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The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business

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From a leading expert on addiction, a provocative, singularly authoritative history of how sophisticated global businesses have targeted the human brain's reward centers, driving us to addictions ranging from oxycodone to Big Macs to Assassin's Creed to Snapchat--with alarming social consequences. We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge From a leading expert on addiction, a provocative, singularly authoritative history of how sophisticated global businesses have targeted the human brain's reward centers, driving us to addictions ranging from oxycodone to Big Macs to Assassin's Creed to Snapchat--with alarming social consequences. We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge eating and opioid abuse. Sugar can be as habit-forming as cocaine, researchers tell us, and social media apps are hooking our kids. But what can we do to resist temptations that insidiously and deliberately rewire our brains? Nothing, David Courtwright says, unless we understand the history and character of the global enterprises that create and cater to our bad habits. The Age of Addiction chronicles the triumph of what Courtwright calls "limbic capitalism," the growing network of competitive businesses targeting the brain pathways responsible for feeling, motivation, and long-term memory. We see its success in Purdue Pharma's pain pills, in McDonald's engineered burgers, and in Tencent video games from China. All capitalize on the ancient quest to discover, cultivate, and refine new and habituating pleasures. The business of satisfying desire assumed a more sinister aspect with the rise of long-distance trade, plantation slavery, anonymous cities, large corporations, and sophisticated marketing. Multinational industries, often with the help of complicit governments and criminal organizations, have multiplied and cheapened seductive forms of brain reward, from junk food to pornography. The internet has brought new addictions: in 2018, the World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" to its International Classification of Diseases. Courtwright holds out hope that limbic capitalism can be contained by organized opposition from across the political spectrum. Progressives, nationalists, and traditionalists have made common cause against the purveyors of addiction before. They could do it again.


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From a leading expert on addiction, a provocative, singularly authoritative history of how sophisticated global businesses have targeted the human brain's reward centers, driving us to addictions ranging from oxycodone to Big Macs to Assassin's Creed to Snapchat--with alarming social consequences. We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge From a leading expert on addiction, a provocative, singularly authoritative history of how sophisticated global businesses have targeted the human brain's reward centers, driving us to addictions ranging from oxycodone to Big Macs to Assassin's Creed to Snapchat--with alarming social consequences. We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge eating and opioid abuse. Sugar can be as habit-forming as cocaine, researchers tell us, and social media apps are hooking our kids. But what can we do to resist temptations that insidiously and deliberately rewire our brains? Nothing, David Courtwright says, unless we understand the history and character of the global enterprises that create and cater to our bad habits. The Age of Addiction chronicles the triumph of what Courtwright calls "limbic capitalism," the growing network of competitive businesses targeting the brain pathways responsible for feeling, motivation, and long-term memory. We see its success in Purdue Pharma's pain pills, in McDonald's engineered burgers, and in Tencent video games from China. All capitalize on the ancient quest to discover, cultivate, and refine new and habituating pleasures. The business of satisfying desire assumed a more sinister aspect with the rise of long-distance trade, plantation slavery, anonymous cities, large corporations, and sophisticated marketing. Multinational industries, often with the help of complicit governments and criminal organizations, have multiplied and cheapened seductive forms of brain reward, from junk food to pornography. The internet has brought new addictions: in 2018, the World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" to its International Classification of Diseases. Courtwright holds out hope that limbic capitalism can be contained by organized opposition from across the political spectrum. Progressives, nationalists, and traditionalists have made common cause against the purveyors of addiction before. They could do it again.

30 review for The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    A beautifully written book about the addiction industries of the modern world, a complex that the author refers to with reference to its neurological impact as "limbic capitalism." Modernity allowed "pleasures" to be mass produced and packaged for the general public on a scale unseen in history. But they also transformed into a means of social control in the process. If you want to destroy or control a people get them hooked on to something: alcohol, drugs, internet pornography, sugary foods, so A beautifully written book about the addiction industries of the modern world, a complex that the author refers to with reference to its neurological impact as "limbic capitalism." Modernity allowed "pleasures" to be mass produced and packaged for the general public on a scale unseen in history. But they also transformed into a means of social control in the process. If you want to destroy or control a people get them hooked on to something: alcohol, drugs, internet pornography, sugary foods, social media, or whatever else might fit their weaknesses. The commodification of vice and its integration industrial capitalism helped turn the production of mass pleasure into one of the biggest industries on earth. These enjoyments are often unwholesome however, destroying people in the process of taking their money and giving them a short term high that often makes them feel worse off at the end. Although the author does not say it, there is something very Brave New World about this system. When this mass pleasure industry first emerged there were strong anti-vice campaigns to control their impact, the most famous being the Prohibition campaign in the United States which enjoyed support from a broad cross-section of society ranging from women's rights groups to clergy. The anti-vice people were thoroughly defeated over the course of the 20th century, steamrolled by the financial and resulting political power of the vice industries. They are now considered to be retrograde and even villainous by history, having lost the battle and then suffering the retrospective ignominy of being written about from the victors perspective. In reality they raised many good points which are often ignored and which the author excavates here. The temperance activists would be shocked at the extent at which vice is now not just universally accepted but even encouraged in mainstream America today. Addictive industries have enjoyed the ability to depict their products, mainly through expensive marketing, as associated with some noble or liberating broader cause. In place of campaigns against drunkenness in defense of national wellbeing, beer companies today suggest that consuming their product itself is somehow a patriotic act. Even the birth control pill at one point was attacked by some feminists as a patriarchal plot to expand women's sexual availability before being recast as a vehicle of female emancipation. The cigarette industry also succeeded for a while at portraying their product as part of a broader progressivism but eventually ran up against the glaring contradictions of that: Today they are forced to sell their deadly products to children in the developing world instead. I enjoyed this book and was surprised at how forthright the author was in his condemnations of the harmful effects of many socially accepted practices today, including gambling and alcohol consumption. He argues in the end for moderation, which is a reasonable enough conclusion, but somehow despite being well-written and containing many good anecdotes the book didn't seem to coalesce around a main point. That capitalism fosters and profits from addiction is germane to everyone I think and my understanding of this was not greatly enhanced. It also would've been nice to hear more about digital vice, which are becoming the primary source of addictive behavior in the present day. As the author writes, vices are most destructive when they arrive on "virgin soil" and cultures have no time to acclimatize or develop regulations for them, or even become aware of them as vice. This is what the relentless motor of technology is doing to many today, while we scarcely have time to contemplate on it. All in all an enjoyable read, although one that adds up to the less than the sum of its parts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Madalene

    (Minor spoiler at the very end of my review) Disappointed overall - I thought based on the blurb that this would be a book about the current limbic capitalism system and how companies work to capture eyeballs and clicks in the 21st century. But it is not. 3/4 of the book is a history of addiction, including long swaths about opium, cigarettes and porn. The last 1/4 covers some newer parts of the addiction landscape, but spends so much time trying to give a balanced perspective on those who consi (Minor spoiler at the very end of my review) Disappointed overall - I thought based on the blurb that this would be a book about the current limbic capitalism system and how companies work to capture eyeballs and clicks in the 21st century. But it is not. 3/4 of the book is a history of addiction, including long swaths about opium, cigarettes and porn. The last 1/4 covers some newer parts of the addiction landscape, but spends so much time trying to give a balanced perspective on those who consider addiction a medical issue vs those who think it's a matter of personal freedom and/or behavior that I was left not feeling like I learned very much. The one item that I was pleased to learn is the warnings by clergy when chess first became popular that this represented addictive behavior that was warping the minds of young men. Fair point on our changing perspective.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aloke

    Lots of gripping bits but somehow ends up less than the sum of its parts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kavi Naidu

    This is one of those books that everyone should read. It illuminates how we have become a society of abundance and indulgence, and how a vast system has exploited the way our brains work to create pleasures our ancestors could never have dreamed of.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Figueiredo

    I didn't think I'd be reading a book about addiction, but I found myself drawn in by Courtwright's work. In "The Age of Addiction", he tracks the history of vice and its opponents, showing how expanding technology, globalization, and changing cultural contexts enabled corporations to push society towards "limbic capitalism", defined as "a technologically advanced but socially regressive business system in which global industries . . . encourage excessive consumption and addiction . . . by target I didn't think I'd be reading a book about addiction, but I found myself drawn in by Courtwright's work. In "The Age of Addiction", he tracks the history of vice and its opponents, showing how expanding technology, globalization, and changing cultural contexts enabled corporations to push society towards "limbic capitalism", defined as "a technologically advanced but socially regressive business system in which global industries . . . encourage excessive consumption and addiction . . . by targeting the limbic system" (12 in my e-book). He combines evolutionary history, brain science, and cultural history to tell a compelling story about how unrestrained pleasure and vice became embedded in modernity and won out over their objectors. Essentially, it boils down to anomie, accessibility, affordability, advertising, anonymity, and addiction neuroscience (282). Encouraged by the profit motive, companies began to take advantage of linked pleasure and addictive tendencies, undertaking massive advertising campaigns; they grew on the back of linkages between "the fantasy of unrestrained sexuality [add other vices here]" and "a liberated consumer culture of anything goes" (154), a powerful critique of libertine capitalism if there ever was one. Not just consumerism but war and the growth of tourist hubs like Las Vegas that furthered the trend, showing how many forces pushed us to where we are today. Corporations gained the ability to "design contexts that would reduce or eliminate qualms about vices", entrenching the pleasure seeking mindset (175). Globalization only expanded opportunities for the pro-vice industry, a point Courtwright drives home throughout. To his credit, Courtwright is not excessively moralistic or cynical, but he recognizes the pernicious consequences of a society of addiction, demonstrating how intoxicants can fuel intergenerational vulnerability (114). He highlights the genetic aspects of addiction as well as the social ones, taking a holistic look that policymakers should more often consider. Courtwright is a believer that too much pleasure stimulation rewires the brain and combines with set and setting to cause dependency (208). Showing how these apply to both food and social media, he makes the case for a broader definition of addiction than was fashionable historically. The chapter on social media evoked many of the same themes dealt with in "The Social Dilemma", making it particularly timely. Because of the ubiquity of food and the web in our daily lives, they represent even more difficult vices to detach from (247). Towards the end, his manner of addressing objections in little dialogues is a bit weird and informal, but it displays the dialogue. By that point in the book, I was feeling a little down about the sorry state of our addicted world, mired in "capitalism's evil twin", joined to the free market itself at a "historically contingent point where science and technology made it possible to turn a commodity into a vice" (249). With the rise of the internet, access to all sorts of vices became easier. (254) Limbic capitalism further corroded the basis for objections by undermining religion (283) and building interconnections in the vice industry, now filled with stakeholders looking for a cut (277). I'd forgive you if by now you felt the only making the problem was irresolvable. This is not a cheery read. However, he proposes a few solutions at the end, namely calling for leaders to tackle the 'A's' mentioned above that feed into an addictive society. He even calls for new political coalitions (289), although this aspect of the book isn't fleshed out as much as I'd like it to be. Courtwright ends by settling on "grudging toleration", which seems discordant with the many harms he noted before. The solutions were a little lacking and I noticed little about improving healthcare or going after Big Tech. A better description than prescription (no pun intended), "The Age of Addiction" is an interesting, worrying read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryosuke

    Read it for research at first, but inevitably ended up binging it for pleasure. A very intriguing book that argues that modern-day neoliberal capitalism ('limbic capitalism') has advanced so far that companies have devised sophisticated techniques to get consumers completely hooked on their products, whether it be tobacco, pornography, online gaming, social media, and so on. To varying degrees, the majority of their revenue comes from a minority of people who consume these 'vices' in excess, the Read it for research at first, but inevitably ended up binging it for pleasure. A very intriguing book that argues that modern-day neoliberal capitalism ('limbic capitalism') has advanced so far that companies have devised sophisticated techniques to get consumers completely hooked on their products, whether it be tobacco, pornography, online gaming, social media, and so on. To varying degrees, the majority of their revenue comes from a minority of people who consume these 'vices' in excess, the so-called Pareto principle. But Courtwright is by no means an anti-capitalist and doesn't support prohibition. Instead, he pushes for a middle-ground to tackle excessive consumption through real substantive policies, mainly prevention instead of more business-friendly measures like addiction treatment and education. He has no issue with people consuming these products in moderation. In line with one of his descriptive arguments that concepts of addiction came to be applied to non-substances later in the twentieth century, the book starts by focusing on the history of alcohol and drugs and gradually moves onto more modern-day concerns. MMORPGs like Everquest and World of Warcraft has taken over the lives of gamers all over the world, with one study indicating that up to around 20% of young people in China are addicted to gaming. Your Facebook and Instagram feed provides immediate gratification over more 'effortful' hobbies like reading, learning to play an instrument, sports, and so on. As a smoker, the book has quite obvious implications for me. But as I thought more about what I do in my free time, mainly wasting it by watching endless numbers of youtube videos that mean little to nothing to me in the long term, The Age of Addiction has become more meaningful than a lot of other books out there written by academic historians. The author should be commended for producing a narrative that is truly global, containing cases from not just Europe and North America but also Asia, Africa, and Latin America. His effort to expand the historical interest in intoxicating substances, spanning from sugar and coffee to heroin and crack cocaine, towards more behavioural addictions like web-surfing and masturbation, is something that I myself wholeheartedly agree with in terms of where the field should head towards. The biggest surprise was his fair treatment of scientific approaches to addiction, especially in his chapter on food and overeating. My only gripe with the book, and this is probably because of publishing conventions, is that it can have more robust numbers of footnotes, but I'm reading this also as an academic researcher. Regardless, without a doubt one of the most memorable nonfiction reads. Highly recommended, even for those generally unacquainted with reading history, popular science, and economics.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ian Goodrich

    This book is a history of addiction and vice (well, vices). It takes us from tobacco and alcohol, to contemporary habit-forming practices such as Instagram and slot machine gambling. Its central thesis is that we live in an age of "limbic capitalism", wherein big business -- having triumphed over prohibitionists of most stripes -- promotes and pushes a dazzling array of substances and practices, utilising marketing and processes that engage our deep and addiction-prone impulses. Whilst its core a This book is a history of addiction and vice (well, vices). It takes us from tobacco and alcohol, to contemporary habit-forming practices such as Instagram and slot machine gambling. Its central thesis is that we live in an age of "limbic capitalism", wherein big business -- having triumphed over prohibitionists of most stripes -- promotes and pushes a dazzling array of substances and practices, utilising marketing and processes that engage our deep and addiction-prone impulses. Whilst its core argument really resonated and provides an excellent lens on contemporary capitalism, and the historical component felt convincing and well-researched, I came away a little disappointed in the end. I guess I was expecting a little more of a deep-dive on contemporary practices (and potentially avoidance strategies), which comprised only a small portion of the book. I also felt that whilst touched on, more attention could have been paid to the negative consequences of prohibition, with greater emphasis on regulatory frameworks that've been successful in reducing harms whilst avoiding the nurturing of black markets. Would recommend, but perhaps wasn't quite the book I was looking for.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Clayton Keenon

    The first half is a history of addictive behaviors. It’s interesting, but a lot of details that might bog people down. The second half is a sobering look at the cultural, economic, and technological dynamics that lead to widespread issues of excessive consumption and addiction. The idea of “limbic capitalism” gives a name to a massive feature of our society while shedding light on our individual, daily experience. This book is worth reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Connor Elliot

    Have a coffee, smoke a cigarette, listen to some music, scarf down a chocolate bar and read this.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aseem Juneja

    This should be named 'History of Addiction' instead of its current name..Too many useless details. This should be named 'History of Addiction' instead of its current name..Too many useless details.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    Very interesting. Great read - lots to learn from 3/5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I believe the project was too ambitious and at the same time too vague. Yes, we suspect that addictive behaviors extend past alcohol and narcotic consumption and some addictive behaviors such as gambling and social media addiction. But the science was poorly explained (it at all), the strategies of 'limbic capitalism' were rushed through, and the rest of the book focused on what felt like propaganda for abolitionism. The author certainly sounds in favor of banning alcohol for example and lauds t I believe the project was too ambitious and at the same time too vague. Yes, we suspect that addictive behaviors extend past alcohol and narcotic consumption and some addictive behaviors such as gambling and social media addiction. But the science was poorly explained (it at all), the strategies of 'limbic capitalism' were rushed through, and the rest of the book focused on what felt like propaganda for abolitionism. The author certainly sounds in favor of banning alcohol for example and lauds the US laws restricting drinking until the age of 21. He forgets to mention that US has severe alcohol consumption problems that far exceed those in countries in Europe where drinking is legal from earlier ages. In Germany for example teenagers can start legally consuming beer and wine at age 16. Early and public drinking is also not frowned upon in Germany. Yet in Germany people behave when they drink, public drinking rarely leads to conflicts (believe me, I lived in a university town and I've never seen drunks as polite as Germans) and most people's relationship with alcohol is healthy. I'm convinced addiction occurs still. But perhaps the bigger problem is social insecurity? Perhaps we should keep in mind that addictive behaviors can sprout from everywhere? The author applauds reading for example, but Germans considered reading addiction to be a disease apparently. I certainly feel addicted to reading books. Why is my addiction not considered problematic? What about people's responses to music? Has anyone noticed that listening to your favorite music can become addictive as well? Not to mention the hot mess that was the chapter on food addiction. The author definitely had good points there, but then went out if his depths and shamed women who may consume processed foods during pregnancy and who suffer from gestational diabetes. First of all, you can relax, having one occasional burger or cup of ice-cream will not negatively impact the baby (thanks for mommy shaming again). Second, gestational diabetes is more complex than what you eat. Was the book right about a lot of things? Yes. Did the book acknowledge that addictions are strongly linked to social safety? Not that much. Did the book feel like propaganda and one sided? Sorry, but yes (in my opinion). The lack of nuance got to me and the facts presented were too rushed and occasionally cherry picked.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jake J

    A well told contemporary and macro-historical story/account about pleasure, vice and addiction. How said points morphed, intertwined and were shaped by people/civilisations (which were, in turn, shaped by those points). Courtwright does a good job at researching across disciplines; history, the neuroscience of addiction and pyschology to name a few. The book is well referenced and has good grounding in data when discussing topics - alcohol and drug consumption rates, or addiction rates, etc. My A well told contemporary and macro-historical story/account about pleasure, vice and addiction. How said points morphed, intertwined and were shaped by people/civilisations (which were, in turn, shaped by those points). Courtwright does a good job at researching across disciplines; history, the neuroscience of addiction and pyschology to name a few. The book is well referenced and has good grounding in data when discussing topics - alcohol and drug consumption rates, or addiction rates, etc. My main criticism, if it's valid, would be that the book offers little in terms of solutions to the problem of Big Businesses, limbic capitalism and the mentally addictive state of society. That being said, the book raises the problem/s (and definies them well). Overall it's an interesting insight into how modern civilisation may have an unhealthy relationship with our creations/pleasures, how we are shaped by corporations (incentivised to manipulate human bioware for profit margins), how our apparatus may not be serving our well-being (Governments legalising problems, drugs for example, rather than deal with the societal issues of why people abuse them and also cash in through tax or lobbying) and how easily we, the economic or genetically vulnerable more so, can through ourselves off whack, over-indulge, creating vice like habbits that degrade our executive control - ultimately leading to addiction for some. The book leaves one pondering to what extent the poor state of the world could be attributed to bad habits and addictive behaviours.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anson Cassel Mills

    Few readers will make it through this book without some twinge of conscience about their bad habits—if not about their use of alcohol or their pornography viewing, then at least for putting two teaspoons of sugar in their coffee. In theory, Courtwright puts the blame for such bad behaviors squarely on what he calls “limbic capitalism,” a combination of business enterprise, complicit governments, and criminal organizations that encourage excessive consumption if not outright addiction. Still, the Few readers will make it through this book without some twinge of conscience about their bad habits—if not about their use of alcohol or their pornography viewing, then at least for putting two teaspoons of sugar in their coffee. In theory, Courtwright puts the blame for such bad behaviors squarely on what he calls “limbic capitalism,” a combination of business enterprise, complicit governments, and criminal organizations that encourage excessive consumption if not outright addiction. Still, the reader will have plenty of opportunity to blame himself, if for nothing more than falling for the blandishments of shrewd operators who would be perfectly happy to send all of society to hades in a handbasket so long as they make a profit. Courtwright writes well, frequently using clever turns of phrase. (You can’t have a go at such a style without missing the mark occasionally. I absolve the misses.) One weakness of the book is that it is nonlinear, written neither topically or chronologically. So, the arguments, while based on wide reading in international sources, nevertheless have a tendency to turn back on themselves. Some readers may also be annoyed that Courtwright proposes no solution for the obvious problem of societal decay, except perhaps that “we should be against excess.”

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Courtwright's book is an interesting historical survey of the reality of addiction. Going back hundreds of years, he traces how businesses have used the human quest for pleasure, and the increasing desire to escape the burdensome realities of human existence, as a means of making profit; a profit taken regardless of the toll upon increasing numbers of human lives who fall into addiction and ultimately to death and destruction. After several chapters of historical review, Limbic Capitalism is des Courtwright's book is an interesting historical survey of the reality of addiction. Going back hundreds of years, he traces how businesses have used the human quest for pleasure, and the increasing desire to escape the burdensome realities of human existence, as a means of making profit; a profit taken regardless of the toll upon increasing numbers of human lives who fall into addiction and ultimately to death and destruction. After several chapters of historical review, Limbic Capitalism is described in great detail, with examples of some of the greatest threats to 21st century existence - social media, gaming, gambling, food, pornography and opioids - which are tearing apart lives and dulling human cognition at alarming rates, especially among our children. This book is a sobering (pun intended) read about a major social challenge which cuts across all class and social distinctions. Limbic Capitalism will ultimately implode upon itself as greater numbers of human lives are destroyed; but in the meantime, it is an economic powerhouse that, without major social intervention, will continue to grow and lead to societal decay. We should all be alarmed and ready to make major changes if we want to halt the spread of this social disease.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    even if you know big business is consuming members of our society...David Courtwright provides a nice overview of their techniques and a history of societal pushes and pulls against vice. It's harder than scrolling through your phone and less satisfying than a doughnut. You won't hit a jackpot or find an evening of "love". but it's insightful and leaves you feeling that "YES" it is good to stand against excess that harms our neighbors while the "Phillip Morrises" and "Sacklers" and "Adelsons" and " even if you know big business is consuming members of our society...David Courtwright provides a nice overview of their techniques and a history of societal pushes and pulls against vice. It's harder than scrolling through your phone and less satisfying than a doughnut. You won't hit a jackpot or find an evening of "love". but it's insightful and leaves you feeling that "YES" it is good to stand against excess that harms our neighbors while the "Phillip Morrises" and "Sacklers" and "Adelsons" and "Zuckerbergs" manipulate the system for themselves...we all need to BUGA-UP and make our democracy a progressively healthier one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Corey Knadler

    This book provides an excellent (if exhaustive) history of pleasure and addiction as background for the modern era of addiction. (opioid crisis, internet addiction, etc.) It's a bit repetitive and not exactly a page turner, but I would strongly recommend it to anyone who has looked at modern addiction and asked, "How did we get here." For my full review: https://fishgibblets.home.blog/2019/0... This book provides an excellent (if exhaustive) history of pleasure and addiction as background for the modern era of addiction. (opioid crisis, internet addiction, etc.) It's a bit repetitive and not exactly a page turner, but I would strongly recommend it to anyone who has looked at modern addiction and asked, "How did we get here." For my full review: https://fishgibblets.home.blog/2019/0...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I wish this was written as two books. As it is, the first half is about the treatment of addiction, as well as eras of changing addictions, throughout history. The second half is more about how businesses manipulate and profit from different forms of addiction, with the last bit of the book dedicated to the modern problem of digital addiction. I think both halves would be better suited to further examination and exploration.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. If we do not understand the dangers of ‘lambic capitalism’ you will gain an awakening to it in this book. Within its pages the author reveals the seed bed of how vices have destroyed the lives of human beings and our environment for far too long. In the last paragraph Courtwright wisely offers: “You should asked what we should do. The answer is that, in politics as in life, we should be against excess.” An excellent well-researched book!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Kettler

    Just identifying part of the problem as "limbic capitalism" provides a penetrating view of how bis business is incentivized to shape our brains and our perceptions. I'll never look at sugar or a cell phone the same way. I do wish the author would talk a little bit more on how people adjust to it on an individual level. Just identifying part of the problem as "limbic capitalism" provides a penetrating view of how bis business is incentivized to shape our brains and our perceptions. I'll never look at sugar or a cell phone the same way. I do wish the author would talk a little bit more on how people adjust to it on an individual level.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel M

    I found the information stimulating, but there was a lot. It took me a while to finish. Learning about how the economy and addiction work together has been eye opening. In some ways I finished this book with more questions than when I started—which I think is a good thing because it made me want to learn more!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna Severson

    Limbic capitalism: "a technologically advanced but socially regressive business system in which global industries, often with the help of complicit governments and criminal organisations, encourage excessive consumption and addiction" "the answer is that in politics, as in life, we should be against excess" Limbic capitalism: "a technologically advanced but socially regressive business system in which global industries, often with the help of complicit governments and criminal organisations, encourage excessive consumption and addiction" "the answer is that in politics, as in life, we should be against excess"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This was a very worthwhile read - I got thru it quickly for 300+ pages of nonfiction. But fair warning, I did find it equals parts alarming and depressing. The Author shared so much info - a lot that really shocked and interested me - I’m going to go research this topics more on my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    An in-depth and challenging book on the way we humans have been addicted to so many different ways of finding pleasure. The marketing and manufacture of substances and pleasures to keep people coming back is well explained.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Lake

    An incredible look at today’s “limbic capitalism” economies and their histories, from the objective data to each side of arguments in favor or opposition of policies against or in favor of freedoms/regulations. Enlightening.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Luca

    Quite heavy to digest, and too much context regarding history of addictions in general. I am missing the connection with today’s world. It seems like the author was just trying to cut himself a piece of history in today’s marketing and neuromarketing context...somewhat it failed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stoo

    a very powerful framing device for human history: the pursuit of pleasures and the exploitation of addiction are incredibly influential forces. tons of good info in here, felt super thoroughly researched, so many little illustrative details of historic human lives.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    A solid informational text that helps individuals understand addiction and how corporations utilize addictions to market to everyone.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Mills

    Very informative read. At times the information repeats itself, but that is the nature of a research driven book. Well organized and thoughtful response to the topic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Norjak

    Some on the people/business exploiting things which can cause addiction, some on history of those substances, a little on why such things may be addictive.

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