Book Review: “Gorilla Mindset” by Mike Cernovich



Dieting is a bad idea because it treats weight as a function of what you do. The idea is that if you do less of the bad stuff – eating cake, for example – and more of the good stuff – let’s say eating salad – you will lose weight and be healthy. While that is technically true, it is a terrible system because it ignores the biggest challenge of weight management: Your mind. If you get your mind right, everything else happens easily.

Scott Adams

Lawyer, blogger, and Tweetmaster Mike Cernovich has  new book, Gorilla Mindset: How to dominate and unleash the animal inside you to live a life of health, wealth, and freedom. Per’s rating system, I give it four stars (I like it).

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I’m an internal medicine specialist. For years, I’ve been struggling with how to convince my patients to exercise regularly and lose excess weight permanently. Why? So they’ll be healthier and live longer. Everyone wants to do that, right? But so few do. Because it’s hard to change lifelong habits to achieve a goal that may be years away. To make the change, you need the right mindset. Yes, it starts in your head.

The old mindset is: “I’ve been fat and lazy for years. I’ll always be fat and lazy. I’ve tried and failed a dozen times to change my lifestyle, and will fail every time.”

What’s the necessary new mindset? “I can do this. I’m not a brainless automaton without free will. I can see that discipline and sacrifice today will pay priceless dividends down the road. I don’t have to be fat just because everyone in my family is. I can overcome temptation. I’m not going to spend time with losers that bring me down. I’ll make new friends, people who live like me and support me. I will not be brainwashed by advertisers and food manufacturers who are only concerned about their profit, not my life. I have a plan for my life, and being fat and lazy aren’t in it.”

I wish I could download and install that into my patients’ brains!

Who created this?

Who created this?

I read this book hoping to pick up some new tips that would help me with my patients that need that mindset shift. And the author did not disappoint. I also ran across several techniques that I already use in my diet books, such as visualization.

Mike Cernovich’s methods include self-talk, posture improvement, mindfulness, focus, visualization, framing, and others. They will help with mindset re-set. The book is a fill-in-the-blank workbook, so buy your own copy and get to work.

The book is explicitly aimed at men. I would say the target demographic age is 16 to 40. The mind-bending methods should work for those over 40. It’s for men wanting more out of life, to rise above the hoi polloi, and willing to do the work.

It’s not a “weight loss book” per se; see the subtitle for details. However, Mr. Cernovich lost weight from 260 to 180 lb (118 to 81 kg). So he knows the struggle. He says, “…it’s almost impossible to maintain high levels of health while eating a diet high in processed foods.” I agree.

I particularly liked the chapter on money and livelihood. Young men need this information. The book is chock full of avuncular advice, so needed these days when too many boys grow up without a masculine role model. (Women, think long and hard about your children before you frivorce your husband.)

A little of the advice herein is California hippy-dippy woo, but it shouldn’t hurt you and may help, even if it doesn’t appeal to me. I’m convinced the author firmly believes in his recommendations and follows his own advice. I’m skeptical about some of the nutritional supplement advice, too; I’d check with P.D. Mangan for his thoughts.

The author hopes Gorilla Mindset becomes a perennial classic. He’s not quite there yet with this edition. He needs a chapter addressing sex/girls/women. Also, many young men need help on how to find a life purpose that motivates them. This isn’t enough: “If you feel unfilled [sic], stop doing whatever it is you’re doing. Try something else. Walk the streets until you’re exhausted. Repeat this every day. When you finally see what you want, your life will change.” My teenage daughter recently took an online occupational aptitude test that really helped give her some direction. My son is next; his interests are superficial and all over the map. Of course, aptitude is nothing without deep interest or passion. Another issue for the next edition: What about God and centuries-old religions?

A watershed moment in the Mike’s adolescence was when his father asked him, “When are you going to get serious?”

I ask you the same.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you think this review has too many words with vowels, you should see my books. They’re full of ’em.


4 responses to “Book Review: “Gorilla Mindset” by Mike Cernovich

  1. Low carb Finn

    Gorilla is a ruminant which needs to eat as much as 18 kilograms of plants per day. Most of it’s waking hours are spent eating. The social structure of gorilla’s is also so different from what’s natural for homo sapiens, that the whole idea of a human trying to get to a gorilla mindstate is just plain silly.

    Bonobo’s are the primates which most resemble homo sapiens, if any comparisions are needed. Thus I would not even bother to read a book with such a silly premise. Of course the premise is attractive to those men, who mistakenly think that homo sapiens naturally has an alpha male leading the tribe. We don’t. Hunter-gatherers lived and those still existin still live, in anarcho-communism where things are decided by consensus discussion. Alphas are neede as leaders when hunting, but that’s it. If they tried to start leading the whole tribe and hogging more than their share of women, they’d be killed or thrown out of the tribe.

    The name of the book alone tells, that it’s targeted to those men, who mistakenly think that homo sapiens social structure is similar to that of the gorilla.

  2. I was thinking of buying this book until you said it had some “hippy-dippy woo”. There’s enough of that around already 🙂

    Of course the author has to pad out the book because he has to earn a living but I think the problem can be boiled down to two actions:

    1. Keep on trying to keep on trying

    2. CONVINCE yourself that you REALLY WANT to make the change.

    Step 2 often emerges out of step 1. I did this successfully when I gave up cigarettes. It took me 13 attempts and on the 13th I was convinced I really wanted to give them up. After that it was just so easy and I’ve had no cravings ever since I gave up almost 13 years ago.

    Sticking to a low carb diet is still work in progress but after every attempt it gets a little easier. I’m slowly losing my appetite/interest in naughty carbs although I sometimes go on carb binges and ask myself “Why on earth did I do that!”. We’re not talking about just falling off the wagon – we’re talking about watching the wagon wheels roll down the hill!

    I think we’ve all been encouraged to adopt the “victim” mentality where the voices whisper in our ears “You’re a victim, there’s nothing you can do. You need counselling. Your addiction to food, alcohol, nicotine, heroin etc is a disease and it’s not your fault. Let the experts help you” and blah blah. We’re never encouraged to be responsible for our actions. Being responsible is very liberating. Fortunately things are changing as the following books suggest:

    Therapy Culture – Frank Furedi

    Addiction Is a Choice – Jeffrey A Schaler*Version*=1&*entries*=0

    Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder – Nassim Nicholas Taleb*Version*=1&*entries*=0