FEMALE RAGE

UNLOCKING ITS SECRETS, CLAIMING ITS POWER

This concise overview and defense of women's fury and its constructive potential is a rehash of feminist writings of the past two decades. Valentis and Devane (both teach literature at SUNY Albany) begin by documenting the numerous ways female rage has historically been stigmatized (as hysteria, as erotomania, as evil) in art, literature, psychotherapy, and the media—from Ovid and Freud to Snow White's wicked stepmother and Fatal Attraction. Given these images, they say, it is not surprising that women succumb to social pressures to be attractive, pliant, and self-sacrificing or that they sometimes mask socially unsanctioned feelings of anger with smiles, depression, phobias, panic attacks, or passive-aggressive behavior. Nonetheless, female rage is real (best illustrated, the authors say, by the Lorena Bobbitt case and many women's support of her actions) and is now ``loose in the land.'' Their favorite symbol—the ``gatekeeper of the secret realm of female rage''—is Medusa, a once-beautiful maiden who was violated by Poseidon, turned into a hideous beast, and finally slain by Perseus. Recasting Medusa as a symbol of female strength and sexual power, the authors recommend that, instead of repressing or denying their anger, women get in touch with their inner Medusa, utilize their power, and find rational ways to direct their rage. Many of their examples are drawn from interviews describing various personal confrontations (such as discovering a partner's infidelity), and the question of how issues of female rage are or should be handled in professional or political contexts is largely ignored. This omission exemplifies the lightweight tone of the book. Despite some good advice to women on handling rage, this often reads like a collection of articles from glossy women's magazines (a quiz in the appendix is called ``How Enraged Are You?''). A lackluster contribution to the literature of female empowerment. (40 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 1994

ISBN: 0-517-59584-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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Hiccups aside, a mostly valuable compendium of irrational thinking, with a handful of blanket corrective maneuvers.

THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY

A waggish, cautionary compilation of pitfalls associated with systematic cognitive errors, from novelist Dobelli.

To be human is to err, routinely and with bias. We exercise deviation from logic, writes the author, as much as, and possibly more than, we display optimal reasoning. In an effort to bring awareness to this sorry state of affairs, he has gathered here—in three-page, anecdotally saturated squibs—nearly 100 examples of muddied thinking. Many will ring familiar to readers (Dobelli’s illustrations are not startlingly original, but observant)—e.g., herd instinct and groupthink, hindsight, overconfidence, the lack of an intuitive grasp of probability or statistical reality. Others, if not new, are smartly encapsulated: social loafing, the hourly rate trap, decision fatigue, carrying on with a lost cause (the sunk-cost fallacy). Most of his points stick home: the deformation of professional thinking, of which Mark Twain said, “If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems will be nails”; multitasking is the illusion of attention with potentially dire results if you are eating a sloppy sandwich while driving on a busy street. In his quest for clarity, Dobelli mostly brings shrewdness, skepticism and wariness to bear, but he can also be opaque—e.g., shaping the details of history “into a consistent story...we speak about ‘understanding,’ but these things cannot be understood in the traditional sense. We simply build the meaning into them afterward.” Well, yes. And if we are to be wary of stories, what are we to make of his many telling anecdotes when he counsels, “Anecdotes are a particularly tricky sort of cherry picking....To rebuff an anecdote is difficult because it is a mini-story, and we know how vulnerable our brains are to those”?

Hiccups aside, a mostly valuable compendium of irrational thinking, with a handful of blanket corrective maneuvers.

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-221968-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.

HALLUCINATIONS

Acclaimed British neurologist Sacks (Neurology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.; The Mind’s Eye, 2010, etc.) delves into the many different sorts of hallucinations that can be generated by the human mind.

The author assembles a wide range of case studies in hallucinations—seeing, hearing or otherwise perceiving things that aren’t there—and the varying brain quirks and disorders that cause them in patients who are otherwise mentally healthy. In each case, he presents a fascinating condition and then expounds on the neurological causes at work, drawing from his own work as a neurologist, as well as other case studies, letters from patients and even historical records and literature. For example, he tells the story of an elderly blind woman who “saw” strange people and animals in her room, caused by Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a condition in with the parts of the brain responsible for vision draw on memories instead of visual perceptions. In another chapter, Sacks recalls his own experimentation with drugs, describing his auditory hallucinations. He believed he heard his neighbors drop by for breakfast, and he cooked for them, “put their ham and eggs on a tray, walked into the living room—and found it completely empty.” He also tells of hallucinations in people who have undergone prolonged sensory deprivation and in those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, migraines, epilepsy and narcolepsy, among other conditions. Although this collection of disorders feels somewhat formulaic, it’s a formula that has served Sacks well in several previous books (especially his 1985 bestseller The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), and it’s still effective—largely because Sacks never turns exploitative, instead sketching out each illness with compassion and thoughtful prose.

A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-95724-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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