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Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind
 
 


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Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind [Paperback]

Simon Baron-Cohen , Leda Cosmides , John Tooby
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1, 1997 026252225X 978-0262522250 Revised ed.

In Mindblindness, Simon Baron-Cohen presents a model of the evolution and development of "mindreading." He argues that we mindread all the time, effortlessly, automatically, and mostly unconsciously. It is the natural way in which we interpret, predict, and participate in social behavior and communication. We ascribe mental states to people: states such as thoughts, desires, knowledge, and intentions.

Building on many years of research, Baron-Cohen concludes that children with autism, suffer from "mindblindness" as a result of a selective impairment in mindreading. For these children, the world is essentially devoid of mental things.

Baron-Cohen develops a theory that draws on data from comparative psychology, from developmental, and from neuropsychology. He argues that specific neurocognitive mechanisms have evolved that allow us to mindread, to make sense of actions, to interpret gazes as meaningful, and to decode "the language of the eyes."

A Bradford Book


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Wow! in this lucid, compelling book Simon Baron-Cohen guides us deep into the realm of the mind.... This fascinating book captures the excitment of an emerging field, and advances that field.

(Henry M. Wellman, University of Michigan)

From the Back Cover

In Mindblindness, Simon Baron-Cohen presents a model of the evolution and development of 'mindreading.' He argues that we mindread all the time, effortlessly, automatically, and mostly un- consciously. It is the natural way in which we interpret, predict, and participate in social behavior and communication. Building on many years of research, Baron-Cohen concludes that children with autism suffer from 'mindblindness' as a result of a selective impairment in mind reading.

Product Details

  • Series: Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book; Revised ed. edition (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026252225X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262522250
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(16)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews
170 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book goes to the core of the problem behind autism. September 29, 1998
Format:Paperback
There are many books about autism and Asperger's syndrome, but they are all superficial. This is the only one that goes to the source of the problem itself: The brain at the hardware level.
What our consciousness 'sees' is not reality itself, but the output of battalions of highly specialized neurone co-processors that interpret reality in a distorted way engineered by Natural Selection to maximize our chances of surviving and reproducing.
We are blind to the existence of these unconscious perception mechanisms, and we confuse their perception of reality with reality itself. This is the reason why autism has been a mystery for so long, because it is not possible to understand autism without even knowing that these perception instincts exist.
Everything about this book is superlative. Autism is *very* *difficult* to understand even for us autistics, let alone Neurologically Typicals. This guy has the ability to explain autism with concepts that make things rather easy to visualize. Concepts so befitting that leave me wondering how he manages to invent them.
Let me give one example: As a kid, I didn't see people like objects, but I didn't quite see them as people either. They were there, but they were not very important. That is as far as I can go explaining how it was for me. The only thing I can add is that I am not giving you anything more than a faint idea of how it really was.
What does Simon Baron-Cohen do? He introduces the concept of "skinbags." Bags of skin that move and talk like people but that are not quite people.
"Skinbags" is precisely what people were for me. They moved and talked, but they had no feelings.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good argument for a model of autism April 26, 2000
Format:Paperback
Baron-Cohen presents a well thought out theory of autism firmly based on his own experimental evidence, as well as that of others. In brief, Baron Cohen postulates that autistic children lack the ability to interpret the mental states of others, and consequently cannot assign mental causes to the actions of others. He explains this in terms of autictics lacking certain postulated mental structures involved in what he calls "mind reading"; for instance, most autistic children do not seem to be able to follow the gaze of another person, a skill that Baron-Cohen believes is central to understanding another's intentions.
While I find his arguments well supported by the data, I do have some differences with him as to the primacy of causation in his model. I would suggest that the reason the analytic mechanisms are absent is that the underlying mental state are absent. For instance, in the writings of one noted high-funtioning autistic, Temple Grandin, she notes that certain mental states having to do with interpersonal relationships are simply unknown to her; she cannot really understand deep friendships and love. To me this suggests not merely the absence of an an analytic and conceptual mechanism, but also the absence of certain physiological correlates that underly the emotions that are a large componant of social attachements.
Regardless, "Mindblindness" is an excellent addition to the theoretical literature of autism and serves as a superb summary of much of the experimental data as well.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provides understanding of non-verbal/social LDs. May 20, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book takes recent cognitive research findings and aligns it with the problems that autistics and other people with non-verbal learning disabilities have in correctly interpreting and responding to social situations. It was a fast read for me and very helpful in assisting me to understand that there is a physical cause for inability to respond appropriately to social situations by learning disabled people. The book actually gave me the intellectual key to forming an appropriate emotional response to LD individuals and in assisting them in learning how to respond appropriately to social situations.
Excellent discussion on eye contact and interpreting actions. Author also provides some interesting observations on intra species communication and how it relates to the evolution of human response in social situations.
Well worth the read if you work with people who have non-verbal learning disabilities or have a child with learning disabilities that encompass the spectrum of autistic disorders. Good tie in to language disabilities and discussion of temporal and frontal region of the brain.
Aimed at both professionals and the lay person, the author has managed to do a good job of straddling both worlds.
Recommended for those people who have managed to finally catch their breath and are over grieving from discovering the consequences of living with an LD individual, and who have managed to proceed to formulating a program of education, personal and familial response to non-verbal disabilities.
While the author made good points about eye contact and subsequent social knowledge, he did fail to discuss those social situations where eye contact would be considered to be aggressive rather than a bonding or friendly situation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book. Recommended for anyone who's autistic or professionals ...
Good book. Recommended for anyone who's autistic or professionals who work with autistic people.
Published 3 days ago by Jason Bowles
5.0 out of 5 stars Bahron-Cohen shines
Innovative Thinker. Simple read....
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
I work with children with Autism and was recommended this book by a professor. It talks a lot about evolution and adaptation which I am not interested in. Read more
Published 6 months ago by person1234
5.0 out of 5 stars Very academic, but within reach for the layperson
A *lot* to think about in this book. Baron-Cohen handles the development of human beings' perception of self in relation to other selves and then analyzes what's different in... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jane Lebak
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money.
It wasn't what I expected. I didn't think it was helpful or applicable to me as a SLP. Too much talk about evolution and the theory behind and not much about how to help people... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Miriam Tully
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic!
This book is a must-read for those doing serious research of autism spectrum disorders. Fascinating reports of research exploring Theory of Mind in children diagnoses with autism.
Published on April 29, 2014 by Laure-Marie Carignan
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannnot get enough Autism books.
There is a lot of information about Autism out there right now. Theory of Mind and Executive Function pretty much explains why Autistics cannot take information from one activity... Read more
Published on February 22, 2013 by Carleen Lane
3.0 out of 5 stars In order to read this, you must have...
I am a diagnosed aspie, and read this while in my last year of high school. Writing this a few years into college, I will say that before I would read this book again, I would... Read more
Published on August 16, 2011 by AnonReed
5.0 out of 5 stars Asperger Syndrome
Classic work on Theory of Mind and its importance in understanding autism, Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism. Understandable and readable. Good diagrams and models.
Published on October 6, 2008 by Lucy Grace
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of theory that must be taken as true for the overall theor to...
This book is based on past research, as it should be. The ideas in it, however, seem formulated for the topic. Read more
Published on September 19, 2008 by Amazon Customer
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