Monday, September 7, 2015

The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self by Anil Ananthaswamy

This isn't a catholic book and some might argue not even a religious book at all, but it has meant alot to me spiritually. It is all about our sense of self and I have found this not only to be about neurobiology and psychology but our intangible spirit. Our perceptions and thoughts that make up our sentient being and our body together make up who we are. This book has been a big piece of my recent spiritual journey. In a more conventional sense, we all know someone who has Alzheimer's, Autism, or schizophrenia, and this book helps to understand their unique perspective of themselves and the world.
I have a medical background so I am fascinated with the anatomy and physiology of our brain. I was surprised at how much we really know about the brain in the diseases mentioned above. The descriptions are easy to understand and if I am a loved one of someone with these conditions this book would definitely help me. My favorite part is the delving into our sense of self, our sense of self as subject or our "I" narrative, also our sense of self as object or "this is my body". Understanding ourselves is important before we can pursue a relationship with God or with our fellow neighbors we seek to help.
Most interesting is the descriptions of ecstatic seizures that are described as like mystical experiences of God and out of body experiences or OBEs being explained away. I don't think these physical descriptions point to atheism but that the hand of God works through our physical world. If you love science, psychology, medicine and spirituality, then this book has it all. Each condition has a detailed case study that makes the point more directly with an entertaining slant.
I would recommend this book to you but it is a bit technical in its language so be warned. It may not be for everybody. The science is sometimes hard to follow but the personal stories make up for it. I heard an interview of the author on NPR radio and was immediately intrigued. I'm glad I got to read this book for review and you definitely will not be sorry for your time spent checking out this book

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