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OF TWO MINDS: THE REVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE OF DUAL-BRAIN PSYCHOLOGY Hardcover – September 28, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0684854243 ISBN-10: 0684854244 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (September 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684854244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684854243
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ever since Freud, we've known that we share our mental space with another mind, one that may prove quite a hindrance. It can be like a bad roommate we can't evict, leaving dirty dishes in the sink and playing the stereo too loud, and all we can do is try to adjust its excesses with a few carefully worded notes. Dr. Fredric Schiffer believes that he has located the culprit and learned how to talk to it, and his clinical success with problems like cocaine addiction, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder suggest that he's on to something. Of Two Minds is his report from the front.

A psychiatrist affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Schiffer has studied split-brain research and devised his own experiments to show that stress and anxiety are often felt more strongly in one hemisphere than the other. No simple "left brain good, right brain bad" dichotomy, it seems that those who have been affected by emotional trauma lateralize the effects, perhaps in an effort to maintain more-or-less-normal functioning. One hemisphere or the other gets stuck in the past, says Schiffer, and acts out through the patient's symptoms. His goal is integration of these two minds into a kind of team by using clever manipulation of sensory stimuli and other tools of cognitive science.

Of Two Minds is unusual in its acceptance of both scientific and emotional validity. Alternating reviews of the data with often heart-wrenching transcripts of therapy sessions, it offers a two-pronged assault on what seems to be a dual-natured problem. While it might not solve your "roommate problem" overnight, it may start you on the road to reconciliation. --Rob Lightner

From Publishers Weekly

Taking cues from 19th-century English physician Arthur Wigan (whose seemingly normal friend, it turned out when autopsied, had only a single brain hemisphere), contemporary neuroscience asks whether normal people, who possess both left and right brains, can be said to be literally of two minds. Schiffer, an associate attending psychiatrist at McLean Hospital and a Harvard Medical School psychiatry instructor, believes the answer is a resounding yes, and argues that psychiatric disorders are best understood as the unhappy result of two warring brain halves. Transcripts of psychotherapy sessions Schiffer conducted while his patients wore specially designed goggles that allowed them to see out of only one hemisphere at a time support this sci-fi-sounding thesis, as do some?but by no means all?studies pertaining to hemispheric specialization (shifts in ear temperatures, for example, correlate with shifts in EEGs). Unfortunately, while provocative, the patient transcripts, which form the linchpin of the evidence, are bland and curiously unconvincing, and Schiffer's therapy techniques seemingly await further clinical trials. Readers not yet familiar with the famous studies of so-called "split-brain patients"?epilepsy sufferers whose corpora callosa were severed in an experimental therapy technique in the 1960s?may find Schiffer's review of that material, and his reports from his own work with some of those patients, the most interesting portions of the book.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Aside from the fact that the book is well written and easy to understand the concept is workable.
autumn
He gives great recounts of his research and patients that show just how fascinating this dual-brain theory really is.
Lauren Ramirez
This book was very helpful when the information was applied therapeutically to help my nonverbal son with autism.
Portia Iversen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The book describes how you can easily stimulate one side of your brain and how this can affect your mood - and it works. After seeing Doctor Schiffer on 20/20, I tried for myself the simple test he described on TV and explains in the book. In less than a minute after covering all but my extreme left visual field, I was in tears. Trying the other side took away all my stress just as quickly and made me feel self-confident. The results of the two hemisphere theory Schiffer explains in this book worked for me. I've since shared the same test with friends and relatives. Without any previous explanation, they experience the same effects as the book predicts. This book outlines a real, practical and simple way to reduce stress. I highly recommend the book and encourage you to make your own pair of glasses as he describes. Just get a pair of $4 safety goggles and tape the lenses. My wife and I can really open up to each other by following the conversation techniques in the book, while wearing homemade pairs of glasses. I know we must look silly, but it works. My only complaint about Schiffer's book is that he focuses primarily on the theraputic value of his research. It would have been nice if he had explored the other possibilities of his discoveries. At least this book is not just another theoretical work. It has techniques in it that you can try yourself. Whether or not you believe his conclusions, you will experience the effect.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Don't mistake this book for another tedious explanation of what it means to be right-brained or left-brained. This is a wonderful user's manual to our personalities, and specifically to why we get sad or anxious. Schiffer explains clearly and engangingly, at a level I found easy to understand (I'm not in the mental health field), how each of us essentially harbors two people in ourselves, and why we sometimes suffer because of it. Schiffer throws in plenty of convincing research and examples, and lays out a clear approach to identifying our two personalities, showing how one of them tends to cause us problems, and then dealing with it (there's a simple vision trick that can help). It's already helped me understand a lot about myself. Somehow, it's a fun read, too.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Fredric Schiffer on May 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Alexei Lebedev wrote a very thoughtful review that I would like to respond to. First, the psychological ideas I present are built upon a large literature on cerebral laterality. In our laboratory at McLean Hospiital we have used placebo controlled studies to rule out the suggestion that very rightly concerns Mr. Lebedev. The glasses have been used also to predict which patients with severe depression will respond to transcranial magnetic stimulation over the left forehead. When I use the glasses in the office the way I describe in the book, then no doubt suggestion has some role, but there I am looking for a therapeutic response and am not conducting an experiment. As I reported, about a third of my patients have no response to the glasses, an other third had a mild response and the last group have rather profound responses along the mature/childish dichotomy. In our laboratory we have found that retesting subjects two times, a year apart, there was a very high correlation between trials. In the book, I describe patients who had the more dramatic responses. In patients who do not have responses, the findings from other patients can still be applied to them and can be very helpful in giving them a better concept of why they are suffering. That Mr. Lebedev did not have a profound response showing the mature/childish dichotomy is not surprising.

Mr. Lebedev's idea of blocking the ear is a good suggestion. I did not know when I wrote the book that Paul Green, Ph.D. had done considerable work using ear plugs to help patients with different conditions, and I have occassionally used them.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By autumn on September 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This method is probably one of the finest therapies I have been lucky enough to come across. Aside from the fact that the book is well written and easy to understand the concept is workable. From a clinical point of view the method is well researched but from a personal point of view the method is invaluable. There is a joke at the hospital that I worked at that the mental health doctors were as crazy as the patients but I think that in order to truly understand them you need to see the world through their eyes. Dr Schiffer seems to be able to do this. My father has severe depression and my brother Cerebal Palsy. So this book is not just professional but personal. I tried the glasses on my brother and for the first time I saw the difference. He is on occasion unable to control low-level fits. It took approx 30 secs for his brain to quiet itself and I also got to see a side of him I've never seen before. My brother has a genius IQ and two degrees and yet is unable to control his brain till now. He actually asked me for the glasses the other day when it flared again. Dr Schiffer you don't know me but thank-you from the bottom of my heart. You have helped me and my family. I hope that anyone that reads this book is helped as I have been.
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