Episode 82: Dr. Loretta Breuning


Description: How much are we like our mammalian cousins in the animal kingdom? And what can they teach us about our mental and emotional lives? Elle Russ tackles these questions in a riveting interview with Dr. Loretta Breuning, blogger, former professor, and founder of The Inner Mammal Institute, which studies how our neurochemical makeup guides our feelings and behaviors in similar ways to our non-human relatives. Dr. Breuning began studying the brain chemistry of animals because she was not convinced by prevailing theories of human motivation. When she learned that our happy brain chemicals trigger survival behaviors in animals, she retired from her career as Professor of Management at California State University, East Bay to connect the dots. Now, her books and resources have helped thousands of people worldwide to make peace with their inner mammal.

Her books include Beyond Cynical: Transcend Your Mammalian Negativity; I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness; and the forthcoming Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin.  Her blog, Your Neurochemical Self, is hosted at PsychologyToday.com

So tune into today’s show to learn more about how you can improve your mental and emotional wellbeing through reworking the mammalian neural networks that comprise your brain!

Show Notes:

  • The Inner Mammal Institute studies how brain chemicals motivate us and how they relate to animal behavior in general. [00:01:32]
  • Our neurons are connected so that we learn from experience about how to survive. [00:04:24]
  • Oxytocin: the trans-species “trust” chemical. [00:08:46]
  • How can we control the release of “feel good” neurochemicals? [00:12:51]
  • How can we convert negative emotions into positive motivations for action? [00:16:29]
  • How do we create new neural pathways to facilitate the release of happy chemicals? [00:22:53]
  • How the high stakes of puberty result in a neurochemical storm. [00:29:17]
  • How to rewire an excessive need for love and validation. [00:34:24]
  • Mammals and bribery. [00:40:56]
  • From a neurochemical perspective, how do you explain the specific diseases and stresses that people are experiencing these days? [00:46:33]
  • The pitfalls of today’s modern stress stimuli: from the daily news, to reality TV and movie violence. [00:50:52]
  • The feedback loop of stress, cortisol and negative thinking. [00:55:13]

Selected Links from the Episode:
David Attenborough
Beyond Cynical
I, Mammal
Inner Mammal Institute
Loretta Breuning
Meet Your Happy Chemicals
Psychology Today
Your Neurochemical Self

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2 thoughts on “Episode 82: Dr. Loretta Breuning

  1. zenrose

    This is fabulous. I will be listening to it again tomorrow. Yes I loved the squirrel monkeys scanning for food all the time, so thought provoking…I think I will put several notes in the kitchen about this.


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