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Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, Conquer Self-Destruc tive Behavior

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In this event, you’ll learn

Why we think we earned the raise at work but are “just human” when we eat bad food

How doing something your conscious self might not agree with can save your life

When self-destructive behavior is really just a cry for help

Why some people are truly defeated and what they can do to get back up

What undertow is, how it can ruin you right before you’re about to succeed, and

About the Author

Richard O'Connor, PhD, is the author of Undoing Depression, Undoing Perpetual Stress, and Happy at Last. For many years he was executive director of the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health, a private, nonprofit mental health clinic serving Litchfield County, Connecticut, overseeing the work of twenty mental health professionals in treating almost a thousand patients per year. He is a practicing psychotherapist with offices in Connecticut and New York, and lives in Lakeville, Connecticut.

Overview

Aself-help manual for those who wish to overcome destructive behavioral patterns.

Psychotherapist O'Connor (Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Education Can't Give You, 2010, etc.) presents exercises to help readers overcome destructive behavior that has become habitual. He buttresses his claim by referencing Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman's thesis that there are two systems of thinking that govern our mental processes: The first is a rapid, automatic response, such as that used by an athlete in a high-pressure situation, and the second is a slower process of conscious reflection. “[O]ur choices and actions are much more influenced by unconscious processes than we feel comfortable admitting to ourselves,” writes O'Connor. However, he differs from Kahneman, who “argues that self-control is of necessity an act of the conscious mind.” O’Connor writes that “with time and repetition, it can become more and more a part of the automatic self, so that it becomes easier to practice.” The author supports his contention by referencing research on the remarkable plasticity of the human brain, which can rewire its neural circuitry to compensate for brain injury. His proposed exercises include keeping a daily journal and practicing mindfulness meditations in order to suppress impulsive behavior. Others involve transforming social relationships through small steps—e.g. striving for honesty rather than accommodation, becoming self-assertive where appropriate—and he recommends strengthening will power by avoiding triggers—e.g., alcoholics should stay out of bars and avoid friends who act as enablers. If done regularly, these exercises can reveal habitual patterns of self-destructive behavior and play a part in removing the need “to distort our world through psychological defenses.”

A useful addition to the popular psychology shelf, although readers acquainted with self-help literature may find the exercises overly familiar.

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