Cover image for The man who wasn't there : investigations into the strange new science of the self
The man who wasn't there : investigations into the strange new science of the self
Ananthaswamy, Anil, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Dutton, [2015]

Physical Description:
viii, 305 pages ; 24 cm
"In the tradition of Oliver Sacks, a tour of the latest neuroscience of schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer's disease, ecstatic epilepsy, Cotard's syndrome, out-of-body experiences, and other disorders--revealing the awesome power of the human sense of self from a master of science journalism Anil Ananthaswamy's extensive in-depth interviews venture into the lives of individuals who offer perspectives that will change how you think about who you are. These individuals all lost some part of what we think of as our self, but they then offer remarkable, sometimes heart-wrenching insights into what remains. One man cut off his own leg. Another became one with the universe. We are learning about the self at a level of detail that Descartes ("I think therefore I am") could never have imagined. Recent research into Alzheimer's illuminates how memory creates your narrative self by using the same part of your brain for your past as for your future. But wait, those afflicted with Cotard's syndrome think they are already dead; in a way, they believe that "I think therefore I am not." Who--or what--can say that? Neuroscience has identified specific regions of the brain that, when they misfire, can cause the self to move back and forth between the body and a doppelganger, or to leave the body entirely. So where in the brain, or mind, or body, is the self actually located? As Ananthaswamy elegantly reports, neuroscientists themselves now see that the elusive sense of self is both everywhere and nowhere in the human brain"--
The living dead. Who is the one who says, "I don't exist"? -- The unmaking of your story. Memories, a person, a narrative-- and it's unraveling -- The man who didn't want his leg. Is the feeling that you own your body and its various parts based on reality? -- Tell me I'm here. When your actions don't feel like your own and what it does to the self -- I am as if a dream. The role of emotions in the making of the self -- The self's baby steps. What autism tells us about the developing self -- When you are beside yourself. Out-of-body experiences, doppelgängers, and the minimal self -- Being no one, here and now. Ecstatic epilepsy and the unbounded self -- Epilogue.
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