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The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness

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The authors offer unique insights into the factors that make us susceptible to dietary and lifestyle excesses, and present ways to restore the biological processes designed by nature to keep us running at maximum efficiency and vitality. A wake-up call to even the most health conscious people, The Pleasure Trap boldly challenges conventional wisdom about sickness and unhap The authors offer unique insights into the factors that make us susceptible to dietary and lifestyle excesses, and present ways to restore the biological processes designed by nature to keep us running at maximum efficiency and vitality. A wake-up call to even the most health conscious people, The Pleasure Trap boldly challenges conventional wisdom about sickness and unhappiness in today's contemporary culture, offers groundbreaking solutions for achieving change, and provides a fascinating new perspective on how modern life can turn so many smart, savvy people into the unwitting saboteurs of their own well-being. Inspired by stunning original research, comprehensive clinical studies, and their successes with thousands of patients, the authors construct a new paradigm for the psychology of health, offering fresh hope for anyone stuck in a self-destructive rut.


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The authors offer unique insights into the factors that make us susceptible to dietary and lifestyle excesses, and present ways to restore the biological processes designed by nature to keep us running at maximum efficiency and vitality. A wake-up call to even the most health conscious people, The Pleasure Trap boldly challenges conventional wisdom about sickness and unhap The authors offer unique insights into the factors that make us susceptible to dietary and lifestyle excesses, and present ways to restore the biological processes designed by nature to keep us running at maximum efficiency and vitality. A wake-up call to even the most health conscious people, The Pleasure Trap boldly challenges conventional wisdom about sickness and unhappiness in today's contemporary culture, offers groundbreaking solutions for achieving change, and provides a fascinating new perspective on how modern life can turn so many smart, savvy people into the unwitting saboteurs of their own well-being. Inspired by stunning original research, comprehensive clinical studies, and their successes with thousands of patients, the authors construct a new paradigm for the psychology of health, offering fresh hope for anyone stuck in a self-destructive rut.

30 review for The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I know this book 'well' -[I saw DebbieCat reading this now]- I read it when it first came out -- I know both doctors. I've a lot of history with 'the history' of this clinic -- the fasting/healing program --- (I went to a similar fasting clinic for 30 days in Dessert Hot Springs --ate 'no' food --the first year of my marriage -- another time when I was sick -- long story --but it 'did' work -- I was well for about another 10 years until all the problems started to return -- Interesting that this I know this book 'well' -[I saw DebbieCat reading this now]- I read it when it first came out -- I know both doctors. I've a lot of history with 'the history' of this clinic -- the fasting/healing program --- (I went to a similar fasting clinic for 30 days in Dessert Hot Springs --ate 'no' food --the first year of my marriage -- another time when I was sick -- long story --but it 'did' work -- I was well for about another 10 years until all the problems started to return -- Interesting that this book came into my space 'today' of all days..(when I saw a rheumatologist for autoimmune disorders) ...I recently called this clinic a few weeks ago -- and looked through my book again --'considering going and the high price to boot' -- It would be a last resort -- I prefer to work with doctors here where I live -- but for people who 'need' this program --its 'not' crazy -- but should be under doctors care. Its radical to 'not' eat for a few weeks -- The body needs to 'rest' during that time...when not eating of course. Its also not easy! I lost about 20 lbs in a month when I did it years ago - weight I didn't have to lose. The weight came back -- (weight loss was not the purpose) -- I was healing my colon -- (not letting food pass was a fast way for it to heal) --- I take 'all' these type of books with a grain of salt -- Quality of living --free choice counts for something too!!!!!!! (Fun Counts)!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Yitka

    I was a little disappointed by this book. The idea behind it was very compelling to me - how pleasure (in-the-moment gratification, triggering dopamine release) differs from happiness (longer-lasting sense of well-being and progress toward positive goals, triggering serotonin release). I'm fascinated by humans' common propensity toward self-destructive and addictive behavior, and the analogies that can be drawn between addiction to cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc. and addiction to sugar and proc I was a little disappointed by this book. The idea behind it was very compelling to me - how pleasure (in-the-moment gratification, triggering dopamine release) differs from happiness (longer-lasting sense of well-being and progress toward positive goals, triggering serotonin release). I'm fascinated by humans' common propensity toward self-destructive and addictive behavior, and the analogies that can be drawn between addiction to cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc. and addiction to sugar and processed foods. There were some unexpected and surprisingly thought-provoking sections on the history of humanity, and the ways that different innovations (agricultural developments, the light bulb, etc.) throughout time have affected the way humans live - both for better, and for worse. Unfortunately, the writing itself was a little meandering at times, sometimes repetitive, and often felt like a poorly executed college student's essay, rather than a highly researched, articulately written, and tightly edited book. While there were some studies cited in footnotes, a lot of the book made broad conjectures without really backing them up. Many of the biological reasons given for our behavior seemed mostly based on assumptions that weren't 100% thought out or based on well-rounded examination...all interesting ideas, but not necessarily presented in the most convincing way. The final chapter on fasting was interesting in terms of its reference to patient success/testimonials, but it seemed random and out of place - like it should have been its own book, rather than a part of this one. Overall, not a bad read, but not exactly a must-read either.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    I read this book after watching Forks Over Knives and reading The China Study, so did not read it to be persuaded to adopt a plant-strong lifestyle. What I took away from this book is the psychology behind the poor choices most Americans today make concerning food and exercise, and how to avoid those pleasure traps on the road toward health and wellness. Lisle argues that the motivational triad that suited our ancestors so well does not work at all in today's society, and we must force ourselves I read this book after watching Forks Over Knives and reading The China Study, so did not read it to be persuaded to adopt a plant-strong lifestyle. What I took away from this book is the psychology behind the poor choices most Americans today make concerning food and exercise, and how to avoid those pleasure traps on the road toward health and wellness. Lisle argues that the motivational triad that suited our ancestors so well does not work at all in today's society, and we must force ourselves to go against our natural instincts. The tips and tools offered are nothing new, but I did walk away with a greater understanding of the power of our natural instincts in our daily lives. I didn't at all understand the purpose of including the chapter about water-only fasting. I really think Lisle could have left that out completely. It was interested, don't get me wrong, but seemed superfluous.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I've been on and off a vegan diet for 20 years. This book got remotivated and back on track I've been on and off a vegan diet for 20 years. This book got remotivated and back on track

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    I'm about 1/3 into this. It's shallow and very disappointing. I'll update when done, but already I can confidently say I don't recommend this unless you get it from a library and are *completely* new to basic concepts of survival of the fittest, reward mechanisms, etc. Edit: I've finished it and my review is unchanged. Not a good book. I'm about 1/3 into this. It's shallow and very disappointing. I'll update when done, but already I can confidently say I don't recommend this unless you get it from a library and are *completely* new to basic concepts of survival of the fittest, reward mechanisms, etc. Edit: I've finished it and my review is unchanged. Not a good book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robin Tierney

    Makes important biological processes clear. Examples of points made: * Nature designed pleasure circuitry and biochemicals to help us survive, thrive and reproduce. Corporations and legitimized drug dealers have used science to hijack the brain's pleasure pathways. * The controlled exploitation of animals in agriculture had a high price: The major killers of humanity since 8500 BC have not been starvation, warfare, accidents or large predators. The major threats to human life since 8500 BC -- mic Makes important biological processes clear. Examples of points made: * Nature designed pleasure circuitry and biochemicals to help us survive, thrive and reproduce. Corporations and legitimized drug dealers have used science to hijack the brain's pleasure pathways. * The controlled exploitation of animals in agriculture had a high price: The major killers of humanity since 8500 BC have not been starvation, warfare, accidents or large predators. The major threats to human life since 8500 BC -- microorganisms and viruses such as smallpox, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria, plague, measles and cholera -- have been literally invisible These infectious agents which we may refer to as "micropredators," all have something of importance in comment: each evolved from a disease in domesticated animals that then adapted to, and infected, human societies. For example, many more Native Americans died as a result of European animal-based diseases than were ever killed in armed combat. * Beyond infectious diseases were a new class of diseases. For the first time in history, people began to suffer the effects from a previously unimaginable problem: getting too much. The diseases of kings. Primarily animal flesh and organs, eggs and dairy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pragati

    .. I liked it but I thought it was incredibly dry! The way the book is written made me want to skip over sections ... maybe its because of my chosen profession, maybe its because I'd already read some of the books discussed in detail within the text of this one. I wish it was a little more captivating ... I'd recommend it to someone new to a plant-based diet, but will probably not go back to it for reference as I do with most other books I've read on the subject!! Only 2 stars in my opinion!! .. I liked it but I thought it was incredibly dry! The way the book is written made me want to skip over sections ... maybe its because of my chosen profession, maybe its because I'd already read some of the books discussed in detail within the text of this one. I wish it was a little more captivating ... I'd recommend it to someone new to a plant-based diet, but will probably not go back to it for reference as I do with most other books I've read on the subject!! Only 2 stars in my opinion!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    ضحى الحداد

    I heard so many things about this book, and it is forworded by my ultimate hero Dr. John Mcdougall so I had to read the heck out of this book So the premise basically is that we live in an artificial world that it is fooling out pleasure seeking mechanism which makes us fall prey to the "Pleasure Trap ", so basically what we have to do is to adopt a natural food diet so that we can have the ultimate health and not depend so much on modern medicine as the body is able to heal itself just fine so I heard so many things about this book, and it is forworded by my ultimate hero Dr. John Mcdougall so I had to read the heck out of this book So the premise basically is that we live in an artificial world that it is fooling out pleasure seeking mechanism which makes us fall prey to the "Pleasure Trap ", so basically what we have to do is to adopt a natural food diet so that we can have the ultimate health and not depend so much on modern medicine as the body is able to heal itself just fine so many interesting information I got from this book specially the part of water fasting ( which they dedicated two whole chapters for it ), it was a nice book and glad that I finally read it I did have a minor issue with the writing style as sometimes I felt it's all over the place just to prove one point which confused me at times, if you like Dough Lisle style of speaking you will enjoy this book because I think he wrote the majority of it

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This book is fascinating. Well . . . I found that it was anyways. He discusses the human motivational triangle and why we do some of the things we do that damage our bodies. He talks about how in caveman times it was okay to follow our instincts because it was a matter of survival. Now, we live in an artificial world (food, drugs etc.) That trick us and we fall in to "pleasure traps." He talks about the cycle of addiction and recovery and how most of our society is addicted to food from a young This book is fascinating. Well . . . I found that it was anyways. He discusses the human motivational triangle and why we do some of the things we do that damage our bodies. He talks about how in caveman times it was okay to follow our instincts because it was a matter of survival. Now, we live in an artificial world (food, drugs etc.) That trick us and we fall in to "pleasure traps." He talks about the cycle of addiction and recovery and how most of our society is addicted to food from a young age. This book may be offensive to some people. There is is one sentence especially I would have gotten made at if I hadn't changed my eating habits recently. He openly laments the fact the americans, are using too much tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, meat, dairy, oil, processed foods, chocolate, and getting too little sleep. I actually learned a lot though. I learned tons about sleep and the importance of getting enough sleep. I learned how to deal with social situations when it's obvious to people I won't be partaking of certains dishes, and I came away feeling empowered over how to overcome the natural man in me. I wish everyone could read this book with an open mind and humility. Great book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Vrana

    The author's central thesis is a useful one: 'pleasure;- in-the-moment gratification differs from 'happiness'- a sense of well being and progressing toward goals. Focusing on pleasure can come to the detriment of happiness. The author gets way off base in specific advice and reasoning though. It is apparently assumed the reader is not a drug/ sex/ gambling addict, so the focus is on bad diets. Nutrition science is far from having a definitive answer as to what the perfect diet is, but I was pret The author's central thesis is a useful one: 'pleasure;- in-the-moment gratification differs from 'happiness'- a sense of well being and progressing toward goals. Focusing on pleasure can come to the detriment of happiness. The author gets way off base in specific advice and reasoning though. It is apparently assumed the reader is not a drug/ sex/ gambling addict, so the focus is on bad diets. Nutrition science is far from having a definitive answer as to what the perfect diet is, but I was pretty turned off by the author's confidence that animal products are the primary cause of preventable disease. In the next chapter he talks about animals having an innate sense of the amount they need to maintain their weight with 2000 calories given as an example. He said if they consumed 1980 they'd eventually starve to death, or 2020 they'd become unbelievably obese over time. I had to stop reading at that point.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I concur with most previous reviewers. I also was introduced to the author Doug Lisle by watching "Forks Over Knives." It helped me understand why so many of us (including me) have so much difficulty restraining our self-destructive appetites, and gave me some helpful ideas about how to restructure my environment and retrain my palate. I have become a convert to following a plant-based diet, but this book did not persuade me to follow the extreme dietary prohibitions Lisle recommends (i.e., givi I concur with most previous reviewers. I also was introduced to the author Doug Lisle by watching "Forks Over Knives." It helped me understand why so many of us (including me) have so much difficulty restraining our self-destructive appetites, and gave me some helpful ideas about how to restructure my environment and retrain my palate. I have become a convert to following a plant-based diet, but this book did not persuade me to follow the extreme dietary prohibitions Lisle recommends (i.e., giving up coffee, salt, all dairy, all alcohol, etc.), nor do I believe that water-only fasting is a particularly helpful or healthy exercise.

  12. 5 out of 5

    lalala Vegan

    Read book over again when ever I need inspiration. A important book to read if your starting a plant based diet.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brittanni Jackson

    First, I enjoyed this book overall. I think they did a good job describing all the elements of “The Pleasure Trap.” If you want more of an insight into human nature, our wiring, and why we are victims of an industrialized society, this is a good starter book. That being said I had an issue with Chapter 14- The Myths of Moderation. The authors explain that there are two “myth’s of moderation”: the myth of moderate consumption and the myth of moderate change. They basically state that one shouldn’ First, I enjoyed this book overall. I think they did a good job describing all the elements of “The Pleasure Trap.” If you want more of an insight into human nature, our wiring, and why we are victims of an industrialized society, this is a good starter book. That being said I had an issue with Chapter 14- The Myths of Moderation. The authors explain that there are two “myth’s of moderation”: the myth of moderate consumption and the myth of moderate change. They basically state that one shouldn’t make moderate changes and consume in moderation. They say that one should not stray from eating healthy whole foods (forever—like the rest of your life...not once) while also stating that you will be more successful if you change everything about your lifestyle at once (diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, sleep, etc...). As a health professional, I think this is a damaging and dangerous approach. I know that I personally do well with making a lot of change at once, but what works for one may not work for another. By recommending only an “all in” approach, this could leave some feeling discouraged (end up giving up) and/or it could lead to disordered eating. As a nutritionist, I was taught that lifestyle changes need to be tailored to each specific client. I have seen great success in clients that have made small changes that eventually lead to substantial changes, AND successful changing of their lifestyle for the long hall. Also...what is life if you don’t eat a fucking chocolate chip cookie every now and then? Not a life I’d want to live.. Also, in regards to the chapter about fasting—I don’t doubt that water fasting can have profound effects on healing the body of certain diseases. I have heard amazing stories and read the case studies from True North, and would love to visit myself someday. That being said, I would never recommend water or juice fasting to my clients UNLESS as a last resort AND ONLY under strict medical supervision. On first read through, I did not see that small 1-2 sentence disclaimer at the end of the chapter. Upon reading it again, I saw the disclaimer about medical supervision and I have upgraded my rating from 3 stars to 4 stars. Despite my critiques, I did for the most part enjoy this book. I just don’t want anyone waking away from this book thinking that they can’t ever have a piece of cake again in fear of not attaining optimal health. Our mental health is just important as our physical health. 🙃

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rich Szabo

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book was fascinating in its look at the reasons we continue to eat junk food that we know is killing us, also the natural healing power of the body. I think it was a bit repetitive at times, but the main points of the book are incredibly important about the evolution of the human diet and the amazing power of fasting to heal. The author states they had thousands of documented cases of healing through fasting, and yet we got to read about only a few. Recommended, though, because it seems to c The book was fascinating in its look at the reasons we continue to eat junk food that we know is killing us, also the natural healing power of the body. I think it was a bit repetitive at times, but the main points of the book are incredibly important about the evolution of the human diet and the amazing power of fasting to heal. The author states they had thousands of documented cases of healing through fasting, and yet we got to read about only a few. Recommended, though, because it seems to cover ground that is not often discussed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    Good perspective and interesting reading. Looking at impulse (the book would say pleasure seeking, pain avoidance and energy conservation) from an evolutionary perspective does, at least in the short term, help me speak to my cravings. As always seems to be the case with these healthy living books, there is about 80 pages of material spread out over 200 pages, but a lot of these concepts were well worth repeating, to help lay these ideas deep in memory. Was intrigued by the concept of the water Good perspective and interesting reading. Looking at impulse (the book would say pleasure seeking, pain avoidance and energy conservation) from an evolutionary perspective does, at least in the short term, help me speak to my cravings. As always seems to be the case with these healthy living books, there is about 80 pages of material spread out over 200 pages, but a lot of these concepts were well worth repeating, to help lay these ideas deep in memory. Was intrigued by the concept of the water fast as well, could have read a whole book on that.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maura

    Much of this book is material that your average college-educated newspaper-reading/podcast-listening person is already well aware of. I did, however appreciate being reminded how most of society is slowly killing themselves with their knives and forks. One analogy was that it's as if we're in a society full of heroin addicts who think their addictions are completely normal and healthy. I also liked the idea of compiling a weekly menu and shopping from the corresponding grocery list consistently Much of this book is material that your average college-educated newspaper-reading/podcast-listening person is already well aware of. I did, however appreciate being reminded how most of society is slowly killing themselves with their knives and forks. One analogy was that it's as if we're in a society full of heroin addicts who think their addictions are completely normal and healthy. I also liked the idea of compiling a weekly menu and shopping from the corresponding grocery list consistently each week. Also, the attention to the fact that many of us who believe we have no time to cook healthy foods could actually afford to hire a cook was nice. Our prioritization of big homes and nice cars over the expense of a cook for healthy foods is worth examining.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna Cordova

    In a nutshell, The primary sources of pleasure are food and sexual activity. These activities are biologically expensive and designed to only last a few minutes, not several hours. Modern society has made it easy for us to make these pleasurable activities a trap. We can achieve health by eating a diet ideal for human consumption, emphasizing adequate rest, exercise, and also occasionally fasting. This book has a unique way of using scientific and historical evidence to arrive at these conclusio In a nutshell, The primary sources of pleasure are food and sexual activity. These activities are biologically expensive and designed to only last a few minutes, not several hours. Modern society has made it easy for us to make these pleasurable activities a trap. We can achieve health by eating a diet ideal for human consumption, emphasizing adequate rest, exercise, and also occasionally fasting. This book has a unique way of using scientific and historical evidence to arrive at these conclusions. Truthfully, I had read most of these ideas before, with the exception of the part on fasting, just never presented in this manner.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This was a very interesting book--relating early man's "needs" to our current "desires" and how the food culture has helped us all fall into the "pleasure trap". Interesting references and easy reading--not written like a science manual, but as information for the general public to understand and utilize in our daily living. This was a very interesting book--relating early man's "needs" to our current "desires" and how the food culture has helped us all fall into the "pleasure trap". Interesting references and easy reading--not written like a science manual, but as information for the general public to understand and utilize in our daily living.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stella

    Good stuff, but somehow the flow of the book was all over the place. This book wouldn't have converted me to whole food plant based diet. I don't think it was even clear in that meassage. But as i am a convert already I had fun with bits and pieces of it and esp. the chapter on benefits of prolonged only water fasting. I may try that some day. Good stuff, but somehow the flow of the book was all over the place. This book wouldn't have converted me to whole food plant based diet. I don't think it was even clear in that meassage. But as i am a convert already I had fun with bits and pieces of it and esp. the chapter on benefits of prolonged only water fasting. I may try that some day.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    My hat is off to T. Colin Campbell for having introduced me to this potentially life-changing work. I need to make an appointment with my doctor, or a doctor with knowledge of the practical implications of fasting at any rate, and contemplate whether I might, for example, lower my blood pressure through a judicious regimen that might include fasting. This is a "wow" work. My hat is off to T. Colin Campbell for having introduced me to this potentially life-changing work. I need to make an appointment with my doctor, or a doctor with knowledge of the practical implications of fasting at any rate, and contemplate whether I might, for example, lower my blood pressure through a judicious regimen that might include fasting. This is a "wow" work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Longstreet

    I read this because of the Forks over Knives movie. It takes the Whole foods diet a step further in understanding. I was especially interested in the Fasting chapter. I liked the fact that it was written from a psychology perspective.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Good insight into human behavior from a scientific and evolutionary standpoint as it related to food, hunger, and health. The e-book version unfortunately cuts-off a few words here and there which is sometimes annoying but not enogh so to detract from the overall message.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Berlin

    I haven't decided how I feel about the last couple chapters yet. Otherwise, I would very much recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about why we eat the way we do, and how to successfully break out of the pleasure trap / fountain of guilt that is food in America. I haven't decided how I feel about the last couple chapters yet. Otherwise, I would very much recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about why we eat the way we do, and how to successfully break out of the pleasure trap / fountain of guilt that is food in America.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This book is a bit alarmist in parts. The middle chapters were the most helpful in their information and presentation. If a person has no background in eating healthy, this might be a good read. Much for me was repetitive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patience Allergy

    Everyone knows fun food = fat, sick, dead. Despite this, everyone has difficulty quitting fun food. Using evolutionary biology & psychology this book explains why and offers some strategies. The struggle is real. Good luck!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    There are some really interesting concepts to be explored in this book, even if you don't agree with everything they say. I enjoyed the unique perspectives. There are some really interesting concepts to be explored in this book, even if you don't agree with everything they say. I enjoyed the unique perspectives.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eileenmarie

    This was an interesting book; eye opening; study on the pleasure traps in our society; I enjoyed it a lot!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Drakoh

    Shows us why we can't resist some foods, and the biological mechanism behind present the dangerous aspect of social pressure Shows us why we can't resist some foods, and the biological mechanism behind present the dangerous aspect of social pressure

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I ended up skimming through parts of this book but I don't regret reading it. It has information that I haven't read before about health and wellness. I ended up skimming through parts of this book but I don't regret reading it. It has information that I haven't read before about health and wellness.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Delilah Olicker

    Discusses the psychological aspects and the core reasons for our addictions to food and chemicals. It helps us understand why it's hard for some of us to change our eating habits. Discusses the psychological aspects and the core reasons for our addictions to food and chemicals. It helps us understand why it's hard for some of us to change our eating habits.

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