The Significance Delusion

Unlocking our thinking for our children’s future

By: Gillian Bridge


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Size: 216 x 140mm
Pages : 336
ISBN : 9781785831089
Format: Paperback
Published: September 2016

We have never had it better – so why aren’t we happy?

The Significance Delusion explains why humans are so peculiarly vulnerable to mental disorders and social problems, and how understanding the backstory can help you learn the real value of life

Today we have everything that previous generations could ever have dreamed of. So why is it that so many people continue to go through life unhappy and unfulfilled, with millions more young people now facing mental health issues? Does it have something to do with the way our brains have developed? Could it be that humans are just essentially delusional?

Now a compelling and insightful new book, The Significance Delusion, draws upon scientific research, ideas, facts and real-life anecdotes to explore the human obsession with meaning. It takes readers on a journey through time, history and the mysterious labyrinth that is the brain, to explore what it really takes for us (and our children) to thrive and survive as individuals and as a society, and even learn the meaning of life.

The author, Gillian Bridge, is a psycholinguistic consultant and expert in empowering people to get the most from their brain, whatever the challenge. The common link in her previous work as a teacher, a lecturer, an addiction therapist, an executive coach and a resilience consultant has been the way brain development and the use of language affect any individual’s behaviour and communication. By understanding brain function and how it makes us behave the way we do, Gillian’s work enables all people, whether they clearly need help or not, to gain better control of their lives.

There are three interweaving strands throughout The Significance Delusion: brain matters, child-rearing matters and self-versus-community matters. By exploring these matters in a challenging, quirky and often humorous way, the book will not only help you answer some age-old questions about yourself (Who am I? What am I? How am I?), but also understand how to better promote the future mental and physical well-being of our children, for the benefit of them individually and society as a whole.

The Significance Delusion provides practical behavioural strategies to improve quality of life, making it a fascinating and invaluable book for parents, teachers, people working in social care, policy makers and anybody else who simply wants to understand themselves, or their relationships better.

Picture for author Gillian Bridge

Gillian Bridge

Gillian Bridge is a qualified teacher of English, an addiction therapist and a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy who has taught, lectured and coached in the field of brain language and behaviour and has also worked in prisons and on Harley Street. Language is her medium, neuroscience her fascination, and she longs to understand what makes us humans human. Her previous book The Significance Delusion - essentially a search for the meaning of meaning - is very much the outcome of that curiosity, but Sweet Distress brings her deep love of family into the equation. What wouldn't we do, think or question in order to protect them?

Click here to see a summary of Gillian's writings in the press - in print and online.

Click here to read Gillian's feature in the Daily Express - Happy Monday: Key to happy life is defying self-aggrandisement'

Click here to read Gillian's sage advice in Prima magazine on the topic of helping pupils dealing with their GCSE results.

Click here to read Gillian's feature in the Irish Independent on Do the Terrible Twos actually exist?'.

Click here to read Gillian's article on the Express website: Terrible Twos don't exist and bad parenting is to blame'.

Click here to read Gillian's piece for The Brighton Argus: Blame parents for the terrible twos'.

Click here to read Gillian's feature on toddler tantrums' for The Mail Online.


  1. Why do I suffer? Do I matter? Does life itself matter? These painful questions are generally answered with dull commonplaces about our place in the grand scheme of things, leaving the most sceptical of us in an even deeper state of pain and aimlessness.

    Gillian Bridge's answer is more blunt: life makes no sense, and our search for meaning is delusional. It is an accident of our big brain trying endlessly to connect everything together. However, whereas a nihilistic philosopher would stop there, Gillian Bridge adds that life itself is enough - provided, of course, we make peace with the idea and break free from our little self.

    Don't expect cheap talk about self-actualisation. Gillian Bridge wants us to stop indulging ourselves in navel-gazing habits, and she wages war against the oversensitive and individualistic spirit of our time.

    The Significance Delusion is a contrarian yet convincing book backed by scientific evidence and the author's own experience as a therapist. Even though I am an atheist, I would advise the religious reader not to let themselves be repelled by the book's brain-centred approach, as The Significance Delusion's communitarian core message seems to lend credence to a great variety of religious teachings.

    A must-read for anyone concerned with mental health, social wellbeing and education.
  2. Bridge's collation of psycho-neurology of the self, the intra and interpersonal effects of self-description and the challenges that we face when we misjudge the mental states of both ourselves and others is interesting and timely. She weaves clinical and popular cultural references to illustrate the narratives that we tell ourselves and each other, but ultimately questions the adverse consequences of psychotherapy practice itself, which may be harmful.

    The Significance Delusion is a book for our time when the autonomy of the self is prized and the self, so central in self-help.
  3. In her compelling, accessible account of humanity's self-destructive significance meme, Gillian Bridge takes us on a genre-defying voyage. The perfect coherence of the book stands in stark contrast to the fractured minds witness by Bridge. Whether they are functioning professionals whose mental maladies are subtle, brain injury survivors making sense of a wordless world, or mentally ill prison inmates, she calls into question the dogma of self-delusion at the broken heart of Western society. Weaving together cultural, scientific, and behavioural realities, The Significance Delusion presents revolutionary implications for human development.

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