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The Good Life: Wellbeing and the new science of altruism, selfishness and immorality Paperback – 14 May 2014

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More About the Author

Graham Music works as a therapist both with adults and children, as well as families, especially after trauma. He teaches and supervises other therapists, particularly at the Tavistock Clinic in London, an internationally renowned mental health centre. His passions include child development research, neuroscience and attachment theory, and how cutting-edge developmental findings can help us in our lives and in how we work with others.

After having done a variety of jobs in early adulthood, including buying and selling antiques, working in housing advice, community support services and other adventures, from the late 1980's he undertook a variety of psychotherapy trainings and has worked as a therapist for over 20 years. He has found his own style now, based primarily on psychoanalysis but also other ways of thinking, such as mindfulness and influenced by developmental science.

He believes that psychological research and thinking can have an important impact, alongside many other discourses, not just on individuals and their lives, but also in thinking about social and environmental issues that urgently need addressing.

Find out more at http://www.nurturingminds.co.uk/

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Review

'I am really impressed by the amount of research that has gone into pulling this book together from such diverse aspects of human life. The author has managed to create a tantalising review of the fundamentals of humanness and in less than 200 pages.' - Jenny Watkins, Trainee Person-Centred Psychotherapist, Person Centred Quarterly, February 2015

'This is an important book that covers an immense ground. It is full of fascinating detail from the research, scrupulously evidenced, and a salutary read.' - Catherine Jackson, Deputy Editor of 'Therapy Today'

'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

‘Having just read The Good Life, the psychotherapist Graham Music’s new book on altruism, the good news is that, according to Music, humans aren’t born selfish. Toddlers have an inbuilt urge to help adults (although anyone whose toddler likes "helping" with domestic chores knows it’s uncannily close to hindering). Sadly he works with children whose capacity for niceness to others has been stunted by abuse. But given reasonable parenting, most of us grow up capable of behaving collaboratively or rapaciously, depending on which way we’re pushed.’ - Gaby Hinsliff, The Times

‘We humans are not born to be hard. Graham Music is a consultant child psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman clinics. His new book, The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality, establishes that children are instinctively generous and social. They only learn to become selfish and brattish.’ - Yasmin Alibahi Brown, The Independent

'It collates decades of social experimental research and draws on Music's experience as a consultant to paint a grim picture of a western society undermining its natural tendency towards empathy and tipping dramatically towards nastiness.' - Tracy McVie, The Observor

'It confirms, through use of data collected by scientists over the last 40 years, what we have all long suspected from anecdote and our own eyes: the materialistic tend to be unhappy .... We cannot say we were not warned.' - Tanya Gold, The Guardian

'The Good Life: Wellbeing and the new science of altruism, selfishness and immorality argues that being materialistic makes us more selfish, while living altruistic lives with close friend and family bonds make us feel happy and fulfilled. Dr Music's book draws on the latest psychological research and brain science alongside decades of his own clinical work with traumatised children and adolescents.' - Hampstead and Highgate Express 

‘Drawing from nearly 600 academic sources on child development and moral psychology, He argues that harried parenting and rampant materialism are making children meaner and more self-absorbed. Raised to prize consumer goods over people, children with low empathy are turning into narcissistic adults who have never learned the intrinsic rewards of social belonging and interdependence.’- Adriana Barton, The Globe and Mail, Canada

'This is a deeply sobering book. (…)This is an important book that covers an immense ground. It is full of fascinating detail from the research, scrupulously evidenced, and a salutary read.' - Catherine Jackson, Therapy Today, February 2015

 

About the Author

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.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Glanz on 8 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
What a wonderful , informative, engrossing and enlightening book Dr. Graham Music has written. A dense yet easily digested journey through a world of research, experiments in social psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, psychoanalysis and child development and all through the particular slant of Dr. Music's political and social world view. It is in essence a plea not to let the best of our instincts toward empathy, generosity, and social cooperation be evolved out of us in the name of corporate Capitalism and greed. A timely warning to us all, yet ultimately optimistic and hopeful reminder of what it is that makes us human. Please read it !
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Format: Paperback
This book offers a fascinating, informative and non-judgmental exploration of two interrelated questions: (1) Why are some people relatively altruistic and others less so? (2) How does our attitude towards others affect our own emotional well-being and physical health?

Graham Music addresses these questions by elucidating the interactions between our childhood experiences, social world, cultural environment and evolutionary heritage. As part of that endeavor he interweaves a wealth of research from fields as diverse as attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology, endocrinology, social and moral psychology, game theory, primatology and evolutionary anthropology. Particularly impressive is that way that Music makes this research accessible and engaging, without glossing over the contradictions and subtleties of our complex nature.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anybody who is interested in what makes us who we are, as well as to all those who are concerned with fostering well-being.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Reiss on 18 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. Very readable, it nevertheless is crammed with scholarship. The author shows how an evolutionary perspective on life makes sense of much of human behaviour - but he does so in a way that avoids any sort of crude genetic determinism. Much better than the 'Men are from Mars' genre of popular psychology offerings.
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This book is a must-read for pretty much anyone: parents, teachers, policy-makers, therapists, and anyone at all concerned with the future wellbeing of humanity. Graham explains, with lots of scientific evidence, why we humans are inherently altruistic (as well as having a selfish side) and what we can do to nurture this part of our selves. Given the current state of the world, with violence still playing such a prominent role, and the continuing devastation of the biosphere which we need to support us, it is clear that we are not learning our lessons from history. This book provides the one lesson we need to learn right now.
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