The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us about Ourselves

The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us about Ourselves

A Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist’s probing investigation of what brain disorders can tell us about human natureEric R. Kandel, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his foundational research into memory storage in the brain, is one of the pioneers of modern brain science. His work continues to shape our understanding of how learning and memory wor...

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Title:The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us about Ourselves
Author:Eric R. Kandel
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Edition Language:English

The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us about Ourselves Reviews

  • Ania Holubecki

    Good book for an overview, especially for those not in the field! Appreciated how Kandel would redefine concepts and terms as they came up instead of forcing readers to remember them from before. Also liked how the chapters were organized by processes that make up our mind, paired with disorders that result from abnormalities in those processes.

  • Tony

    THE DISORDERED MIND. (2018). Eric R. Kandel. ****.

    I found this work to be a fascinating review of our existing knowledge of the brain and how it works. The author is currently a professor at Columbia University and a renowned researcher in the field of neurology. He was previously a winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. With a short introduction to his topic, he sets in to inform us of the current state of knowledge about the brain that has been learned through the study of vari

    THE DISORDERED MIND. (2018). Eric R. Kandel. ****.

    I found this work to be a fascinating review of our existing knowledge of the brain and how it works. The author is currently a professor at Columbia University and a renowned researcher in the field of neurology. He was previously a winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. With a short introduction to his topic, he sets in to inform us of the current state of knowledge about the brain that has been learned through the study of various diseases. I was amazed that so much was known about these various illnesses and how they were manifested through the actions of their sufferers. Of particular interest was his chapters on special talents possessed by people with these various illnesses that seem to develop to compensate for their lack of skills in other more normal areas. The author tends to recap the information in each chapter and finish it off with a section on ‘where we are now’ and ‘where we need to go next.’ This is an excellent look at the hottest science of the day, told in a manner that can be understood by the average aware reader.

  • Tracey

    This would be a really good text for someone who has some basic working knowledge about the brain/mind connection or the "new biology of the mind" as Kandel refers to it. I clearly have read far more about this topic than I realized when I picked this up, because I was familiar with much of the content of this book, including many of the specific case studies he cites, so there were chapters I blazed through because of familiarity. Reading this did remind me how resistant I am to the argument th

    This would be a really good text for someone who has some basic working knowledge about the brain/mind connection or the "new biology of the mind" as Kandel refers to it. I clearly have read far more about this topic than I realized when I picked this up, because I was familiar with much of the content of this book, including many of the specific case studies he cites, so there were chapters I blazed through because of familiarity. Reading this did remind me how resistant I am to the argument that the mind is purely a biological function, because when Kandel would press hard in that direction, I would find my inner skeptic rising; however, he would then acknowledge that we don't fully understand the impact of environment on shaping what we call the mind, so the inner skeptic would then calm itself. He cites many philosophers and scientists that I respect, some of which he praises for getting it right before technology could back up those claims (way to go, William James!), but he also pretty much dismisses some as straight up "getting it wrong" (I'm looking at you, Decartes). I'm a both/and kind of thinker, so while I like some of the empirical evidence he provides, it didn't resolve any questions I had. I also caught some pruning of evidence to support his claim about biology and morality when he is discussing the trolley problem as it relates to Joshua Greene's research (yes, psychopaths have no problem pushing the fat man, but neither do Buddhist monks, which Kandel neglects to mention and it feels a bit deliberate in terms of positively positioning the claim being made). All that said, I would say a good primer for an overview on the topic written by a guy who has been a pioneer in the field (Nobel Prize Winner in 2000).

  • Cathy

    Fascinating brain stuff here. Eric is certainly an expert. Some things I've already heard, but a lot of new information also. I like how well he explains the inner workings of our mystery organ.

  • Melise

    I read an ARC from NetGalley and Farrah, Straus And Giroux. Thanks!

    I am always interested in reading about the intersection of brain physiology and psychology/behavior. This book was a great overview of some of the most recent discoveries that shed light on physiological findings within the brains of people who have a number of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia or Huntington’s, who suffer from depression or anxiety, or who experience life in non-neurotypical ways, includi

    I read an ARC from NetGalley and Farrah, Straus And Giroux. Thanks!

    I am always interested in reading about the intersection of brain physiology and psychology/behavior. This book was a great overview of some of the most recent discoveries that shed light on physiological findings within the brains of people who have a number of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia or Huntington’s, who suffer from depression or anxiety, or who experience life in non-neurotypical ways, including people with autism or gender nonconformity.

    The author did a good job of clearly explaining these complex scientific issues for a lay reader and I, like the author find it very interesting how seemingly unrelated symptoms can be caused by similar physiological changes in the brain, such as the role that synaptic pruning plays in both schizophrenia and autism.

    The one element that seemed to be missing for me, however, was a stronger synthesis and suggestions about where these findings might lead in the future. There was a bit of this in the conclusion, but I would have liked to have read more.

    All in all, a good overview that helped me understand current discoveries in brain functioning.

  • Kristine

    You get the impression that, throughout this book, disorder is abnormal or there’s a baseline that everyone operates on and that there’s a select amount of people that are 'defective' with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, dementia, PTSD, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and autism. Amid these conceptions, Kandel goes into neurological and cognitive findings, treatments, and patient disclosures, after telling

    You get the impression that, throughout this book, disorder is abnormal or there’s a baseline that everyone operates on and that there’s a select amount of people that are 'defective' with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, dementia, PTSD, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and autism. Amid these conceptions, Kandel goes into neurological and cognitive findings, treatments, and patient disclosures, after telling of the origins/history of the aforementioned conditions.

  • Bonnie

    I found this book very disappointing. There wasn't a lot that was new. The subtitle, "What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves," makes a promise that is unfulfilled. He never says what disorders like Alzheimer's, addiction, autism, schizophrenia, etc. tell us about normal brains (except that they don't have these disorders). He has little to say about consciousness, and how it relates to brain activity, except to say that it's a mystery. When he discusses addiction, he mixes science with norm

    I found this book very disappointing. There wasn't a lot that was new. The subtitle, "What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves," makes a promise that is unfulfilled. He never says what disorders like Alzheimer's, addiction, autism, schizophrenia, etc. tell us about normal brains (except that they don't have these disorders). He has little to say about consciousness, and how it relates to brain activity, except to say that it's a mystery. When he discusses addiction, he mixes science with normative claims (like how important it is not to stigmatize addicts as weak-willed). He thinks we know that addiction is a disease because the brain scans of addicts are different from non-addicts. Has anyone scanned the brains of weak-willed persons? Maybe their brains are different too.

    Kandel is no Oliver Sacks.

  • Molly

    Received a review copy in exchange for my review. I wish I could leave a better one. The book is full of animal testing and psychiatric binaries of sick and well. It lacks an ethical framework in its treatment of humans and nonhuman animals necessary for the subject. There is some decent knowledge but not much that is new. I would not recommend this book to the layman or to someone with a background in psychology or neuroscience.

  • Corvus

    Goodreads removed my review which was the top rated review on this page. The reason was that I called attention to the animal abuse in the book and that which is conducted by Kandel. I even took the time to also gather and offer outside sources to back up what I was saying including Kandel's own publications where he causes pain and fear in mammals for his research interests. I will state again that I received this via goodreads give aways and twice now, the people most invested in defending the

    Goodreads removed my review which was the top rated review on this page. The reason was that I called attention to the animal abuse in the book and that which is conducted by Kandel. I even took the time to also gather and offer outside sources to back up what I was saying including Kandel's own publications where he causes pain and fear in mammals for his research interests. I will state again that I received this via goodreads give aways and twice now, the people most invested in defending the abuse of animals have flagged them for removal. I used to work in neuroscience myself but apparently, owning the book, reading the book, doing research on the author, having a degree in and working in the field, were all not enough in order for my review to be kept up. The animal testing machine is quite powerful, isn't it? Plenty of people found my review helpful. But, now it's no wonder that Kandel's books all have high stars despite many criticisms from many people.

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