A debut book offers a multidisciplinary approach to human psychology, behaviorism, and higher purpose.
Carville’s work is a sprawling collection of concepts, a vast set of questions about and answers to some fundamental issues of human existence: why are we here? What, if anything, is the purpose of our lives? Why do we respond to our environments the way we do? In an attempt to assemble a wide array of information from disparate fields of psychology, sociology, and evolutionary biology, Carville takes a big conceptual step back and introduces his readers to the idea of their “Operative Environment,” viewed broadly as the entire physical world that can produce effects on them—and which they can influence in turn. In dealing with this Operative Environment, Carville maintains that humans have a choice of two “operating systems”: the Automatic-Reactive Mind, which is the collection of a person’s hard-wired and basic responses to their Operative Environment, and the Rational-Adaptive Mind, which is meant to represent the imposition of a layer of introspection and control onto that more primitive level. Unfortunately, that second system isn’t always successful (“We are lazy, distracted and anything but consistent” in its application, Carville writes). The author’s goal in dissecting these concepts is to enhance his readers’ mind-management “technologies” by making them more aware of the forces they bring to bear on their own mental states. Readers are constantly performing before an internal audience, Carville maintains in his expansive, hyperenergetic book. And it’s crucial for them to realize the extent to which the show—and the audience—can be under their control. In a strong passage, he asserts: “You are the owner of this theater, you are the management here and the performer, you signal that the doors along the sides of the theater are to open, and they do.” Carville’s prolix, sometimes-manic narrative style can work against the clarity of the many concepts he’s presenting, but he’s a terrifically engaging writer. His audiences may have to backtrack and reread, but they will likely remain interested in this exuberant volume packed with intriguing, scientific details.
An appealing, idea-brimming exploration of the day-to-day human perception of reality.