Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology eBook – Vansonphu.com


Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology Too often the little case studies in psychology books are neutered, faceless statistics and circumstances detached from life Someone hits their head and wakes up with a different personality Someone is born with a photographic memory and near impossible math skills Their brains are scanned and their behaviors are noted and medical professionals learn something clinical about how the brain works Into the Silent Land does wonders to remind us that these case studies happened to real people, th Too often the little case studies in psychology books are neutered, faceless statistics and circumstances detached from life Someone hits their head and wakes up with a different personality Someone is born with a photographic memory and near impossible math skills Their brains are scanned and their behaviors are noted and medical professionals learn something clinical about how the brain works Into the Silent Land does wonders to remind us that these case studies happened to real people, that there are human beings and families living these realities Treated with warmth and good humor, Broks s narrative restores the personhood to these otherwise impersonal medical curiosities He tackles the thorny question of Self reframing the age old questions of consciousness, of mind brain dualism, and ghosts in machines Sometimes solemn, sometimes whimsical, and interspersed with fanciful, inventive pieces of fiction and poetry to better illustrate the subject at hand, it s a delightful repast of phenomenology, philosophy, and neuropsychology.5 stars out of 5 I was engrossed from start to finish All nonfiction should be so readable Other reviewers have noted it s unfair to compare Broks to Sachs, and I agree.That said, per the philosophy angle he brings, I will compare him to somebody else Dan Dennett.Some of the essays in this book remind me of some of Dennett s early stuff, like in the book co written and co edited with Douglas Hofstadter, The Mind s I Broks tales in here are less about the patient, in part being a clinical psychologist, andalong the line of philosophical Gedankenexperimenten, or, to use Den Other reviewers have noted it s unfair to compare Broks to Sachs, and I agree.That said, per the philosophy angle he brings, I will compare him to somebody else Dan Dennett.Some of the essays in this book remind me of some of Dennett s early stuff, like in the book co written and co edited with Douglas Hofstadter, The Mind s I Broks tales in here are less about the patient, in part being a clinical psychologist, andalong the line of philosophical Gedankenexperimenten, or, to use Dennett s phrase, intuition pumps That said, Broks is fara poet than Dennett, and may just surpass Sacks in that regard too.I note that this won a Guardian First Book award.Please, Mr Broks, let s follow up with a second and.Comment I loved the neuropsych stuff but not the author s own quest into himself I thought some bits were boring I wish there wasof the patient s view and less of the aging doctor s. I m going to need a bittime to absorb this one In short the book consists of a series of philosophical essays using case studies in clinical neuropsychology, the author s personal musings and science fiction to discover the relationship of the self to human biology.The author uses neuroscience to dispel the common sense notion that there is a self located somewhere in the human brain He then uses philosophy to undermine the notion that there even is such a thing as self.He does all t I m going to need a bittime to absorb this one In short the book consists of a series of philosophical essays using case studies in clinical neuropsychology, the author s personal musings and science fiction to discover the relationship of the self to human biology.The author uses neuroscience to dispel the common sense notion that there is a self located somewhere in the human brain He then uses philosophy to undermine the notion that there even is such a thing as self.He does all this quite convincingly, while simultaneously reveling in his own self and the selves of others through his interactions with patients, students and family and, of course, his self I learned about Paul Broks through the Australian podcast All in the Mind This podcast is well worth subscribing to if you are at all fascinated by this subject have been hooked for a couple of years now,or Broks is such a non linear thinker that it was almost impossible to follow a through line to this book, assuming there was one He doesn t develop a particular idea rather, he just tells a collection of stories Those stories are so poetic at times that I wasn t sure I understood what he was getting at, and they often felt like ethereally connected images that I couldn t completely track with I wish I d spent the time some other way. With your feet in the air And your head on the ground Try this trick and spin it Your head will collapse But there s nothing in it And you ll ask yourself Where is my mind This might be a dangerous book for those with a fragile sense of self, but required reading for anyone with a big ego It is certainly an incredible achievement Paul Broks manages to elucidate current ideas surrounding the brain mind dilemma in a provocative style sometimes reminiscent of a novel or innerspace travelogue If With your feet in the air And your head on the ground Try this trick and spin it Your head will collapse But there s nothing in it And you ll ask yourself Where is my mind This might be a dangerous book for those with a fragile sense of self, but required reading for anyone with a big ego It is certainly an incredible achievement Paul Broks manages to elucidate current ideas surrounding the brain mind dilemma in a provocative style sometimes reminiscent of a novel or innerspace travelogue If you like to think about the big questions in a rational way, read this book and prepare to lose or loose your mind Into the Silent Land is a collection of case studies and short tutorials on neuropsychology, which is the science of analyzing the relationship between personality, performance, and the anatomical and physiological structure of the brain Broks fuses classic cases of neuropsychology with the his own case studies, philosophical debate, and thought provoking riffs and meditations on the nature of neurological impairments and dysfunctions The philosophic and human implications of neuropathologyA blurb on the cover touts neuropsychology Professor Broks, author of this intriguing book, as The new Oliver Sacks While any writer on neuropathology would be flattered to be compared to the renowned Dr Sacks, whose books include the fascinating The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales 1987 , I don t think such a comparison is fair to either man.While Broks and Sacks write about the sometimes bizarre consequence The philosophic and human implications of neuropathologyA blurb on the cover touts neuropsychology Professor Broks, author of this intriguing book, as The new Oliver Sacks While any writer on neuropathology would be flattered to be compared to the renowned Dr Sacks, whose books include the fascinating The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales 1987 , I don t think such a comparison is fair to either man.While Broks and Sacks write about the sometimes bizarre consequences of neurological disorders, they do so from a different perspective Sacks istightly focused on the patient and the pathology whereas Broks concentrateson his personal experience as a neuropsychologist and the philosophic and emotional consequences of those experiences Further, while Sacks writes with an uncommon clarity and eloquence, Broks relies on aliterary style with excursions into memoir, story sometimes reminding me distantly of Borges , Socratic dialogue, and dream sequence Each chapter in the book is a personal experience essay Some chapters recall patients with disorders, some do not Some chapters are intensely personal, as is the final chapter on the experience of his wife s breast cancer Others are almost completely philosophical What can pathology, especially neuropathology, teach us about what it means to be human and to be self aware is what Broks is asking in all of the chapters, sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely His answer is equivocal and meandering in short he isn t sure I respect that because I m not sure either, and I don t know anyone who is.Broks begins by experiencing the pulsating brain as raw meat He is mesmerized by the absolute conviction that in the flesh behind the face being probed by the surgeon, there s no one there p 17 This leads him to reject the Mysterian position on consciousness and Cartesian dualism He excises the ghost in the machine and comes to realize that the I of our experience is nowhere at all, but is an ever changing, ever constructing presence among the modules of the brain Thoughts, feelings, and intentions produce me, not the other way around, is how he expresses it on page 80 He sees the I that experiences and reflects upon experience as not a single thing, or a thing at all, but as a principle of biological organization p 100 This is a profound insight from modern neuroscience and philosophy as presented by people like Francis Crick and Daniel Dennett, whom Broks cites, and others But Broks is neither completely satisfied with this unsettling point of view, nor is he complacent to leave it at that In my favorite chapter of the book, To Be Two or Not to Be, Broks presents a science fiction scenario in which one is teleported to Mars One s body is exhaustively copied on Mars from information sent from Earth Every single atom is replicated exactly as it appears in the original and then the original is destroyed, allowing one to travel at the speed of light.In effect this is a thought experiment asking the question Who are you Are you the original or the copy The copy assures us that he is the same continuous being that was on Earth and is now on Mars He is the father of his children, the husband of his wife, and is the man who was once the child He has all this in his memory He certainly did not die And besides he has done this a dozen times and is still alive.But Broks throws a monkey wrench into this scenario by having the original not destroyed Now who is who And if the original is now to be destroyed, how does he feel about that What is different from the man on Earth and his identical on Mars Absolutely nothing although because of their now different environments they are beginning to change Yet the original prefers that he continue living, as does the copy.This story really highlights the Buddhist idea that we do not exist as we think we do There is no self, no ego I we do not die because we were never living in the sense that we think we were What exists is pure identification, so to speak, that everybody has identically That does not die It is always there in a sentient being.Broks acknowledges this Buddhist perspective, admits that in some sense he is uneasy about it admits that in some sense, at some times, he is a Mysterian, who does believe in something non material in ourselves See Right This Way, Smiles a Mermaid beginning on page 132 Another point that Broks makes is that we do not exist in isolation The working brain has to be understood not only as part of a larger biological system the rest of the body , but also as a component of the wider social system p 102 I would add that we are also part of this planet and its systems, and in the most minute, but real sense, part of the cosmos.Broks believes that the familiar soul body dualism from Descartes is hard wired into our brains by the process of evolution p 138 He also believes that phenomenal consciousness the raw feel of experience is invisible to conventional scientific scrutiny and will forever remain so p 140 I agree that the idea of a soul is adaptive in an evolutionary sense It allows for us to have hope in many seemingly hopeless situations It furthers the adaptiveness of the tribe which furthers the adaptiveness of the members of the tribe I also agree that such phenomena as the taste of ice cream, the experience of the color red, etc., are not subject to scientific evaluation Science is preeminently a social exercise in that, without peer review and confirming experiments by other scientists, would not exist as such Consequently it is futile to expect something purely subjective to find scientific proof Dennis Littrell, author of The World Is Not as We Think It Is Broks made an admirable attempt at combining self and others in this muddled disaster full of his own confusion He is very clearly unsure of the self, and makes no headway from start to finish in reconciling his own personal struggle with the issues he raises in this book He seems unable to address any particular topic and this compilation rambles in a manner that leaves no taste for wantingAs you read you too will be confused You will ask yourself if this is a fictional novel, a comp Broks made an admirable attempt at combining self and others in this muddled disaster full of his own confusion He is very clearly unsure of the self, and makes no headway from start to finish in reconciling his own personal struggle with the issues he raises in this book He seems unable to address any particular topic and this compilation rambles in a manner that leaves no taste for wantingAs you read you too will be confused You will ask yourself if this is a fictional novel, a compelling look into case studies, or a memoir Neither which would stand alone as an individual tale, and does not stand on it s own as it is If you are interested in neuropsychology, neuroscience, or body mind processes move on from this mess of words Just heard Jane Curtin reading Voodoo Child Slight Returnon PRI Selected Shorts, and am very excited It s not often I get to shelve a book with this particular combination of mind blowing biology literary fiction nonfiction metafiction and I could probably add a fewpostmodern, neurology, psychology, philosophy ahhhhh Great combination.Story here NPR Selected Shorts Complicated RelationshipsI look forward to reading the rest of this Just heard Jane Curtin reading Voodoo Child Slight Returnon PRI Selected Shorts, and am very excited It s not often I get to shelve a book with this particular combination of mind blowing biology literary fiction nonfiction metafiction and I could probably add a fewpostmodern, neurology, psychology, philosophy ahhhhh Great combination.Story here NPR Selected Shorts Complicated RelationshipsI look forward to reading the rest of this.


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