Cover image for Into the silent land : travels in neuropsychology
Into the silent land : travels in neuropsychology
Broks, Paul.
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Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
246 pages ; 22 cm
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QP360 .B756 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A neuropsychologist and a runner-up for the prestigious Wellcome Trust Science Prize, Broks writes with a doctor's precision and clarity in a series of narratives about the fascinating world of the neurologically impaired, delving not only into the inner lives of his patients but also into a deeper understanding of how they define who they are.

Author Notes

Paul Broks is senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant in neuropsychology at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth. A runner-up for the prestigious Wellcome Trust Science Prize, Broks was formerly consultant clinical neuropsychologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. He writes regularly about his work for the British magazine Prospect and has been published in Granta and the Daily Telegraph

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

English commentators liken Broks to Oliver Sacks, which is high praise but off the mark. Sacks relates whole cases, such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, laying out the brain physiology and the panoply of behavioral distortions involved in neurological abnormality. Broks, a psychologist rather than a physician like Sacks, uses cases as jumping-off points for essays in search of personality, unique consciousness, the soul. He believes there is something in the brain that neuroscience may never find or explain, and that gives each of us the sense of self. Moreover, he posits that dualism is inescapable for consciousness, which demands that each of us discriminate between physical and mental parts of the self, despite the inseparability of those parts. While he has readers chewing those insoluble nuggets, he tells his patients' and his own riveting stories, at least one of which, To be two or not to be, is science fiction of the very highest order. --Ray Olson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Consciousness has always posed a challenge to scientific inquiry and research. V.S. Ramachandran (Phantoms in the Brain) and Daniel Dennett (Brainchildren) are two recent authors who explore this issue. In this slender book, Broks, a neuropsychologist and contributor to the British journal Prospect, probes the relationship between the brain and the conscious mind in a manner that is both personal and engaging. He incorporates patient descriptions (research participants who exhibit a variety of brain dysfunction), examples of lucid dreaming (his own and that of Robert Louis Stevenson), playful dialogs with Harry (formerly a neuropathologist whose preserved brain exists among a collection of similar specimens), an imaginative science fiction tale about teleportation, and thoughts on his wife's life-threatening illness to illustrate the predicament that science faces in trying to define "self." Broks asks numerous questions that highlight the murky territory where biology meets philosophy. While he offers no answers, he does suggest ways that the ego might arise. General readers will find this a thoughtful, absorbing, and, at times, humorous book. For most science collections and where Oliver Sacks is popular.-Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 Swallowing the Dark
Different Livesp. 3
The Space behind the Facep. 17
The Seahorse and the Almondp. 22
The Sword of the Sunp. 39
Soul in a Bucketp. 42
In the Theatrep. 57
A-Zp. 65
The Mirrorp. 67
The Visible Manp. 71
2 The Spark in the Stone
I Think Therefore I Am Deadp. 89
Vodka and Salivap. 105
Body Artp. 114
The Story of Einstein's Brainp. 117
Articles of Faithp. 123
Right This Way, Smiles a Mermaidp. 132
3 No Water, No Moon
The Ghost Tree (1)p. 147
The Ghost Tree (2)p. 158
The Dreams of Robert Louis Stevensonp. 171
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)p. 181
Mr Barrington's Quandaryp. 196
Out of Darkness Cometh Lightp. 200
To Be Two or Not to Bep. 204
Gullsp. 226
Further Readingp. 237
Acknowledgmentsp. 246