Cover image for Strangers to ourselves : discovering the adaptive unconscious
Strangers to ourselves : discovering the adaptive unconscious
Wilson, Timothy D.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
viii, 262 pages ; 22 cm
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BF697.5.S43 W55 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Know thyself, a precept as old as Socrates, is still good advice. But is introspection the best path to self-knowledge? What are we trying to discover, anyway? In an eye-opening tour of the unconscious, as contemporary psychological science has redefined it, Timothy D. Wilson introduces us to a hidden mental world of judgements, feelings and motives that introspection may never show us.

Author Notes

Timothy D. Wilson is Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Freud introduced the West to the unconscious, but the last half-century of psychology has reinvented it, argues University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy D. Wilson. In Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious, Wilson attempts to explain why there' s so much about ourselves that we fail to understand, which can lead to misdirected anger. He points to a revised, post-Freudian understanding of how the mind works: the reason that their own judgments, feelings, [and] motives remain mysterious to people is not repression, as Freud argued, but efficiency so that the mind can process and analyze multiple things at once. Wilson looks at ways that readers can probe their unconscious, suggesting that soliciting the opinions of others is actually more valuable than introspection. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

How well do we really know ourselves? How well can we know ourselves? Wilson (psychology, Univ. of Virginia) convincingly argues that our conscious minds are but the tip of the iceberg in deciding how we behave, what is important to us, and how we feel. Surveying a variety of contemporary psychological research, this book describes an unconscious that is capable of a much higher degree of "thinking" than previously supposed by adherents of either Freudian or Behaviorist branches of psychology. Capable of everything from problem solving and narrative construction to emotional reaction and prediction, the adaptive unconscious is a powerful and pervasive element of our whole personalities. Indeed, it may be the primary element of our personalities, controlling our real motivations, judgments, and actions. Wilson examines the evolution of the idea of the unconscious, the various ways in which it operates within us, and how we can look at our actions-rather than our thoughts-to truly know ourselves. A fascinating read; for large public libraries.-David Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This book offers an intricate combination of page-turning reading, cutting-edge research, and philosophical debate. At some level, Wilson (Univ. of Virginia) points out, individuals know that processing and decision-making go on below the threshold of awareness; if every decision had to reach consciousness before action could be initiated, people would not be able to respond as promptly as some situations dictate. How does this processing occur? What standards are employed in reaching "less than" conscious decisions? Wilson explores these questions with penetrating clarity, impressively integrating literature from a variety of professions and disciplines including psychology and business. Particularly useful and interesting are chapters on "knowing" (who we are, why/how we feel, how we will feel). Wilson does an excellent job of covering research that addresses factors (internal and external) influencing decision-making processes that may appear to be unconscious. Use of the term "adaptive unconscious" clearly separates this concept from the term "unconscious," which is still steeped in Freudian tradition. Highly recommended to those interested in the study of consciousness; upper-division undergraduates and above. R. E. Osborne Southwest Texas State University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1 Freud's Genius, Freud's Myopiap. 1
2 The Adaptive Unconsciousp. 17
3 Who's in Charge?p. 43
4 Knowing Who We Arep. 67
5 Knowing Whyp. 93
6 Knowing How We Feelp. 117
7 Knowing How We Will Feelp. 137
8 Introspection and Self-Narrativesp. 159
9 Looking Outward to Know Ourselvesp. 183
10 Observing and Changing Our Behaviorp. 203
Notesp. 223
Bibliographyp. 237
Indexp. 257