Unbroken Brain

A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
Narrated by: Marisa Vitali
Length: 12 hrs and 35 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (610 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

More people than ever before see themselves as addicted to or recovering from addiction, whether it's alcohol or drugs, prescription meds, sex, gambling, porn, or the Internet. But despite the unprecedented attention, our understanding of addiction is trapped in unfounded 20th-century ideas, addiction as a crime or as brain disease, and equally outdated treatment.

Challenging both the idea of the addict's "broken brain" and the notion of a simple "addictive personality", Unbroken Brain offers a radical and groundbreaking new perspective, arguing that addiction is a learning disorder, and shows how seeing the condition this way can untangle our current debates over treatment, prevention, and policy. Like autistic traits, addictive behaviors fall on a spectrum - and they can be a normal response to an extreme situation. By illustrating what addiction is and is not, the book illustrates how timing, history, family, peers, culture, and chemicals come together to create both illness and recovery - and why there is no "addictive personality" or single treatment that works for all.

Combining Maia Szalavitz's personal story with a distillation of more than 25 years of science and research, Unbroken Brain provides a paradigm-shifting approach to thinking about addiction.

©2016 Maia Szalavitz (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Hmmmm

Interesting theoretical and statistical data, I was expecting something more applicable. Something that would help me take steps for habit change. The book has more to do with drug addiction and how it's poorly handled on a political level. I like that the author wants to see these things change, but it left the book feeling dry and hard to relate to. The person reading aloud was very difficult to connect with because she sounded quite emotionless, however, the book didn't provide much in the way of emotion.

17 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

I bought this book because I wanted to learn more about addiction as a learning disorder. There wasn't much development of this idea to explain more about why it is a learning disorder or how thinking of it that way would change our understanding of it. Instead, the author just asserted it as a basis for a lengthy discussion of the problems with current drug policies and the need for reform. I'm sympathetic to her viewpoint but was disappointed because I have heard these arguments before.

65 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An incredible new way of understanding addiction

If you or a loved one struggles or has struggled with addiction you owe it to yourself to read this book. The story is incredible but the research and journalism on display are staggering in their completeness and depth of thought. This is one of the most important books I've ever read.

21 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

PLEASE read this book!

Extremely educational for people who have little understanding of addiction or that world. This book totally changed my view on so many ideas, and gave me plausible, effective solutions to help my loved ones. I will be reading it again and owning a hard copy.

9 people found this helpful

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Reconsidering all I thought I knew

I was raised by a raging alcoholic father and a "wire monkey" mother. I've been involved in three interventions. I went to ACA meetings on a weekly basis for ten years. I thought I knew a lot about addiction. I did not.

22 people found this helpful

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Disappointing and painful

I tried to finish this book. I initially thought the narrator sounded like GLaDOS from Portal. However, a book that I thought would be enlightening like An Unquiet Mind, felt whiny and unfinished. It is pocked with inaccuracy (i.e. clonidine is NOT a beta blocker) and one-sided generalizations. The autobiographer comes from an over privileged background and has perceptions of being a misunderstood maligned minority. Her autobiography is dotted with term paper-like partial quotations and citations. Summaries of scientific and medical information is partial and lacking of key points, instead using pseudoscientific words such as 'statistics show' or 'studies show'. This causes frustration and was ultimately what made this audiobook a singular case since I usually can finish a book even if it is not what I thought I was buying.

21 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Narrator lacks substance, author lacks breadth

Would you try another book from Maia Szalavitz and/or Marisa Vitali?

no

What did you like best about this story?

I liked how they wove there story through the narrative

What didn’t you like about Marisa Vitali’s performance?

She sounds 12 and lacks the gravitas to read the authors story

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

no

Any additional comments?

I don't think the author offers anything new. It's hard to distinguish her take on learning from the existing science on addictive behavior. As a member of NA, I was also disappointed that the author lacked any understanding of a program that has helped millions to recover. It's fascinating how people can propose "revolutionary" ways to solve a problem while lacking any experience or data on how their program of recovery actually fares in the real world.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

What would have made Unbroken Brain better?

I really like the concept of this book, but there are so many factual errors that I cannot continue to listen to it. I am a behavioral psychologist, and someone in my field should have been asked to proofread this book for accuracy. The author has an interesting idea, but she lacks a clear understanding of the research and concepts in the field of psychology. It is unfortunate that so much myth and misinformation made its way into publication.

24 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Sounds like narrator recorded one sentence per day.

I got through chapter 6 before deciding to buy the Kindle version and read this instead. I usually like audiobooks where the author does NOT read their own books, but after struggling through with a narrator whose voice sounds like a computer synthesis, very robotic, like one sentence was recorded at a time very distinctly with gaps between the recordings, I just can't take it anymore.

The writing itself is fantastic, the material is very well written. The narrator just completely sucks. She has a beautiful voice, but her diction style is one of the worst I've heard, and I have listened to half of many badly narrated audiobooks. Way too robotic and stilted and overly melodic in a formulaic manner.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent NEW way of looking at a big problem!

Would you listen to Unbroken Brain again? Why?

Ms Szalavitz offers a fresh and welcome perspective on the opioid issue, something we desperately need to hear if you have a personal or professional reason for trying to understand the issue.

What did you like best about this story?

The author is speaking from both personal experience and years of research, she is highly credible and obviously a very intelligent individual.

What does Marisa Vitali bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I simply prefer listening to books while I travel.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

What everyone needs to know about addiction!

Any additional comments?

I would highly recommend that people in social services, counseling services, law enforcement, mental health services and any other field where understanding addiction is important . . . READ THIS BOOK! And read it with an open mind since most of us are used to hearing the same old, same old information over and over. Obviously if what we 'think' we know about addiction were the full story, we wouldn't be in the midst of one of the most deadly eras in drug addiction, of all time, in this country.

1 person found this helpful