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“Everywhere I looked it seemed that we were being defined by what our brains were doing . . . Everywhere, there were hucksters and geniuses, all trying to colonize the new world of the brain.”   “I’d never been a science person,” Casey Schwartz declares at the beginning of her far-reaching quest to understand how we define ourselves. Nevertheless, in her early twenties, sh “Everywhere I looked it seemed that we were being defined by what our brains were doing . . . Everywhere, there were hucksters and geniuses, all trying to colonize the new world of the brain.”   “I’d never been a science person,” Casey Schwartz declares at the beginning of her far-reaching quest to understand how we define ourselves. Nevertheless, in her early twenties, she was drawn to the possibilities and insights emerging on the frontiers of brain research. Over the next decade she set out to meet the neuroscientists and psychoanalysts engaged with such questions as, How do we perceive the world, make decisions, or remember our childhoods? Are we using the brain? Or the mind? To what extent is it both?   Schwartz discovered that neuroscience and psychoanalysis are engaged in a conflict almost as old as the disciplines themselves. Many neuroscientists, if they think about psychoanalysis at all, view it as outdated, arbitrary, and subjective, while many psychoanalysts decry neuroscience as lacking the true texture of human experience. With passion and humor, Schwartz explores the surprising efforts to find common ground. Beginning among the tweedy Freudians of North London and proceeding to laboratories, consulting rooms, and hospital bedsides around the world, Schwartz introduces a cast of pioneering characters, from Mark Solms, a South African neuropsychoanalyst with an expertise in dreams, to David Silvers, a psychoanalyst practicing in New York, to Harry, a man who has lost his use of language in the wake of a stroke but who nevertheless benefits from Silvers’s analytic technique. In the Mind Fields is a riveting view of the convictions, obsessions, and struggles of those who dedicate themselves to the effort to understand the mysteries of inner life. From the Hardcover edition.


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“Everywhere I looked it seemed that we were being defined by what our brains were doing . . . Everywhere, there were hucksters and geniuses, all trying to colonize the new world of the brain.”   “I’d never been a science person,” Casey Schwartz declares at the beginning of her far-reaching quest to understand how we define ourselves. Nevertheless, in her early twenties, sh “Everywhere I looked it seemed that we were being defined by what our brains were doing . . . Everywhere, there were hucksters and geniuses, all trying to colonize the new world of the brain.”   “I’d never been a science person,” Casey Schwartz declares at the beginning of her far-reaching quest to understand how we define ourselves. Nevertheless, in her early twenties, she was drawn to the possibilities and insights emerging on the frontiers of brain research. Over the next decade she set out to meet the neuroscientists and psychoanalysts engaged with such questions as, How do we perceive the world, make decisions, or remember our childhoods? Are we using the brain? Or the mind? To what extent is it both?   Schwartz discovered that neuroscience and psychoanalysis are engaged in a conflict almost as old as the disciplines themselves. Many neuroscientists, if they think about psychoanalysis at all, view it as outdated, arbitrary, and subjective, while many psychoanalysts decry neuroscience as lacking the true texture of human experience. With passion and humor, Schwartz explores the surprising efforts to find common ground. Beginning among the tweedy Freudians of North London and proceeding to laboratories, consulting rooms, and hospital bedsides around the world, Schwartz introduces a cast of pioneering characters, from Mark Solms, a South African neuropsychoanalyst with an expertise in dreams, to David Silvers, a psychoanalyst practicing in New York, to Harry, a man who has lost his use of language in the wake of a stroke but who nevertheless benefits from Silvers’s analytic technique. In the Mind Fields is a riveting view of the convictions, obsessions, and struggles of those who dedicate themselves to the effort to understand the mysteries of inner life. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tom LA

    Science journalist Casey Schwartz's "In the Mind Fields" introduces us to a small group of mental health professionals who have made a compelling case that psychoanalysis and neurobiology should converge and support each other, maybe become one thing whenever possible. For them, Freud should not be relegated to a footnote. These critics acknowledge the value of brain research, but they also think that there is still a huge value in psychiatry. Just as 20th century Freudianism erred by being too Science journalist Casey Schwartz's "In the Mind Fields" introduces us to a small group of mental health professionals who have made a compelling case that psychoanalysis and neurobiology should converge and support each other, maybe become one thing whenever possible. For them, Freud should not be relegated to a footnote. These critics acknowledge the value of brain research, but they also think that there is still a huge value in psychiatry. Just as 20th century Freudianism erred by being too brainless, they argue, 21st century neuroscience runs the risk of becoming too mindless. I agree with this premise. I found this book fascinating for the most part, however I'm not sure if it's a book I would recommend. First, I don't think I am fully in line with the author's basic opinions. Based on the examples she brings, she is right in suggesting that neurobiology can often make the mistake of forgetting the person, the mind, the human being behind the neurons, the synapses, the proteins etc. and that the approach of psychoanalysis can sometimes help scientists get a more holistic approach to the patient. However, through her intense love for Freud, she far overestimates the value of psychoanalysis per se, which is today - as it should be - dying a slow death. Freud had some great intuitions, yes, but without having any scientific instruments at his disposal, he jumped to conclusions that in many cases were wrong or horribly wrong. A bit like the ancient people who said "the Earth looks flat, therefore it's flat". It wasn't their fault they were wrong. But they should not have jumped to conclusions. For example, in "The interpretation of dreams", Freud went completely off a tangent and gave dreams a symbolic value they very rarely have. For the most part, dreams are just what they are: incoherent mental bubbles or "farts". In my opinion, today psychology and psychoanalysis should not even be around anymore. We should get rid of them altogether, place them in a museum, next to the telegraph and the Commodore 64. After 100 years, there is still no conclusive proof that they can guarantee a "cure" for a patient, aside from the random successes that they can have, especially when the patient has a very specific and superficial issue (i.e. fear of blades, or fear of dogs). Neurobiology is the present and the future of our understanding of the brain. It's all about the tools. Research instruments are getting more and more powerful, so give it another 10-20 years, and neurobiology will finally hammer that last nail into the coffin of psychoanalysis. Therefore, I find the author's stance unbalanced when she sees psychoanalysis and neurobiology simply as two equally strong scientific disciplines with a communication issue. Yes, the mind is only one (and why have two separate fields trying to explain the same thing?) but NO, the two fields are not equally strong or important. Psychoanalysis is almost a corpse, and it carries with itself so much engrained ignorance and prejudice, while neurobiology is a little kid buzzing with energy, opportunities, and most importantly, a fresh and open mind. Schwartz never really acknowledges this huge difference. Plus, why would you need Freud in order to have a more human approach to your patients and their minds? You just need to take a more human approach. That can come from anywhere, not only from Freud: literature, music, personal experience, or - even more importantly - religion. From the formal perspective, the book is very well written and you can often feel the author's passion coming through, but I have to say, the structure is a bit messy. This work contains something like 4 or 5 different books, all of them cobbled together. While the various chapters are all vaguely about the same topic, it seems like Schwartz couldn't make up her mind on what kind of book she was actually writing: a memoir, a travelogue, an essay, a series of short biographies? This book is all of these things patched together, and glued together by autobiographical notes that don't seem to matter for the book, or to go anywhere. While researching the material for a non-fiction book, many authors travel, interview specialists, talk with professionals in a specific field. But then what they do in the book is they provide the results of that research, not the actual description of themselves working on researching. Why would the readers care about that, unless the writer is an eye-witness to moments of great historic importance? Unfortunately, for the most part of the book, that is what the author decided to do, and in my opinion this does not work well, because 1) it slows down the book; 2) it adds little or nothing to the subject matter - which is the only reason why you are reading the book, and 3) it gives you the idea that some greatly important epiphany or discovery is going to come out of that conversation or that piece of research, while in fact nothing much really happens, only a few examples of patients whose problems were helped by analysts who were open minded and cared for the human side.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Romina Claudia

    I was expecting more neuroscience in these pages but I would rather say it’s a book about psychoanalysis in the detriment of neuroscience. Though the scientific part is not enough covered, the style is very fluent, interesting enough to read it in the train, on the beach, home as well. I am grateful to the writer for introducing me to a lot of important names into this not-very-well-established field of neuropsychoanalysis and for sharing her experiences with Solms and Silvers. In the end I enjo I was expecting more neuroscience in these pages but I would rather say it’s a book about psychoanalysis in the detriment of neuroscience. Though the scientific part is not enough covered, the style is very fluent, interesting enough to read it in the train, on the beach, home as well. I am grateful to the writer for introducing me to a lot of important names into this not-very-well-established field of neuropsychoanalysis and for sharing her experiences with Solms and Silvers. In the end I enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bobbie

    I really wanted this book to be something different than it was. I was envisioning something Oliver Sacks-esque -- the combination of good science and empathetic understanding of human experience to enhance our knowledge of our brains and ourselves. The author seems to have wanted this as well, judging by the amount of times Sacks was mentioned. Instead, this book is more of an ode to psychoanalysis. It romanticises Freud very generously. And rather than combining neuroscience and psychoanalysis I really wanted this book to be something different than it was. I was envisioning something Oliver Sacks-esque -- the combination of good science and empathetic understanding of human experience to enhance our knowledge of our brains and ourselves. The author seems to have wanted this as well, judging by the amount of times Sacks was mentioned. Instead, this book is more of an ode to psychoanalysis. It romanticises Freud very generously. And rather than combining neuroscience and psychoanalysis (though… honestly… why would you want to….) into a revolutionary beast dedicated to accurately and holistically explaining our psychology, it mostly just talks about psychoanalysis. Neuroscience is turned into a kind of weird, bland villain that sits off to the side, being all sterile and uninspired. The "neuro" part of neuropsychoanalysis only comes in later, when describing the therapeutic practices of two psychoanalysts that work with patients with neurological disorders. This is novel (I… think?), and valuable -- I doubt there's anyone who needs therapy more than someone who's been suddenly rendered only partially vocal, unable to express themselves in the same way as before -- but I don't know whether it's worth coining the term neuropsychoanalysis over. This section houses the most engaging part of the book, where Schwartz describes the experiences of a psychoanalyst, Silvers, working with a patient, Harry, who has Broca's aphasia. Silvers is clearly an amazing communicator and has formed a strong bond with Harry, able to decipher his opaque and puzzling words. It's very interesting -- but still doesn't feel like 'neuropsychoanalysis'. The rest of the time, neuroscience is demonised as reductive; absolutely none of it appeals to Schwartz as she describes wandering through a maze of posters at a conference, where everyone seems hopelessly misguided and unaware of it -- their own form of anosognosia, studying their rats like it matters, god bless them. I mean, I agree that neuroscience is reductive, and I literally came here looking for a book about how science is reductive, so the fact that I'm like "this seems pretty biased" should probably raise some red flags. So, I don't know. Read this book if you're into psychoanalysis, maybe. If you're not, then just go read some Oliver Sacks.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    The book was great as far as it went. I would have liked a little more exposition on the difference between neuropsychology and neuropsychonalysis. The two fields feel like there should be significant overlap. The biggest point that is made and made very well is that reductive neuroscience may be very good at what it does, but in the end you are only looking at a small point in the complexity that is the human experience. Psychoanalytic thought is the big picture counterpoint to neurology's narr The book was great as far as it went. I would have liked a little more exposition on the difference between neuropsychology and neuropsychonalysis. The two fields feel like there should be significant overlap. The biggest point that is made and made very well is that reductive neuroscience may be very good at what it does, but in the end you are only looking at a small point in the complexity that is the human experience. Psychoanalytic thought is the big picture counterpoint to neurology's narrow focus. The brain is tricky because we use it to understand it, so it can quickly feel like walking in a hall of mirrors. Mark Solms is the hero of the book as far as I'm concerned, since he is the only one that seems to be trying to reconcile neurological findings with psychoanalytic thought. In an interview he did with Bookslut you can read here, Solms talks about taking the subjective structure we've developed with psychoanalysis and contrasting it with what we are learning through neuroscience. I'm even going to stick in a link to an interview I saw of Solms on YouTube, so I can come back and watch it later. Link here. Other interesting tidbits: REM sleep isn't required for dreaming. The Id is conscious. In the late 19th Century with microscopes, we thought the world of neuroscience would open up our understandings of the brain and the mind, in much the same way that fMRI scans are fueling neurology today. Our brains and our minds are beautiful and complex. The solutions and understandings of the brain and the mind will be equally beautiful and equally complex.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sam O'H

    Sort of a let down. The book is well written, but it reads more like a novel than a non-fiction science book. There is a great deal of detail about what Mark Solms was wearing when the author met him, and much less detail about the actual scientific overlap between neurology and psychoanalysis. The first few chapters were started off in the direction I'd hoped for, but the middle and last third of the book has too much story telling and not enough introduction to science factoids. It's certainly Sort of a let down. The book is well written, but it reads more like a novel than a non-fiction science book. There is a great deal of detail about what Mark Solms was wearing when the author met him, and much less detail about the actual scientific overlap between neurology and psychoanalysis. The first few chapters were started off in the direction I'd hoped for, but the middle and last third of the book has too much story telling and not enough introduction to science factoids. It's certainly possible that I'm alone in my opinion, but I couldn't care less what a researcher's house looks like. I do care about the discoveries of that researcher and how their work has been used to affect change or improve a process within the therapeutic or scientific community, and I wish this book contained more of that. More brain discoveries, less wallpaper colors please.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael McCluskey

    Excellent read! I had tears in my eyes as I finished the final page. A great inspiration to further explore the new field as well as deepen my understanding of Freud and psychoanalysis itself. :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Geyer

    This interesting book follows a currently popular process of investigating a particular idea with a combination of research, interviews and observations, so a particular kind of personalised journalism. An advantage of this approach is that topics can be introduced and discussed in a narrative format within a time-line of the author's discoveries and discussions. Casey Schwartz tells part of her own story in the context of what has been called the mind-brain controversy i.e. whether the physiolog This interesting book follows a currently popular process of investigating a particular idea with a combination of research, interviews and observations, so a particular kind of personalised journalism. An advantage of this approach is that topics can be introduced and discussed in a narrative format within a time-line of the author's discoveries and discussions. Casey Schwartz tells part of her own story in the context of what has been called the mind-brain controversy i.e. whether the physiological aspects of brain activity are the same as the mind, or psyche, proposed by psychoanalysts among others. In the process there is an interesting discussion and critique of neuropsychological and other personality research, which simply entails asking questions about the presumptions and method, speaking with participants, as well as researchers who either support these processes or critique them. Alongside this is an examination of psychoanalysis in theory and practice, with a focus on a particular practitioner and patient. The Freudian bases of these ideas are explained, together with an acknowledgement of their relationship with science, or at least how science is defined by some, particularly those who appear to privilege the necessarily artificial nature of the experimental space, or laboratory over other locations and experiences. Psychoanalysis as presented here seems to be as rigid and dogmatic in its way as those who privilege the experiment, in that examples are given of practitioners making judgements about given behaviours without asking any clarifying questions or seeking other information, particularly from the person(s) under examination. The story of the psychoanalyst and his interactions with his patient is a somewhat eccentric tale about not following the "rules" of the profession, which is curious in a way as essentially the patient (who has a neurological condition that limits speech and other expressions) is treated as a human being, in some ways disregarding the prevailing neurological perspective. The book provokes a number of interesting thoughts along the way, although I would be wary of calling neuropsychoanalysis a new science, as the book title implies, an idea taken from particular research discussed within. Nonetheless it's an engaging text within its limitations, for what it describes and the questions it asks. It's not a polemic, either, which is refreshing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cyan Night

    I love the concept, or what the book set out to achieve. Schwartz admits right from the beginning that she has never been a 'science person', yet she bravely tackles a very difficult subject of bridging neuroscience and psychology, in other words, the hard and software of our brains. It is a question that I have frequently considered - why there is a lack of corporation in the studies of our brain and mind, when essentially both originate from the same organ. The writing is relatively simple for I love the concept, or what the book set out to achieve. Schwartz admits right from the beginning that she has never been a 'science person', yet she bravely tackles a very difficult subject of bridging neuroscience and psychology, in other words, the hard and software of our brains. It is a question that I have frequently considered - why there is a lack of corporation in the studies of our brain and mind, when essentially both originate from the same organ. The writing is relatively simple for such a complex subject. Schwartz manages not to overwhelm any layman readers with too much medical or scientific jargon, so that's definitely a plus for me. She tries to create a story based on the research journey she undertook. Unfortunately that meant a great deal of information that I feel was unnecessary, such as how she nearly missed the opportunity to meet a certain important researcher. I finished the book somewhat unsatisfied - there is no clear outlook or in fact, much conclusion except to point out a few key persons in the field continually trying to amalgamate the two opposing fields. While this makes an easy read for anyone ever curious about the biology and psychology of our brain, I wish the book had offer a meatier content.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paul Wolinsky

    In the Mind Fields, by Casey Schwartz. Very good book about the field or discipline of neuropsychoanalysis, a new area of study (within the last 20 years) mainly the brain-child of a South African psychiatrist Mark Solms (along with his wife, Karen Kaplan-Solms). The field takes off from Freud's paper, "Project for a Scientific Psychology," which is Freud's proposal for a way of thinking about mental processes which would take into account his notions of id, ego and superego in a scientific, spe In the Mind Fields, by Casey Schwartz. Very good book about the field or discipline of neuropsychoanalysis, a new area of study (within the last 20 years) mainly the brain-child of a South African psychiatrist Mark Solms (along with his wife, Karen Kaplan-Solms). The field takes off from Freud's paper, "Project for a Scientific Psychology," which is Freud's proposal for a way of thinking about mental processes which would take into account his notions of id, ego and superego in a scientific, specifically, neuronal context. In Schwartz' hands, neuropsychoanalysis is remarkable for the way in which it attempts to capture "mind-body" relations (for want of a better way of putting the matter.) Also, neuropsychoanalysis, as its name would suggest, is a scientific endeavor which exists at the intersection of two established areas of study and practice, i.e, neurology -- which is the "hard" science, so to speak -- and psychoanalysis, a "softer" science. Whatever soft and hard may mean, there are practitioners in both camps who are devoted servants of their OWN practice, and question the methods, values and assumptions of the other. In Casey Schwartz' view, neuropsychoanalysis represents a potentially fruitful point of convergence for those in the two disciplines, neurology and psychoanalysis, to join forces. The best writing in this book, in my opinion, occurs during Schwartz' reportage of an aphasic patient named Harry's work with an analyst named Larry Silvers. This is where "the rubber meets the road," as they say, and I felt as if Schwartz was essentially trying to present aphasia (which Freud wrote an important paper on early in his career) as the paradigmatic case for psychoanalytic research and understanding. (Much is made of the role of language and the pursuit for linguistic understanding within analysis and life in general by Schwartz, following a long line of psychological and psychoanalytic inquiry.) This made the book ultimately worthwhile, in my estimation, even besides the very interesting, but looser descriptions of the scientific/humanistic elements of practice that sometimes divide the two sets of investigation, again, neurology and psychoanalysis/therapy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    The Book Grocer

    Purchase In the Mind Fields here for just $10! I was a psych major, and the idea of ’neuropsychoanalysis’ was never something I came across in my studies, so this book was a great way to explore a brand new area. We get a really in-depth look into this field, where researchers are trying to find a balance between the sometimes reductive nature of neuroscience, and the sometimes nebulous nature of psychoanalysis. There is a bit of a personal narrative throughout (à la Oliver Sacks) and Purchase In the Mind Fields here for just $10! I was a psych major, and the idea of ’neuropsychoanalysis’ was never something I came across in my studies, so this book was a great way to explore a brand new area. We get a really in-depth look into this field, where researchers are trying to find a balance between the sometimes reductive nature of neuroscience, and the sometimes nebulous nature of psychoanalysis. There is a bit of a personal narrative throughout (à la Oliver Sacks) and the researchers and patients Schwartz introduces us to are vividly described. If you want to spend some time in total awe of the human brain’s complexity – and the efforts of those trying to understand it – then I highly recommend this. Greer - The Book Grocer

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jon Tupper

    Neuroplasticity is unnerving, challenging and right here right now. Ms. Schwartz brings us along as she journeys through the intersection of hard science - biology, neuroscience - and psychoanalysis. The teachers and researchers she encounters are fascinating characters with brilliant minds. Their patients are brought to us in real time, no sugar coating. Her writing is a personal narrative of her experience combined with the narrative of the change in psychoanalysis from strictly Freudian and e Neuroplasticity is unnerving, challenging and right here right now. Ms. Schwartz brings us along as she journeys through the intersection of hard science - biology, neuroscience - and psychoanalysis. The teachers and researchers she encounters are fascinating characters with brilliant minds. Their patients are brought to us in real time, no sugar coating. Her writing is a personal narrative of her experience combined with the narrative of the change in psychoanalysis from strictly Freudian and emotional to a more scientific combination of emotion with the realization the neurons migrate as we think, as we communicate. The intersection of worlds is well done. Her prose at times labors and gets caught up in attempts to describe researchers too well. Altogether an enjoyable and beneficial read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miri

    One of the best books i have read in a while, the patients mentioned are so interesting, especially Henry near the end, and the topics covered are written in a way that makes them seem so exciting - you can really see the authors enthusiasm for the topic on the pages which is quite rare in science books!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Yashi

    Interesting perspective on the complementary nature of neuroscience and psychology, yet the many differences that keep them separate. Sheds light on many experts’ perspectives, as well as the encounters involved in psychoanalytical therapies. 3.5.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    Interesting read..trying to synthesize psychoanalysis (Freud) with objective neuroscience. Left with the feeling that it could have been so much more.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nia Nymue

    Some interesting anecdotes, but I don't quite get the deeper point of how the parts are organised, and what the overall point of the book is. There is no contents page. Some interesting anecdotes, but I don't quite get the deeper point of how the parts are organised, and what the overall point of the book is. There is no contents page.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert Miller

    For centuries explorers of the mind have sought to fix people who are suffering from brain disorders. The methodology used to navigate the mind, has depended largely upon the avant-garde of brain theory of the day; Mysticism, magic, mythological happenings, talking it through (psychoanalysis), or biology (neuro or “hard” science), have all been tried. In her book, “In the Mind Fields”, Casey Schwartz, a journalist by trade, forcefully promotes the value of psychoanalysis in today's mental health For centuries explorers of the mind have sought to fix people who are suffering from brain disorders. The methodology used to navigate the mind, has depended largely upon the avant-garde of brain theory of the day; Mysticism, magic, mythological happenings, talking it through (psychoanalysis), or biology (neuro or “hard” science), have all been tried. In her book, “In the Mind Fields”, Casey Schwartz, a journalist by trade, forcefully promotes the value of psychoanalysis in today's mental health arena that is preoccupied with neuroscience. She delves into the early work of Freud, who pioneered the one-on-one couch method and touched on early neuro methods that were quickly abandoned and then resurrected in the past few decades. While most have debunked much of Freud's work, and psychoanalysis in general, Schwartz remains protective of the field and even says that Freud was always “knowing that one day it would be possible to supplement and correct [pure psychology] with neuroscientific methods”. Using many patient case histories, presented by “neuropsychoanalyst”, Mark Solms, and psychoanalyst, David Silvers, she compassionately advances their contention that their field should be united with neuroscience. She provides some compelling contrasts between the two disciplines including an example where a neuroscientist may see a patient's reactions as being “catastrophic” and a psychoanalyst might term the reaction as signs of frustration and grief. Kindness and personal contact are the keystones of the analyst, Schwartz reports. At the end of the day, it seems clear that neuroscience, and modern medicines, are here to stay. Psychoanalysis is on the wane, but Schwartz writes compellingly about the importance of human touch and empathy, factors not attached to cold hard science. However, the examples provided in the book appear to be an aberration from the costly, and mostly limited, work of psychoanalysts. Nevertheless, I appreciate the author's compassion and writing style and, therefore, recommend this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    I confess I started this book without huge expectations, not because I doubted the writer's ability, but because it looked like a survey of subjects I know a reasonable amount about, which usually draws a reader's attention to simplifications and omissions. Maybe I should start every book without high expectations: "In The Mind Fields" is excellent. It's a unique work when compared to the many I read on these topics because it acknowledges the existence of polarities in a manner that dissolves t I confess I started this book without huge expectations, not because I doubted the writer's ability, but because it looked like a survey of subjects I know a reasonable amount about, which usually draws a reader's attention to simplifications and omissions. Maybe I should start every book without high expectations: "In The Mind Fields" is excellent. It's a unique work when compared to the many I read on these topics because it acknowledges the existence of polarities in a manner that dissolves them without denying either why they arise or the (invariably limited) value derived from the tensions between them. The trick is that this all happens without homogenization: in this case, the discrete flavors of psychoanalysis and neuroscience are retained even as they interpenetrate. Schwartz does not challenge the just-so aspects of Sigmund Freud's work, or deeply investigate the ways neuroscience does (albeit inconsistently) allow the incorporation of holistic interpretations beyond the discrete, computational assumptions imported from cognitivist theories of mind, at least not to the degree I believe is necessary. The result for me is that Mark Solms at times comes across as more of a tepid synthesizer than visionary. And Schwartz does not cover embodied mind / extended cognition approaches that seem to offer the best options for drawing on the strengths of psychology, science, and philosophy, without abandoning the distinctions between, and discrete contributions from, psychoanalysis and neuroscience, although she gets tantalizingly close, especially in her quick sketch of Jonathan Lear's work (chapter 20). So, with all these caveats, why 5 stars? Because this is an essential book the experts would never have produced; a beautifully written despatch from disputed territories that communicates the possibilities for a future academic disciplines and cultural practices can rarely see through their defensive and self-affirming discourses.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    The premise of this book held great promise, but in the end, I was left disappointed. Schwartz begins by making clear that she isn't a 'science person' and that becomes clear from the beginning. The book describes her experience during and after enrolling in a unique program that arose out of a collaboration between neuroscientists and psychoanalysts (a year at the Anna Freud center in London UK and a year at Yale with neuroscientists). After the course, about which we learn almost nothing, she The premise of this book held great promise, but in the end, I was left disappointed. Schwartz begins by making clear that she isn't a 'science person' and that becomes clear from the beginning. The book describes her experience during and after enrolling in a unique program that arose out of a collaboration between neuroscientists and psychoanalysts (a year at the Anna Freud center in London UK and a year at Yale with neuroscientists). After the course, about which we learn almost nothing, she continues to visit and interview a psychoanalyst in New York who is working with an aphasic man. This part of the book seems like filler to me. There is a narrative about the author's father's struggle with depression that is left hanging. I am interested in how some of the ideas that underpin psychoanalysis have continued to be important and even confirmed by more recent findings. Freud drew attention to the importance of childhood experiences in adulthood and so it is surprising to me that Schwartz didn't mention that the Adverse Child Event study in the U.S. has made clear that early trauma has enormous downstream effects. I felt this book was more a sketch for a proper book on the topic. There are no references or footnotes in keeping with being a personal account of someone dabbling in the field.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Overall, this book proved to be an excellent way to spend my time as it provoked many thoughts and realizations of the complexity of the brain, how it functions, and different scientists explanations of the connection between the mind and the brain. The speed of this book was just right, never did it rush through a topic or cease to captivate. Although, throughout the novel, Schwartz did often jump between scientists, which did become slightly annoying over time. One moment she’ll be explaining Overall, this book proved to be an excellent way to spend my time as it provoked many thoughts and realizations of the complexity of the brain, how it functions, and different scientists explanations of the connection between the mind and the brain. The speed of this book was just right, never did it rush through a topic or cease to captivate. Although, throughout the novel, Schwartz did often jump between scientists, which did become slightly annoying over time. One moment she’ll be explaining in depth the works of Sigmund Freud and the next she’s jumping into the life story of the modern day neuropsychologist Mark Solms. In addition, she was never able to fully answer the question of whether neurology and psychology are connected or intertwined. Other than the skipping between subjects and unanswered inquiry, Schwartz created a masterpiece with absolutely amazing word structure and insightful diction.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    After a few days of reflection I've reduced my rating from 4 to 3 stars. This is another in the subgenre of author-centered nonfiction that I've been seeing lately - but that's not why I'm changing my response. But I don't think Schwartz accomplished what she seemed to have set out to write, since she's clearly much more interested in the psychoanalysis than the neuroscience. The reader gets a lot more Freud than Eric Kandel and the like. Schwartz certainly could have written another book entire After a few days of reflection I've reduced my rating from 4 to 3 stars. This is another in the subgenre of author-centered nonfiction that I've been seeing lately - but that's not why I'm changing my response. But I don't think Schwartz accomplished what she seemed to have set out to write, since she's clearly much more interested in the psychoanalysis than the neuroscience. The reader gets a lot more Freud than Eric Kandel and the like. Schwartz certainly could have written another book entirely with her material, but she chose to write a very, very personal book about her graduate research in a hybrid neuroscience-psychoanalysis program, and about her relationship with her father & his depression, and about a couple of her psychoanalyst mentors and their work. Still a thoughtful read and I enjoyed following her thoughts.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ellison

    This book could have been condensed into a long magazine article. The second half especially. How was Dr. Silvers helping Harry in any way that was related to his training as an analyst?

  22. 5 out of 5

    G Miklashek

  23. 4 out of 5

    Drew Edgeworth

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jon Harley

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mohammad Tuleimat

  26. 4 out of 5

    Umar

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Via-Dufresne Ley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christy

  30. 5 out of 5

    bo polk

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