• Dopamine Nation

  • Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence
  • By: Dr Anna Lembke
  • Narrated by: Dr Anna Lembke
  • Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

All around us people are looking at their phones too much, eating too much, drinking too much. Our world is addicted to fleeting distracting pleasures that get us nowhere. Dr Anna Lembke provides a clear way back to a balanced life.

This audiobook is about pleasure. It's also about pain. Most importantly, it's about how to find the delicate balance between the two, and why now more than ever finding balance is essential. We're living in a time of unprecedented access to high-reward, high-dopamine stimuli: drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting.... The increased numbers, variety and potency are staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. As such, we've all become vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption.

In Dopamine Nation, Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author, explores the exciting new scientific discoveries that explain why the relentless pursuit of pleasure leads to pain...and what to do about it. Condensing complex neuroscience into easy-to-understand metaphors, Lembke illustrates how finding contentment and connectedness means keeping dopamine in check. The lived experiences of her patients are the gripping fabric of her narrative. Their riveting stories of suffering and redemption give us all hope for managing our consumption and transforming our lives. In essence, Dopamine Nation shows that the secret to finding balance is combining the science of desire with the wisdom of recovery.

©2021 Anna Lembke (P)2021 Penguin Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Dr Anna Lembke is a whiz on why we get hooked on things - and how we can enjoy pleasurable things in healthier doses." (The Guardian)

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What listeners say about Dopamine Nation

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Fantastic read

Finnished in a day! Great insight, good mix between academic and practical! Definitely recommend to those looking to make changes in their outlook and behavior.

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Recovery

This was a gripping listen from start to finish, and only took 3 days, I was surprised when it ended. As someone in recovery I learned a lot from it. I really appreciated her views on AA and the 12 steps, which unfortunately isn't typical of therapists. I also loved her bravery and openness in sharing her personal experiences, also very atypical!

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Essential

It has a lot of context in the first few chapters and binds conclusions together beautifully at the end.

The terminology used makes the information accessible to everyone and the narration is perfect. Thank you Dr Anna.

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So relevant

Loved it. brilliantly narrated by author. relevant and helpful. a must listen enough said

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An excellent deep dive into addiction and the roles dopamine plays

A compelling listen, with real life insight at times unnerving but excellent in assisting the storytelling. Amazingly valuable book. A must read or listen!

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  • Dejan Markovic
  • 10-06-21

A htealthy read

The author is notably empathetic and instills self-belief in the reader by assuring us that not only are we capable of enduring the initial stress of abstinence, but also can potentially find value and joy in the process itself, rather than just focusing on the extrinsic end goal.

The delivery is patient, concise and, unlike the vast majority of modern authors, spares us that sense of urgency that the self-help cult always insists on. She does that by also avoiding superlatives, exclusive and categorical statements.

There's a refreshing perspective on relapses, wherein she makes them an opportunity to learn right then, rather than when we've regained clarity and exited hypofrontality, so to speak...but, it does stray on the lenient side at times and leaves room for justifying a relapse if the reader comes across a certain chapter during a so-called open crisis.
E.g. Having listened to about half of the book, I paused to binge a bit of that toxic youtube shorts vortex, which turned into four hours...when I realized it, not only did I snap out, but I also felt a kind of self-compassion, undoubtedly instilled into me by the book...the next evening while listening to the book, I felt the urge to go in youtube, paused the book and just...witnessed the urge...it was unpleasant to the point of making me dizzy and nauseous..but there was still that one synapse, that one axon in my pfc goin "I'm stronger thsn this jedi mind trick"...and I was.

The neuroanatimical breakdown is just enough to reinforce the explanation of some phenomena, but not too arduous with the nomenclature...in fact, I was surprised she didn't use the term hedonic adaptation when talking about pain or hypofrontality when talking about making decisions with our limbic system. I know that just knowing these two terms has helped me immensely, so I'd say there's an opportunity to just insert those in the next edition.

I could go on, but..it's just a wonderfully insightful book, quitr balanaced and what I like the most is it doesn't promise to change your life. Also, kudos for the self-disclosure...that really bridges the typical "I'm a shrink, therefore I'm normal and you're not, so listen up" elitist propensity that some psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and neyroscientists have.

I've offered to translate this book into Serbian, but haven't heard from the publisher yet...fingers crossed. The rate is preposterously low, but I know I'd do a great job and would enjoy the process.

Sorry for such an extensive review, it's just that the quality of the book is multilayered.

Oh yeah, perhaps most importantly - rather than focusing on the benefits of getting help from others, fiiiinally an author that emphasises our own capacity to just, pathetic as it may sound, love our past, present and future self enough to not resort to escapism...and it also makes us aware of how gradual and non-linear the process of recovery can be, thus equipping us with the insight crucial for those bad days. It feels like she's right here yslking ti me, rather than just me reading a very good book. I wish I could convey that when writing.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Bev Scowen
  • 04-29-22

Spread the Word.

To those reviewers complaining this book doesn't say more about the science behind dopamine and addiction, I think you are missing the point. This is not a science book! If you want to learn about science read a scientific journal. I believe the point of this book is to spread the message of how addiction to pleasure in our modern society is causing untold dissatisfaction and unhappiness with life, not to mention fuelling a life of limitation and disability. I am a GP and I could recommend this book to patients suffering with chronic pain - preferably those embarking on this journey rather than those at the destination for whom it is almost impossible to retrench. Anna Lembke presents her message in a form which is highly accessible to a lay person. It is not just about pain - or avoidance of it - but about the dangers of escapism from the realities of life. It is about the life long harm we do to our kids by protecting them from those realities thereby failing to arm them with the resilience needed to navigate those realities. I see the effects of that lack of resilience on a daily basis in my job. I fear for our future. The sad thing is that if more people understood the dangers of these behaviours they might have a chance of changing them. This message needs to be widely available.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nabil Alhusail
  • 11-22-21

unskippable fluff

I'm at the first useful chapter (ch4) and she's going into unnecessary details of what her room looks like

I get that it's an attempt at immersion, but give me a way to skip without losing the important stuff

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Keenan
  • 11-18-21

Decent listen - not mind blowing

Interesting listen but nothing mind blowing.
No direct, practical takeaways that I was expecting might be the case.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs R
  • 03-30-22

Utterly compelling - excellent

I never leave reviews but had to for this. I heard Dr Lembke on the Huberman podcast a few months back and then when I was in a mental health hole last month her book popped up as recommended reading. I started this book a month ago feeling lost and hopeless, wondering if I was using food as substance abuse or if I had an eating disorder. Through the stories she tells in her teaching I’ve implemented some big changes that have helped me in my marriage, work and feeling like I am hopeful of improving my mental health and relationship with food. Her inspiration about ‘radical honesty’ helped my husband and I open up a much needed honest discussion about finances and after 15 years together we are being truthful and sorting it out. I will listen to this again and I NEVER listen to or read any book twice. Highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jolanta Beinarovica
  • 01-28-22

Actively anti - scientific piece of writing

The author seems to take great pleasure in making fun of non-English native speaker's accents and focusing on details on people's appearance. Active cherry picking of scientific evidence is obvious in this story; on many occasions, author fails to provide context to a scientific study and evidence to an anecdotal observation. There is no tangible argument for altering problematic behaviours, it's more of a 'some people have it bad but drugs don't help so oh well'. I fully expected to like this book due to my own background in research and modern evidence that things like antidepressants have little to no scientific evidence behind them; this book throughly let me down.

3 people found this helpful

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  • owevakas
  • 01-04-22

Worthwhile

A book about addiction for a general audience, this is an well-paced and interesting listen. Using a range of examples, it sets out some broad principles that the author has found useful in tackling addiction and compulsive behaviour in herself and her patients. Most listeners will be able to glean something relevant to them. The author’s narration is good.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-20-21

A modern life handbook

I read this book since learning about the symptoms of dopamine depletion and wanting to understand more about this mysterious hormone. DN didn't provide much biology... instead it provided something unexpected and far more valuable: a useful perspective on how to deal with the inevitable pleasures and pains of life. 5 stars.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tanya Love
  • 12-08-21

Changed my thinking by chapter 5!

Really good, loved the honesty - felt connected with the author over extreme life experiences, including own! Not suitable for younger people as I feel it could give unhelpful ideas, but still interesting to hear! Not for the squeamish!

2 people found this helpful

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  • George Penn
  • 11-01-21

useful tips and very interesting

fantastic book and makes me feel motivating. great insight into how the brain works and how we can all find a wee bit of balance.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-02-21

meh

She is talking about a really interesting topic but I can help but think some parts are really dramatised and can't really get behind her supporting the war on drugs.

Probably good for beginners on the topic but as a health professional myself and friends with two recovering drug addicts this book doesn't nearly hit the spot for me.

6 people found this helpful

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  • JB
  • 11-23-21

Somewhat biased view of addiction

Unfortunately, I felt like the book was biased - it comes across as a collection of research and anecdotes that support the author's perception of addictions. The author came across as a heavy proponent of self-agency and free will while disregarding the effects of personal histories. Also, her arguments felt unbalanced, There was a heavy reliance on the biological - psychological (to be precise the notion of personal responsibility) dichotomy, while the social aspects have been somewhat disregarded.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-17-21

Interesting

A good book for anyone who finds themselves with addictions, not only hard drugs but seemingly simpler things in life like sugar and caffeine.
Also for people interested in psychology and personal development.
The chapters about the equilibrium between pain and pleasure are particularly informative.
My only complaint would be that when the author/narrator puts on a male’s voice to do a reenactment it’s always in the wimpiest tone possible.
I do recommend the book. It’s a very good listen.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ashleigh
  • 11-28-21

Interesting read!

Anna does a great job of narrating her book. It is obvious that she is passionate about her work, patients and just humans in general. I learnt a lot, however, there were still some topics I didn't fully understand (not surprising considering I'm no psychologist). Despite this, I really enjoyed the book. Worth the read!

2 people found this helpful

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  • summer
  • 05-17-22

I would recommend this book

I liked this book the only reason I am giving it 3 stars is because she mentions cruel animal tests ALOT and these tests are inconclusive so I don't like hearing about needless animal torture every 5 minutes. I skipped past quite a bit of that especially the dog electric shock part was particularly disturbing and she even mentioned that it was disturbing but still felt the need to include it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Beau
  • 05-01-22

Avoid this absolute garbage

The author is an up-herself, judgemental, moralistic, elitist moron. She is harsh and rude about her clients and comes across as stuck-up and unlikable. Worst of all, she lies in certain sections (she obviously doesn’t understand how the law and court systems work). Don’t be like me and think that surely there has to be something of use in here… the only thing here is a waste of your time and unnerving frustration.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tim Gayton
  • 01-16-22

Immensely interesting, and complimenting narration

I was first exposed to Anna Lembke on the Andrew Huberman podcast, which was a fascinating episode. This increased my appetite for more of Anna's work and Dopamine Nation quickly filled that void.
This book contains such incredible insights into her research into dopamine, enhanced by the unique offerings through the first hand accounts of her clients. As well as some of Anna's own odd addictions, increased my awareness to the realm of dopamine. The accounts and research relating to drugs was confronting, and understanding these unknown outcomes relating to drugs, alcohol and a unique set of other addictions, was immensely interesting. However, the applied mechanisms by the clients in their efforts to overcome their various addictions, were positive and pleasing to understand.
This was an immensely informative, well written, and in this case, well narrated book and I think anyone with, or effected closely by people with addictions, will find numerous insights from this book and Anna's research.
One standout component was the theme of time. This was how time underpins and dramatically effects those with substance and addiction problems. Consequently, inhibiting their ability to delay gratification, by being not interested in long term rewards, but a desire to take a short term, less beneficial ones. This was relatable but also hugely alarming, and similar style anecdotes are peppered throughout to ensure a compelling read
More than likely, I will return for another listen in 2022, but I loved being exposed intially on the Huberman podcast, and this book really was the showpiece from that episode.
Some standout highlights:
'The internet promotes compulsive over consumption not merely by providing increased access to drugs old and new but also suggesting behaviours that otherwise may never have occurred to us.'
'Human beings are social animals when we see others acting in certain ways online those behaviours seem normal because other people are doing them.'
'One form of self binding is to create literal physical barriers, and or geographical distance between ourselves and our drug of choice. This
allows your current self to “bind” your future self to the course you want, and prevents you from losing your way when your willpower wanes.'

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chloe Choi
  • 12-08-21

Gets better as you listen

I found this book incredible relatable and eye opening. Anna does an amazing job getting her message across in empathetic and fun stories. I’ve found Anna through the Huberman Podcasts and am so glad I purchased this book - it has been life changing in how I view the world. Thank you Anna.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sy Xinh Le
  • 10-02-21

change life for anyone who is living

change life for anyone who is living under the earth planet
it is real storyies

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-13-22

Loved this. Very insightful.

Loved it. Very insightful. Very well explained and easy to understand. I learnt a lot.