The Hacking of the American, Robert Lustig, MD, MSL

The title is what grabbed me about this book.

The  book is about the difference between pleasure and happiness. Lustig argues that they are different and that people frequently confuse them. He also proposes a model for how they are defined by our biology and environment. Pleasure is driven by dopamine (the reward pathway). Happiness is driven by serotonin (the contentment pathway). While acknowledging the limitations of current research he does present evidence from a number of studies (primarily animal and correlation studies in human populations) that make a compelling case for the model he presents.

The first half of the book is devoted to describing the model and how it works. He argues that we have evolved with both pathways interacting in healthy ways that reinforce each other. He also talks about what can happen when our physiology deviates from that healthy interaction. On the dopamine side, this can lead to addiction. On the serotonin side, depression.

In the second half of the book he talks about how big businesses (food, pharma, media, etc.) have manipulated the dopamine pathway to keep us coming back for more and making them more money. He ends the book with suggestions for how to fight against this manipulation.

I found the book interesting and helpful. It aligned with many things I have been learning about health since I’ve been working to improve my own health since retiring. Some of his suggestions I have already been doing and I will try some of the others. If you are interested in this topic I recommend this book