The Good Life
Wellbeing and the new science of altruism, selfishness and immorality
By Graham Music
Routledge – 2014 – 244 pages
Routledge – 2014 – 244 pages
Are we born selfish or primed to help others?
Does stress make people more antisocial?
Can we ever be genuinely altruistic?
This book explores some of the dilemmas at the heart of being human. Integrating cutting edge studies with in-depth clinical experience, Graham Music synthesizes a wealth of fascinating research into an explanation of altruism, cooperation and generosity and shows how we are primed to turn off the ‘better angels of our nature’ in the face of stress, anxiety and fear.
Using fascinating psychological research but rooted in a clinicians understanding of the impact of stress on our moral and pro-social capacities, The Good Life covers topics as diverse as:
This book makes a unique contribution to a subject that is increasingly on people’s minds It does not shirk complexity, nor suggest easy explanations, but offers a hard look at the evidence in the hope that we can gain some understanding of how a ‘Good Life’ might develop. Often personally challenging, intellectually exhilarating and written with in an easily accessible style, The Good Life makes sense of how our moral selves take shape, and shines a light on the roots of goodness and nastiness.
'What tips us towards selfish or altruistic behaviour? Graham Music’s readable overview of current research in child development and moral psychology helps us to find answers. Using vivid examples from his own work with children, he shows how harsh or insensitive child-rearing can promote materialism and anti-social behaviour, whilst care and kindness underpin well-being and empathy for others. This is a timely and important message we ignore at our peril.' - Sue Gerhardt, psychotherapist and author of 'Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes A Baby's Brain'
'An incisive and timely critique of the "I'm OK, You're Not" Society.' - Oliver James, clinical psychologist and best-selling author of 'Affluenza'
'Following his best-selling Nurturing Natures, Music now brings a child psychotherapy perspective on the crucial issue of the psychobiological origins of altruism, cooperation, social cohesion and prosociality. Drawing on an impressive array of evidence, he shows how positive emotions and actions are as integral to our nature as greed and destructiveness. He identifies the conditions that foster positivity -- sensitive parenting, mindfulness, freedom from envy and anxiety -- and those that diminish them, inequality, trauma and neglect. All this is done with Music's characteristic combination of passion and scientific rigour. Accessible to professionals and general readers alike, in this compelling synthesis the selfish gene hypothesis finally meets its nemesis.' - Prof Jeremy Holmes MD FRCPsych University of Exeter, UK
Introduction. Primed for goodness. Attachments and helping others. How empathy and altruism grow. Why stress can make us nasty. Impulsiveness, self-regulation and aggression. Cold aggression, callousness and psychopaths. A battle between emotion and reason. Hormones of cooperation and competition. Evolved to both cooperate and compete. Moral games. Group minded and narrow minded. Reputations, shaming, gossip and punishment. Consumerism, society and our divided brain. Conclusions.
Graham Music is Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics in London, UK, and an adult psychotherapist in private practice. At the Tavistock Clinic he leads in teaching on attachment, the brain and child development, organises training for therapists and other professionals, and teaches and supervises on a range of psychotherapy training in Britain and abroad. He currently works clinically at the Portman Clinic in forensic psychotherapy and has worked for two decades with the aftermath of abuse and neglect.