Swollen bulbous knuckles seemingly alien to their owner; collections of meat from the powdered fresh and doughy, to the firm and sinewy; a parasitic m...moreSwollen bulbous knuckles seemingly alien to their owner; collections of meat from the powdered fresh and doughy, to the firm and sinewy; a parasitic mound plastered on a deceivingly delicate façade, miraculously calibrated to overcome nature’s gravity. All are bodily descriptions reminiscent of Ogawa’s; dull, customary scenarios surreptitiously sprinkled with an eerie, perverted veneer. Every orifice, from an angelic mother’s lips to an orphan toddler’s spout, described as cavernous and grotesque. It’s rather subtle until halfway through the novel, once you suddenly feel the urge to shower. Quality at least equivalent to that of "The Housekeeper and the Professor". (less)
Definitely reminiscent of Oliver Sack's clinical tales of neurological anomalies, but with a slightly less sincere pursuit. As a researcher vs. a clin...moreDefinitely reminiscent of Oliver Sack's clinical tales of neurological anomalies, but with a slightly less sincere pursuit. As a researcher vs. a clinician, like Sacks, it makes sense that Siegel is more interested in the behaviors themselves and their obscurity rather than on treatment and improving the patients’ quality of life. Although at times, he will half-heartedly attempt treatment, displaying the truth to subjects for reality testing, in hopes of instigating some sort of cognitive dissonance... it is more like a chaotic circus, simply putting them on display. But it was fascinating and never offensive; he always maintained a nonjudgmental and respectful stance.
I found the most intriguing cases were those not solely cocaine-induced or due to paranoid schizophrenia, as these are more well known. I liked the ones that were surreptitiously layered, a complex amalgam of influences, from hypertension-induced paraesthesias to disturbing dwarves in an obsessively viewed film. In these cases, the author would immerse himself in a nearly identical environment and circumstances to that of the subject to determine if the paranoia would emerge. This is how he arrives at his conclusions expressed in the introduction: a deep-seated paranoia is intrinsic to us all, waiting for a synergism of specific triggers to evoke it.(less)
Incredible book that certainly fulfills a specific niche. I would recommend this book to those interested in neuroplasticity, including those who enjo...moreIncredible book that certainly fulfills a specific niche. I would recommend this book to those interested in neuroplasticity, including those who enjoyed "The Brain that Changes Itself", because our malleable brain is only partially attributed to grey matter, which is the primary focus of that book.
I think many ardent followers of pop psychology/neuroscience will be initially attracted to this, but a more developed passion for the science is required to get through the book in its entirety. Despite finding the book infinitely fascinating, it took me longer to read than usual; for many, it will not constitute "light reading" that you could read during a busy commute for example, especially if you like to really analyze this type of work and consider how it may explain various conditions! Although supposedly written for a lay audience, some crevices will be left vacant for the casual reader. For example, < 20 pages to the end Fields states, "...we must first understand exactly what a nerve impulse is"; excuse me, but wouldn't that have been helpful 300 pages ago? I will cut him some slack though because he admits in the 'Acknowledgments' that he has never written for the popular market before. Also, he is very gifted in constructing metaphors and analogies to everyday scenarios to explain complex neurological concepts. Admittedly they are not the most poetic metaphors, but they serve their purpose and are impressive considering they emerged from a mind that has been buried in his clandestine lab studying the ghosts of the brain for decades!
Some of the historical information and the route by which these landmark scientific discoveries were made may seem unnecessary or superfluous to some (especially those that resulted in erroneous findings). However, I think the backstory and underlying logic is helpful in solidifying the rational and creative perspectives of the scientific method.
And finally, if you feel as I did (that pharmaceutical companies are exhausting their ideas, pumping out multiple drugs per year with strikingly similar mechanisms, merely mirrors of each other with new designer names... and patents...) I think reading this book will change your perspective. I was left feeling that if funding goes towards the right research, we have an infinite number of unique approaches with which to tackle a myriad of enigmatic disease states. (less)
Woolf demonates a delicate balance between unadulterated fluidity of consciousness and a premeditated rhetoric… she firmly denies man’s levee on trans...moreWoolf demonates a delicate balance between unadulterated fluidity of consciousness and a premeditated rhetoric… she firmly denies man’s levee on transparency, his meticulously constructed assay of reality, but the question on my mind throughout was whether she does this consciously, out of spite, to undermine her point, or if language eminates from her purely in this form, as the ‘true essence’ of femininity. For me, this question was the skeleton of her piece.
One could rapidly dismiss her arguments as dissonant; however, I relish in them, as it reflects an accurate stream of consciousness, in which one’s form of the truth is malleable, and bends, and contorts as new information is gathered; it is not presumptuous or stubborn. The writing of ‘man’ does not have the potential to unveil the reality of women, only a biased glimpse of the titantic truth; but wait! Do not dismiss masculinity in full, indiscriminate adherence to one’s sex will only blemish the literature. She displays a constant push and shove of impulses, which one can appreciate for its accuracy, but one must achieve equilibrium amongst it on one’s own, as it is not a clearly guided path.
I have always imagined that a great writer is a great writer regardless of their life circumstances; one can find inspiration in anything, and often it is the most disheartening, unfortunate situations that propel one’s creative energy forward. And this idea was so eloquently contradicted by Woolf… it led me to reformulate my beliefs: perhaps the common man is for once at an advantage here, in terms of creative prowess, demonstrating the intermediate between full depravity of time, energy, money leading to imprisonment of the mind, the past habitat of the female sex, and a surplus of core life necessities, as having everything handed to one on a silverplatter will not inspire either.
Anyway, this is turning more into my response on the piece than a review, but hopefully it demonstrates the mere power of Woolf to surreptitiously slither her way into your mind, reworking the clockwork without your full conscious awareness, until the manipulated thoughts are spit back out hours later at the most haphazard moment. This was a nice deviation from the neuro/psych memoirs I typically adhere to, and it immediately lead me to ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ without coming up for a breath of air. (less)
Fascinating first-person account of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Many reviews put down his 'awkward voice', but I appreciated it on two dimensions:...moreFascinating first-person account of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Many reviews put down his 'awkward voice', but I appreciated it on two dimensions: its pure literary pleasure, and the insight it provided into his severe psychiatric condition. The dodgey, tangential writing reflects the ephemeral moods and thought processes of his 24 alter personalities.(less)
I was required to read it in high school and write a response paper addressing the question, 'What is quality?' While I enjoyed reading it then, I cer...moreI was required to read it in high school and write a response paper addressing the question, 'What is quality?' While I enjoyed reading it then, I certainly struggled with some aspects of it. However, after reading it 5 years later, life experience augmented my interpretations significantly. Half of this book's value lies in its potential to stimulate your own meandering trail of thoughts and moments of gestalt. Reading it on a lake in NH only enhanced this spontaneous reaction. I plan to reread this book every 5 yrs, as I feel I will continue to extract new things from it as I gain knowledge and my perspectives change.(less)