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Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain Paperback – August 4, 2015
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A New York Times bestseller Between the ages of twelve and twenty four the brain changes in important and at times challenging ways In Brainstorm Dr Daniel Siegel busts a number of commonly held myths about adolescence for example that it is merely a stage of immaturity filled with often crazy behavior According to Siegel during adolescence we learn vital skills such as how to leave home and enter the larger world connect deeply with others and safely experiment and take risks Drawing on important new research in the field of interpersonal neurobiology Siegel explores exciting ways in which understanding how the brain functions can improve the lives of adolescents making their relationships more fulfilling and less lonely and distressing on both sides of the generational divide A New York Times bestseller Between the ages of twelve and twenty four the brain changes in important and at times challenging ways In Brainstorm Dr Daniel Siegel busts a number of commonly held myths about adolescence for example that it is merely a stage of immaturity filled with often crazy behavior According to Siegel during adolescence we learn vital skills such as how to leave home and enter the larger world connect deeply with others and safely experiment and take risks Drawing on important new research in the field of interpersonal neurobiology Siegel explores exciting ways in which understanding how the brain functions can improve the lives of adolescents making their relationships more fulfilling and less lonely and distressing on both sides of the generational divide In this New York Times bestselling book Dr Daniel Siegel shows parents how to turn one of the most challenging developmental periods in their children s lives into one of the most rewarding Between the ages of twelve and twenty four the brain changes in important and at times challenging ways In Brainstorm Dr Daniel Siegel busts a number of commonly held m
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What I expected out of this book was something rather harder and more specific about the science. The book jacket says it's based on the latest research and I have no doubt that's the case but none of that research seems to have made its way directly into the book. Instead what you have is very soft and results-based approach to the topic. So if you're expecting data on brain chemistry changes through the adolescent years then, like me, you'll likely be disappointed. Instead you'll get instruction through analogy with concepts like "Mindsight" and the "Wheel of Awareness". This all seemed a bit soft to me but I suspect that for the majority of the population this sort of 'softness' is actually a ringing endorsement. Siegel has made a decidedly complex topic easily readable and provides parents with the tools they need to deal with a historically difficult period of parenthood.
Even more usefully, the doctor doesn't just dole out information but provides mental exercises the reader can perform to help internalize the lesson being taught and make it easier to implement personal changes. His text is also filled with abundant anecdotes from his own practice to reinforce the idea that the situations parents face are far from unique and have been dealt with successfully in the past. All in all this is an exceptionally well-balanced book unless you're looking for something a bit more dense and scientific.
-- UPDATE --
A kind person left a comment suggesting some alternative reading material for those looking for a bit more hard science.
Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
The Developing Mind, Second Edition
PS: It is always my endeavor to provide helpful reviews. If you find my review helpful please vote appropriately. If you do not, then please leave me a comment indicating what you want to know and I'll be sure to do better next time.
(1) It's always good to remind oneself of the positive aspects of the developmental phase of the adolescent. Siegel lists these strengths as: intense and spontaneous emotions, intense and powerful peer and social connections, a spark of uniqueness and originality, and a profound search for one's identity and place in the universe. Frustrated parents can easily fall into the trap of seeing only your teenager's faults and negative behaviors. Remembering to see the upside (which is really only discussed in the first chapter of the book) is a good thing.
(2) Somehow Siegel wanders into the topic of healing your brain from trauma. During the course of this digression, he reviews an intriguing theory of psychological trauma (p. 176ff) that painful memories that are 'locked up' in the right hemisphere - the seat of emotion, imagery, and "implicit" (timeless and voiceless) memories - cause intense pain, fear, and flashbacks. When the right and left (verbal, analytic, logical and chronological) brain are integrated, the left side of the brain can give a coherent narrative to the trauma story and place it into a past perspective. Healing from trauma then occurs when what was formerly intense, limitless, and present danger, is transformed into more comprehensible, limited, and coherent past experience. This is a powerful theory of trauma and healing and helps to explain why social connections and social supports aid in the prevention and healing of PTSD. Note: the theory is not presented here for the first time, but Siegel's review of it is interesting.
(1) In contrast to "Brain-Based Parenting", I found the book haphazardly organized and the writing style surprisingly poor. Siegel's sentences were run-on, off topic, and varied irritatingly between medicalese and schmaltzy sentimentality. His topics were all over the map, too: from the title topic, to attachment theory, to general advice for getting enough sleep and eating well, to "Mindsight" exercises for meditation and raising awareness. I was disappointed; I felt the book didn't stick to any consistent theme and was probably a hastily put together collection of blog posts. Search "teenage brain fitness" or "the adolescent brain" on Amazon.com and one will find many appealing titles on the topic that look more propitious than this one.
(2) Siegel's stated intention is to write a book intdended to be read by both parents and their teenagers, perhaps even read aloud from one to another. Despite a number of cute cartoons, I can hardly imagine a teenager in modern America today who could make it successfully through this meandering, poorly written volume. I have one teenager and one pre-teen, and I am involved in volunteering and in contact with many of my daughters' friends (and, well, I also happen to be a psychiatrist and have seen hundreds of teens in crisis through a psychiatric emergency center in Fairfax County, Virginia). The only thing I can say in response to the idea of an American teenager finding this book readable would be "fuggedaboudit." Or maybe "you must be Cray-Cray."
I found the following books infinitely more useful, readable, and enjoyable than Brainstorm: (1) Haim Ginot's "Between Parent and Teenager", (2) Thoms Phelan's "surviving your teenager", (3) Anything by Gershen Kaufman, Ph.D., especially "personal power for teens", (4) "Brain-Based Parenting" (see above), and (5)Ginsburg's "Roots and Wings." I tried hard to find the positives in this book; I read around five books per month so I am not averse to working hard to get something from a read, so I don't give out the dreaded "2 star" rating casually. I had to put this one down for long stretches and really force myself to punch on through, however. There are any number of other books on teenagers and their development I would encourage readers to turn to before, or instead of, this one.
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I read it and listened to it both.Read more