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John Wylie's Profile

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John Wylie "Pychiatrist-turned-philosopher" RSS Feed (Olney, MD USA)

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The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life
The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life
by Peter V. Rabins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $28.95
46 used & new from $0.33

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feeling oppressed by science?, September 17, 2014
This book is exactly what I have been searching for. I am a psychiatrist, who was brought up on the great psychiatric thinkers of the 20th Century. Since the "decade of the brain" starting in 1990, psychiatry has turned exclusively to brain science. What Dr. Rabins calls "narrative truth: the empathetic method," is what psychoanalytic theory is based on, but it is now all but ignored. However, brain science is in its infancy and no biological mechanisms for any mental illnesses are in sight. Dr. Rabins gives us a very timely reminder that empirical knowledge is but one of several time-tested avenues to the truth. In rigorous but crystal clear prose, he describes a three-facet approach to determining the "why of things," including, "cause in the ecclesiastic tradition." This book is a must for anyone feeling oppressed from seeking a wider scope of knowledge than by the restrictions imposed by the small corner of reality circumscribed by experimental science.

Shepherd: A Memoir
Shepherd: A Memoir
by Richard Gilbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.67
50 used & new from $0.70

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book for its artistry...and its honesty!, April 28, 2014
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This review is from: Shepherd: A Memoir (Paperback)
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For starters is the mastery of the braided story with shifts of scene and theme, gorgeous descriptions at every turn, and his ear for dialogue which is loving and respectful, but with vivid color and full of gentle humor.

But at the center all of it is Gilbert's extraordinary voice as a writer. There is no persona here; this book is the story about a real person who authentically immerses himself completely and intimately into everything--the weather, vegetation, his beloved sheep, and the lives of the people in a poor Appalachian community.

At one level, there is the haunting redemption of a distant father's paradise lost weaving through the background. There is the lifetime naturalist, who knows the identity and history of all the vegetation he encounters, the seasoned newspaper reporter for whom it is second nature to bag someone's story in a heartbeat, and a genuine curiosity about everything and everybody he encounters.

Most of all is the courage of his honesty. If not for the sheer pleasure of its artistry, read this book to find out what honesty is, because you can't sit down and make that up: you either have it or you don't, and Richard Gilbert possesses that rarest of gifts.

Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame
Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame
by Christopher Boehm
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.09
51 used & new from $16.28

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Human Evolution, June 14, 2012
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In "Hierarchy in the Forest, the evolution of egalitarian behavior" (1999,) Christopher Boehm brought to my attention the most important paradox to be solved in the subject of human evolution: how and why did hunter gatherer humans evolve egalitarian societies within their bands when those of chimpanzees (and Bonobos) are clearly hierarchical. As he points out, alone amongst all the books on how morality evolved that are endlessly focused on the abstractions of game theory and inclusive fitness, Boehm actually gives us an historical narrative about why it might have happened. He makes the case that it evolved due to the cooperative needs to share meat when big game hunting commenced about 250,000 years ago, similar to equitable meat sharing in other meat eaters like wolves and lions. In "Moral Origins," Boehm brings his argument up to date with what feels like his final statement. This is a marvelous book by a scientist who has committed his career to a vital question pertaining to human nature. Particularly admirable is the expression of the proper tone of scientific humility as to the tentative status of his hypothesis and that it gets the conversation going. It is not at all a criticism of this book to briefly state that my own view is that the "roughness" of the egalitarianism in late Pleistocene humans was a deterioration from total egalitarianism in Homo erectus, and that this breakdown was caused by increased sexual competition implicit in the changes that produced our own Homo sapiens species. The sole piece of evidence used to bolster increasing egalitarianism is a paper by Mary Stiner (2009) that demonstrates cut marks on bones were straight 200,000 years ago and "chaotic" 400,000 years ago indicating that they were done by many individuals. To read into straight cut marks the meaning of more equitable meat sharing is wrong in my judgment. Standardization is the hallmark of the onset of culture itself - standardization of the blades as well as how they were used. 400,000 years ago I believe that it wouldn't even have entered the minds of the many individuals who took part in the butchering to take more than their fair share for themselves or their own families.
This is a must-read book for anyone interested in human evolution. For a different view, click the link below, click on the author, John Wylie (twice) and check out the "about page" on the blog on the right side of my personal page.
Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness, A Guide for Physicians, Interns, Nurses, Patients and Their Families, Updated Edition
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 29, 2013 8:11 PM PDT

The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
by Irving Kirsch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.84
50 used & new from $1.73

16 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alternative views, February 15, 2010
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This is exactly the kind of book that I would have eagerly assigned to a collection of my most discerning patients when I was practicing psychiatry. It is a relentlessly authoritative argument that antidepressants have only placebo effects enhanced by their non-therapeutic side effects. The principal tool that Irving Kirsch uses is meta-analyses, i.e., studies of studies. It is well written and an effective presentation. For a completely different view from the opposite end of the spectrum, may I suggest my own short book,Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients and their Families (Demers Books Health and Well-Being series) It is a firsthand report straight from the mouths of thousands of my own patients describing precisely how their emotional interiors were altered by the medications I prescribed for them.

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche
Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche
by Ethan Watters
Edition: Hardcover
67 used & new from $3.78

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely important point of view, February 15, 2010
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Ethan Watters persuasively argues that the export of the "medical model" of psychiatric illness has not only created epidemics of hysteria and new markets for our drugs, but also has generally increased stigma by further isolating patients. He skillfully describes advantages for the mentally ill of a group-oriented Eastern mindset over the Western focus on the individual without becoming ponderous or polemic. Watters is an excellent writer and I found the book a very accessible expression of an important group of ideas.

For those readers seeking a more hopeful view of psychiatry in America, I would also recommend my own short book written for a general audience, Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients and their Families (Demers Books Health and Well-Being series).

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