Saturday, September 01, 2012

Willpower--The Book

My friend Steve gave me a copy of the new book, “Willpower” –as a “get going” gift as I begin to write my book length manuscript of “Out of the Woods”. “Willpower” was written by the pioneering research psychologist Roy Baumeister with New York Times science writer, John Tierney.

This was a perfect gift for my book-writing marathon and for a writer writing about addiction. I mean, isn’t that what most people think addiction is all about? A lack of willpower? I am so into this book that I am both reading it AND listening to it on CD in the car.

It’s definitely an “out of the woods” book. There are parts of the research and explication that might shake up a newcomer, and maybe some old-timers too.  Not everyone wants to know the science behind our behavior. But I love this stuff.

“Willpower” has lots of answers and insights if you do wonder about the backside of recovery and change. They give the scientific explanation for things we advise in AA—like “no major changes in the first year.” There is some serious chemistry to managing more than one change. They also give the reason for the old-timers advice about eating a piece of candy when you crave a drink. It turns out that willpower runs on glucose and it can become depleted when you are doing something hard –like trying to change a habit like drinking too much.

The take-aways are fabulous. It is a kind of “how it works” book for the bio-neurology of willpower . Baumeister & Tierney write about the cognitive, and biochemical and psycho-neurological processes that operate to create and sustain our habits, and what has to change to weaken or stop a serious habit—or addiction. The habits they write about run the gamut from overeating to worry to exercise to heroin, and the use of alcohol.

There is also there is a chapter on how Eric Clapton and Mary Karr got sober—and how they surrendered. And a chapter called, “The Perfect Storm of Dieting.” This is great stuff.

No comments: