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The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1572307407
ISBN-10: 1572307404
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Editorial Reviews


"...brilliant....It should probably not be read at one sitting, but sifted slowly as you would a 20 year old port....This is not just a book for bright psychiatric residents or child fellows, but child psychiatrists young and old, over-worked or under-paid. It offers a glimpse of new horizons in the profession, and may be the harbinger of a fresh archetype for child psychiatry as it enters the next millennium."--The Canadian Child Psychiatry Review

"...fulfilled my wildest expectations. Instead of laboriously struggling to learn about neurobiology, I found myself fairly effortlessly assimilating information because 1) the author is able to present his material in the context of interpersonal relationships in general and the treatment dyad in particular, and 2) the author is a master of lucidity, avoids pedantry, and succeeds in making his data clinically useful."--American Journal of Psychiatry

"Readable, thoughtful, and informative."--Educational Leadership

"I knew that this book was one I should keep handy when I wanted to improve my understanding of information on which the future science of psychiatry will be based."--Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

"This is just the right book, on a very hot topic, at just the right time, by just the right author....The story Siegel tells is indeed fascinating, essentially describing the transactional processes that happen at the interface between developmental neurobiology and the environment of an individual. He links every level of the system from cell chemistry to brain architecture, to caregiver-infant attachments, to interpersonal relationships in adulthood. Siegel presents his synthesis of these rapidly developing fields in a readable style aimed at those professionally involved clinically in the field, but which could...also be read by the interested layperson....This is a book to stimulate, illuminate, and drive our understanding of human developmental processes forwards and I suspect that The Developing Mind will be seen as a milestone work in the future."--Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

"This is a remarkable book....Most impressively, [Siegel] weaves a complex, plausible and compelling theoretical synthesis on the bidirectional influences of interpersonal experience and brain development and functioning....The Developing Mind boldly transcends the reductionism that characterizes so much of contemporary psychiatry."--Psychiatric Times

"The author has succeeded in integrating knowledge from several disciplines about interpersonal experience, human mental processes, and neurobiology to construct a conceptual foundation for an "interpersonal neurobiology" of the developing mind....No other book has addressed this subject so comprehensively, and it is sure to prove a valuable resource for those with primary neurophysiological knowledge and interests, especially students, scholars, and professionals in such associated areas as psychiatry, neuropsychology, developmental and professional psychology, and cognitive science."--Readings

"...[A] current, thorough, closely argued text....One of Siegel's major gifts is for presenting anatomical, neurological, research, and clinical information while still pointing out what remains unknown. He explores infant-parent relationships, emotions, states of mind, and how knowing about them can help one improve one's relationships and capabilities for developing successfully."--Booklist

"Why can't we remember what we did at age three? Why are some children unusually shy? What is the biochemistry of humiliation , and how can it be 'toxic to the developing child's brain'? New and plausible answers to these questions emerge from Siegel's synthesis of neurobiology, research psychology and cognitive science....his subject--how we become the people we are--deserves to hold many readers spellbound."--Publishers Weekly

"This amazing synthesis of neurobiological research and clinical expertise should forever lay to rest the mind-brain dichotomy. The book is beautifully constructed, including highly readable descriptions of brain development, information processing, models of memory and narrative, and the importance of attachment in human development. Siegel also shows how healthy relationships and psychotherapeutic interventions can offer us a 'second chance' to undo maladaptive patterns and insecure early attachments. This book is suitable for anyone working in the fields of mental health or neuroscience, and will be a superb guide for medical students and psychiatric residents."--Clarice J. Kestenbaum, MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University

"This beautifully written book achieves many things at once. It provides a much-needed, user-friendly description of the latest knowledge about brain development and function. It helps us to understand crucial links between neurobiology, subjective experience, and human relationships. It places the findings of attachment theory research in a solid biological context that explains the lifelong impact of early experience. It shows how trauma affects biological, emotional, and interpersonal functioning. And it does all of this with such clarity, compassion, and even humor, that the reader is left with a feeling of gratitude for having learned so much so effortlessly. This book is important and timely, and should serve as a standard reference for anybody interested in the mind--which is to say, anybody interested in the human experience."--Alicia F. Lieberman, PhD, Professor of Medical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

"In this extraordinary book, Siegel creatively integrates state-of-the-art knowledge of emotional development, neurobiology, cognitive science, attachment research, and and complexity theory. The resulting model cogently describes how a developing brain/mind organizes itself in the context of an emotional relationship with other brain/minds. This cutting-edge volume is essential reading for clinicians, researchers, and anyone who is intrigued by one of science's fundamental problems--the psychobiological origins of the human mind."--Allan N. Schore, PhD, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles

"Siegel's brilliant, concise synthesis of cutting-edge research in cognitive neuroscience and attachment theory provides the family therapist with a powerful way of understanding the origins of our behaviors in relationships. When I have shared these ideas with the families, couples, and students I see in clinical practice and in teaching, their response has been overwhelmingly positive. Siegel helps us make sense of mysteries of experience with which we all wrestle."--Gillian Walker, MSW, Senior Faculty, Ackerman Institute for the Family, New York

"This book offers an invaluable analysis and synthesis of the research and theory on the brain development of children. In a field where the volume and complexity of the research can be daunting, Siegel provides a real service. For professionals who want to understand the field, for practitioners who want to be well-grounded in research and theory, and for anyone who wants a truly deep understanding of human relationships, this book is one of the best places to turn."--Ellen Galinsky, MS, President, Families and Work Institute, New York

"For mind scientists, these are exciting but humbling times. As we learn more about the brain, we see how one-sided our abstract models of mental life have been. Focusing on what single heads can perceive, think, and learn, neuropsychology has disregarded our inborn ability to imitate, imagine, and sympathize with the feelings of others. This clear and straightforward book sets forth a new understanding of how communicated emotions influence the regulation of brain circuit growth and the consolidation of cognitive systems. Siegel demonstrates an impressive grasp of how the brain is believed to know and remember, a deep sensitivity to the joys and sorrows of human relationships, and a child psychiatrist's will to bridge the gap between scientific and clinical knowledge. This book will be of interest to clinicians, clinicians-in-training, and all those wishing to stay abreast of the new, more natural science of communicating minds."--Colwyn Trevarthen, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK

About the Author

Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is an internationally acclaimed author, award-winning educator, and child psychiatrist. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, where he serves as Co-Investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational center devoted to promoting insight, compassion, and empathy in individuals, families, institutions, and communities. Dr. Siegel's books include Mindsight, The Mindful Brain, The Mindful Therapist, Parenting from the Inside Out, and The Whole-Brain Child.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (October 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572307404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572307407
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Waldman on September 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
As the founding editor of an academic literature review journal, I must say that Siegel's book is a masterpiece. Both the field of developmental psychology and neurobiology are fraught with discrepant theories, but Siegel (professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles) manages to accurately represent the findings in both fields and integrate them in a way that will profoundly affect the way therapists and doctors will view their client's problems. In particular, he shows how our sense of self is intimately interconnected with the development of the brain, the processing of emotional circuits, the construction of cognitive frameworks (the "mind") and our interactions with parents, peers and society. But this book is not for the faint of heart since Siegel presumes the reader has a general understanding of psychodynamic theory.
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The essence of this book is captured in its very first paragraph, "the mind emerges at the interface of interpersonal experience and the structure and function of the brain." It goes on to explain how this is so in the various chapters that cover memory, emotion, construction of reality (via internal representations), states of mind, self regulation, interpersonal connection and integration.

The material is dense, but readable for most professionals and many educated laymen. It is particularly good at describing the integrative functions of the prefrontal areas of the brain, how they develop through social interpersonal experience and what the implications are when the right kind of developmental experiences are not present for the mind to develop to its full potential. As such, it considers the role of attachment in shaping the self, future relationships and the ability to manage emotions. The book does a very deep dive around all of these areas.

Dr. Siegel is a good writer and he packs a lot of information into this good in a highly digestible form. The most important points are repeated or mentioned parenthetically. Therefore, you can read this book and pick it up later without losing much in terms of flow. His examples are good and he doesn't sacrifice thick content. In other words, he says just enough to make his point and then moves on.

This book presents a strong argument for an "open-ended" nervous system. This notion is extended to love in another interesting book by three UCSF psychiatrists -- A GENERAL THEORY OF LOVE. Many of the concepts in this latter more accessible book are elaborated upon in detail in the Developing Mind. Lay readers, therefore, may want to start with this title and read The DEVELOPING MIND slowly as a companion text.
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Format: Paperback
This is an accessible book. I'm still in the process of reading, but NOTE: This is paperback edition is subtitled differently than the hardback:
The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience
but the copyright page states these two are the same book. Since the Amazon page for the hardback (innocently) suggests you buy both together to save, I thought I'd point out: Save even more: just buy the paperback edition! Hope this helps prospective readers.
In the meantime, the book confirms what years as a manager in large corporations has lead me to suspect - a healthy work culture affects the business in tangible ways! Still reading...
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Let me preface my review by stating that I have read this book for a neuroscience course, and although I have a tentative grasp of the subject I am by no means a professional, thus my interpretation of the book may be slightly biased. That being said, I will now discuss my opinions on The Developing Mind, by first giving a rough overview of the content, and then my opinions on how the author conveyed it.

This book thoroughly covers many aspect of the brain and how the mind develops as it ages and interacts with its environment. It begins by giving a basic introduction into the subject in the first chapter which can largely be glossed over by those familiar with the subject matter. The next few chapters, Memory, Attachment, and Emotion, establish the foundation of the author's ideas, and enhance the reader's understanding of how the brain works. In Memory, the author describes what memory is (as apposed to what people commonly describe as memory), and describes that two types of memory exist: implicit and explicit. Implicit memory is defined as memories that are not actively recalled, but rather emotions and associations involved with certain events that we are not conscious of, whereas explicit memory is the conscious act of remembering facts and experiences. He then goes on to describe how these memories form and how they impact the early developing brain. In Attachment, he describes the relationship formed between parent and child in terms of their attachment, and how important this is in later year, with the role that attachment plays in certain stress responses and attachments later in life. Emotion is about our emotions, how we feel them, both consciously and not, and how these emotions tie into our development and responses to situations.
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