INNER NATURES: Brain, Self, and Personality by Laurence Miller

INNER NATURES: Brain, Self, and Personality

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lively but academic study of the self as viewed by neuropsychology. Miller, a psychologist, developed much of this book through articles written for Psychology Today, a basis that gives him a clear style for reaching the everyday reader. Even so, despite clearmindedness and surprising wit, the varied definitions brought to bear on such subjects as ""self,"" ""ego,"" and ""personality,"" among others, do not make these subjects memorably distinct to the reader. Miller passes from Freudian ideas of the self through those of the ego-psychologist researchers and personality theorists and on to the neuropsychological ideas now current. He shows that ""identity and personality are complex emergent processes of the brain; no one nucleus or pathway, lobe or hemisphere, is the 'site' of any complex personality function such as impulsivity, obsessiveness, or hysterical regression."" No two brains are alike; each is as different as a fingerprint. Miller traces, as examples, the neurological origins in the brain where thought, feeling, and action combine to make up four human types: the obsessive-compulsive, the paranoid, the hysterical, and the impulsive. ""A damaged brain just doesn't sit there with a psychic hole in it: it tries its damnedest to make sense of the world any way it can."" The obsessive-compulsive has a ""left-hemispheric overparticularization of reality,"" which in the paranoid is ""abetted by an even greater abnormal release of frontal search mechanisms."" Hysterical cognition ""is global, relatively diffuse and lacking in sharp focus of attention and detail--[or] highly impressionistic."" Cognition in alcoholics and addicts resembles that ""when actual structural left-hemisphere-frontal brain damage occurs""--for which damages Miller offers a shopping list of symptoms. Lastly, he discusses the creative mind, geniuses, our ""better selves,"" and capacity to change. No help as self-help, but useful for professional psychologists and of interest to serious students of the field.

Pub Date: June 22nd, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's