The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality

Author(s) : Graham Music

The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality

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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:

The role of parenting and family life in shaping how antisocial or pro-social we become

How stress, abuse and insecure attachment profoundly undermine empathic and altruistic capacities

The relative influence of our genes or environments on becoming big-hearted or coldly psychopathic

How our immediate contexts and recent social changes might tilt us towards either selfish or cooperative behaviour

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.

About the Author(s)

Graham Music is a Consultant Child Psychotherapist and Associate Clinical Director at the Tavistock Clinic in London. His main clinical interests are in developing services in community settings such as schools, and in working with children who are Looked after or adopted, and the adults in their lives. He teaches on many courses and trainings in Britain, and abroad, is on the editorial board of the child psychotherapy journal and has published particularly on the interface of developmental research and therapeutic practice. He is also an adult psychotherapist working in private practice.

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