REVIEW: Feel Good, the CBT bible from Dr. David Burns

this book is always in every top 5 mental health books.  So I eventually got around to it last week.  While traditional talk therapy, aka Freud, never worked for me and in fact sent me down some very bad roads.  CBT seemed more practical but had always grated be the wrong way somehow.  Now I know why.  There was so much self congratulations and self back slapping about how CBT is better than Prozac that it is hard to figure out what CBT actually is.  Or how it can help me.  While I have done many of the exercises and have forms of my own that I find useful, there is still a very basic core element of reality that is missing in how CBT understands the world.

The problem is Cognition.

The major flaw of CBT is that it starts with Cognition. In my experience, reactions and certainly emotional reactions don’t start with cognition they start with mitochondria. With the Labrador brain. The animal brain. The nervous system. Instincts, trauma, hopes, fears, etc. are all embedded in your nervous system. CBT just says, become cognizant of the stories in your head and you can change them and be happy.  Well in my experience, gaining cognition can be helpful, but doesn’t get you to fix the problem.  For example, if I know I have cancer and I see a lump in my arm, does that make the lump go away?  CBT says you can wish it away.  That is not my experience.  In my experience, doing things like neurofeedback, meditation, brain training, NLP, and other exercises which can actually reprogram the nervous system to NOT HAVE THE imbedded negative stories is much more effective than simply having cognition of them.

So do your neurofeedback.  Not just wrist slapping when you use a cognitive distortion.


Also published on Medium.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Feel Good, the CBT bible from Dr. David Burns”

  1. Martin, can you elaborate on this?

    “neurofeedback, meditation, brain training, NLP, and other exercises which can actually reprogram the nervous system”

    Just wondering what you personally have discovered/tried that has made an impact for you.

    Thank you sir!

    1. neurofeedback. check out http://www.40yearsofzen.com.
      NLP is basically the core technology behind everything Tony Robbins. I found Unleash the Power Within to be a good conference.
      Meditation, specifically for me recently Vedic Meditation, has delivered quantifiable increases in Alpha waves as measured by an EEG. I like things that can be measured like Brain waves and cognitive funciton. Use BrainCheck to measure cognitive function.

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