SUPERMIND: The Ultimate Energy by Barbara B. Brown

SUPERMIND: The Ultimate Energy

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Biofeedback researcher Brown gives us a piece of her mind in this effusive, philosophically oriented work. She clearly has it in for reductionists, who, if they deign to mention ""mind"" at all, equate it with brain. Not so, says Brown, invoking her own concepts of consciousness, and postulating the existence and supreme importance of an ""intellectual"" unconscious that can direct neural activities and hence, behavior. The unconscious is part of mind, which as it evolves can become supermind. A faulty direction of mind over brain (but also vice versa) can lead to stress and mental and physical illness. Brown is at her best in a long chapter on stress, which she defines as an ""unfavorable perception of the social environment and its dynamics."" She distinguishes the stages that lead to distress (such as mismatches of expectations and perceptions worry, uncertainty, rumination); places the blame on inadequate information; and maintains that it's logical for the mind and body to react with illness. Her theories of the evolution of mind have a Bergsonian/Teilhard du Chardin air in suggesting that a creative force shapes the course of evolution toward higher levels of complexity, communication, feedback, and order. The book's final parts deal with 'altered or dissociated states of consciousness--hypnosis, religious fanaticism, drug experience, etc.--and Brown's interpretations thereof. She enlarges on these themes with her own out-of-body accounts, her control of pain and bleeding, her near-death happening, her flying saucer, her 90-minute out-of-mind lecture. But she tells very little about her potentially valuable work on biofeedback and on training individuals to control brain waves or individual muscles. For the most part the book is theory and enthusiasm, not likely to win friends among the bench scientists. Too often, also, Brown ignores what some of those very reductionist scientists are doing to probe the meaning of consciousness, creativity, self-image--and even ""mind.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row