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Fire in the Brain: Clinical Tales of Hallucination
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Fire in the Brain: Clinical Tales of Hallucination

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  84 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A beautiful pianist hears her music drowned out by the voice of God. A young woman calmly watches the gang rape of her girlfriend and herself. A shy schoolboy turns to his invisible best friend to wreak bloody vengeance. In Fire in the Brain, Ronald K. Siegel shows how even the sober brain can create the sights and sounds of artificial heavens and hells. Here we find gods...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by Plume (first published 1992)
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Fire in the Brain is a fascinating look into the human mind through the hallucinations it produces. There are several sections including Visionary Drugs, Dreams etc. that highlight some enlightening, pardon the pun, cases. Siegel actually participated in his own experiments after gathering data and input from subjects which he called Psychonauts. So from ingesting a peyote laced gruel in the desert to smoking marijuana to being locked in a cage in a dark basement for three days, he tried to simu...more
Oliver sacks on acid.
Kressel Housman
Jun 11, 2008 Kressel Housman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in psychology, but must have a strong stomach
Like Whispers, this is an often disturbing journey into the world of hallucinations. Whether they were induced by drugs, sleep deprivation, or torture, the exploration into our brains is always fascinating, and I admire Dr. Siegel immensely for his willingness to delve into his own mind and not just to be a cold and professional observer. The chapters on torture, though - sheesh! I almost stopped reading.

For me, the most fascinating chapter was on near-death experiences, even though Dr. Siegel'...more
Oct 18, 2007 Colleen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Oliver Sacks fans
This book slid neatly into my pile of research books for my novel. (It's percolating in the back of my mind right now... the characters speak in my sleep.) Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat began this series, and Fire in the Brain was wonderful follow-up.

Sacks's sympathy is extended into empathy in Siegel's work, as he risks mental life and limb to truly see through the eyes of his patients. Siegel submerses himself in a floating capsule for a day to encourage an out of body...more
Thomas Wictor
For most of my life I wondered if what I experienced was real or a hallucination. Being a sufferer of mental illness myself, I like books that can highlight the absurd, humorous side of having a nonfunctional brain. It never devolves into exploitation. If you want to know what it's like to be unsure if you're rooted in reality, this is a must-read. The writing style is quite entertaining.
Rebecca Glass
Really interesting perspective. Lots of short stories about hallucination ranging from dreams to drug trips to hallucination due to pain. A whole new scientific spin on drug usage and dreams. Easy read!
Jul 31, 2011 Cynmo added it
A light and interesting read. Sometimes descends into a kind of "true tales of Topanga" as the author details his home visits to druggy people in the Southern California mountains. The chapter where he details his interviews and researches with people who have imaginary friends is the best. He describes meeting the imaginary friend of a young teenager who was articulate, playful and a little reluctant about her dragon friend. A great research problem that he found ways to resolve.
Steve Rueffer
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the study of anomalous experiences. Siegel does a fantastic job telling of the often chilling experiences of real people dealing with supposed visitations by ghosts, aliens, etc... The science explanations are written in a language most non-academics can understand, and although a little dated, offer some understanding of the conditions from which these people suffer. A fun and insightful read.
This guy is crazy! I read this book about a month ago and weird things that happened in it keep popping into my head. Supposedly everything in here is true. Scary stuff. The author tries to sound very scientific, but then he keeps going to South America to eat peyote or staying awake for a week straight with a nurse who sees swastikas marking the patients as Nazis. Really.
One of the most interesting books I've ever read. Story after amazing story of people who saw and heard what wasn't there: Imaginary friends. Ghosts. Vortexes. Scary symbols on the wall...
Some are cute and quirky, others are spooky and disturbing. You won't be bored with this one.
I have the hardback of this. An excellent book. Really gives you some food for thought concerning dream experiences and how the brain constructs our reality. I use pieces from it in lectures all the time.
The joys and terrors of hallucination, presented for your delectation. Bon appetit.
Alan Clark
As one who has suffered as well as enjoyed hallucinations, I find this book fascinating.
I really liked his tales of the different kinds of hallucinations that people have.
Fun material about the characteristics and nature of human hallucination.
James M. Madsen, M.D.
Very interesting case studies of hallucinations!
Another excellent book by Siegel.
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American psychiatrist, research professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (as recently as 2005), and the author of several noted studies and books on psychopharmacology, hallucination, and paranoia.
More about Ronald K. Siegel...
Whispers: The Voices of Paranoia Intoxication: The Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances Intoxication: Life in Pursuit of Artificial Paradise Hallucinations: Behavior, Experience, and Theory Hashish The Lost Legend: The First English Translation of a Great Oriental Romance

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