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A dynamic approach to focusing, connecting, and developing mutual understanding.

How to connect with others—and why it’s important.

Brodkin is a professor of psychiatry and founder and director of the Adult Autism Spectrum Program at Penn Medicine, and Pallathra is a researcher and therapist currently pursuing her doctorate in clinical psychology. In this collaboration, the authors write that “to be aware of our own state of mind and body while also tuning in and connecting” with other people is “perhaps the most needed, and most neglected, human capacity.” There is a vital need to pay attention, to be seen and heard without distraction, and to thwart the countless misunderstandings that can occur every day. The authors tap into a wide range of disciplines—among them, neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, music, literature, and mindfulness—to bolster their argument about the importance of forming the “genuine, lasting connections” that are so often “elusive.” They write with a passionate, encouraging, come-and-join-me quality, showing how we can find attunement through the exercise of its basic components: relaxed awareness, a calm and attentive focus on your body, environment, and company; listening, being observant to the other person and your reactions; understanding, the recognition and appreciation of another’s point of view and intentions; and mutual responsiveness, maintaining connection through the vagaries of conversation. The authors wisely express the complexity and at times counterintuitive nature of these components—the balancing act between calmness and tight focus, listening to yourself and another person at the same time, expressing both emotional and cognitive empathy—but they provide examples and exercises to enable their use. The exercises, actual physical actions that promote synchronicity and proportional response, don’t lend themselves to the authors’ verbal detailing, but they direct readers to their website for video demonstrations. Though occasionally repetitive, the text will help readers achieve a more centered state of mind: “what T.S. Eliot called ‘the still point in a turning world.’ ”

A dynamic approach to focusing, connecting, and developing mutual understanding.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5417-7401-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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