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Why do we think, feel, and act in ways we wished we did not? For decades, New York Times bestselling author Dr. David A Kessler has studied this question with regard to tobacco, food, and drugs. Over the course of these investigations, he identified one underlying mechanism common to a broad range of human suffering. This phenomenon—capture—is the process by which our atte Why do we think, feel, and act in ways we wished we did not? For decades, New York Times bestselling author Dr. David A Kessler has studied this question with regard to tobacco, food, and drugs. Over the course of these investigations, he identified one underlying mechanism common to a broad range of human suffering. This phenomenon—capture—is the process by which our attention is hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control. In Capture, Dr. Kessler considers some of the most profound questions we face as human beings: What are the origins of mental afflictions, from everyday unhappiness to addiction and depression—and how are they connected? Where does healing and transcendence fit into this realm of emotional experience? Analyzing an array of insights from psychology, medicine, neuroscience, literature, philosophy, and theology, Dr. Kessler deconstructs centuries of thinking, examining the central role of capture in mental illness and questioning traditional labels that have obscured our understanding of it. With a new basis for understanding the phenomenon of capture, he explores the concept through the emotionally resonant stories of both well-known and un-known people caught in its throes. The closer we can come to fully comprehending the nature of capture, Dr. Kessler argues, the better the chance to alleviate its deleterious effects and successfully change our thoughts and behavior Ultimately, Capture offers insight into how we form thoughts and emotions, manage trauma, and heal. For the first time, we can begin to understand the underpinnings of not only mental illness, but also our everyday worries and anxieties. Capture is an intimate and critical exploration of the most enduring human mystery of all: the mind.


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Why do we think, feel, and act in ways we wished we did not? For decades, New York Times bestselling author Dr. David A Kessler has studied this question with regard to tobacco, food, and drugs. Over the course of these investigations, he identified one underlying mechanism common to a broad range of human suffering. This phenomenon—capture—is the process by which our atte Why do we think, feel, and act in ways we wished we did not? For decades, New York Times bestselling author Dr. David A Kessler has studied this question with regard to tobacco, food, and drugs. Over the course of these investigations, he identified one underlying mechanism common to a broad range of human suffering. This phenomenon—capture—is the process by which our attention is hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control. In Capture, Dr. Kessler considers some of the most profound questions we face as human beings: What are the origins of mental afflictions, from everyday unhappiness to addiction and depression—and how are they connected? Where does healing and transcendence fit into this realm of emotional experience? Analyzing an array of insights from psychology, medicine, neuroscience, literature, philosophy, and theology, Dr. Kessler deconstructs centuries of thinking, examining the central role of capture in mental illness and questioning traditional labels that have obscured our understanding of it. With a new basis for understanding the phenomenon of capture, he explores the concept through the emotionally resonant stories of both well-known and un-known people caught in its throes. The closer we can come to fully comprehending the nature of capture, Dr. Kessler argues, the better the chance to alleviate its deleterious effects and successfully change our thoughts and behavior Ultimately, Capture offers insight into how we form thoughts and emotions, manage trauma, and heal. For the first time, we can begin to understand the underpinnings of not only mental illness, but also our everyday worries and anxieties. Capture is an intimate and critical exploration of the most enduring human mystery of all: the mind.

30 review for Capture: A Theory of the Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Debra Komar

    I am genuinely struggling to figure out what the point of this book is. It begins with great promise: an introduction on David Foster Wallace and what drove him to suicide. Interesting stuff. Then there are two chapters of scattered thoughts on the history of psychology. Then a series of chapters in which Kessler uses other people's books to make a point (doing some world-class cherry-picking along the way). As best as I can tell, this entire book was written to try and get Kessler's notion of " I am genuinely struggling to figure out what the point of this book is. It begins with great promise: an introduction on David Foster Wallace and what drove him to suicide. Interesting stuff. Then there are two chapters of scattered thoughts on the history of psychology. Then a series of chapters in which Kessler uses other people's books to make a point (doing some world-class cherry-picking along the way). As best as I can tell, this entire book was written to try and get Kessler's notion of "capture" into the public consciousness, and the word into common usage. There is little point. The notion that we fixate on things, and that such fixations can become obsessive and debilitating, is not new. That Kessler gave it a pop-psych name is the only new piece of this puzzle. Kessler writes well and makes simple scientific concepts accessible, but there isn't any meat here. This seems like little more than a medical version of what Malcom Gladwell does with stats and random topics. I didn't put the book down understanding anything - myself, my own obsessions, other people - any better. Dear Dr. Kessler - exactly what were you trying to accomplish?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This book was a waste of time. The idea that attention and salience work together to narrow our focus before we're aware of what's going on could have been interesting, and I thought it was going to be a new angle from which to look at things like depression and anxiety. As presented, however, the concept seems weak, poorly supported, and, most importantly, not helpful. Most of the book consists of vignettes, many from the lives of the deeply troubled. The problem, which I realized too late, is This book was a waste of time. The idea that attention and salience work together to narrow our focus before we're aware of what's going on could have been interesting, and I thought it was going to be a new angle from which to look at things like depression and anxiety. As presented, however, the concept seems weak, poorly supported, and, most importantly, not helpful. Most of the book consists of vignettes, many from the lives of the deeply troubled. The problem, which I realized too late, is that none of these stories are tied in any convincing way to the concept of capture, and they don't illuminate the concept in any helpful way, like showing how people come to be more aware of when they're becoming focused on a negative worldview, or what people have successfully done about it, or why one person goes off the deep end when others in similar circumstances don't. The best thing you can say about the stories is that some of them give you a pretty good view of a certain type of horrible stuckness from the inside (especially the stories about writers, who often write descriptions of their internal hell). In the right frame of mind, some of these stories may make you feel less alone, although the dire fate of so many of the people in them makes it more likely that they'll be terrifying if you identify with them to any degree. Many of the vignettes, however, are simply a third party reporting what someone did or said. I could get that elsewhere, if I were interested. There are nearly twice as many negative stories as (sorta) positive ones, and most of the negative ones were at least somewhat uncomfortable to read. I hoped that the last two chapters might drop the stories and return to something more explanatory, more like the introductory chapters. I hoped for maybe some suggestions about how to break free of negative ideation, something to offset the discomfort of slogging through all that mental hell, but no. It was just more stories, only these were generally about people becoming obsessed with something that didn't hurt them as badly as whatever had originally obsessed them or threatened to obsess them. (Far too many of this last bunch of stories were about people finding god, although one person did find running instead.) The story about Martin Luther actually showed someone trying to help a stuck person become unstuck, by showing new ways to approach a problem, but the problem was theological, so there was nothing there that I could try applying to my own life. I didn't actually finish the book, but I got within about 25 pages of the end of the regular text, and I suffered enough that I'm counting it as finished. There are tons of footnotes, which I am ignoring. I'm really kind of angry at this author, and at myself for not recognizing that I'd waded into a pile of crap and that it's crap all the way down. Short take: "The brain brains. Some people have brains that don't brain very well. Sucks to be them! But hey, some of them try god (or running, or going to a lot of Phish concerts), and their brains then brain better. The end."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aussiescribbler Aussiescribbler

    It means a lot for one’s life experience to be understood - to be able to read a book like this one and say, “Yes, that is what happened to me.” I’ve written about the way we can get caught up in cognitive negative feedback loops, for instance if we feel guilty about being selfish then the suffering brought on by the guilt causes an increase in our focus on our own situation and thus we become more selfish which leads to more guilt… And we can become fixated on those aspects of our own psyche whi It means a lot for one’s life experience to be understood - to be able to read a book like this one and say, “Yes, that is what happened to me.” I’ve written about the way we can get caught up in cognitive negative feedback loops, for instance if we feel guilty about being selfish then the suffering brought on by the guilt causes an increase in our focus on our own situation and thus we become more selfish which leads to more guilt… And we can become fixated on those aspects of our own psyche which we find impossible to accept in the same way that our tongue keeps finding its way back to that sore tooth. I’ve written about these things base on my own experience, but this book puts this kind of phenomenon - that of being captured by something which won’t let go of us because we can’t let go of it - into a broader and deeper framework of understanding. David A. Kessler, M.D. worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in which capacity he studied the problem of cigarette addiction. Later he made a similar study of over-eating. Gradually he realised that there is a mechanism which underlies these forms of addiction which is also present in depression, mania, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and the kind of obsession which can lead to horrific acts of violence. He calls this mechanism “capture.” When it comes to the subject of mental illness there is often controversy as to whether a condition is the result of an imbalance in brain chemistry, unhelpful patterns of cognition or an oppressive social environment. What Kessler has done is to bring all of these factors together into a coherent holistic framework. The neurons in our brain respond to stimuli in our environment on the basis of the emotional charge which those stimuli carry for us. A single spot of colour in a grey landscape will attract our attention by its novelty. Our attention will be drawn quickly to a snake because we feel it may pose us a danger. A hungry person’s attention will be drawn to a chocolate bar more strongly than will be the case for someone who is satiated. And our neural pathways record the connections between experiences and the more often we revisit them the more they are reinforced. So if a particular song was playing the first time we set eyes on someone with whom we fell in love, it is likely that we will think of them every time we hear it. These natural and helpful processes can turn against us in an insidious way. If a particular kind of thinking has a powerful emotional charge because it makes us feel very bad we may find it hard to turn our attention to anything else when some aspect of our experience brings it back to mind. When we talk about triggering, this is what we mean - our brain makes an association between something in our environment and the memory of an experience which was traumatic to us. Because the memory is more emotionally powerful than the other things which could be the focus of our attention, we travel back down that well-worn groove. The same kind of thing can happen with self-condemning thoughts or thoughts of committing acts of violence. The emotional charge captures our attention and the more our thoughts go back down that path the more the habit is reinforced. Or it could be something we powerfully associate with relief from suffering, such as alcohol or food, which captures us in a self-defeating way. So we can see that the chemical processes of the brain, unhelpful patterns of cognition and responses to environmental stresses are all involved, often feeding back upon each other. According to Kessler, studies show that antidepressants work by inhibiting emotional reactivity to the cues which bring a depressive reaction. In other words, when we are depressed we hang onto negative thoughts because they hurt so much we can’t tear our attention away from them. An explanation of what capture is and how it works takes up only a small part of the book. The rest consists of case studies of people - famous or anonymous - who have been in the grip of some form of capture. The key example is the novelist David Foster Wallace, who was tortured by self-criticism to the extent that he was driven to take his own life. He is not alone. The lives and obsessions of other writers who went the same way - Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway - are also examined. There are tales of those captured by alcoholism, self-harm, gambling, making obscene phone calls, delusions of grandeur, etc. And then there are those whose capture led to violence, including the murders of John Lennon and Robert Kennedy and the mass killings at Columbine and Sandy Hook, amongst others. A section is also devoted to those captured by Islamic extremist ideology. Capture needn’t always be a negative though. Kessler profiles some individuals who have been inspired by a spiritual form of capture - Simone Weill, Howard Thurman, William Wordsworth and Martin Luther, etc. This eloquent and compassionate journey through the inner battles of all these individuals gives the science of capture, drawn from masses of scientific papers cited in the notes, a human face to which we can all relate. There is some discussion at the end of the book on how we might be able to loosen the bonds of capture, taking some inspiration from Buddhism’s techniques of mindfulness and Alcoholics Anonymous’s philosophy of fostering a sense of unity with others, but perhaps the most powerful tool is knowledge itself. If we know what is happening and why it is happening and we can put a name to it, the power dynamic between us and it has shifted.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The theory of this book is one I've held for since reading Hesse's Siddhartha in high school: the only "escape" from the wheel of any particular obsession is a kind flavor of mindfulness. It is the idea that all idols beget more of the same even if one face (being obsessed with running, God, art) is more pleasing than another (violence against others, the self). It's the natural progression from a child blocking a painful world and focusing on a fantasy to a young adult who can no longer believe The theory of this book is one I've held for since reading Hesse's Siddhartha in high school: the only "escape" from the wheel of any particular obsession is a kind flavor of mindfulness. It is the idea that all idols beget more of the same even if one face (being obsessed with running, God, art) is more pleasing than another (violence against others, the self). It's the natural progression from a child blocking a painful world and focusing on a fantasy to a young adult who can no longer believe such fantasies and thus turns to substances (many of which won't immediately ruin a young body) to someone who then is burdened with looking at the world without chemical crutches to someone who learns to replace existential pain with reliance on a societally positive idol. Kessler describes many anecdotes of detours and the various orders of idol-switching in order to prove this argument: the universality of capture/obsession across many seemingly different behaviors. This is a book about a theory of the mind, as the jacket claims. I see some complaints about the lack of your typical controlled study as evidence. True, this is a primarily qualitative book that discusses case studies occurring in the public eye. It is nonfiction, but there is definitely some indirect style in that the chapter on David Foster Wallace was definitely the most "literary" in composition and point. The chapter on the obsessions of criminals was very "true crime", and the whole form of the book—delving into very fascinating stories of others' idols followed by an abrupt end once the concept of mindfulness is introduced—is the actualized thesis. Also, the point of talking about Martin Luther trying to accept Eckhart's idea of great spiritual darkness before the dawn was nicely placed in the penultimate section. All the way down, the book pleasantly proves itself as self-aware. What did I want more from this book? The most salient points concerned people's reaction as rational response, but didn't throughly explore why one person might be captured and another not. That can come off as ignoring the immutable things of genetics, childhood, etc. Or why these systems evolved or why they are encouraged. Another book for another time, I suppose. But considered wholly, this book stands well enough in its scope.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea McDowell

    What a tedious book. A lengthy chapter describing basic brain function is followed by anecdote after anecdote describing what the author calls "capture." then the book ends. According to Kessler, "capture" is what happens when the attention system of the brain is overwhelmed by some stimulus and the brain (and the person attached to it) is unable to break free, with mostly deleterious consequences. Anxiety, depression, psychosis, violence, addiction, ideology--all are, in his view, examples of a What a tedious book. A lengthy chapter describing basic brain function is followed by anecdote after anecdote describing what the author calls "capture." then the book ends. According to Kessler, "capture" is what happens when the attention system of the brain is overwhelmed by some stimulus and the brain (and the person attached to it) is unable to break free, with mostly deleterious consequences. Anxiety, depression, psychosis, violence, addiction, ideology--all are, in his view, examples of a larger system failure he calls "capture." Interesting theory, but he provides absolutely nothing to support it. First he describes the attention system, then he gives hundreds of pages of separate and unconnected anecdotes about people who suffered from one of the above afflictions, claiming that they show "capture" in action, and then the book ends with the vague idea that one negative capture might be replaced by another, stronger, positive one (religion--ugh--or maybe nature or something). This is, he says, a matter of choice, which is not the same as willpower, though his description of what makes one different from the other is ... well, nonexistent. Maybe at some point someone with actual credentials in the fields of psychology or neuroscience will come up with a testable hypothesis on this idea and conduct some science to support or discredit it. This book comes nowhere close to doing that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    We our captured by the recursive narrative we use to view the world. Mindfulness allows us to become aware of our own awareness and permits us to step out of the trap we often create for ourselves. Some people fall into a self reinforcing iterative loop and that leads to one of four categorical problems described with in this book: 1) damage to oneself 2) damage towards others 3) excessive religious delusion, or 4) political chaos. Each of the categories had multiple people discussed separately We our captured by the recursive narrative we use to view the world. Mindfulness allows us to become aware of our own awareness and permits us to step out of the trap we often create for ourselves. Some people fall into a self reinforcing iterative loop and that leads to one of four categorical problems described with in this book: 1) damage to oneself 2) damage towards others 3) excessive religious delusion, or 4) political chaos. Each of the categories had multiple people discussed separately and the author often would have interviewed family members first hand while he tells their story. The first category fell under the rubric of David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest' and Wallace got his own chapter in this book and he and his book were recurring characters in much of this book. 'Infinite Jest' is my second all time favorite work of fiction and this author understands why the book is so important. Irony is jealous of authenticity and our paradoxes we create because of the meaning of our meaning of life are almost impossible to reconcile with our being. I enjoyed finding out more about David Wallace and this book filled in a lot of blanks I had about the author. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) gets described in the excessive religious delusion categorical part of the book and its co-creator, Bill W., had a hard time reconciling the Oxford program when it came to submitting to a higher power because he tended not to believe in a God as such until he was in the hospital under medical care and heavily sedated and got a visitation of sorts (this is all in this book). Wallace, too, believed in submitting to a higher authority and had a belief of the divine. There's a line from 'Infinite Jest' not quoted in this book, but relevant 'sometimes one must get on their knees by their bed and pretend to look for their lost shoes in order to discover God (i.e., the divine)'. The second category fell under the rubric of J. D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye". The alienation of the individual against the phoniness they see around them and the lashing out at society or individuals to make up for an injustice they believe has been committed against them or around them. Chapman (the guy who murdered John Lennon) carried "Catcher in the Rye" with him. He knew within his twisted mind that the world was phony and just had to lash out. Other despicable acts created by twisted minds due to their own 'capturing' of thoughts such that they weren't allowing themselves to get out of their own self induced re-enforcing loop of madness were discussed in this section of the book. I just recently read the Unabomber's manifesto and Ted Kaczynski's story was told in this book. He definitely fell under the "Catcher in the Rye" rubric even though I don't think the author mentioned that book in that chapter but does prominently with in the section. All one has to do is read the manifesto in order to feel the incoherence within the manifesto (and the captured mind of Kaczynski) and have it jump out at you. One can only create such a paradoxical (and paranoid) work if one is captured by ones own self re-enforcing false paradigm similar to how Holden Caulfield sees the world in 'Catcher in the Rye'. (BTW, it was cleared from the manifesto that Kaczynski had a complex relationship about sexual identity and this book, 'Capture' mentioned that Kaczynski at one time for over a year thought he was assigned the wrong gender for his body and wanted to be reassigned). To an insane person every thing in their world always makes sense. There's no data that can be provided to persuade them from their world view. All empirical information about the world gets filtered through their captured mind and ends up re-enforcing their pathological beliefs. Their beliefs about the world are non-falsifiable, the definition of a pseudo-scientific hypothesis. The fake news that we have re-enforcing their delusions (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Brietbart, Donald "Climate Change is a Chinese Hoax" Trump, et al.) are perpetuating a mythos that enables the capturing of intolerance. "Scientific American" is not fake news, believers in alternative facts, please read "Scientific American" and get out of your self re-enforcing recursive loop and stop justifying your hate (climate change is real, grabbing women inappropriately is wrong, brown people can act as fair judges, North Koreans are human beings and deserve to live, and so on). Kaczynski's mad ravings read exactly as if some one would have cribbed from those fake news sources of today (except for his back to nature pleading). There's a book I really enjoyed, "Sapiens". A big theme within that book is how logos is created by our mythos. Or in other words, our worldview is created by the fictions we have about the world. 'Capture' shows what happens when a person's reason is no longer tinged with doubt, but is infused with certainty and they enter into a self re-enforcing recursive loop that rewards their false world view independent of reality. Or in other words, the reverse of the way it should be: their logos creates their mythos thus leading to certainty from their reason. Humans are the only creatures whose reason is uncertain. For the captured mind reason becomes certain and a person who knows with certainty has no room for learning or tolerance or empathy. This book is not perfect. There is an overriding narrative tying the many mini-stories together. The author didn't need to have so many examples while telling his stories. Before I had read this book, I was interested in knowing more about Wallace, Kaczynski, and I had just finished 'Catcher and the Rye'. This book gave insights into all three but at times I felt there were too many individual stories he was telling and that took away from the real narrative he was trying to create. The author makes William James his paradigmatic focal point within his narrative, and makes him a recurring character through out his story telling. William James is not a bad place to land on, but I think the author should have gone past him at times. (This is really a 3 1/2 star book).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    I wasn't sure whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. Kessler never really gave a definitive answer on why some people are "captured" more than others. However, I really enjoyed his approach to the question. Using the stories of people like Infinite Jest Author David Foster Wallace who committed suicide, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and others, Kessler attempted to understand if what makes someone kill themselves is similar to what makes someone kill others. In all the cas I wasn't sure whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. Kessler never really gave a definitive answer on why some people are "captured" more than others. However, I really enjoyed his approach to the question. Using the stories of people like Infinite Jest Author David Foster Wallace who committed suicide, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and others, Kessler attempted to understand if what makes someone kill themselves is similar to what makes someone kill others. In all the cases he examined, the minds of the killers (whether their target was themselves or others) could not stop being captured by obsessive thoughts. It made for a quick and interesting read, even if it was left wanting in regard to a full explanation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Buckley

    Some really interesting stories, but overall the book lacked a central narrative to bind those stories together. Indeed, the theory of capture is only briefly explained and there is little sophistication to what is said.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chance Lee

    Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering is a non-fiction book that does exactly what the cover says it will. Researching depression, Kessler say many similarities between it and a variety of other things, like addiction, anxiety, obsession, mania, etc. "The medical model has long been that depression is the manifestation of a 'broken' mind--a biological error--that causes people to experience what feels like unbearable pain. This oversimplification does nothing to help us understand Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering is a non-fiction book that does exactly what the cover says it will. Researching depression, Kessler say many similarities between it and a variety of other things, like addiction, anxiety, obsession, mania, etc. "The medical model has long been that depression is the manifestation of a 'broken' mind--a biological error--that causes people to experience what feels like unbearable pain. This oversimplification does nothing to help us understand the debilitating force of what we have come to call depression." Ironically, Kessler attempts to unravel the complexities of mental illness by simplifying it to a single term: Capture. Capture is basically a fixation, often unconscious, on one stimulus that changes a person's entire behavior. It manifests itself as an ideology, an obsession, something s/he just can't get over. Much of Kessler's theory is based on the work of 19th century philosopher/psychologist William James. James's work revolved around figuring out how people lose control of their minds. To simplify it, he believed that depression -- and other mental illness -- takes hold when the mind takes control of the person, not the other way around. Most of this book I skipped. The beginning provides Kessler's hypothesis, which I had already seen/read on The Atlantic here: http://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016... About 200 pages are made up of case studies as Kessler puts forth evidence to convince his audience. I've long believed that many mental "illnesses" are the result of mental weakness, to put a blunt term on it. The brain is an organ, like your stomach, your skin, or your muscles. Use it or lose it. Certain mental illness are more like Type 2 Diabetes. It is brought on by neglect. That's my personal belief, so much of Capture was what I already felt I "knew." I skimmed over Kessler's many case studies because I didn't need convincing. However, I did appreciate the wide variety of subjects he looked at. Regular people. Celebrities. Artists. Terrorists. Kessler often describes capture as obsession; the recognition of it as divine intervention; escaping from it, as almost approaching nirvana. Exploring oneself, and one's mind, can be a spiritual experience, and Kessler, while remaining secular, doesn't try to deny it. He's a scientist, yes, but he's a scientist second. A human first. While talking about escaping the grip of capture, Kessler grapples with a difficult question: "Still, I have struggled with a basic question," he writes. "Is the only way out of an unhealthy form of capture another, more positive form of capture?" That's when he looks at spiritual awakenings, at religious experiences, at AA. The answer to his question might be "yes." He doesn't say yes definitively, but he does say this: "Depression is an exercise in torment that is entirely focused on the self. Any lasting solution requires a redirection of attention elsewhere." That reminded me of how I got over my fear of flying. Sometimes I would work myself into a lather, thinking this was it. The plane will go down for X reason. Then I realized -- how self-centered am I? That a greater power, should it exist, would kill hundreds of people just to get to me. It was ridiculous. I started thinking of other people, how we're all on the plane together, and the fear dissipated, almost instantly. Anyone looking for a solution to escaping capture won't find a step-by-step guide here. As I said, the book does what the title and subtitle promise. But Kessler does posit this. "Therin lies the challenge: though capture permits us to make sense of the world, it does so largely outside rational thought. These stories, then -- the stories of our lives -- do not always feel like the ones we intended to tell." In other words, stories are important. How we tell them, and what we tell. "As we will see, art is often born of capture," Kessler writes. "At the same time, it might be said that art is a productive expression of the attempt to release us from capture's grip." This book, while not art, is Kessler's attempt to loosen the grip. The rest is up to each individual.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I was really interested in the description of this book – Why do we think, feel and act in the ways we wished we did not. It focuses on the idea of capture which is “a process by which our attention gets hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control.” There are definitely interesting things explored in this book around the whys of mental illness, addiction, unhappiness, etc. I think my favorite part of the book was the exploration of each topic through the story of a person, I was really interested in the description of this book – Why do we think, feel and act in the ways we wished we did not. It focuses on the idea of capture which is “a process by which our attention gets hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control.” There are definitely interesting things explored in this book around the whys of mental illness, addiction, unhappiness, etc. I think my favorite part of the book was the exploration of each topic through the story of a person, many of whom are famous/well known. There was a great deal of information here about David Foster Wallace, for example. Given my curiosity about his life and his work, I found those sections to be very interesting. I think that the author does a good job writing about the scientific concepts in a way that anyone can understand them. Yet, I was hoping for more than just a description of how we focus on things and how that focus can be obsessive and hurt us. It was case study after case study about how this happens. The concept of capture isn’t something I was unaware of … I was hoping this book would take the idea to the next level. And I feel like it never made it over the ‘here it is hump’. There is a great deal of theory here but it never goes beyond what I see as the obvious. All in all, I enjoyed this book for what it was but I was hoping it would be of greater scope than it was in reality. Perhaps that’s just a matter of it not meeting my personal expectations but I really think it fell short of what it could have been. I wish there had been more than an introduction of the concept and a series of case studies. I wish there was more in terms of how to break free from capture, techniques or strategies to help, etc. The pacing felt a bit sluggish at times but the case studies is where this book excelled for me. They were so readable and interesting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Once you begin to read this book be prepared for your mind to rev up and go in unexpected directions. It is amazing how much can be researched and written about what could initially look like a narrow topic. Capture refers to a brain process, a stimulus response. Yet there are innunerable related responses that affect other brain processes. A capture can even trigger additional captures. Told by examining collected narratives of fact, fact based fiction and fiction regarding mental disease and th Once you begin to read this book be prepared for your mind to rev up and go in unexpected directions. It is amazing how much can be researched and written about what could initially look like a narrow topic. Capture refers to a brain process, a stimulus response. Yet there are innunerable related responses that affect other brain processes. A capture can even trigger additional captures. Told by examining collected narratives of fact, fact based fiction and fiction regarding mental disease and theories of how and why humans think feel and behave, Capture explains how mental illness falls along a spectrum and disorders are not fully individual. Throughout history, causes of mental illness have been blamed on everuthing from external sources to chemical imbalances to physiological imbalances and diagnoses. Likewise, "cures" or treatments have ranged from bleeding to shock to drugs to tapping, EMDR, meditation, sound healing and more. When the brain malfunctions it switches from planned, goal oriented thought to impulsive, them compulsive thoughts and how the process begins is with capture. Writer David Wallace is used as an example repeatedly throughout the book due to a lifetime of menal struggles culminating in suicide. Ernest Hemingway is similarly highlighted. Dr. Ralph Hoffman of Yale University identifies "capture" as an autocatalytic process which primes attention to hypervigilance. Narrowing ones focus forces the mind to seek out the familiar, more of what it has previously experienced. People develop rituals to build a perceived sense of comtrol. It all begins with capture. Author David A Kessler, M.D. does a very thorough job of describing how capture works.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Beginning with the question: “What happens when our minds feel as though they’ve been hijacked by something we cannot control?” p6, this book presents a mechanism to understand emotional and mental illness ranging from anxiety and depression to addiction and schizophrenia. Underlying is the idea that all of these experiences have a common underpinning. The DSM provides labels to symptoms, but does not suggest any underlying explanation, though psychiatry is currently itself captured by the notio Beginning with the question: “What happens when our minds feel as though they’ve been hijacked by something we cannot control?” p6, this book presents a mechanism to understand emotional and mental illness ranging from anxiety and depression to addiction and schizophrenia. Underlying is the idea that all of these experiences have a common underpinning. The DSM provides labels to symptoms, but does not suggest any underlying explanation, though psychiatry is currently itself captured by the notion that mental illness is due to imbalances in neurochemistry (see for example, Shrinks: the untold story of psychiatry by Lieberman). “We have the DSM-V, which we use to diagnose and classify hundreds of mental disorders. And yet the biology is suggesting that these disorders are related. It’s no longer that schizophrenia is completely different from depression-it looks very much as if there’s this spectrum that’s interrelated rather than separate neurotransmitter system diseases. And the drugs, wonderful as they may be, are not so precisely targeted as is often claimed. We see one drug working for a variety of problems-or not working. It seems to be often largely a matter of individual response. There is also the growing evidence of the huge placebo effect in psychoactive drugs, which is , or ought to be, humbling.” (quoting Bunney, p16). Later Kessler warns: “For the past thirty-five years, psychiatry has based its diagnostic categories on patients’ symptoms. Over time, the name attached to a given cluster of symptoms has become accepted as explanations as the cause of the patient’s suffering. Consequently, these labels , such as ‘bipolar disorder’ and ‘depression’, have been accepted as explanations rather than descriptions. Unfortunately, such confusion has deflected attention away from the crucial link between psychological pain and brain function” p119 Advances in neuroimaging is changing our understanding of how the brain responds to external and internal stimuli, “But while we can view the brain with much greater accuracy, our emotional lives cannot be reduced to a single neurobiological function or theory.” P35 “Capture arises from a vast and complex circuitry in the brain…Every time we experience something new, a neural pattern…is created in response. Over time, those neural patterns become associated with anything that evokes that experience. p36-37 Hebb’s rule: neurons that fire together wire together. The nervous system responds to both external and internal triggers, so even our thoughts and feelings can evoke or reinforce previously laid down circuits. Top down circuits play a role in decision making and most parts of the brain are involved in this processing. Bottom up processing is involuntary and automatic and serve to reorient our attention. “There is a close interaction to attention…and working memory, which allows us to use that information…When we pay attention to something, it is more likely to remain in memory. Conversely, if something remains in our working memory, there is a greater chance we will pay attention to it.” P40 “Whatever we are paying attention to at a given moment(whether it’s an external stimulus, such as food, or an internal stimulus, such as self-doubt or regret) initially resides in working memory. Over time, unless a competing goal redirects our attention, our response eventually becomes so instinctive that our brains no longer mobilize to create a new or different reaction. Our response becomes automatic-and when our response is discordant with our conscious intentions, we begin to feel as if we’re losing control. This loss of control is a key feature of capture.”…”A good deal of new learning is implicit, meaning it is so subtle as to be imperceptible to the conscious mind.” [this is what underlies the ‘hidden curriculum’ in medicine]. “This is how we come to develop patterns of behavior and emotional response without ever being aware of their taking hold.”p41 Neural stimuli may have salience, meaning they stand out from other features in the environment due to their ability to stimulate the nervous system. They can become associated with other stimuli that may be relatively neutral, but subsequently the two (or more) become associated with one another. “The areas of the brain that register salience are the same areas, or connected to the areas, that register physiological changes, such as increases in heart rate and skin temperature.”p42 There is salience in bright colors, shape, motion and novelty (think here of the way that video games capture attention, which oddly, isn’t discussed in this book, but given its effects on young brains, especially young males has great implications for society). There is also salience in powerful desires, goals, attitudes toward adversity or opportunity and major life events. The valence of salient stimulus refers to whether the emotional content is positive or negative. Capture, as described in this book, is the same as attractor behavior in the science of complex adaptive systems. The greatest part of the book is given over to many case examples including well known figures: David Foster Wallace; Tennesee Williams; William James; John Belushi; Sylvia Plath; Virginia Woolf; Ernest Hemingway, as well as many anonymous individuals. These chapters illustrate the extremes to which capture can lead, but I often felt that the link to the elements of the concept of capture could have been made more explicit. Nevertheless, these sections of the book are well written and very interesting. Kessler also discusses that capture doesn’t only lead to mental distress. It is also is part of positive activity including artistic endeavors, scientific work, spiritual development etc. Where problems arise is when it becomes so strong that we become rigid in our responses and then trapped. Does this new way of looking at mental distress lend itself to therapeutic approaches? Kessler addresses the role of meditation and mindfulness in making ourselves aware of the tendencies toward capture in our lives. There is an interesting interview with a psychotherapist that (Danielle Roeske) who cautions that complete permanent freedom from capture is not realistic. It is more acceptable as a way of thinking how we grow and develop as individuals. “…when people go through a transformation of how they experience themselves, it’s not uncommon for their sense of their history to be rewritten as well.”p263 This is the basis of narrative based therapy. She also goes on: “Gathering the courage to change is perhaps one of the more difficulty parts of transformation, as it requires a deliberate leap into the unknown…To say that such an act requires a gesture of faith seems to put the care before the horse. Faith is what follows after the new experience has been had, while is the quality that comes before it.” P263. This reminds me of Needleman’s point that perhaps the most important role of the clinician is to provide hope to the patient (see The Way of the Physician). Kessler finishes the book by once again, referring to the stories we tell of our own lives; the salient features that we put together to construct a narrative. Capture helps us make sense of an otherwise chaotic world, and there is no freedom from it completely. There is, however, within our reach, a more modest form of autonomy. “By becoming aware of the ways in which we deploy our attention, we may even develop a beneficial flexibility of mind, one that allows us simultaneously to tell varied, sometimes even contradictory stories.” “We can influence this process not by accepting a static diagnosis, such as ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’, but by actively changing what occupies our attention.” P267 “The power to will, however, is not enough to sustain change. The challenge is to draw strength from something other than mere self-discipline-or condemnation. Lasting change occurs when we let go of such isolating pressures and allow ourselves to feel support and connection instead of preoccupation with the self. This transformation of the self often occurs through sacrifice, service, love, belief in a cause or membership in a community”p267 The book has extensive end notes and references and these contain a number of long essays that are very useful. Putting these at the end make reading the text easier while providing a wonderful resource for more reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lori Gibbany

    Not sure how I feel about this one. Worth the read some good information just didnt inspire me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The secondary title on the book I got from the library states "Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering." As some who suffered from depression, I thought, oh wow, I would really like to know what triggered my years of suffering because it is something that I could never really put my finger on. This book, I thought, was right up my alley. First, this book has over 100 pages of "Notes." Some of the notes I thought were revelant, but some at 3 pages long in length, I thought well, if this discuss The secondary title on the book I got from the library states "Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering." As some who suffered from depression, I thought, oh wow, I would really like to know what triggered my years of suffering because it is something that I could never really put my finger on. This book, I thought, was right up my alley. First, this book has over 100 pages of "Notes." Some of the notes I thought were revelant, but some at 3 pages long in length, I thought well, if this discussion was that important, why wasn't it just part of the actual text. I found them very distracting and stopped reading them by the time I was on the 2nd chapter. It's seems the title was more appealing to me then the actual context. I felt the first part of the book, the author was trying to force the idea of capture down our throats. I didn't like it. Kessler uses examples from famous authors and sometimes fictional characters to plead his case. Part one was okay for me, and I thought the most interesting. Part Two and Part Three were just completely lost on me. And with 50 pages left, I decided it wasn't worth me finishing. The reason being, the author starts to give mini-biographies of differing people. He really doesn't put the pieces together and some of the people weren't even mentally ill, so I couldn't really figure out the point of including these stories. Also, he remarks several times that David Foster Wallace was treated sucessfully with medicines - I would like to say, I don't believe that. Did the medicine stop him from committing sucicide? Yes, possibly. But it didn't take away the pain and the mental suffering - he still suffered with the medicine - he had to do other things to help himself - it's not just the medicine. This is also reflective in some other stories where the author states the medicine had the opposite effect on the patient - patients need better options that just drugs being thrown at them. As the author states, "By muting our investment in salient stimuli, these medications allow patients to regain some measure of control over their attention. Unforunately, patients often find that these drugs mute all their responses, endering their emotional landscape flat and their days listless." YES! This is exactly why people stop taking their medicines (author doesn't make this connection) There needs to be better care and alternatives!! This book didn't really help on uncovering what the causes realy were to then try to discuss what the answers are. Some of the discussion I could relate to and realize, exactly, that's what it's like ... "Another distinguishing feature of depression is the tendency to overgeneralize autobiographical memory - that is, to highlight and revisit negative experiences from the past and see them as representative of an inevitable pattern." And that, is what outsiders really need to know about depression - so all of us who suffer and have suffered stop hearing that "It's all for attention." No, folks, it's really not. The positives of this book included: Many references to other literature and authors to discover.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amni Yusoff

    A must if you want to understand the conundrum of mental illness. In a very readable manner Kessler explains the complicated ways in which our minds can turn against us, namely through the concept of capture. He then shows how this basic concept has influenced, for better and worse, the lives of poets and theologians and lay people all over the world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Corinne Edwards

    3.5 stars What is the root of mental illness - that continuum of afflictions that affect so many people in some degree? How are these illnesses related and can knowledge of that root somehow be used to stimulate change? As someone with my own issues who also interacts daily with those using medication to help stem the tide of the pain of mental illness, I was interested in this book because I hoped it would give me some insight into the minds of these people that I love. I think I approached it i 3.5 stars What is the root of mental illness - that continuum of afflictions that affect so many people in some degree? How are these illnesses related and can knowledge of that root somehow be used to stimulate change? As someone with my own issues who also interacts daily with those using medication to help stem the tide of the pain of mental illness, I was interested in this book because I hoped it would give me some insight into the minds of these people that I love. I think I approached it in the wrong way - I was looking for Answers and the reality is that as advanced as science is, there are not really very many Answers to be found yet when it comes to the roots of Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar Disorder, etc. We know what medicines can sometimes make a big difference in terms of symptoms but the mind is so complex that something more than measurable chemicals is needed to help us understand what is going wrong in a mind that's struggling. What this book discusses is the idea of "capture," which was a bit hard for me to wrap my head around and I'm still trying to process it. My super basic understanding is that when a stimulus (a thought, something we see etc) somehow gets our attention and our behavior changes because of it, that's "capture." This book is not only a history of mind-theory (my made-up phrase) but also a series of case studies and stories about the different ways this capture can manifest itself - for both good and bad outcomes. The historical part got pretty deep for me, truthfully, in several sections I did have to do a little skimming. I found the stories of people whose mental illness impacted either themselves or, just as tragically, others around them and the deconstruction of their thinking very interesting. I also think that this book gave me some concrete thoughts about how my own mind works, I've already found myself looking back at some ideas I highlighted as I think over it all. The idea is capture is powerful because I feel like it empowers those struggling with mental illness to try and exert some influence over their unhealthy thoughts. Yes, medication and therapy are essential for a lot of people, but even when medicated, I know, unhealthy thoughts can make life very challenging. I almost wish there was a "junior novelization" of this book, or a cliff notes - where I could ingest more easily the big ideas in a condensed form. Some of Capture was slow-going and some parts required a lot of brain power while other parts seemed not as relevant to the subject but in the end, I'm glad I read it. The storytelling sections are very readable and it's important for me to give myself time to think about this topic and I have some new ideas in my head. And that matters.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I wanted this book to be better than it was. The premise is that many diverse forms of psychological suffering are the result of capture, or fixation, which seems to be a natural tendency of the mind. I think this general idea is sound, and the author provides numerous examples such as depression, OCD, cutting, addiction, gambling, etc. In fact, most of the book deals with case studies of various examples of capture. I found the quality and depth of these case studies to be uneven. My favorite c I wanted this book to be better than it was. The premise is that many diverse forms of psychological suffering are the result of capture, or fixation, which seems to be a natural tendency of the mind. I think this general idea is sound, and the author provides numerous examples such as depression, OCD, cutting, addiction, gambling, etc. In fact, most of the book deals with case studies of various examples of capture. I found the quality and depth of these case studies to be uneven. My favorite case study was that of David Foster Wallace, although it was also quite heartbreaking. The later chapters deal with positive examples of capture. I found these to be less persuasive--I didn't get the same sense of fixation in these case studies. The author also poses the question of whether the only way to free someone from a negative form of capture is to replace it with another type of capture. The question really isn't answered, but the very end of the book suggests that meditation and mindfulness may help people escape from negative capture. I wish this last section of the book had been expanded. Overall, I found it to be a fascinating, well-reasoned, and well-written book, but I still felt somewhat dissatisfied after finishing it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Deep. Fascinating. And disturbing. Here are my favorite clips: The more time and effort you put into trying to appear impressive or attractive to other people, the less impressive or attractive you feel inside. You feel like a fraud. And the more of a fraud you feel like, the harder you try to convey an impressive or likable image of yourself, so that other people won't find out what a hollow, fraudulent, person you really are. It's about a disconnect from the person you want to be and the person Deep. Fascinating. And disturbing. Here are my favorite clips: The more time and effort you put into trying to appear impressive or attractive to other people, the less impressive or attractive you feel inside. You feel like a fraud. And the more of a fraud you feel like, the harder you try to convey an impressive or likable image of yourself, so that other people won't find out what a hollow, fraudulent, person you really are. It's about a disconnect from the person you want to be and the person you perceive yourself to be. There is a feeling of losing control. This is one of the biggest issues in psychiatry. If you don't have control, then that's when you can get into trouble, whether you have anxiety or depression or whatever, because that can be a threat to your very existence. Suicidal people feel that there is no other way to escape from their thoughts/feelings. One of the paradoxes of suicide is that it becomes the last and only way that a person can exert control. Neurons that fire together, wire together. When we are repeatedly exposed to a stimulus that triggers a particular neuron to fire, it's response becomes more vigorous. That stimulus may be a drug, or a particular song, or a co-workers taunting glare. At the biological level, capture is the result of neural patterns that are created in response to various experiences. A first experience can result in the creation of a unique neural network that is associated with certain feelings and actions, and in turn, these neuronal networks can elicit emotions and physical responses. Neurons can change their tuning based on experience. As information coming into a neuron changes, so does its response. The adult brain can change. Neuroplasticity. A good deal of new learning is implicit, meaning, it is so subtle as to be imperceptible to the conscious mind. If you feel a surge of self doubt every time you are about to speak publicly, it's very likely that your anxiety is based on a previous response to a similar experience. Subsequent related experiences, or thoughts and feelings that evoke those experiences, allowed this learned response to gain more traction along the way. This is how we come to develop patterns of behavior and emotional response without ever being of their taking hold. The central tenant of addiction, which is: a firm, undeniable, unalterable conviction of need. This "I need it" feeling is cued by some stimulus. Our attention is diverted. It's not always the substance itself that captures us, rather the feelings the substance produces narrow our field of attention until it is occupied entirely by the object of our craving. Whenever we encounter a salient stimulus, our neural response conditions us to respond in the same way, over and over again. While cocaine (like many substances) is inarguably and empirically a powerful stimulant for many, for the addict, it gets connected to a broader and deeper network or neural connections. These associations get inextricably intertwined with the users understanding of who he is. His very sense of self cannot be separated from the feelings triggered by the drug. Eating disorders are the result of selective and undue attention to food related stimuli. Anorexics are captured by the promise of control. Many only see two poles, total control over eating, or total loss of control. Control over eating becomes a sign of achievement and safety. Take away that control and they feel unstable, often wildly so. Another distinguishing feature of depression is the tendency to overgeneralize autobiographical memory. That is, to highlight and revisit negative experiences from the past and see them as representative of an inevitable pattern. The brains drive to discover salience, likely holds as much as much sway as the drive for pleasure or reward. Salience is sought through experience, either via our senses or internally generated states, such as beliefs, images, or memories. Mental illness ensues when the brain gets stuck on these high salience experiences to the exclusion of everyday mental processes. What began as self-consciousness grew, over the course of his life, into acute self-awareness. Which eventually transformed into self-hatred. This led to a desire for release, redemption, attentions, which he found, albeit temporarily, in his writing, in drugs and alcohol, and in his relationships. But which only led to further self-indictment. God is of value for the best or the worst, but he is not an allegory, a god is not something signifying another thing. Aphrodite is beauty, love, desire, sex. She is that. The god is recognized by the emotion, but the emotion is the god also. The swings in self judgement that plague creative work are familiar to many artists and writers. You could sit at a table, start working, which is essentially thinking, and in a matter of sometimes just an hour you can come to the conclusion that you're a worthless human being with absolutely no accurate read on reality, or yourself, and that you should just end it all. The only thing to do is to just try to keep working beyond that. You find ways to create meaning and order in your life, and having this physical routine gives you all of those benefits plus mental mojo. It's a survival technique. Orthogonal rotation in consciousness: Where everything is the same internally and externally, you are recruiting another dimension of your humanity. You are looking through a new lens. You can make choices that you never thought were available to you. https://www.psychalive.org/mindfulnes... Thoughts are little secretions of the mind that come and go very quickly. And they only have power over us if we actually believe that they are true. How do you loosen the hold of thoughts that are preoccupied with the self, which is busy generating a story about your failures and how you're a fraud? The key is not to argue the facts, trying to think your way out of depressive rumination only deepens the ruts of the neural pathways where wheels have been spinning too long. Instead, you allow those thoughts, but stand back from them, and recognize that toxic pattern of self-deprecation is really just a thought habit. It has no more actuality that anything else. Thoughts are thoughts, not facts. When we bury things inside, it's not like they go away. They just haunt us in different ways. The nature of addiction is that it's always there. If there's not a continuous reinforcement of a new way of being and understanding, there will be a gradual pull to go back to the foundational tried and true escape through drugs and alcohol. The power of will is not enough to sustain change. The challenge is to draw strength from something other than mere self-discipline. Or condemnation. Lasting change occurs when we let go of such isolating pressures and allow ourselves to feel support and connection, instead of preoccupation with the self. This transformation of the self often occurs through sacrifice, service, love, belief in a cause, or membership in a community.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hester

    This is an odd book, which puts the natural philosophy back into psychology and biology. Kessler's argument is that the world is so full of sensory and emotional stimulation, that we only process a tiny bit of it, chosen by our mind's filters. If we become obsessed with an idea or feeling, all of our input is filtered through that obsession, reinforcing it. This idea seems more philosophical than biological (he refers to William James a lot), but then he finds the scientific counterpart to these This is an odd book, which puts the natural philosophy back into psychology and biology. Kessler's argument is that the world is so full of sensory and emotional stimulation, that we only process a tiny bit of it, chosen by our mind's filters. If we become obsessed with an idea or feeling, all of our input is filtered through that obsession, reinforcing it. This idea seems more philosophical than biological (he refers to William James a lot), but then he finds the scientific counterpart to these ideas in neurological studies. He illustrates his hypothesis with little biographical and literary sketches; many of them feel like stretches. I don't think it is the be-all and end-all of mental illness. But attention does play a major role in ocd, anxiety, and depression. A friend of mine was concerned for another friend of hers, and when I described Kessler's concept of "capture," she said that was exactly what was happening with the friend she was worrying about. On the plus side: this book did what we want every book to do. I now look at the world a little differently. I feel like the book could have been better if they ideas had been allowed to bake a little longer.

  20. 5 out of 5

    GONZA

    This is a very interesting and well written book, that goes trough the life of famous or less famous people to describe the process of capture, that in the words of the author is "..the process by which our attention is hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control." cit. It is not only a book on psychology, or about mindfulness or motivation, but it's a way to understand why we do or not do something and how to get to achieve the best for us. Brilliant. Questo libro é molto i This is a very interesting and well written book, that goes trough the life of famous or less famous people to describe the process of capture, that in the words of the author is "..the process by which our attention is hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control." cit. It is not only a book on psychology, or about mindfulness or motivation, but it's a way to understand why we do or not do something and how to get to achieve the best for us. Brilliant. Questo libro é molto interessante e ben scritto che, attraverso l'esempio della vita di persone piú o meno famose, descrive il processo della "Cattura", secondo il quale la nostra attenzione viene in qualche modo deviata e il nostro cervello viene dirottato da quello che sembrano essere forze al di fuori del nostro controllo (cit.). Ma questo non é solo un libro di psicologia o che parla di mindfulness o di motivazione, é piuttosto un modo di comprendere perché facciamo o non facciamo qualcosa e come arrivare ad ottenere il meglio per noi. Brillante. THANKS TO EDELWEISS AND HARPER WAVE FOR THE PREVIEW!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    In an effort to understand human suffering, Dr. Kessler examines the idea of "capture," the process by which our thoughts and attention are hijacked in a way that can feel out of control and cause us endless pain. The book is wide-ranging in its examination of the idea of capture in relation to mental illness, violence, ideology, and spirituality. He makes the examination almost completely through mini case studies of individuals, some famous (David Foster Wallace, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf) In an effort to understand human suffering, Dr. Kessler examines the idea of "capture," the process by which our thoughts and attention are hijacked in a way that can feel out of control and cause us endless pain. The book is wide-ranging in its examination of the idea of capture in relation to mental illness, violence, ideology, and spirituality. He makes the examination almost completely through mini case studies of individuals, some famous (David Foster Wallace, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf) and others not. This made the book an easy and fascinating read. Perhaps more impressive than the book itself is the more than 100 pages of notes and references. The author did exhaustive research and it's all here for the reader to peruse and pursue further. I would have liked a bit more of the information from the notes to make its way into the text. It might have made the book a little tougher going, but there are some gems in the notes, I'm sure, and yet I wasn't motivated to read them separately. It's almost as if Kessler has written two books: a popular and a scholarly one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Wendell

    Interesting, but not much that's new here in the field of mental suffering, habits, brain neurochemistry or neuroplasticity. Much of the same material on depression, anxiety, ocd, etc. is rehashed and presented through a slightly different lens but without any ensuing or significant change in, or contribution to, current information or outcomes. Not exactly a major "unraveling" of anything. A good 1/3 of the last part of the book is devoted to ridiculously complicated "notes"--regarding philosop Interesting, but not much that's new here in the field of mental suffering, habits, brain neurochemistry or neuroplasticity. Much of the same material on depression, anxiety, ocd, etc. is rehashed and presented through a slightly different lens but without any ensuing or significant change in, or contribution to, current information or outcomes. Not exactly a major "unraveling" of anything. A good 1/3 of the last part of the book is devoted to ridiculously complicated "notes"--regarding philosophical discussions/debates/extrapolations/mini-essays of James, Wittgenstein and others. Almost another book slapped on---and not one most would choose to read, let alone be able to understand. Bottom line, start your mindfulness meditation practice, keep it up and hope for the best. Blah, blah. People looking for something substantive would do better to skip this book and go right to the source, Jon Kabat-Zinn in "Full Catastrophe Living."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dpdwyer

    Given ecstatic blurbs by writers I admire, I expected a great deal more. The concept of capture and its apparent ubiquity leads in a useful direction. But the concept is barely fleshed out. I wished he had talked more about beneficial capture, like meditation, religion, AA, etc. Most of the book describes famous cases of capture, almost all pathological. I would have liked to have seen more attention paid to how to escape capture. Quotes: ---David Foster Wallace: "It is not the least bit coincid Given ecstatic blurbs by writers I admire, I expected a great deal more. The concept of capture and its apparent ubiquity leads in a useful direction. But the concept is barely fleshed out. I wished he had talked more about beneficial capture, like meditation, religion, AA, etc. Most of the book describes famous cases of capture, almost all pathological. I would have liked to have seen more attention paid to how to escape capture. Quotes: ---David Foster Wallace: "It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. The shoot the terrible master." ---Capture: "a stimulus---a place, a thought, a memory, a person---takes hold of our attention and shifts our perception." ---"Perception...is not a passive state through which we take in the world around us, but a form of active selection."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Suzi

    An excellent book that shows how humans can be "captured" by their own perspective in life. That is, being highly focused on certain traits or points of view in life without considering how to balance them and relate to people. This can on one hand, lead to success and acclaim , and on the other hand, lead to trauma and destruction. The examples of those with mental suffering were exceptionally good. Kessler provides background to some of the most heinous 21st century mass murderers and their sk An excellent book that shows how humans can be "captured" by their own perspective in life. That is, being highly focused on certain traits or points of view in life without considering how to balance them and relate to people. This can on one hand, lead to success and acclaim , and on the other hand, lead to trauma and destruction. The examples of those with mental suffering were exceptionally good. Kessler provides background to some of the most heinous 21st century mass murderers and their skewed perspective on life. There is also a lot how mental illness and mental suffering can combine to accentuate a razor- sharp focus on ideas that are not based in reality. This was a fascinating read!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I enjoyed Kessler's previous publication so I was curious to see what this was like. When I read the opening paragraphs, I winced when he informs the reader that he is of putting forth a "theory of capture". A cutesy term for a "new" theory. Skeptical, I read on. Unfortunately, the book, though littered with entertaining anecdotal "case studies" is not, to me, comprehensive nor convincing enough to achieve a "unifying" theory of mental "illness" Skip this one and read Kessler in arenas for which I enjoyed Kessler's previous publication so I was curious to see what this was like. When I read the opening paragraphs, I winced when he informs the reader that he is of putting forth a "theory of capture". A cutesy term for a "new" theory. Skeptical, I read on. Unfortunately, the book, though littered with entertaining anecdotal "case studies" is not, to me, comprehensive nor convincing enough to achieve a "unifying" theory of mental "illness" Skip this one and read Kessler in arenas for which he is better suited

  26. 4 out of 5

    Earline

    Fascinating. Kessler explores how our minds become captured, leading to obsession, addiction, anxiety, etc. These are ideas I've been exploring myself lately and I was impressed with some of Kessler's arguments. I think this is a book I will need to revisit. There is a lot to take in and many ideas to meditate on. Fascinating. Kessler explores how our minds become captured, leading to obsession, addiction, anxiety, etc. These are ideas I've been exploring myself lately and I was impressed with some of Kessler's arguments. I think this is a book I will need to revisit. There is a lot to take in and many ideas to meditate on.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kate Wyer

    This book was obviously very well researched (about a third of the total pages are actually notes and sources), but I was left feeling like, eh? I did learn more about mass murdering individuals, but that wasn't why I picked up the book. This book wasn't what I thought it would be. This book was obviously very well researched (about a third of the total pages are actually notes and sources), but I was left feeling like, eh? I did learn more about mass murdering individuals, but that wasn't why I picked up the book. This book wasn't what I thought it would be.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hugh_Manatee

    Maybe too heavy on the anecdotal, attempting, I'm guessing, in following the Gladwellian tradition, an interesting book none the less that probably could have been cut by a third in the interest of brevity and trusting one's audience to get the point after a few examples instead of twelve. Maybe too heavy on the anecdotal, attempting, I'm guessing, in following the Gladwellian tradition, an interesting book none the less that probably could have been cut by a third in the interest of brevity and trusting one's audience to get the point after a few examples instead of twelve.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dagmar

    It was very insightful. I have quite a bit more to say about the book but short for time right now. Will amend this review within this next week.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason Scott

    Autobook. Good narration. Interesting anecdotes. Could have been four stars if the explanation and defense of thesis was done better. “The theory of capture is composed of three basic elements: narrowing of attention, perceived lack of control and change in affect, or emotional state” The author attempts to introduce the theory that a behaviour of the mind causes it to get hijacked by an attention loop and that is what causes depression, suicide, addiction, obsession and aggression. Unfortunately Autobook. Good narration. Interesting anecdotes. Could have been four stars if the explanation and defense of thesis was done better. “The theory of capture is composed of three basic elements: narrowing of attention, perceived lack of control and change in affect, or emotional state” The author attempts to introduce the theory that a behaviour of the mind causes it to get hijacked by an attention loop and that is what causes depression, suicide, addiction, obsession and aggression. Unfortunately he does a bad job of naming his theory. Capture is too generic of a term and while it does describe the idea of the mind getting captured it as he uses the term in the book you keep losing track of the theory he is try to attach to it. The other major problem is he spends almost no time explaining his theory and instead dives directly into an examination of David Foster Wallace whose life he uses as the primary example of capture. Are we supposed to infer his theory through his anecdotes? Which is too bad, because this really is an interesting and well written book that just fails to adequately explain and reiterate it's thesis which spoils the whole thing. Of particular interest is the last part of the book where he posits that the way to cure a negative capture of the brain is by replacing it with a positive capture (what the Buddhists would call an antidote). Examples of curing capture through replacement include alcoholics anonymous replacing addiction with religion/community, the buddhist practice of replacing anger with metta/lovingkindness. He has various examples of people whose lives are damaged by trauma who eventually find a cause/service and use that to escape the trauma. Based on my own life experience I feel like there's something to his theory. I'm in agreement with his conclusions on how to "fix" capture. But I wish he'd done a better job with nomenclature and definition because I still doing have a good idea of what "capture" means. I was actually tempted to listen to the book again from the start to see if I was just not paying attention at a crucial part. It's worth listening to but frustratingly vague on it's thesis. The last bit has a good section on meditation and an interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn. And you'll want to read Infinite Jest.

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