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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very important book
This is a crucial book to evaluate for those suffering from depression but skeptical of the effectiveness of most psychologists and self-help books.
Burns is one of the biggest popularizers of cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of extremely few therapeutic forms that have stood up to any scientific scrutiny. Over the last 20 years, CBT has become the predominant form...
Published on June 14 2004

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Adds nothing to the original "Feeling Good"
I'm rather disappointed with this book; it adds nothing to what was said in the original Feeling Good (a book I found to be nothing short of revelatory, perhaps the best book on depression self-help I've ever encountered). I'd expected new information and a great deal of useful pencil-and-paper work not contained in the original "FG". There is some of that...
Published on Feb. 4 2000


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very important book, June 14 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
This is a crucial book to evaluate for those suffering from depression but skeptical of the effectiveness of most psychologists and self-help books.
Burns is one of the biggest popularizers of cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of extremely few therapeutic forms that have stood up to any scientific scrutiny. Over the last 20 years, CBT has become the predominant form of therapy practiced by psychologists. This book is intensive CBT, much more involving and direct than the form practiced in most psychologists' offices.
Burns takes a very simple approach: he does not place any weight on diagnostic categories or figuring out "why" people behave the way they do or the roots of their problems. Instead, every depressed thought is traced to irrational thought processes. Why those thought processes were developed is irrelevant; the challenge is identifying one's distortions and learning to think more rationally.
Contrary to some reviewers' opinions, I believe this book is best for people who have long-term depression in the medium range (recurrent major depression or dysthymia), with substantial experiences with psychologists. Clearly for more extreme cases - a manic depressive or a suicidal person - the first course of action should be a psychiatrist or psychologist, not a self-help book. This book requires a very high level of involvement and personal responsibility. I believe that it is patients who think of themselves as having a medical problem, seeing psychologists and taking medication for years and perhaps feeling dependent on them, who will at some crisis point become frustrated, develop the energy and motivation to work through a book like this and benefit the most from it. Patients with more minor depression will not feel sufficiently motivated to actually do the exercises, which take a substantial amount of time and clash with other life priorities.
CBT encourages short-term (only 12 weeks on average if seeing a psychologist!) therapy and extreme personal responsibility. For most problems, I believe CBT, either in the form of this book or combined with short-term therapy, is much better than seeing a psychologist long-term. Long-term psychotherapy without very clear goals strongly encourages dependence on the psychologist or medication and reinforces the idea that one is permanently ill. This dependence produces further irrational thinking and can very easily lead to continual depression. Reading a book like this and doing its exercises is an exercise in independence and self-reliance and a major accomplishment in itself. The ability to solve one's own problems is difficult to achieve but extremely powerful - perhaps the only solution - for relieving long-term depression.
Burns feels that virtually no one should be on medication long-term - more than about a year - a view that is somewhat debatable (he excludes, obviously, bipolar and schizophrenic patients). The long-term effectiveness of SSRIs is unproven, but Burns' one-year limit seems purely arbitrary.
CBT is also more art than science - although anyone with any experience with psychologists or self-help books will realize that this is true of the entire field. Often Burns' methods and categorizations of irrational thoughts seem completely arbitrary and hardly authoritative. They could probably use more refinement and clarity. What I think is important is that CBT, and even simply reading Burns' book "Feeling Good", have been demonstrated through scientific means - double-blind testing - to produce considerable improvement.
All in all, this is a book with a clear philosophy that has stood up to scientific scrutiny, unlike psychoanalysis or most other therapeutic methods practiced by psychologists. It requires high involvement and emphasizes personal responsibility, and one has to develop considerable motivation to make any use of it. But the results can be extremely worthwhile.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful Sequel to Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, Nov. 25 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
I found this book to be very helpful as an adjunct to Burns's previous book Feeling Good. While not absolutely essential, I think most people would benefit from reading and applying the techniques from Feeling Good prior to studying The Feeling Good Handbook. Once you have the basics down from the former book, you can more easily benefit from the specific techniques in the Handbook. I especially found the chapters on procrastination to be very helpful. I was able to go from extremely depressed to normal and happy using the techniques in Feeling Good alone, but I enjoyed Burns's writing so much that I just had to pick up this book, too, as well as his other books.
If you only purchase one self-help book I'd recommend Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. If you want to read more I'd recommend this book as a second purchase for help with applying cognitive therapy techniques to specific problems such as procrastination, anxiety problems and communication problems. If you need help with shyness or relationships I'd recommend Burns's Intimate Connections.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Adds nothing to the original "Feeling Good", Feb. 4 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
I'm rather disappointed with this book; it adds nothing to what was said in the original Feeling Good (a book I found to be nothing short of revelatory, perhaps the best book on depression self-help I've ever encountered). I'd expected new information and a great deal of useful pencil-and-paper work not contained in the original "FG". There is some of that here, but far too little, and functions neither to add new info to nor to expand meaningfully upon the original book. Also, a quarter to a third of the Handbook consists of a guide to medications. Useful info, indeed, but not the sort of thing I go to a volume on cognitive therapy to read up on--this info is available in so many other places, and as presented here will soon be out-of-date as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effectively disentangling the distortions in one's mind, Jan. 5 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
Hat's off to Dr. Burns for having written a very practical guide anyone can use to combat depression and build positive self esteem. For years I have been in therapy, but I have realized that positive change all comes down to me. Burns provides the simplistic, yet highly effective tools to work through one's distortions on a daily basis. As he emphasizes, merely reading the book will not help. It is reading, understanding, but most importantly, DOING the exercises on paper that will produce results. Burns writes at a gut level. I don't think there is one page that is useless or irrelevant. Most striking is the author's genuine compassion for the reader. He sincerely wants you to succeed !!! I have often found this lacking in most self-help books. Their authors seem more interested in giving the reader a one shot "pep- booster", but fail to provide exercises that will promote lasting results. I have read many self help books concerning depression and self esteem, but this particular one is the "leader of the pack" as far as I am concerned. Buy it, Read it and Do the exercises!!!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars About average., July 14 2014
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This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
Not enough advice to be a - masterpiece- but a quality text and this Will help you chill.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, July 4 2014
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This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
INTERESTING STRAIGHT TALK.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful companion, June 24 2014
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This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
This is a good companion book to the original book, although it covers much of the same things. I personally think it is a good idea to review and it has wonderful exercises to help you work on feeling better and feeling like yourself again. I would recommend to those who would like a companion to Feeling Good, or to those who would rather go straight to exercises rather than a large amount of reading and background to the why's of these things.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book, April 1 2014
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This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
Great book to work on your mood. I am in the middle of this book and using it along side of Ten days to self esteem.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, June 15 2013
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This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
This book is full of exercises and ideas for changing your mood around. I highly recommend it for anyone suffering from depression.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most useful self help book I've ever read., Nov. 12 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Feeling Good Handbook (Paperback)
Trying to overcome negative emotions and habits by thinking positive thoughts and applying advice given in many self-help books is like trying to solve the quadratic equation in your head. The thing that sets this book apart is that it gives you a step by step written procedure with which you discover, analyze and dispute the thoughts that make you feel bad. After doing the written exercise - the triple column technique, I found that the new rational thoughts attached themselves to the negative emotions I was trying to overcome. Later, when I re-experienced situations that could produce the same negative emotions, the new rational thoughts would bubble up to my consciousness and keep me from re-experiencing (or at least minimize) the negative emotion. This stuff is incredible!
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The Feeling Good Handbook
The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns (Paperback - May 10 1999)
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