Book Review : The Chimp Paradox

Self-help and psychology books are very definitely on trend right now. In a modern world where stress is ridiculously prevalent, everyone seems to be turning to intellectuals and scientists who have written books and articles on everything from mindfulness, to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to goal setting and motivation.

One of the most critically acclaimed of such books is The Chimp Paradox by the well-renowned writer and psychologist Professor Steve Peters. In an attempt to make complicated psychological theories accessible to the masses, Peters uses a variety of analogies and anecdotes to explain the interactions between thoughts, emotions and behaviours…
Image result for the chimp paradox diagram

Two Different Minds

Image result for the chimp paradox diagramThe book breaks individual psychological make-up into 3 sub-sections: The Chimp (the part of the brain governed by intuition and emotion, resulting in instinctive behaviour), The Human (the part of the brain that uses logic to make informed decisionw), and The Computer (the part of the brain responsible for processing information). 
Peters explains how thoughts and actions are influenced by the two different sides of the brain. The extended analogy of the ‘chimp’ describes our primal selves, which tend to be more irrational, volatile, and extreme in their nature.
Following this accessible description of complicated psychological theory, Peters gives practical advice on how to apply the knowledge to our own lives so as to maximise our potential as an individual. In short, he allows us to break free from mindless behaviours governed by our unconcious self.

What is Our Chimp?

Related imagePeters explains how we are all programmed to have certain feelings towards certain situations, deriving from our past. The easiest example to explain is running away from danger (if you see a fire blazing, your instinct is to run as fast as your legs can carry you to protect yourself from the impending risk). 
We aren’t able to control such feelings/behaviours because we have been doing them for thousands and thousands of years; our ancestors would have reacted in exactly the same way.
These primal feelings, Peters says, are why we make rash decisions. Our behaviour becomes primarily governed by instinct and emotion, and there is no comprehension of the consequences, the reasons, or the appropriateness of our behaviour. You simply do what you are inherently programmed to do…

Harnessing Our Inner Chimp

Image result for the chimp paradox diagramEach chapter in the book gives us a different strategy to help us “harness our inner chimp” . By analysing the triggers for certain types of reaction to a scenario, Peters explains how to become the master of your own mind and gain concious control back of mindless behaviour.

For example, if you are prone to reaching for the biscuit tin once too often, you could become more aware of how rational the desire to have another biscuit is, and whether it is your “computer” or “chimp” doing the talking. Identifying these negative thought patterns helps you to develop discipline and self-control that will help you to stop doing things that hold you back.

I won’t ruin the fun by spoiling the strategies outlined in the book. I guess you’ll just have to read it yourselves…

The Final Word

The Chimp Paradox is a cracking read for anyone looking to gain control back of their lives.

Where most self-help books rely on dubious studies or dodgy personal opinion, Peters’ best-seller is rooted in proven psychological theory that makes it impossible to disagree with. This explains why it has been critically acclaimed as one of the best books of its kind.

Even if you are content with your current lifestyle, the book is a great read for anyone who has an interest in human psychology or anthropology, so really there isn’t an excuse not to read this bad boy…

If you are a PureGym TW Member, feel free to come and grab my copy from me at anytime 🙂

Available to buy at Amazon :


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