Author Topic: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club  (Read 84556 times)

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Re: Reading Minds: The CoastGab Book Club
« Reply #840 on: January 07, 2019, 05:43:26 AM »
In the Mind Fields by Casey Schwartz.

Sometimes there is a reason for a book to be "marked down." Sometimes it did not sell all that well, sometimes it is aging on the shelves unsold. For me, neither is usually a concern as what interests me is usually not what interests most readers (I don't know if I have ever read something on the NYT's best seller list.) This was a book sitting in such a bin at the local store.

I am going to give this 1.5 stars out of 5, and use this rambling review to see if I can sort out the reasons. 

The book had promise- and it made promises. Casey was one of the first to go through a program where she was trained in neuroscience one year and psychoanalysis the next. Who better to write a book showing the advantages and pitfalls of each discipline? Who better to attempt to meld them, to judge them, to show the casual reader the advantages of each?

I will say that she did spend a little time showing some of the pitfalls of studies done and methods used in modern research into the brain. There were a few early chapters where it appeared that the book might fulfill it's ambitious stated goals.  But it quickly became apparent that there was not to be a narrative which would tie the thoughts or chapters together.

She spends chapters on Mark Solms, as she was apparently given access to his notes. Yet all that we learn from her is that Mark lives on a large estate, owns a vineyard, had a brother who was brain damaged early in life, was put in charge of a hospital ward before he felt he was ready, and that he hosts conferences. There is very little (if anything) about his work or the results of his studies. She makes mention that Mark wanted to analyze the dreams of Henry Moller. Just as quickly as it is mentioned, it is forgotten. In my estimation, Henry may have had a longer attention span to dedicate to developing thoughts than Casey. (This may only make sense if you know who H.M. was...)

There is chapter after chapter chronicling the relationship between an analyst she knew and a stroke victim, Harry.  We are treated to some of the conversations that occurred- to Harry's frustration with his position in life.  But there is nothing at all to indicate that the analysis did any good- that there was even a tiny improvement in his life. There is nothing at all to suggest that a neuroscientist could help- and even after years of therapy, nothing to suggest that a psychologist could offer anything of substance.

Her conclusion was that the analyst and Harry managed to form a human bond without words.  Yet Harry did use words- they were just limited. There was nothing remarkable that one could discern in the relationship between the two men, and nothing to be learned.

In the end, the book was an autobiography of Casey... Of somebody who has not contributed all that much to the field, and certainly not somebody who should have written a book.  If you were to add up the number of times the word "I" is used, it would be in the tens of thousands. To keep this review on topic for the board- she reminds me a little of a certain "Dave Noorie". There is lots of name dropping, and very little substance.

In short, this has to be one of the more disappointing books that I have read in a long while.  The promise was there- but nothing was delivered. After my review, I am downgrading it to one star- and I am feeling that is more than generous for an autobiography of somebody who is completely unknown to the word, and who does not appear to have accomplished very much.