hacking the American mind

The distinction between pleasure and happiness might seem like a philosopher’s quibble. Fat Chance author Dr. Robert Lustig tells us why this difference is vitally important to our national wellbeing. Corporations are hacking the American mind because of our ignorance about the difference between them.

Pleasure vs. Happiness:

Dr. Lustig describes the neurochemical foundations behind the difference between pleasure, fueled by dopamine, and happiness, powered by serotonin. He attributes the negative extremes of addiction, due to an overload of dopamine, and depression, from too little serotonin, to the ways that corporations have manipulated Americans with marketing. That’s why he titled his book The Hacking of the American Mind.

How Does Neuro-Marketing Enable Hacking the American Mind?

Dr. Lustig details how neuro-marketing plays into the sad state of affairs that has resulted in too many Americans ending up fat, sick, broke, stupid, depressed, addicted or unhappy. How has our government enabled these developments? What roles have our educational systems played? And most importantly, how can we break out of this vicious cycle?

To dampen dopamine and increase serotonin for more lasting contentment, we need to pay attention to the four Cs: Connect, Contribute, Cope and Cook. Learn about the science behind the corporate takeover of our minds.

This Week’s Guest:

Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL, is professor of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Lustig consults for several childhood obesity advocacy groups and government agencies.

Dr. Lustig is the author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, and his latest book, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Air Date:December 8, 2018

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  1. Marla

    Dr. Lustig is absolutely correct. We bought his book. It’s going to take a great awakening in this country to restore us to the people we should be.

  2. Paige

    Such a powerful topic – and each person facing sugar and flour addiction – or the mental or emotional spiral that comes with it should read Bright Line Eating. It’s a game changer. Our choices, our habits, our intentions for our own lives must overcome the marketing engines and addictive substances.

  3. Karen Scheuermann

    I was going to rate this as 5* on itunes, but don’t know how to do that. There are instructions for downloading to cell phones but not pcs.

  4. John

    Thank you, excellent and very important program!

  5. Beverly
    Charlotte NC

    The guest mentions how depression has increased over the years. One factor not considered in the rise in depression, and even stress, is economics. Stagnant wages that haven’t kept pace with costs of living since the late 70s, unemployment, underemployment, and the resulting problems of food and housing insecurity; no money for children’s education; one big medical bill away from bankruptcy, etc., all contribute to people becoming more depressed about their lives. I would argue this issue plays as big a role in the mental and even physical state of the nation.

  6. Steve
    Roanoke, VA

    Wow! This is an AMAZING episode. Thanks so much for airing it! It takes complex science and research and puts it on “the Lower shelf” so we laypeople can understand it. It helps connect the dots among many of the crises we face today. I’ve already shared this episode. Thanks again!

  7. Morris

    It’s not a tax problem. It’s a congress problem. All being bought to stay in office. Limit terms. One.

  8. Randa

    How can I hear this program for free? I live in Austin, TX

  9. Theodora
    Spokane, WA

    I was so glad to hear this program. I had tried to give up sugar many times over the years. However, about 3 years ago it became very easy for me when I changed my reason from a selfish one of helping myself to not wanting to support companies who are poisoning my fellow Americans, as well as world citizens. Then it was easy. I now realize every dollar I spend is a political statement, and I am very cognizant of how I spend my money. I vote with my dollar and try to talk others into doing it also. I ask that we meet at a small local mom & pop restaurant, rather than a large chain restaurant. I look at where the company invests their money. If it is in oil companies, big ag, etc. I won’t spend my money there. I highly recommend the movie “Prosperity”, which is on the well.org website. It delves into this subject in a very informative and inspirational way.

    May you all have a Happy, Healthy and Proserous New Year! And Happy Holidays! Let us be the force for positive change in this wonderful country of the USA.

  10. Sean

    Fantastic message from Dr. Lustig! He provides many answers to key questions for ailments so common in tosay’s society. Thank you for sharing on your program!

    Incidentally, I bumped into the program on Morgantown’s NPR station, rather than Pitrsburgh’s NPR. I hope WESA will pick up The People’s Pharmacy.

    • Sandra
      Charleston WV

      Extraordinary message from Dr Lustig. Now we know why and how. Very helpful biochemical and behavioral brain insights with simple but hard to do correctives. Thank you, PP, for having Dr. Lustig as guest.
      For Xmas I’ve asked family members to listen to this pod cast.
      I caught this interview on Charleston WV’s NPR station.

  11. Cameron

    I heard parts of this program in my car and thought it was fabulous- so interesting, so much information. I can’t wait to hear it again!

  12. c

    What do I think!!!!!!
    I listened to your show this am in the car. To say I was shocked is an understatement.
    I assumed it was done but not to the degree /extent it is done.
    It explains so much of what is wrong with society in this day and age.
    I AM getting the book as soon as I get to the book store.
    Thank you again people’s pharmacy, for bringing this to the attention of people’s pharmacy listeners.

  13. glendon
    plantcity fl

    have listened to program for some time look foeward to info

  14. J. David Auner
    Springfield, MO

    Dr. Lustig is always interesting. He might hone his message on addiction some by reviewing 2007 JAMA article on the small studies at that time of Topamax treating addiction. (Dopamax if prescribed at night to kill REM sleep.) The accompanying review of the natural history, epidemiology and treatments of alcoholism give a different view than was expressed on your show.
    The cop-car story wouldn’t be so funny if it had been discovered during the process.I still can’t figure out how Mr. Graves’ bunch got the mule, cart and corral on top of Pearson Hall – hard to dis-assemble a mule.
    From my travels before the obesity epidemic started, if sugar were the culprit in insulin resistance, the epidemic would have begun in Paris, Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland where dopamine was definitely being stimulated at alarming rates.

  15. kate
    vestal ny

    I Learned: As Dopamine goes up, Serotonin goes down.
    I Liked: the four good ways to increase Serotonin!

  16. Robert

    This is another case where the underlying villain is taxation. Beginning with the Reagan tax cuts in 1986, prominent policy makers (query how they became prominent) have pushed the notion that less taxation means better lives for us all. But less taxation means, among other things, less money for government oversight. No taxes, no money for FDA inspectors. When Frances Oldham Kelsey at FDA blocked approval of thalidomide in 1960, the top marginal tax rate on ordinary income was 91%. Kennedy lowered it to 77%. Reagan lowered it to 28%. Bush I, to save the government, raised it to 39%. Today it’s 37%. These decreases are the source of all evil in government, including drug oversight. Taxes define and control society. The rich understand that and concentrate on it, hence the system they have created, which benefits them and deprives everyone else

    • SJ

      Your sentence on “taxes define and control society” is totally correct. That is why we should have lower taxes and start thinking for ourselves. As a society we need to stop believing that government will make our lives better; take responsibility upon ourselves. High taxation is about control and changing the independent mind of doing for oneself and family. Hard work never hurt anyone but gives a great deal of self respect.

  17. sarjula

    Connect, Contribute, Cope and Cook.

    This is said very well. The society needs to change. Connect, less competition, and
    learn to enjoy what you have. Parents and children should be closer.

  18. Chris

    Which came first, the dumbing down of Americans or the demonization of corporations?
    I find it difficult to blame corporate marketing on all that ails America. The one thing I learned as a child was “if it’s too good to be true” then you should tread extremely carefully.
    To my mind, we have come to the point where we follow authority (celebrity? the wealthy?) blindly. “The bank told me I should do this.” “My doctor told me I should do that.” “Pepsico told me that eating Fritos will make me popular.” We are not taught to look at the expertise behind these pronouncements. If someone in “authority” says it, it must be so. Critical thinking skills are non-existent and if you ask for proof or source of expertise, you are frequently deemed rude. So, we come up with someone to blame and turn to the government to save us from our own stupidity. We seem to be severely lacking in critical thinking skills and common sense these days.

  19. Diane

    Great information!!

  20. Mary Jane

    Dr. Lustig asks, “How has our government enabled these developments? What roles have our educational systems played?” Interesting that he neglected to mention large corporations earning mega-bucks by preying on people’s FOMO, and fear of disease, creating false demand, and scarcity where there is none. With regard to government and educational systems, I would posit that systems do nothing, but that the responsibility needs to be placed where it belongs: on people, not only the people responsible for the systems, but the individuals who allow themselves to be exploited. The distinction between happiness and pleasure is a useful one, but if I had to identify a single fault characterizing this nation’s citizens, I would say: lack of self-discipline.

  21. Pat
    North Carolina

    Do research on the origins of marketing-propaganda, beginning with Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who used Freud’s mind-and-emotion research — against Freud’s wishes — to learn how to manipulate people through their weaknesses. Then Bernays wrote the book “Propaganda” (and the title was later changed to “Public Relations” for business-use).

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