Please find a full list of references below.

Hope it didn’t take you too long to find this page, if so: my apologies…

We didn’t include references in the book itself to minimise use of paper.

A link has been provided to the original academic research wherever it has been made freely available to the public.

Enjoy – and thank you for feeling motivated to check my sources!

p8 “…a psychology paper published in 1956, written by George A. Miller of Princeton University was entitled The Magic Number Seven…”

Miller (1956) The Magic Number Seven Plus Or Minus Two Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information. Psychol Rev; 101(2): 343-352

Free to Download:

The descent of the species

p11 “Round and round this cycle went, through many hundreds of generations, until our brains ended up three times larger than our chimpanzee and bonobo…”

Some sources say we share 98.5% of our DNA, some say 99%, the take away is that genetically we differ only very slightly from chimps and bonobos:

p14 “Communities of humans tend to be relatively stable up to around 150 people.”

This is the Dunbar number and is well described in this article:

Faces in the clouds

p15 “It has even been convincingly argued…”

M Shermer; The Believing Brain (UK: Constable & Robinson, 2012)

p16 “Our brains are essentially cunningly evolved biological machines that work very hard to minimise surprise…”

A science paper that captures this idea is available here (WARNING: highly technical!)

p18 “ ‘The big triangle is a bully that is picking on the small triangle and circle, who are running scared but then figure out how to trick the big triangle and escape…’ ”

This quote is from: Heider & Simmel (1944). An experimental study of apparent behavior. American Journal of Psychology; 57: 243-249

p19 “…to suggest a direct relationship between religiosity and how often natural catastrophes occur in a given part of the world.”

The relationship between religiosity and incidence of natural disasters is described in:

Healthier together

p26 “The fact is that people who manage to successfully forge enduring, cooperative, intimate relationships gain psychological and physical health benefits as a direct result.”

See: House et al (1988) Social relationships and health. Science; 241(4865): 540-545

And: Holt-Lunstad et al (2010) Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med; 7(7): e1000316

Free Download:

And: Hawkley & Cacioppo (2010) Loneliness matters: a theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Ann Behav Med; 40(2): 218-227

Free Download:

p26 “This isn’t just a sad state of affairs; it actually makes them more vulnerable to a variety of health problems, including heart disease and cancer.”

Eisenberger & Cole (2012) Social neuroscience and health: neurophysiological mechanisms linking social ties with physical health. Nat Neurosci; 15(5): 669-674

p27 “With disbelief in God spreading across much of the Western world…”


Historical perspective

p33 “For when pride, the queen of sins, has fully possessed a conquered heart, she surrenders it immediately to seven principal sins”

John Henry Parker, trans. Morals on the Book of Job (Oxford: Rivington, 1844) Book XXXI, Ch. 45 [xlv] / verse 87

See: (Navigate to Book XXXI and then scroll down to verse 87)

p33 “Pride is one of the five ‘mind poisons’ in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism…”

p33 “even an atom of pride”

p33 “…the Bhagavad Gita – contains several passages warning the faithful that pride is an ungodly characteristic…”

p34 “The ancient Greeks had been warning against the dangers of hubris for many centuries before Christianity came onto the scene”

p34 “Lucifer felt that it was, ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven’…”

J. Milton Paradise Lost; A Poem in Twelve Books, 2nd edition (London: S. Simmons, 1674) (scroll down to 13/185 )

p35 “According to Dante…”

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise. (NY: The Union Library Association, 1935)

p35 “The term narcissism was first coined by the late, great Sigmund Freud at a meeting of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society over 100 years ago…”

This meeting took place in 1909, according to the editor’s note accompanying a 1925 translation of Freud’s On Narcissism: An Introduction.

Usual suspects

P39 “In The Mirror Effect, Dr Drew Pinsky and Dr S. Mark Young administered the NPI (Narcissistic Personality Inventory) test to a large number of rich and famous celebrities…”

Pinsky D and Young S M The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America (NY: Harper Collins, 2009)

p39 “…an unrelated study that administered the test to over 2,500 everyday Americans…”

Foster et al (2003) Individual differences in narcissism: Inflated self-views across the lifespan and around the world. Journal of Research in Personality; 37(6): 469-486

Narcissism you & I

p43 “High scores on the NPI test predict: the tendency to seek high status partners, yet having very little interest in forming intimate emotional bonds with them…”

Campbell (1999) Narcissism and Romantic Attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; 77(6): 1254-1270

Free to Download:

p43 “High scores on the NPI test predict: a propensity to claim other people’s successes for themselves…”

Campbell et al (2000) Narcissism and Comparative Self-Enhancement Strategies. Journal of Research in Personality; 34: 329-347

Free to Download:

p43 “High scores on the NPI test predict: the desire to seize any opportunity to receive public admiration…”

Wallace & Baumeister (2002) The Performance of Narcissists Rises and Falls With Perceived Opportunities for Glory. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology; 82(5): 819-834

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p43 “In combination with low self-esteem, high narcissism can even predict belief in conspiracy theories…”

Science of narcissism

p45 “…study required participants to perform one of two tasks while being observed by two silent strangers…”

Edelstein et al (2010) Narcissism Predicts Heightened Cortisol Reactivity to a Psychosocial Stressor in Men. J Res Pers; 44(5): 565-572.

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p45study conducted by Christopher Cascio and colleagues…”

Cascio et al (2015) Narcissists’ social pain seen only in the brain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci; 10(3): 335-341

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p48 “Incidentally, this particular brain structure has also been implicated in a wide variety of mood disorders…”

Greicius et al (2007) Resting-state functional connectivity in major depression: abnormally increased contributions from subgenual cingulate cortex and thalamus. Biol Psychiatry; 62(5): 429-437

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p49complemented by other studies suggesting that dACC activation is positively correlated with circulating cortisol…”

Eisenberger et al (2007) Neural pathways link social support to attenuated neuroendocrine stress responses. Neuroimage; 35: 1601–1612

Free to Download:

Slavich et al (2010) Neural sensitivity to social rejection is associated with inflammatory responses to social stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA; 107: 14817–14822

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p49 ” …when a narcissistic person’s delusions of grandeur are not matched by other people’s behaviour, they are prone to aggressive outbursts…”

Twenge & Campbell (2003) “Isn’t it fun to get the respect that we’re going to deserve?” Narcissism, social rejection, and aggression Pers Soc Psychol Bull; 29(2): 261-272

Buss & Chiodo (1991) Narcissistic acts in everyday life J Pers; 59(2): 179-215

Bushman & Baumeister (1998) Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: does self-love or self-hate lead to violence? J Pers Soc Psychol; 75(1): 219-229

Worse case scenario

p51 ” …rates of NPD also appear to be steadily rising, in the USA at least…”

p52 “The latest research suggests that they can make accurate judgements about other people’s emotions, they just can’t feel them…”

Roepke & Vater (2014) Narcissistic personality disorder: an integrative review of recent empirical data and current definitions. Curr Psychiatry Rep; 16(5): 445

p53 “They wanted to find out if any parts of the NPD patients’ brains were physically different, on average, to a comparison (control) group without a diagnosis of NPD…”

Schulze et al (2013) Gray matter abnormalities in patients with narcissistic personality disorder. J Psychiatr Res; 47(10): 1363-1369

Echo chamber

p55 “People with a greater number of Facebook friends tend to exhibit more narcissistic qualities than those with fewer…”

Carpenter (2012) Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and antisocial behaviour. Personality and Individual Differences; 52: 482-486

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p56 “Narcissistic parents are tremendously damaging for the entire family, but the children are particularly vulnerable…”

E. Golomb, Trapped In The Mirror, (NY: Quill – William Morrow, 1992)


p57 “With the World Health Organisation officially classing nearly a third of the world’s population as overweight or obese…”

p57 “Recent articles published in serious medical journals now declare it to have reached ‘pandemic’ proportions…”

The Global Burden of Disease 2015 Obesity Collaborators (2017) Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years. N Engl J Med; 377: 13-27

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p59 ” St Paul railed against those who ‘..serve not Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly’…”

St Paul’s Epistle to Romans (Rom. 16:17)

p59 “ ‘…the enemies of the cross of Christ. Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly…’ ”

St Paul’s Epistle to Phillipians (Phil. 3:18-19)

p60 ” ‘Excessive and unseemly joy, loutishness, uncleanness, talkativeness and an uncomprehending dullness of mind’ ”

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation, ed. Timothy McDermott (Allen Tex.: Christian Classics, 1991)

p60 “ ‘Sometimes it forestalls the hour of need; sometimes it seeks costly meats; sometimes it requires that food be daintily cooked; sometimes it exceeds the measure of refreshment by taking too much; sometimes we sin by the very heat of an immoderate appetite’ ”

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation, ed. Timothy McDermott (Allen Tex.: Christian Classics, 1991)

Paraphrased from the original comments made here: Saint Thaumaturgus Gregory, Fathers of the Church: Life and Works, trans. Michael Slusser, vol. 98. (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1998).

Amuse bouche

p61 “A recent study investigated four different eating styles that often lead to pathological increases in weight gain…”

Micanti et al (2016) The relationship between emotional regulation and eating behaviour: a multidimensional analysis of obesity psychopathology. Eat Weight Disord; 22(1): 105-115

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p62 “The King of Saudi Arabia ordered Mr Shaari to go to hospital for medical intervention to help him shed some of his excess pounds.”

p63 “20,000 calories – more than eight times the recommended daily intake for an average sized man.”

p64 “…while in developed countries the scourge of gluttony seems to be most prevalent among those of lower socioeconomic status…”

Pampel et al (2012) Obesity, SES, and economic development: a test of the reversal hypothesis. Soc Sci Med; 74(7): 1073-1081

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Main course

p65 “People now spend hours of their free time watching others eat on the internet. This particular fetish is so popular in South Korea that some even make a living from eating…”

P66       “Drink or food that is above or below a certain amount destroys the health, while that which is propotionate both produces and increases and preserves it.”

Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics: Book II: Moral Virtue: Chapter 2


Second helpings

p70 “… in the case of one study that looked at judges deliberating over whether or not to grant prisoners parole…”

Danziger et al (2011) Extraneous factors in judicial decisions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA; 108(17): 6889-6892

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p71 “Oxytocin… also plays a role in generating feelings of satiety…”

Mitra et al (2010) Chronic sugar intake dampens feeding-related activity of neurons synthesizing a satiety mediator, oxytocin. Peptides; 31(7): 1346-1352

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p71 “…even being prone to boredom…”

Crockett et al (2015) Boredom proneness and emotion regulation predict emotional eating. J Health Psychol; 20(5): 670-680.

Moynihan et al (2015) Eaten up by boredom: consuming food to escape awareness of the bored self. Front Psychol; 6: article 369

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The bill

p72 “Serial MRI body scans reveal that…the lethal stuff deeper down – that which quite literally throttles vital organs…”

Thomas et al (2000) Preferential loss of visceral fat following aerobic exercise, measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Lipids; 35(7): 769-776

p74 “The inflammation results largely from an increase in the production of proinflammatory cytokines, manufactured in the body’s fatty tissues…”

Arnoldussen et al (2014) Obesity and dementia: adipokines interact with the brain. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol; 24(12): 1982-1999.

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p74 ” …these agents, and the inflammatory processes that they encourage, are now increasingly being linked to cognitive decline…”

Nguyen et al (2014) Obesity and cognitive decline: role of inflammation and vascular changes. Front Neurosci; 8: 375

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p75 “…it may be no exaggeration to say that obesity accelerates the rate at which the brain ages…”

Wilson et al (2002) Cytokines and cognition – the case for a head-to-toe inflammatory paradigm. J Am Geriatr Soc; 50(12): 2041-2056

p75 “A recent study comparing the brains of several thousand people across a wide range of age groups and BMI values finally managed to quantify the damage that obesity causes to brains…”

Ronan et al (2016) Obesity associated with increased brain age from midlife. Neurobiol Aging; 47: 63-70

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p75 “…several studies have found an indirect link between high BMI and not just lower cognitive capacities, but even an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease…”

Cournot et al (2006) Relation between body mass index and cognitive function in healthy middle-aged men and women. Neurology; 67(7): 1208-1214

Gustafson et al (2004) A 24-year follow-up of body mass index and cerebral atrophy. Neurology; 63(10): 1876-1881

Xu et al (2011) Midlife overweight and obesity increase late-life dementia risk: a population-based twin study. Neurology; 76(18): 1568-1574

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The big picture

p78 “The primary source of this is sugar-laden soft drinks…”

p78 “The recommended daily amount of added sugar constitutes no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake..”

p78 “…Coca Cola or Pepsi ( both 10.6g/100ml)…”*26*01-01&form=RTD&size=12

p78 “…artificial sweeteners only lead us to seek out more calorific foods…”

Wang et al (2016) Sucralose Promotes Food Intake through NPY and a Neuronal Fasting Response. Cell Metab; 24(1): 75-90

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p79 “There is also a clear and well-evidenced marketing conspiracy that is intentionally brainwashing us all to one degree or another…”

M. Moss; Sugar, Fat, Salt: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (UK: WH Allen, 2014)

p79 “Bringing their attention to the injustice associated with huge, well-funded, multinational companies generating profits from the obesity epidemic…”

Bryan et al (2016) Harnessing adolescent values to motivate healthier eating. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA; 113(39): 10830-10835

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Historical perspective

p82 “Being dissatisfied with his wife, if one is seen with prostitutes or the wives of others, this is a cause of one’s decline”


p82 “Hinduism’s cautionary words are stronger: “He who commits adultery is punished here and hereafter; for his days in this world are cut short, and when dead he falls into hell”…”

From Vishnu Purana 3.11 quoted here:

p82 “And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way”.

Quoted here:

p82 “Christian tradition has: ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’…”

See: Exodus 20:13

p83 “…might even protect against cancer for those with a prostate gland…”

Refers to research indicating that frequent masturbation is associated with a reduced incidence of prostate cancer:

p83 “Some believe that sex between a pair of unattached consenting adults is an abomination if they happen to be of the same gender…”

Refers to the following quote which is often cited by Christians in support of their disapproval of homosexuality,: “…God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1: 26-27)

p83 “…given how widely homosexuality is documented in the animal kingdom…”

For several examples, please see: Jules Howard; Sex On Earth (UK: Bloomsbury Sigma, 2015)


p84 “A study by Burns and Swerdlow (2003) desribes the case of a 40-year-old married man…”

Refers to: Burns & Swerdlow (2003) Right orbitofrontal tumor with pedophilia symptom and constructional apraxia sign. Arch Neurol; 60(3): 437-440

Read full article here:

p84 “…yet he found himself unable to resist all the same.”

Refers to:



p86 “Stop It Now! typically handles 700-800 calls per month, with an estimated double that number missed each month due to staff shortages.”


p87 “In 2008, Cantor and colleagues published a fascinating discovery…”

Refers to: Cantor et al (2008) Cerebral white matter deficiencies in pedophilic men. J Psychiatr Res; 42(3): 167-183

p88 “In 2016, Cantor and colleagues went on to published another large-scale MRI study.”

Refers to: Cantor et al (2016) Independent Component Analysis of Resting-State Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Pedophiles. J Sex Med; 13(10): 1546-1554

p89 “With rates as high as 3 per cent of women and 1 per cent of men in the UK having been on the receiving end of rape…”


Sexual excitement

p91 “One woman in the medical literature even experienced orgasm every time she brushed her teeth.”

Read more about this here:

p93 “Straight and lesbian women were turned on – as in physiologically aroused – by heterosexual sex, lesbian sex and sex between gay men…”

This research and many other interesting insights into sexual behaviour are described in: Z. Cormier; Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (London: Profile, 2014)

p95 “During the fertile phase of the cycle, the attractiveness ratings the women gave for more masculine-looking faces, bodies and deeper-sounding voices increased slightly.”

Faces: Penton-Voak et al (1999) Menstrual cycle alters face preference. Nature; 399: 741–2

Bodies: Little et al (2007) Preferences for masculinity in male bodies change across the menstrual cycle. Hormones and Behavior; 51: 633–639

Voices: Feinberg et al (2006) Menstrual cycle, trait estrogen level, and masculinity preferences in the human voice. Hormones and Behavior; 49: 215–222

p96 “Current estimates indicate that in Western Europe 1-2% of men are raising a child that is not their own…”

From: Larmuseau et al (2013) Low historical rates of cuckoldry in a Western European human population traced by Y-chromosome and genealogical data. Proc. Biol. Sci.; 280(1772): 20132400.

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p97 “… committed adultery varies from 15 per cent to 50 per cent …”

See: Greiling & Buss (2000). Women’s sexual strategies: The hidden dimension of extra-pair mating. Personality and Individual Differences; 28: 929-963.

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p97 “According to Dante such adulteresses…would find themselves blown around by a blustery wind for all eternity…”

Mentioned in:


p97 “Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher has done a fantastic job in her efforts to simplify perspectives…”

See: Fisher et al (2006) Romantic love: a mammalian brain system for mate choice. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci; 361(1476): 2173-2186

p97 “… is thought to be driven primarily by the neuropeptides …”

Numan & Young (2016) Neural mechanisms of mother-infant bonding and pair bonding: Similarities, differences, and broader implications. Horm Behav; 77: 98–112

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Out of Control

p99 “Genghis Khan … has around 12 million direct living descendants…”


p99 “He slept with at least two women a day for more than four decades – one for lunch and one for supper…”


p100 “… is Compulsive Sexual Behaviour (CBS).”

From:   Kraus et al (2016) Neurobiology of Compulsive Sexual Behavior: Emerging Science. Neuropsychopharmacology; 41(1): 385-386

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p101 “Functional MRI studies comparing the brain activations of people, usually men, exhibiting the characteristic features of CSB…”

Refers to: Voon et al (2014) Neural correlates of sexual cue reactivity in individuals with and without compulsive sexual behaviours. PLoS One; 9(7): e102419

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p103 “A separate study investigating the functional connectivity of different brain areas at rest …”

Refers to: Schmidt et al (2017) Compulsive sexual behavior: Prefrontal and limbic volume and interactions. Hum Brain Mapp; 38(3): 1182-1190

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Internet porn addiction

p104 “What happens when teenage boys over-consume pornography …”

See: Pizzol et al (2016) Adolescents and web porn: a new era of sexuality. Int J Adolesc Med Health; 28(2): 169-173

p104 “… a stronger activation is induced in the ventral striatum than that elicited by a less attractive face …”

See: Bray & O’Doherty (2007) Neural coding of reward-prediction error signals during classical conditioning with attractive faces. J Neurophysiol; 97(4): 3036-3045

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p105 “The latest scientific papers to lay out the evidence relating to pornography addiction …”

Love et al (2015) Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update. Behav Sci (Basel); 5(3): 388-433

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No sex please, we’re British

p108 “… the most liberal attitude to sex of all the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations.”

Refers to: Schmitt (2005). Sociosexuality from Argentina to Zimbabwe: A 48-nation study of sex, culture, and strategies of human mating. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(2), 247-311.

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p109 “One large survey of the sexual behaviours of adolescent boys…”

Refers to: Stanley et al (2016) Pornography, Sexual Coercion and Abuse and Sexting in Young People’s Intimate Relationships: A European Study. J Interpers Violence pii: 0886260516633204

p110 “This time the participants were 393 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirls.”

Refers to: Mattebo et al (2016) Pornography consumption among adolescent girls in Sweden. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care; 21(4): 295-302

p110 “A study of over 50 women seeking to extract themselves from unhealthy relationships in rural Ohio…”

Refers to: DeKeseredy & Hall-Sanchez (2016) Adult Pornography and Violence Against Women in the Heartland: Results From a Rural Southeast Ohio Study. Violence Against Women pii: 1077801216648795


p116 The Paul Railton lazy dog-walker story is from:

p116 “The available evidence suggests that all sorts of creatures usually opt for whichever course of action minimises the amount of effort required of them.”

Refers to: Walton et al (2006) Weighing up the benefits of work: behavioral and neural analyses of effort-related decision making. Neural Netw; 19(8): 1302-1314

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p117 “When the motivation to work is purely extrinsic it usually has a negative impact on a person’s willingness to put in any extra effort…”

Described in:

p117 “…there is even research to suggest that we gain more pleasure when we’ve had to put in more rather than less effort to earn a given reward.”

Refers to: Alessandri et al (2008) Preference for rewards that follow greater effort and greater delay. Learn Behav; 36(4): 352-358

Historical perspectives

p118 Jacques Collin De Plancy’s (1818) Dictionnaire Infernal is free to read online (in French):

p119 “The Sanskrit dictionary translates Kausīdya – as sloth’ or ‘indolence’...”


p119 ” … Evagrius of Pontus went as far as to describe sloth as ‘the most burdensome of all’ … ”


p121 “ ‘Lack of exercise as deadly as smoking’ screamed headlines…

Refers to:

p121 “ … indicating that laziness is causing millions of avoidable deaths worldwide … ”

Refers to: Lee et al (2012) Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet; 380(9838): 219-229

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p121 “With an embarrassingly high 63.3 per cent of UK adults failing to take the recommended 20 minutes of moderate exercise per day …”


p121 “A study published in 2015 monitored more than 300,000 Europeans over an average period of 12 years…”

Refers to: Ekelund et al (2015) Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC). Am J Clin Nutr; 101(3): 613-621

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Brain basis of apathy

p124 “Damage to the former set of brain regions results in emotional-affective deficits: the person concerned lacks a strong urge to do one thing rather than another. When the latter brain regions are impaired the resulting cognitive deficits leave the person unable to figure out how to carry out the desired action. Either way motivation grinds to a halt.”

Derived from: Levy & Dubois (2006) Apathy and the functional anatomy of the prefrontal cortex-basal ganglia circuits. Cereb Cortex; 16(7): 916-928

In defence of laziness

p127 “…but can even enhance creative problem solving”

Refers to: Wagner et al. (2004) Sleep inspires insight. Nature; 427(6972): 352-355

p127 “Many companies now allow staff to give back a portion of their salary in return for extra days of annual leave…”

Refers to:

p127 “…sleep deprivation – has been calculated to cost UK businesses £40 billion each year in lost productivity.”

Refers to:

Some people just do nothing

p128 “…out of work for six months or more, they’re very rarely contacted for interview, regardless of their level of experience and skill set.”

Refers to:

p128 “Research conducted at the University of Sterling has shown that long term unemployment…”

Refers to: Boyce et al. (2015) Personality change following unemployment. J Appl Psychol; 100(4): 991-1011

p130 “Back in the USA, in 2016 the Executive Office of the White House released some disheartening figures on the long-term impacts of unemployment…”

Free to Download:

p130 “This may reflect a form of learned helplessness …”

Refers to: Baum et al (1986) Unemployment stress: loss of control, reactance and learned helplessness. Soc Sci Med; 22(5): 509-516

p130 “… known as the discouraged worker effect.”

Refers to: Bjørnstad (2006) Learned helplessness, discouraged workers, and multiple unemployment equilibria The Journal of Socio-Economics; 35(3): 458-475

p130 “…a way of saving ourselves from feeling the social pain of another person’s suffering.”


p131 “And 25 to 30 per cent of homeless people are struggling with a serious mental illness… ”

From: Perry & Craig (2015) Homelessness and Mental Health. Trends in Urology and Men’s Health 6(2): 19-21

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Coach potatoes

p137 “…completely absorbed in a game that involved caring for a virtual infant.”


p137 “In 2007, a Mr Zhang died in China after playing World of Warcraft … for 50 hours straight.”


“On the 4 February 2012, the Taipei Times ran an article reporting on a 23-year-old man who was found dead in an internet café…”


[NB not for the faint-hearted; image of corpse visible in photo]


p139 “…he ended up being credited with writing 13 of the 27 books of the bible.”


p140 “According to a recent report by Credit Suisse…”


p141 “Convincing arguments have been made to suggest that greed is the ultimate cause of all fraud, corruption and theft.”

See: RG Smith Serious fraud in Australia and New Zealand; (Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2003; Melbourne: PWC, 2003)

And:      Rose-Ackerman (2010) Corruption, Greed, Culture and the State. The Yale Law Journal; 120: 2010-2011

Free to read here:

And:      Caudill (1988) How to recognize and deter employee theft. Personnel Administrator; 33(7): 86-90

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”

p141 “…an undeniably positive role in terms of its capacity to motivate people”

Refers to: P Zagorin; Thucydides: An Introduction for the Common Reader (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005)

p143 “…to ‘extinguish’ the competition and ‘cut off’ their ‘air supply’…”


p144 “An extensive list of people and institutions affected was published by the Washington Post…”


Where does greed come from?

p144 “A recent meta-analysis, looking for consistencies across 200 neuroeconomic studies…”

Refers to: Bartra et al (2013) The valuation system: a coordinate-based meta-analysis of BOLD fMRI experiments examining neural correlates of subjective value. Neuroimage;76:412-27

Free to Download:

p145 “…give them another whiff of banana and a response will barely register.”

From: O’Doherty et al (2001) Sensory-specific satiety-related olfactory activation of the human orbitofrontal cortex. Neuroreport; 11(4): 893-7

p146 “…may have improved our ancestors’ survival prospects by encouraging the accumulation of an excess of resources.”

See: Cassill & Watkins (2005) Mogul games: In defense of inequality as an evolutionary strategy to cope with multiple agents of selection. Advances in Austrian Economics; 7: 35-59

Inequity and the art of deception

p147 “…a wide variety of animals – from chimpanzees, lions and hyenas to birds and even cuttlefish”

Refers to:


And regarding cuttlefish being able to count up to 5, see: Yang & Chiao (2016) Number sense and state-dependent valuation in cuttlefish. Proc Biol Sci; 283(1837) pii: 20161379

p148 “The brain areas that support this capacity usually take place between the ages of three and four.”

Wiesmann et al (2017) White matter maturation is associated with the emergence of Theory of Mind in early childhood. Nat Commun; 8: 14692

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Greed on the brain

p152 “When players are up against a computer, on the other hand, this effect disappears…”

See: van ‘t Wout et al (2006) Affective state and decision-making in the Ultimatum Game. Exp Brain Res; 169(4): 564-548

p152 “Then in 2012 David Rand and colleagues at Harvard University published a remarkable study…”

Refers to: Rand et al (2012) Spontaneous giving and calculated greed. Nature; 489(7416): 427-430

p153 “…a brilliant study that used bursts of magnetic stimulation to disrupt regions of the dlPFC…”

Refers to: Christov-Moore et al (2016) Increasing generosity by disrupting prefrontal cortex. Soc Neurosci; 12(2): 174-181

p153 “A meta-analysis of over twenty neuroeconomic studies…”

Refers to: Gabay et al (2014) The Ultimatum Game and the brain: a meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. Neurosci Biobehav Rev; 47: 549-58

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Building tolerance to inequity

p154 “…those with a formal education in economics are more likely to keep more money for themselves in economic games, behave uncooperatively and lie more often.”

Refers to: Carter & Irons (1991) “Are Economists Different, and If So, Why?” Journal of Economic Perspectives; 5(2): 171-177

See also:



p154 “…by a recent MRI study that demonstrated how lying can feel less and less uncomfortable, the more a person repeats their self-serving behaviour.”

Refers to: Garrett et al (2016) The brain adapts to dishonesty. Nat Neurosci; 19(12): 1727-1732

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p155 “… got in a spot of bother in 2016 while living in Spain when it was revealed that they had dodged a large chunk of tax …”


p155 “Having been caught defrauding the Spanish government of an estimated €4,100,000-worth of income tax and despite the presence of both their signatures on the incriminating documents…”

These documents were leaked during the Panama Papers scandal:

p156 “… it ended up making his overall severance package (in excess of $100 million) much larger than it would have been otherwise.”

See: Wang et al (2011) “Economics Education and Greed.” Academy of Management Learning & Education; 10(4): 643–660

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p157 “…despite more than a third of the country’s people living in poverty.”


p157 ” ‘Higher social class predicts greater unethical behaviour,’ thundered the verdict of a study published in a highly respected science journal in 2012.”

Refers to: Piff et al (2012) Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior Proc Natl Acad Sci USA; 109(11): 4086–4091

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Greed on a grand scale

p159 “Computer simulations modelling these kinds of large-scale economic interactions indicate that the choice to cooperate…”

Refers to: Kitts et al (2016) Greed and Fear in Network Reciprocity: Implications for Cooperation among Organizations. PLoS One; 11(2): e0147264

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Long term consequences of global greed

p161 “Neuroeconomic studies clearly demonstrate that unfair division of booty activates brain areas …”

Refers to: Singer et al (2006) Empathic neural responses are modulated by the perceived fairness of others. Nature; 439(7075): 466–469

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p164 “Together these demonstrate that the primary dimensions across which people judge others tends to focus on two key criteria: competence and warmth.”

See: Fiske et al (2015) Intergroup Biases: A Focus on Stereotype Content Curr Opin Behav Sci; 3: 45–50

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p164 “Envy is best triggered across relatively small gaps of disparity: when a work colleague gets a more comfortable office chair…”


p165 “The fourth is that the advantage must be perceived to be undeserved.”

See: van de Ven et al (2012) Appraisal patterns of envy and related emotions. Motiv Emot; 36(2): 195-204

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Historical perspectives

p166 “… ‘Do not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other, but rather be servants of Allah as brothers’ …“


p166 “… Bhagavad Gita, quotes Lord Krishna’s words: ‘Those devotees are very dear to me who are free from envy towards all living beings…’ “


p166 “…Buddhism has irshya, translating as ‘envy’ or ‘jealousy’, which, along with desire, anger, ignorance and pride, is one of the five poisons described by the Mahayana tradition as obstacles to enlightenment.”


p167 “St Thomas Aquinas said that at its heart, envy is ‘sorrow over another’s good’… ”

From: Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation, ed. Timothy McDermott (Allen Tex.: Christian Classics, 1991)

p167 “St Augustine provided a more thorough explanation… ‘From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbour and displeasure caused by his prosperity’ “

NB This has been misattributed to St Augustine based on the advice of a copy-editor. In fact, according to this: – this quote actually came from St Gregory the Great:

From: John Henry Parker, trans. Morals on the Book of Job (Oxford: Rivington, 1844) Book XXXI, Ch. 45 : PL76, 621

Neuroscience of envy

p169 “…conducted by Hidehiko Takahashi and colleagues from various scientific institutions across Japan and published in 2009 in the prestigious Science journal.”

Refers to: Takahashi et al (2009) When your gain is my pain and your pain is my gain: neural correlates of envy and schadenfreude. Science; 323(5916): 937-939

p170 “…the so-called cognitive dissonance that this causes always seems to cause a reliable response in this particular brain region.”

See: Jankowski & Takahashi (2014) Cognitive neuroscience of social emotions and implications for psychopathology: examining embarrassment, guilt, envy, and schadenfreude. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci; 68(5): 319-36

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p170 “People who score highly on the dispositional envy scale will typically agree with the following statements: ‘No matter what I do, envy always plagues me’ or ‘Feelings of envy constantly torment me.’

See: Smith et al (1999) Dispositional Envy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; 25(8): 1007-1020

p170 “Yanhui Xiang and colleagues at the South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China conducted an MRI study…”

Refers to: Xiang et al (2017) Examining brain structures associated with dispositional envy and the mediation role of emotional intelligence. Sci Rep; 7: 39947

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p171 “Getting to the bottom of what happens in the brains of those with a chronic tendency to be envious is important work because it is associated with all sorts of negative outcomes including depression, low self-esteem and poor attendance at work.”

See: Duffy & Shaw (2000) The Salieri Syndrome. Small Group Research; 31(1): 3-23

And: Vecchio (2000) Negative Emotion in the Workplace: Employee Jealousy and Envy. International Journal of Stress Management;7(3):161–179

Origins of envy

p172 “…the social ones take much longer, kicking in at around 3 years of age.”

See: Jankowski & Takahashi (2014) Cognitive neuroscience of social emotions and implications for psychopathology: examining embarrassment, guilt, envy, and schadenfreude. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci; 68(5): 319-36

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Benign envy

p180 “Envious feelings have been found to increase work motivation, improve job performance and lead to admiration of and desire to learn from the target of their envy”

Refers to: Cohen-Charash (2009) Episodic envy. Journal of Applied Social Psychology; 39(9): 2128–2173

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See also: van de Ven et al (2009) Leveling up and down: the experiences of benign and malicious envy. Emotion; 9(3): 419-429

Advertising, bragbook and consumer spending

p181 “Hollywood actor George Clooney (all the men want to be him, all the women want to be with him) signing a $40 million deal…”


p184 “…Marketing Week published a list of the top 20 most sought after Influencers of 2016.”

Refers to:

Epic fail

p187 “This is how evolutionary psychology accounts for how this diabolical pleasure came to be.”

For example:


p192 “…there is a particularly high cost-benefit ratio for inter-human violence, compared to other mammals”

See: Georgiev et al (2013) When Violence Pays: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Aggressive Behavior in Animals and Humans Evol Psychol; 11(3): 678–699.

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The anger advantage

p196 “Anger is one of the seven universal basic emotions that first start to emerge in infants…”

See: Camras (1992) Expressive development and basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion; 6(3-4): 269-283.

Picture a murderer

p200 “Research investigating gender differences in aggression indicate that men have a strong tendency towards being direct and violent, while women tend towards indirect and non-violent expressions.”

Review: de Almeida et al (2015) Behavioural, hormonal and neurobiological mechanisms of aggressive behaviour in human and nonhuman primates. Physiol Behav; 143: 121-135

Origins of Anger

p201 “… 90 per cent of all murders are committed by men.”


p202 “A study carried out by Harrison Pope and colleagues at the Harvard Medical School administered testosterone-boosting agents…”

Refers to: Pope et al (2000) Effects of supraphysiologic doses of testosterone on mood and aggression in normal men: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry; 57(2): 133-140

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p202 “Since the 1970s it has been known that electrical stimulation of either the amygdala or the ACC can trigger angry vocalisations in experimental animals.”

Regarding the amygdala see: Blanchard & Blanchard (1972) Innate and conditioned reactions to threat in rats with amygdaloid lesions. J Comp Physiol Psychol; 81(2): 281-290.

Regarding the ACC see: Siegel & Chabora (1971) Effects of electrical stimulation of the cingulate gyrus upon attack behavior elicited from hypothalamus in the cat. Brain Res; 32(1): 169-177

p202 “Conversely, ablating these structures … usually results in reduced expressions of anger.”

Refers to: Lilly et al (1983) The human Klüver-Bucy syndrome. Neurology; 33(9): 1141-1145

p203 “Studies using fMRI to monitor activity levels across the entire brain while participating in the TAP task, reliably yield activations in the ACC when participants were feeling aggressive.”

Refers to: Beyer et al (2014) Emotional reactivity to threat modulates activity in mentalizing network during aggression. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci;9(10):1552-60

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Historical perspectives on wrath

p205 “… if one desires the taking of vengeance in any way whatever contrary to reason…”

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation, ed. Timothy McDermott (Allen Tex.: Christian Classics, 1991)

MRI on a lorry

p209 “A high proportion of people who rise to the very top of careers in the police, military, law and even surgery…”


p210 “They found functional differences in the responses of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and amygdalae to emotionally disturbing sights and sounds”

See: Anderson & Kiehl (2012) The psychopath magnetized: insights from brain imaging. Trends Cogn Sci; 16(1): 52-60

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p210 “A separate study determined that the amygdalae in the psychopathic brain are physically smaller…”

Refers to: Ermer et al (2012) Aberrant paralimbic gray matter in criminal psychopathy. J Abnorm Psychol; 121(3): 649-658

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From cold-hearted to hot-tempered

p214 “A recent brain imaging study investigated impulse control in three different groups of young men…”

Refers to: Moeller et al (2014) Common and distinct neural correlates of inhibitory dysregulation: stroop fMRI study of cocaine addiction and intermittent explosive disorder. J Psychiatr Res; 58: 55-62

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Lancing Lucifer

p223 “A recent review paper in Nature Reviews Neuroscience summarising the findings of more than 20 brain imaging studies that investigated the impacts of various forms of meditation…”

Refers to: Tang et al (2015) The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nat Rev Neurosci; 16(4): 213-225

p223 “The evidence indicates that the longer a person practices mindfulness meditation, the lower their baseline cortisol levels become.”

Refers to: Brand et al (2012) Influence of mindfulness practice on cortisol and sleep in long-term and short-term meditators. Neuropsychobiology; 65(3): 109-118

p225 “A surprising body of research demonstrates that this drug, acetaminophen, a commonly used over-the-counter pain reliever, can reduce the perception of social pain.”

Refers to: Dewall et al (2010) Acetaminophen reduces social pain: behavioral and neural evidence. Psychol Sci; 21(7): 931-937

p226 “Positive correlations have been observed between narcissism and addictions to exercise, social media, alcohol, gambling and compulsive shopping…”

Refers to: Bruno et al (2014) Unraveling exercise addiction: the role of narcissism and self-esteem. J Addict; 2014: 987841

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And: Casale et al (2016) Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissists: Who Is at Higher Risk for Social Networking Addiction? Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw; 19(8): 510-515

And: Carter et al (2012) Addiction and “Generation Me:” Narcissistic and Prosocial Behaviors of Adolescents with Substance Dependency Disorder in Comparison to Normative Adolescents. Alcohol Treat Q; 30(2): 163-178

And: Dowling et al (2015) The Prevalence of Comorbid Personality Disorders in Treatment-Seeking Problem Gamblers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Pers Disord; 29(6): 735-754

And: Rose (2007) Mediators of the association between narcissism and compulsive buying: the roles of materialism and impulse control. Psychol Addict Behav; 21(4): 576-581

p226 “A certain degree of success has also been achieved when electrodes have been implanted into the dACC of people suffering with a variety of problems involving chronic pain.”

Refers to: Russo & Sheth (2015) Deep brain stimulation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. Neurosurg Focus; 38(6): E11

p226 “Therapeutic use of psychadelic drugs could arguably one day play a role in expediting the process of reducing a person’s overactive ego.”

Refers to:

p227 “Ego dissolution is a scientifically recognised effect of psychadelic drugs.”

For example: Lebedev et al (2015) Finding the self by losing the self: Neural correlates of ego-dissolution under psilocybin. Hum Brain Mapp; 36(8): 3137-3153

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Beating Beelzebub – subsection

p228 “…calorie-restriction protects the brain and slows the ageing process…”

Refers to: Colman et al (2009) Caloric restriction delays disease onset and mortality in rhesus monkeys. Science; 325(5937): 201-204

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And: Sohal & Weindruch (1996) Oxidative stress, caloric restriction, and aging. Science; 273(5271): 59-63.

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p228 “…by reducing levels of inflammation that would otherwise start to interfere with cognitive functions.”

Refers to: Kalani et al (2006) Effects of caloric restriction and exercise on age-related, chronic inflammation assessed by C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci; 61(3): 211-217

p228 “Adolescence is a period of heightened self-obsession, but also a period during which teens start to become angry about social injustice.”

For example: Damon et al (2003) The development of purpose during adolescence. Applied Developmental Science; 7: 119–128.

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p228 “This is also the stage at which young people become hypersensitive to all sorts of perceived unfairness…”

See: Eisenegger et al (2010) Prejudice and truth about the effect of testosterone on human bargaining behaviour. Nature; 463: 356-359

p229 “… ultimately induce them to reduce their daily consumption of unhealthy high fat/high sugar foods.”

Refers to: Bryan et al (2016) Harnessing adolescent values to motivate healthier eating. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A; 113(39): 10830-10835

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p230 “When oxytocin is injected directly into the brain it is powerfully anorexigenic: it stops us feeling hungry.”

See: Sabatier et al (2013) Oxytocin, feeding, and satiety. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne); 4: 35

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Avoiding Asmodeus

p234 “The drugs typically given to sex offenders to reduce their libido…”

Holoyda & Kellaher (2016) The biological treatment of paraphilic disorders: an updated review Curr Psychiatry Rep; 18(2): 19

p238 “Anyone who wants to boost their vasopressin and oxytocin levels to harness the power of sex…”

For an outline of the basics of Tantra in plain English, this book comes highly recommended:

V. Malkani; Tantra Demystified (Alresford: John Hunt Publishing / O Books, 2008)

Muzzling Mammon

p245 “…according to the work of Leonardo Christov-Moore and colleagues…”

Refers to: Christov-Moore et al (2017) Increasing generosity by disrupting prefrontal cortex. Soc Neurosci; 12(2): 174-181

p245 “As we know from the work of David Rand and colleagues…”

See: Rand et al (2012) Spontaneous giving and calculated greed. Nature; 489(7416): 427-430

p246 “…once Bill Gates et al. had actually built their fortunes, a tremendous appetite for altruism started to emerge.”


p246 “Increasing oxytocin levels in a person’s brain, by squirting it up their nose, can gently nudge them towards more cooperative decisions.”

See: Kirsch et al (2005) Oxytocin modulates neural circuitry for social cognition and fear in humans. J Neurosci; 25(49): 11489-11493

And: Israel et al (2014) Oxytocin decreases accuracy in the perception of social deception. Psychol Sci; 25(1): 293-295.

And: Baumgartner et al (2008) Oxytocin shapes the neural circuitry of trust and trust adaptation in humans. Neuron; 58(4): 639-650

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p248  “Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Barclays, to name but a few, have invested in providing mindfulness courses and retreats for their staff…”


p249 “With excess wealth comes excess stress and there is good evidence to suggest that the rich find it harder to achieve peace of mind.”



“…take a closer look at the hyper-competitive bubbles in which the super-wealthy actually spend their daily lives…”

This article is particularly illuminating:

Evading Envy

p251 “…for those prone to envy, quitting Facebook genuinely does improve wellbeing.”

Refers to: Tromholt et al (2016) The Facebook Experiment: Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw; 19(11): 661-666.

Slaying Satan

“When it comes to dealing with wrath Botox can help.”

Refers to: Hennenlotter et al (2009) The link between facial feedback and neural activity within central circuitries of emotion – new insights from botulinum toxin-induced denervation of frown muscles. Cereb Cortex; 19: 537–542

And: Kim et al (2014) Botulinum toxin-induced facial muscle paralysis affects amygdala responses to the perception of emotional expressions: preliminary findings from an A-B-A design. Biol Mood Anxiety Disord; 4: 11

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p255 “This training can not only reduce aggression, but also impulsivity, in one of the most difficult groups of people to treat: those with sever psychopathy who have been incarcerated for their crimes.”

Refers to: Konicar et al (2015) Brain self-regulation in criminal psychopaths. Sci Rep; 5: 9426

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p255 “Recent research has demonstrated that a form of neurofeedback that uses MRI, rather than scalp electrodes, can enable ordinary people to exert conscious control over the levels of activation in their amygdala.”

Refers to: Zotev et al (2011) Self-regulation of amygdala activation using real-time FMRI neurofeedback. PLoS One; 6(9): e24522

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p256 “The amygdala becomes hyper-responsive in people with PTSD through a process of physical structural changes that occur in response to the highly stressful event.”

Refers to: Malejko et al (2017) Neural Correlates of Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Literature Review. Front Psychiatry; 8: 85

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p256 “Brain imaging studies found that the amygdalae of people with PTSD are over-responsive and parts of the PFC regions usually associated with regulation of emotional responses are less active than usual.”

Refers to: Shin et al (2005) A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex responses to overtly presented fearful faces in posttraumatic stress disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry; 62(3): 273-281

p257 “The illegal status of so-called ‘drugs of abuse’ has severely hampered progress in this area of research, but of late there has been progress through clinical trials.”

See: Yazar-Klosinski & Mithoefer (2017) Potential Psychiatric Uses for MDMA. Clin Pharmacol Ther; 101(2): 194-196

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p257 “…of the 90 available for re-evaluation 12 months later, 61 no longer had PTSD…”


p258 “Mindfulness interventions have been found of considerable practical use in improving self-regulation of aggressive tendencies, even in those with intellectual disabilities.”

See: Hwang & Kearney (2013) A systematic review of mindfulness intervention for individuals with developmental disabilities: long-term practice and long lasting effects. Res Dev Disabil; 34(1): 314-326


p260 “As Thucydides pointed out long ago: ‘The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence of parties once engaged in contention.’ …”


The pain of conflict

p261 “In one of the few scientific studies providing direct insight into the overlap between deadly sins, it has been observed that narcissism (pride) impacted on the desire to take revenge (wrath), but only if the detection of a threat led to an increase in dACC activation.”

Refers to: Chester & DeWall (2016) Sound the Alarm: The Effect of Narcissism on Retaliatory Aggression Is Moderated by dACC Reactivity to Rejection. J Pers; 84(3): 361-8

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p262 “…dACC is acutely sensitive to the difficulty involved in selecting between competing behavioural options…”

See: Mansouri et al (2017) Monitoring Demands for Executive Control: Shared Functions between Human and Nonhuman Primates. Trends Neurosci; 40(1): 15-27

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Why we must go beyond temptation

p266 “… the arms trade is a hugely lucrative business taking advantage of the global appetite for violence, in which the UK plays a major role.”