A psychiatrist finds an evolutionary explanation for common mental illnesses.
In this science book, Wylie (Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness, 2012) draws on Darwinian evolutionary theory to present a new framework for understanding the origins of depression, bipolar disorder, and other such conditions. In a volume that combines both the work of biological theorists and his own clinical observations, the author argues for an interpretation in which mental illnesses are caused by the inability of humans’ “new” and “old” brains—the behaviors that developed as Homo sapiens became modern, as opposed to the remnants of earlier stages of evolution—to work in concert. Wylie’s goal in developing his theory is twofold: Understanding the causes of mental illness makes it easier to treat, and this knowledge allows the general public to react with empathy instead of fear. The author’s empathy for his patients is evident throughout these pages, as he recounts cases in (anonymized) detail without delving into sensationalism or objectifying the people he has treated. Wylie’s interpretation of behavioral anomalies in the context of “a decisive shift in natural selection’s target from fitness of individuals to productivity of relationships among individuals in which the language of expressed emotions plays the central role” seems plausible, particularly as he cites evolutionary biologists, including E.O. Wilson and Richard Prum, in the development of his case. The book is well written, with frequently vibrant prose (“white-hot caldrons of emotion radiating inner fragments of the nature of our nature”), and it is fairly easy for nonscientist readers to follow. The work’s brevity is not a shortcoming, as Wylie makes a fully developed argument and presents evidence without becoming repetitive. The volume’s central thesis is outside the norms of current psychiatric teachings, but the author makes a solid case for why it is plausible and how it can change methods of treating and understanding metal illnesses, delivering a challenge to orthodoxy that is worth considering and exploring further.
A singular approach to understanding mental disorders that is thoughtfully presented and offers new possibilities.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)