Human Givens book

Human Givens

The new approach to emotional health and clear thinking

by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell


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Paperback (416pp)

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This fresh edition of Human Givens contains a wealth of new material* that will enhance its already considerable reputation. The book answers countless questions. Deriving from the rapidly growing human givens approach to emotional health and education, this rich body of psychological knowledge will strike a chord with any lively mind. The wealth of stories and information it contains will help you improve the quality of your life and the lives of those around you.

The authors exquisitely describe one of the most important psychological insights of our age: how we are all born with a rich natural inheritance – a partially formed mind containing a genetic treasure-house of innate knowledge patterns: the ‘human givens’. We all experience these givens as physical and emotional needs, powerful forces that must be satisfactorily met in our environment if our minds are to unfold and develop to their fullest potential. How these innate patterns connect up with the world, and unfold in it, determine our own and our family’s emotional health and happiness – as well as the maturity and humanity of the society we create around us.

This book explores these human givens and looks at what each child and adult needs from the environment in order to develop well. It suggests that, as a society, we are unwittingly damaging or squandering our natural inheritance. This results in rising levels of mental distress, such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, addiction and an explosion of primitive greed behaviours. But Human Givens also explores startling new scientific ideas and findings about how the mind works, which show us that we can overcome these distressing conditions much more easily than previously thought.

If our society is to progress and evolve further, the inspiring body of knowledge set out in this book will be at the heart of the process.

*Includes a NEW CHAPTER on the biological basis of context blindness – caetextia – that blights the lives of millions.

  • Format: Paperback (416pp)
  • ISBN: 1-899398-31-7

About the author(s)

Joe GriffinJoe Griffin is a social psychologist with graduate and postgraduate degrees from the LSE. He has had many years experience both in psychotherapeutic practice and in training psychotherapists.

Scientific reviewers around the world have described his research on dreaming with such phrases as, “The bridge between neurophysiology and psychology... rigorously scientific... an important milestone... moves our understanding on significantly... a watershed in our exploration of the evolution of mental processes... a major key to the nature of all psychic states.” He is co-author with Ivan Tyrrell of five landmark monographs about advances in psychological interventions for emotional disturbances and numerous best-selling books, including How to lift, Freedom from Addiction and Why we dream: the definitive answer.

Joe has two daughters and lives with his wife, Liz, in a small medieval town by the river Barrow in rural Ireland.

Ivan TyrrellIvan Tyrrell's interest in psychology stems from a childhood experience of undergoing surgery under hypnosis. For twenty years he studied the comparative effectiveness of psychotherapy and counselling models, linking this to what science is discovering about the brain and mind/body/mood connections. As Editorial Director of the Human Givens Journal he has collaborated on many major articles with a variety of distinguished clinicians, writers and other individuals with a focus on psychology, social issues and mental health.

Ivan worked for many years as a psychotherapist and lecturer and is now director of Human Givens College. He founded the Human Givens Institute. He has one son and three daughters and lives with his wife, Véronique, in the Cotswold countryside.

Media reviews

"Harnessed between these pages are scientific insights and practical techniques of sufficient power to completely revolutionise our approach to parenting, teaching and the caring professions. I wholeheartedly recommend Human Givens to any individual with a burning interest in how life works and can be helped to work better."

Dr Nick Baylis, Lecturer in Positive Psychology, Cambridge University

"A quiet revolution"

New Scientist

"Real breakthroughs in the behavioural sciences are rare, and it’s smart to beware of hype. But not all scientific progress is incremental. Sometimes, as in the germ theory of disease, it’s exponential. Griffin and Tyrrell’s contribution advances psychology as much as the introduction of the Arabic numeric system with its zero digit advanced mathematics."

The Washington Times

"In Human Givens Griffin and Tyrrell offer innovative perspectives on promoting effective living. They have synthesized brain and social research in such a way that they provide new templates for understanding how to unlock the best in human nature."

Dr Jeffrey K. Zeig, Director of the Milton H. Erickson Foundation

"While books are never a cure for what ails us in life, they are often a catalyst, a trigger that fires off those rare and profound ‘aha!’ moments that lead to deeper insights and understanding. Human Givens is such a catalyst."

Jack Davies, Autodidactic Press, USA

"A wonderfully fresh and stimulating view of dreaming, evolution, and human functioning. Human Givens also provides both an encompassing model and practical, specific applications to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy. It will deepen and widen every reader’s perspective."

Arthur J. Deikman, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California

"Important original work ... both aesthetically pleasing and of immense practical use... has great relevance to all areas of life... could save (tax payers) millions of pounds. A remarkable achievement which should attract the attention of any truly curious human being."

Dr Farouk Okhai, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy

"[This] approach offers a refreshing alternative to reams of expensive psychobabble."

The Big Issue

"Human Givens is the most practical and intuitive book I’ve read in years. People have been speculating about the utility of dreams for decades, but I think you guys have it hammered."

Charles Hayes, Autodidactic Press, USA

"An entirely attainable and reasonable road map for good mental health."

Irish Examiner


Based on 5 reviews


A fascinating tool for professionals and non

I was recommended 'Human Givens' by a friend who works as an HG therapist, thinking I would find it of interest and I have to say...he was right! From the opening chapter, I can honestly say that I have found it to be one of the most informative and interesting books that I have ever read. I am recommending it to friends and family as a result, and believe that it's a book that has something to offer everybody, professionals within the field of health care and non.Having studied Mental Health and worked in the field in the late '80's, before leaving the UK, I can only say that I'm sorry not to have had lecturers as inspired and inspiring as Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell during my college years!!Although a very 'readable' book, there's so much information that I have been reading it in 'bite-sized pieces', and will be re-reading it without doubt. Some of the theories and ideas presented may seem, at first impression, revolutionary, even 'wacky', but intuitively, I feel that the authors may indeed be 'onto something', and feel fortunate that they are making their 'view' so accessible. The topic of sleep has never been so captivating!Each chapter is encouraging, giving case histories of individuals with a range of Mental Health issues who have experienced positive outcomes thanks to the HG approach. It does not claim that the HG approach will work effectively for everyone but it does offer, undoubtedly, another tool with which to improve one's state of being (whether troubled by mental health issues or not).

JMF, Italy

Oct 26th, 2017


A book of fascinating insights

I would recommend this as one book that needs to be on your bookshelf. Wonderful insights in so many of the issues vital to our our emotional health and wellbeing. Thoroughly interesting and extremely readable.

Pamela Walker

Oct 26th, 2017


Very helpful

This comprehensive book offers a fresh clear vision on what people really need to lead healthy lives, and the latest research is showing that this approach is the most efficient way to help psychologically suffering patients to achieve well-being and fulfillment. This type of basic knowledge is fundamental for everybody, and is especially important for our society since it is changing and influencing other cultures so quickly. The examples they give can help you to understand yourself and those around you. This is the type of book that offers really helpful advice for everyone.


Oct 26th, 2017


Excellent Very Accessible Common-Sense Psychology Book

Very Accessible - clear explanations and very good examples of ideas.Really good book for all. I've bought extra copies for friends it's so good.

Marian Twomey

Oct 26th, 2017


A highly significant book

This book is, I believe, one of the most significant that has been written to date on the diagnosis, analysis and treatment of a range of psychological illnesses that includes psychosis, autism, schizophrenia and PTSD. Joe Griffin's theory of dreaming and it's fundamental functions within human health is brilliantly presented!One of the great achievements by the authors is to have written a book that is absolutely readable and understandable by the layperson; so much of the gobbledegook associated with this field has been resolved or blown away like dusty cobwebs. It is a book that is soaked in common sense and, in addition to its relevance for therapists, will be of immense benefit to ordinary people who wish to understand human mentality, psychological and emotional well-being.I am sure that this book will attract criticism from certain quarters, especially from those trapped in the fixed patterns of thought within the traditional approaches in this field. Personally, I have to wonder in amazement how the Human Givens approach has not been adopted as a standard by health professionals everywhere.I unreservedly recommend this book.


Mar 9th, 2018