter C. Whybrow.
imprint
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2005.
description
xii, 338 p. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0393059944 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2005.
isbn
0393059944 (hardcover)
catalogue key
5661093
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [265]-322) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
Despite an astonishing appetite for life, more and more Americans are feeling overworked and dissatisfied. In the world's most affluent nation, epidemic rates of stress, anxiety, depression, obesity, and time urgency are now grudgingly accepted as part of everyday existence-they signal the American Dream gone awry. Peter Whybrow, director of the Neuro-psychiatric Institute at UCLA, grounds the extraordinary achievements and excessive consumption of the American nation in an understanding of the biology of human craving and the reward system of the brain-offering for the first time a comprehensive, physical explanation for the addictive mania of consumerism. Whybrow's analysis combines careful reflection on the roots of American culture as a laissez-faire, competitive, free-market economy with an exploration of the nation's migrant temperament and its role in the creation of our ambitious, restless society. Taking into account our ancestral biology, he sheds critical light on the dangerous misfit emerging between our consumer-driven culture and the brain systems that evolved to deal with privation 200,000 years ago. Absent any controls-cultural or economic constraints-we are easily hooked on our acquisitive pleasure-seeking behaviors. Whybrow shows how human biology is ill equipped to cope with the demands of the 24/7, global, information-saturated, rapid-fire culture we not only have created but also have come to crave. Drawing on rich scientific case studies and colorful portraits, American Mania presents a clear and novel vantage point from which to understand the most pressing social and medical issues of our time, and it offers readers an informed approach to addressing these problems in their individual lives.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-11-01:
The indictment of American society offered here-that America's supercharged free-market capitalism shackles us to a treadmill of overwork and overconsumption, frays family and community ties and leaves us anxious, alienated and overweight-is familiar. What's more idiosyncratic and compelling is the author's grounding his treatise in political economy (citing everyone from Adam Smith to Thorstein Veblen) as well as in neuropsychiatry, primatology and genetics. Psychiatrist Whybrow (Mood Apart) diagnoses a form of clinical mania in which "the dopamine reward systems of the brain are... hijacked" by pleasurable frenzies like the Internet bubble. Genes are to blame: programmed to crave material rewards on the austere savanna, they go bananas in an economy of superabundance. Americans are particularly susceptible because they are descended from immigrants with a higher frequency of the "exploratory and novelty-seeking D4-7 allele" in the dopamine receptor system, which predisposes them to impulsivity and addiction. The malady is "treatable," Whybrow asserts, not with Paxil but with a vaguely defined program of communitarianism and recovery therapeutics, exemplified by his friends Peanut, a farmer rooted in the land, and Tom, a formerly manic entrepreneur who has learned to live in the present moment. Whybrow's analysis of the contemporary rat race is acute, and by medicalizing the problem he locates it in behavior and genetics-away from the arena of conventional political and economic action where more systemic solutions might surface, but toward a place where individual responsibility can turn "self-interest into social fellowship." Agent, Zoe Pagnamenta. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2005-11-01:
In an attempt to "accurately diagnose the frenzy that now grips America," Whybrow, a psychiatrist and director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA, adopts a paradigm based on a psychiatric model of individual self-destruction. He argues that the US is a nation peopled with individuals of a "migrant," competitive, aggressive, novel-seeking temperament. Combine this "instinctual" behavioral pattern of the American workaholic with the reward structure of a contemporary hyperdriven, global, 24/7 capitalistic culture, and mania becomes normative. Stress, anxiety, obesity, and greed result. When commerce and consumerism trump relationships, the buffering effects of community, friends, and family no longer restrain insatiable desires. Whybrow offers no specific therapeutic path to recovery. In his analysis, the pleasure obtained from addiction to the work-spend cycle leads only to self-destruction, inequality, and lack of civic engagement. Happiness is found in the social support networks of neighbor, family, and friends. Community must be cultivated in this "Fast New World" if the US is to be cured of its collective mania. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General collections and up. K. M. McKinley Cabrini College
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, November 2004
San Francisco Chronicle, February 2005
New York Times Book Review, April 2005
Reference & Research Book News, May 2005
Choice, November 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In this analysis of American society, renowned psychiatrist Peter Whybrow reveals why, as a nation of acquisitive migrants, the insatiable quest for more now threatens America's health and happiness.
Unpaid Annotation
In this startling analysis of our prosperous American society, renowned psychiatrist Peter Whybrow reveals why as a nation of acquisitive migrants our insatiable quest for more now threatens our health and happiness. Whybrow describes an affluence in America that far outstrips our need and a rampant greed spawning the addictions of consumer culture--food, money, and technology. Citing the alarming statistics of obesity, depression, and panic disorders, Whybrow alerts us to a behavior that is now testing the limits of our ancestral biology--in mind and body--and threatens to erode the very foundations of our community. Drawing upon detailed case studies, Whybrow offers compassionate guidance and a novel vantage point from which to understand some of the most pressing social and medical issues of our time. This provocative volume, grounded in science and philosophy, calls for collective action in refocusing our pursuit of happiness and enhancing America's prosperity.
Unpaid Annotation
In this startling analysis of a prosperous American society, renowned psychiatrist Whybrow reveals why, as a nation of acquisitive migrants, people's insatiable quest for "more" now threatens its citizens' health and happiness.
Main Description
Despite an astonishing appetite for life, more and more Americans are feeling overworked and dissatisfied. In the world's most affluent nation, epidemic rates of stress, anxiety, depression, obesity, and time urgency are now grudgingly accepted as part of everyday existence-they signal the American Dream gone awry.Peter C. Whybrow, director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA, grounds the extraordinary achievements and excessive consumption of the American nation in an understanding of the biology of the brain's reward system-offering for the first time a comprehensive and physical explanation for the addictive mania of consumerism. American Mania presents a clear and novel vantage point from which to understand the most pressing social issues of our time, while offering an informed approach to refocusing our pursuit of happiness.
Table of Contents
Introduction : the manic societyp. 1
Adams Smith's American dream : of desire and debtp. 21
Curiosity and the promised land : of origins and opportunismp. 49
The freedom to strive : of risk and rewardp. 75
America bubbles over : of globalization and greedp. 105
A growing burden : of appetite and abundancep. 131
The time trade : of clocks and competitionp. 157
Dreams for sale : of culture and commercep. 185
The roots of happiness : of compassion and communityp. 211
Finding balance in the age of the merchant : of self and societyp. 235
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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