Norm Goldman

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Review: aah....The Pleasure Book

Author: Jia Gottlieb MD

Publisher: Sanitas Press

ISBN:978-1-7343769-0-6

Who among us hasn't wanted to enjoy lifetime pleasure? But, what is pleasure? Have you ever thought about its significance?

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When Jia Gottlieb MD, author of aah....The Pleasure Book asked a few individuals what their first association or thoughts that came to mind with the word pleasure are; the responses were not surprising. Most thought of sex and food. Some even wavered awkwardly with "Aah...un...pleasures, huh?" as though they had been caught in an indecent act about sex and then had to muster a socially acceptable answer.

I never thought about the meaning of pleasure or how it is essential before having read aah....The Pleasure Book. Like most of Dr. Gottlieb's respondents, I was likewise naïve. As he remarks, the subject seems to be taboo and confusing.

The book's tone is set in the introductory chapter with the following statement: "This is a book about pleasure, one of life's most important and most misunderstood experiences. It is important because it will determine the kinds of people you will meet, the quality of your life, your health, and even how long you will live. Misunderstood, because, in your search for pleasure, it's easy to get lost and end up in pain and suffering." Quite a mouthful to chew on!

To untangle the muddiness, the author defines pleasure as "any experience that feels good." He elaborates with: "If it fills your body with delightful sensations, evokes warm feelings in your heart and positive thoughts in your mind, brings a smile to your lips, excites, amuses or satisfies, lifts your spirits or inspires a sense of well-being, meaning, and purpose, then it's pleasure." He further states that it constitutes a spectrum of three primary experiences, physical, emotional, and mental. This "Pleasure Prism" is explored and examined throughout the book.

The book's premise is to learn how to cultivate and tap this vast and vital renewable resource. But as explained, we must first understand the seven Laws of Pleasure. These are broken down as original wholeness, colors, contrast and comparison, thresholds, cycles, desire and surrender, and renewable pleasure. Our cultural biases must be set aside to discuss pleasure objectively. 

Acting as a mountain guide, Dr. Gottlieb lays out a step-by-step map to get us to our destination to experiencing permanent pleasure. With his immense knowledge and experience, he is acquainted with the terrain, having traveled these parts many times on his own and with friends, family, and patients.

The book divides itself into five parts: assumptions, science, natural history, the mystery, and the art and practice, and Dr. Gottlieb relies on two different approaches. These are the objective, scientific method, and the subjective approach or our personal experiences based on what appears to our five senses.

In part one, Dr. Gottlieb enlightens us on the pleasure matrix. He explains we live within a cultural matrix that colors all that we think and perceive. Next, we learn about Saint Augustine, who reinterpreted the Genesis story of Adam and Eve to reconcile his inner sexual conflicts with the Bible's teachings. From here, we read about the ethics of pleasure and the ancient Greek philosophers whose central concern was to live a good life. The following fascinating stop involves Epicurus, whose greatest pleasure was peace of mind followed by friendship. Part two of the book delves into and describes the evolution of pleasure from reptiles to mammals to primates. The third part discusses our experience of pleasure that depends on our perception. The mystery surrounding pleasures is explored in Part four. The last section teaches us the art and practice of pleasure. 

Dr. Gottlieb states in the closing remarks: "As you view the world through your new "prism" glasses, you may notice things appear more vivid. You may delight in simple activities, smiling more easily, and enjoying a refreshing sense of lightness." One caveat, awakening from the matrix is not something that happens overnight.

Each chapter ends with a summary of the themes presented. There are also sections entitled considerations that include suggestions to help the reader explore and embody the ideas examined.

The advice offered here is truly timeless. It is presented in a way that will give readers plenty to ponder with its wide range of material that will help you master the art of enjoying life.
 

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