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Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain Paperback – March 11, 2008
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Dennis Cass has been a journalist for ten years, writing for Harper's, Spin, Mother Jones, and Slate.com. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and son.
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Top Customer Reviews
Cass talks a lot about his stepfather's eccentricities, drug problems, and probable bouts of manic-depression. The imbalance all this parental dysfunction brought to Cass' youth served as one of the primary spurs for Cass' adult investigation into the workings of the mind/brain and for this book. However, Cass just doesn't do a good enough job relating the two. After describing a particularly egregious lapse on the part of his stepfather, Cass proceeds to speculate somewhere down the line about whether such social insensitivity might have been caused by a defect in his Dad's amygdala. That's a pretty big bounce on the trampoline.
The reader is sent into further unfueled take-offs by Cass' own experiments in mental states. For example, he tries to test his tolerance for stress by keeping his arm immersed in ice water. Then he brings a picture of TV commentator Bill Maher to one of his interviews with a brain researcher to try to find out why Maher's face so frightens and frustrates him. Much of this book is just such childish brain chatter.
I did keep reading, mostly out of a sort of voyeuristic interest in what Cass' stepfather would do next. However, I really didn't learn much about the brain here, outside of the one more precise chapter that describes how the amygdala can register and "wire" fear even when we are not conscious of having been frightened. This chapter provides a possible explanation for the waves of panic experienced by people with anxiety disorders.Read more ›
Whether conducting self-experiments in the kitchen while his family sleeps, or treating his real or possibly imagined ADHD with prescription meds, Cass ultimately learns more about himself, his childhood and his new role as a father than he sets out to.
It's nice to leave your brain behind and get inside someone else's for a short time. Head Case does just that. It's the neuroscience book for the rest of us. Buy it now, your brain will thank you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Funny, informative and a bit touching. If you enjoy thinking about your own thinking, this book will please.Published 13 months ago by Randall W. Hess
Really wanted to love this book. What a great concept. But put it aside about 1/3 of the way through. Just not very interesting.Published on November 20, 2007 by Aspie Mom
I should have paid more attention to the Publishers Weekly review at the top and not the enthusiastic reader reviews. This is an entertaining book, to be sure. Read morePublished on May 12, 2007 by mikemac9