Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess

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Penguin, Dec 27, 2011 - Self-Help - 320 pages
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" This elegantly written and useful book . . . describes how, for millennia, human beings have struggled to rein in desire." -USA Today

At a time when the fallout from reckless spending and unrestrained consumption is fueling a national malaise, Daniel Akst delivers a witty and comprehensive investigation of the central problem of our time: how to save ourselves from what we want. Temptation reminds us that while more calories, sex, and intoxicants are readily available than ever before, crucial social constraints have eroded, creating a world that sorely tests the limits of human willpower. Referencing history, literature, psychology, philosophy, and economics, Akst draws a vivid picture of the many-sided problem of desire-and delivers a blueprint for how we can steer shrewdly away from a campaign of self-destruction.

 

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Contents

Evil Weed
Our Weighty Problem
The Future Is Now
Advancing on the Enemy
Committing to Print
Written on the Body
Cheaper
Faster
Procrastination Is a Drug
Procrastination as Theater
Procrastination Guilt and Shame
The War on Motivation
Ill Write Tomorrow
Committing to Cutting Loose
Bound for Release
Live all you can its a mistake not to

Easier
Spent
A DoubleEdged Sword
Americans and Their Money
The Recent Crash
The Matrimonial Knot
Ultimate Ends
The Hero
The Polis
The Problem
The Guru
Drinking It All In
In This Corner Moderation
And in This Corner Release
Doctor Heal Thyself
Freuds Selfcontrol Legacy
The State of the Union
Threes a Crowd
I am large I contain multitudes
Evolution Made Me Do It
Ouch
The Lobes Impaired
Genes
Primed Numbers
The Biology of Influence
Free Wont
Pigeons at Harvard
Discounting the Future
Curves
Crime
Passion
Collective Hyperopia
The Difficulty with Democracy
How Government Can Help
Precommitment and the Poor
Precommitment and Paternalism
On the Unreliability of Willpower
Hell Is Not Other People
Use Your Environment
The Advantages of Automation
Homer and Ned
PREFACE
SICKENING EXCESS
ON HAVING YOURSELF COMMITTED
THE COST OF GOOD INVENTIONS
THE PERILS OF PROSPERITY
SELFCONTROL AND SOCIAL CHANGE
THE GREEK WAY
THE MARSHMALLOW TEST
THE SEESAW STRUGGLE
LET MY PEOPLE GO
THE INTIMATE CONTEST
SELFCONTROL FREE WILL AND OTHER OXYMORONS
ODYSSEUS AND THE PIGEONS
CRIMES OF PASSION
ADDICTION COMPULSION AND CHOICE
TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY
CUTTING LOOSE
GOVERNMENT AND SELFGOVERNMENT
BE YOUR OWN GODFATHER
CARPE DIEM
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About the author (2011)

A native New Yorker, Daniel Akst is a well-known journalist who has worked at the LA Times and Wall Street Journal and now writes a monthly column in the Sunday New York Times. He also writes regularly for the Wall Street Journal culture pages, and has appeared in many other publications, including American Heritage, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Civilization, Technology Review, the Washington Monthly, and on both public radio and television. His first book, Wonder Boy (Scribners), chronicled the eye-popping ZZZZ Best fraud perpetrated by teenage entrepreneur Barry Minkow, and was named one of the 10 best of 1990 by Business Week. He is also the author of The Webster Chronicle published by BlueHen in October 2001.

Akst is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who spent 13 years in Los Angeles before moving to the Hudson Valley, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

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