INTO THE ABYSS

A NEUROPSYCHIATRIST'S NOTES ON MADNESS

Fascinating stories from the practice of a skilled neuropsychiatrist.

That psychiatric illness is at least partly brain disease still provokes skepticism in some circles, but these compelling case reports make a convincing argument.

In his first book, psychiatrist David (co-author: Lishman’s Organic Psychiatry, 2009), director of the University College London Institute of Mental Health, writes that journalistic accounts of mental health “either lament the overdiagnosis and the medicalization of life or blame it all on modern society. The real problem, they say, is social media, sexual abuse, drugs, poverty, wealth, patriarchy, feminism, religion, lack of religion…the list goes on.” After agreeing that social and personal stresses play a role—as they do in obesity, heart disease, allergies, and numerous other conditions—the author proceeds to discuss a dozen patients whose illnesses can only be explained by a combination of biology, psychology, and sociology: the “biopsychosocial model of mental disorder.” Among David’s case studies are a man who suffered a catastrophic accident that left him with severe brain damage, from which his body recovered but not his personality; two different patients who were completely paralyzed despite tests that showed their brains were awake and functioning; and a schizophrenic woman who developed Parkinson’s disease, which doesn’t make sense because Parkinson’s, a neurological disorder, results from a deficiency of dopamine, a chemical that transmits nerve signals in the brain; schizophrenia is thought to involve a dopamine excess. David comes across as a compassionate physician and talented writer who works hard to demonstrate the biopsychosocial model and usually succeeds. Americans will note that a major social source of treatment failure—inability to afford it—doesn’t apply in Britain’s National Health Service, and several of his long-term triumphs could not have been repeated in the U.S. The cases are complex and sometimes so bizarre that it’s often difficult to apply their lessons to familiar disorders, but readers will be captivated.

Fascinating stories from the practice of a skilled neuropsychiatrist.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78607-705-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Categories:

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

Categories:
Close Quickview