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Meet Your Happy Chemicals – Loretta Graziano Breuning ***

You might be forgiven for thinking from the title of this book that it was designed for children, but Meet Your Happy Chemicals is aimed at the adult reader wanting to find more about their mental operating system, and specifically how dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin have an impact on the human brain and how we feel.
This is very different approach from Paul Zak’s The Moral Molecule which concentrates on oxytocin and features a whole host of experiments demonstrating the impact of this remarkable chemical on the brain along with some fairly deep thinking on the importance of oxytocin and human behaviour.
Loretta Graziano Breuning is (rather oddly) a professor of management and in some ways Happy Chemicals is more like a management text on dealing with these aspects of the brain. Yes, there is plenty of information on the nature of these neurochemicals and their roles, but equally there is plenty to make this feel like a ‘how to’ book. For example, there are the kind of little boxes that crop up as a rule in a business book, initially with information like the ‘Happy survival motives’ of those big four chemicals, but later branching out into a chance to fill in your own ‘social survival circuits’ or ‘new dopamine strategies.’ It’s as much a brain self-help guide as it is a science book.
This is a very obviously self-published book. The page design is irritating and for some reason quite difficult physically to read. It just doesn’t have the look and feel of a ‘real book’. And the self-help aspects seem more like the repackaged platitudes of most business books than the sort of depth you expect in popular science. Yet there is a fair amount of science in there and these are, without doubt, fascinating chemicals that have a huge input on the way we feel and behave. At the time of writing, it’s cheap on Kindle – it’s worth taking a look at the free sample and deciding for yourself if this book will work for you.

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Review by Jo Reed

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