Your Brain
Casey Watts

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Debugging Your Brain by Casey Watts

The Book

The human brain is buggy. Sometimes your mind distorts reality, gets frustrated with shortcomings, and spirals out of control. With practice, you can debug your brain. Catch those distortions of reality, transform those frustrations into insight, and short-circuit those downward spirals.

Debugging Your Brain (DYB) is a clear applied psychology book and a concise self-help book. Whether or not you have a technical background, you will find the software development analogies approachable and insightful. You will likely reference and re-read DYB many times, each time discovering new insights.

DYB is full of practical techniques. Each technique is condensed to its core idea, accompanied by just enough story to make it memorable. Each chapter has activities to help you put its techniques into practice. The chapters include: Modeling The Brain, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Introspection, Identifying Inputs, Experience Processing, Experience Validation, and Cognitive Restructuring.

Your brain is a complex system. Patch the software that runs in your mind.

headshot of Casey Watts

Casey Watts

This book brings together two parts of Casey's background: psychology and software development. Casey studied neurobiology at Yale University, and he is a co-author on several neurobiology papers. He has also worked in software development for 10 years, including at Heroku. Casey is an independent author based in Washington, DC.

What People Say

A worthy, tightly organized, and intriguing program for rethinking thinking.

"I am inspired to treat my own anxiety and depression symptoms, in part, using these wonderful techniques. I do tend to downward spiral often, and you have given me some tools to nip those instances in the bud. I expect I'll be referencing this book rather frequently as I begin implementing the techniques."
― Louis J. Rinaldi
MBA, Albertus Magnus College
"The content is presented in a way that is both digestible and engaging. I see this book as something to have in my back-pocket."
― Adrian Gillem
Lead Developer, Booz Allen Hamilton
"A straightforward and easily digestible read that decodes several basic, but complex concepts in psychology. It offers an introduction to the elements of thought processing and how to integrate effective behavioral techniques into everyday situations in life. With a little practice, the topics and techniques covered in this book will help train your brain how to deal with any situation effectively and productively. The author's lighthearted and relatable way of writing makes it an enjoyable read."
― Dr. Melissa Monsey
Neuroscience PhD, Yale University
"I’ve been going to therapy for a while, but sometimes I am not always aware of the 'why' behind the techniques my doctors suggest. This book has helped me understand the 'why'!"
― Erin Brown
Lecturer, University of Miami
"It's short enough and the table of contents is so clear that no one will have any trouble going back to review something. It points toward more resources for the folks in the audience who have the capacity to do more. It's got assignments. Like it's REALLY well set up for anyone with basically any amount of time or effort to dedicate, from a little to a lot."
― Hope Wilson
"I am well versed in psychology and have a great deal of experience in clinical settings. I believe this book would be a great asset in client education in a clinical setting. Casey has a gift to make very complex information clear in a manner that everyone can understand and apply."
― Joyce Lednum
RNC, MSN, University of Texas

Book Overview

Sample and introduction from the audiobook:

Debugging Your Brain is written to be read in order, with each chapter building on the last. Each chapter is written such that you can return to any chapter later as a reference for yourself. Each of the eight chapters covers one major concept:

  1. Introduction describes an overview of the book and describes several example scenarios to keep in mind while reading the book.
  2. Modeling the Brain introduces a discrete mental model of how your mind works, especially around thoughts and emotions.
  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) introduces the principles of this most commonly used talk therapy.
  4. Introspection covers how to get into a mental state to effectively work with your thoughts and feelings.
  5. Identifying Inputs describes several specific types of inputs to your brain.
  6. Experience Processing covers principles and techniques you can use to more deeply understand your experiences.
  7. Experience Validation covers techniques you can use to help someone feel like their experiences are valid and understandable, which is critical to dealing with them effectively.
  8. Cognitive Restructuring covers the most common unhelpful thought patterns, and how to counter them. This is the core idea of CBT.

You will learn the most if you can integrate these concepts into your life. Once you are aware of them, you can begin to practice and internalize them. Each chapter has activities at the end to help make this easier.

Where To Buy

Buy Debugging Your Brain anywhere!

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Here some free resources Casey made to supplement the book. Feel free to download or make a copy of these, or come back to this site to find them here.

Quick Reference A one-page summary of the book.
Suggested Activities The full list of suggested activites from the end of each chapter.
Worksheet Processing a tough experience? Pull out this worksheet!
How to Support Casey Enjoyed the book? There are a lot of ways to help spread the word!

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