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Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs Hardcover – March 6, 2012


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Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs + The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment (Norton Professional Books) + The Addicted Brain: Why We Abuse Drugs, Alcohol, and Nicotine (FT Press Science)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 Reprint edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610391470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610391474
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #462,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Kirkus
review in January 1 issue:
“Developmental neuroscientist Lewis examines his odyssey from minor stoner to helpless, full-blown addict….as [he] unspools one pungent drug episode after another, he capably knits into the narrative an accessible explanation of the neural activity that guided his behavior. From opium pipe to orbitofrontal cortex, a smoothly entertaining interplay between lived experience and the particulars of brain activity.” 

Publishers Weekly
“Meticulous, evocative… Lewis’s unusual blend of scientific expertise, street cred, vivid subjectivity and searching introspection yields a compelling perspective on the perils and allure of addiction.”

Wall Street Journal
"Compelling…for readers grappling with addiction, Mr. Lewis's…approach might well be novel enough to inspire them to seek the happiness he now enjoys.”

Chronicle of Higher Education
“He proceeds deftly from episodes of his drug years to neuroscientific explanations of his brain's response to drugs.”

Boston Globe
“A surprising and charming addition to this crowded genre. Yes, it embraces the classic redemption narrative - teenage experimentation, late-’60s Berkeley, exotic forays into Malaysia and Calcutta, the inevitable slide into deception, crime, and desperation. But he ends up a professional neuropsychologist, able to enliven the tired streams of addled consciousness with metrical rapids of semi-hard science.”
 
Guardian
“Marc Lewis's brilliant – if not wholly sympathetic – account of his many mind-bludgeoning drug experiences wears its biological determinism on its sleeve … Lewis has certainly woven his experiences into an unusual and exciting book… (Memoirs of an Addicted Brain) is as strange, immediate and artfully written as any Oliver Sacks case-study, with the added scintillation of having been composed by its subject.”
The Fix
“the most original and illuminating addiction memoir since Thomas De Quincey's seminal Confessions of an Opium Eater…[an] electrifying debut.”

Midwest Book Review
“A powerful survey recounting the author’s powerful addiction and how he broke an intense hold on drugs… This will appeal to a range of collections, from those strong in autobiographies to science and health holdings alike.”

BBC Focus Magazine
“(W)hile the narrative of Marc’s life is a real-page turner, what makes this such an interesting and unusual book is that it also contains detailed descriptions of the neuro-chemical changes that are going on inside Marc’s brain as he takes the different drugs, and later as he wrestles to come off them. After reading the book, I felt that I understood for the first time what addiction is like at both the personal and the chemical level.”

About the Author

Dr. Marc Lewis is a developmental neuroscientist and professor of human development and applied psychology at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. He is the author of over fifty journal publications in neuroscience and developmental psychology and coeditor of Emotion, Development, and Self-Organization: Dynamic Systems Approaches to Emotional Development.

Customer Reviews

One of the most insightful books I've read.
Ignacio R Camacho
If you are trying to give up your current addiction, Dr Lewis' text will bring you right up to date with the current science.
Peter
I also really enjoyed the clinical descriptions of the effects the various drugs he took have on the human brain.
Brian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Peter on March 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs

A must read for anyone interested in learning more about their own addictive behaviours. This book is relevant for any kind of addiction;drugs, booze, sex....anything. If you are trying to give up your current addiction, Dr Lewis' text will bring you right up to date with the current science. He describes a lot of great things useful if you're trying to develop effective tools for recovery. This book would also be a great reference for addiction councelors too.

Not only is the book chock full of useful information, but it's also a compelling story. Anyone will empathize with the despair, yearning, craving and looming self destruction Dr Lewis describes. It's a good read. Pretty compelling stuff.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Awilkie on January 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Ive been a heroin addict for the last 18 years and have read just about every book about dope out there. While other books may better portray the visceral effect of addiction this book examines the complete process and the mental / physical circuitry that evolves into that monkey riding your back.

Although i'm a junkie I don't consider myself an idiot, nor a weak willed person. I've completed my masters, been employed with the same company for over 12 years, pay my bills, never drink and don't touch any other drugs...yet when it comes to quiting heroin my actions completely perplex even myself. This book has gone a long way toward helping me understand why I act as I do, and has opened up a new vocabulary with which to engage my therapist as a means to describe the process which leads to relapse.
This is definitely not your normal "i shot dope" confessional, but for those looking for a deeper understanding of why it is so hard to keep that needle out of your arm, this is a must read. I thank the author for using his talent and knowledge to break this material down into a format that anyone could understand.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brian on March 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The writing in this book is simple, elegant, and totally compelling. The description of the author's inner feelings as he searches for his own version of inner peace and calm through drugs is captivating. I also really enjoyed the clinical descriptions of the effects the various drugs he took have on the human brain. The author makes the science accessible to someone not versed in neuroscience and neuroanatomy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jayrichards on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Lewis has done a unique job of taking the experience of the addict and combining it with that of the perspective of science. Too often we are left with either one or the other - the experience of the addict that the professional cannot relate to or else the vernacular of the scientist which is out of reach of the recovering person. As an 18 year recovering person as well as a 16 year Addiction Counselor I can attest that I have learned much about the addict in terms of his life experience as well as what goes on chemically inside his brain from reading Dr. Lewis's book that (I confess)I had little knowledge of beforehand. I will be recommending this book to my recovering friends as well as fellow colleagues!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leilani Barry on September 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Marc Lewis masterfully incorporated engaging textbook style neurobiological explanations behind addiction within his "Memoirs of an Addicted Brain." Each chapter is a rich anecdote describing a different phase of Lewis' life, accompanied by the introduction of a new cause of addiction for most of the book. He explains his emotions and thought processes leading up to, during, and after each new high. After a new drug is introduced, he not only describes the pharmacological effects but also explains basic anatomy of the brain and what the processing or physiology of the particular receptor, neurotransmitter, or structure of interest would be under normal conditions.

The feel and structure of this book is an unusual and remarkable combination of explanations from both a raconteur and college lecturer. It is extraordinary and unique because Lewis is both neuroscientist and drug addict in the book. He is able to provide valuable insight that could usually be lost in translation between experimenter and lab rat. Lewis guides us through the neurology behind addiction as he reveals his first encounter with underage drinking, his temporary escape from depression via dextromethophan, sexual desires, and his experimentation with psychedelics, PCP, and eventually heroin and more. Though not an addict yet, in the first chapter, Lewis jumped straight to expressing the insecurity and curiosity that led first to drinking alcohol. He noticed a change in mood and his self-criticism finally being silenced. He switches from raconteur to college lecturer mode when he begins describing how alcohol is affecting his system by enhancing GABA transmission, which means "the inhibitory chemicals get boosted," and muffling glutamate transmission, meaning "the excitatory chemicals get hushed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Miss Kitty on June 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the beginning it was hard to get through, then at some point lights go off and you begin to live in his world of obsessive compulsive drug use.. What was really interesting was how he put things into not only words but explained visually the parts of the brains each drug he did affected. He explained how the different parts of the brain work and how each drug interacted. What I really got out of his reading is that addictions are more about the chase than the actual object/desire that a person is in pursuit of. The adrenaline and dopamine that gets produced with every chase is what becomes the addiction.
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