Joe Bathelt's Reviews > The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us about Ourselves

The Disordered Mind by Eric R. Kandel
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it was ok

Eric Kandel is a towering figure in neuroscience. Like many colleagues, I first came into contact with neuroscience through Kandel’s famous textbook “Principles of Neural Science”. Reading this textbook inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in basic neuroscience and then complete a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. I also enjoyed his other books on broader topics, e.g. I liked his exploration of art and science in turn-of-the-century Vienna (The Age of Insight) and his autobiography (In Search for Memory). Consequently, I was excited about this book on brain and/or mental disorders, but, unfortunately, felt very disappointed by the book. Reading this book feels like reading a textbook from 20 years ago. There is very little new insight or critical reflection on the actual contribution of the brain view of mental health. Further, some of the language is outdated. For instance, the introduction motivates the discussion of mental disorders to understand how “broken” parts of the brain can tell us about typical brain function. This is not only a precarious logical position, i.e. something broken may not provide an accurate impression of what the typical function of that part is, but is also dangerous to imply that autistic, schizophrenic, or depressed people have broken brains. The actual content of the chapters seems very sparse and is often a rehashing of the arguments of other authors with long quotes. The selection of chapters itself also seems odd. I was puzzled to find a chapter on creativity in the middle of a book on the “disordered” mind. Altogether, I’m left with the impression that the world could have done without this book.
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May 25, 2020 – Shelved
May 25, 2020 – Finished Reading

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