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Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine Paperback – February 17, 1999
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Several of the reviews on this page complained that it was more of a memoir than a text. And they are right, it is - but it is not something that merits complaint. Rather, i think Candace Pert does a wonderful job of showing her personal journey, and the path along the way.
i would have rated it with five stars, but unfortunately, the book has a lot of typos. i find it hard to believe that as classic a book as this one would have so many grammar and spelling mistakes. Nearly all of these would and should have been caught by a good editor. I found them rather distracting, making it somewhat harder to read. It was an unfortunate wart on the what would otherwise be a solid five star review.
For some books, that would have been it. The book would have going onto the shelf, mostly unread. However, this book was good enough that I was able to look beyond the editing mistakes. And in the couple of days it took me to read it cover to over, i was fascinated by the world Dr.Pert builds.
i love the picture she portrays of science - specifically the National Institutes of Health. It shows the atmosphere in a national-lab setting and portray it and the publish-or-perish scientific world in a less than flattering picture of the peer review system. Against this backdrop we have many 'NeuroPeptide' or life sciences discoveries. where is all this leading, I don't have the foresight to predict. But that's the beauty of science, and Dr. Pert does a wonderful job of picturing all aspects of her journey.
She is phenomenal at bridging the ever widening gap of the mental (or metaphysical) realm and its effects with the physical biological and chemical realm with their effects. What's the difference between the metaphysical and the physical, and what are the similarities? A great look into how we can leverage this knowledge to gain better results in our day to day lives.
Since the 1970s, the late Candace Pert has persisted in her vision of finding molecular evidence for the functionality of our emotions, and our sexuality, and more generally for mindbody medicine, within the boundaries of modern science. The book, if all that additional information was taken out, would be a research paper, too thin to fill a book. And it would probably miss its goal entirely. It’s this holistic and empathic approach, and needless to add that it’s an artistic approach as well, that makes this book so unique. And it shows that this scientist is actually a great human. Actually Pert, together with the brilliant animations in the Bleep movie, made transparent how human sexuality works, and that it is not a mechanical abstract function, that it is not, an instinct or ‘drive’ as Sigmund Freud called it, but a direct outflow from our emotional predilections.
To give an example, how she explains this rather complex matter in a very readable, comprehensive way, let me put this quote:
—If receptors are the first components of the molecules of emotion, then ligands are the second. The word ligand comes from the Latin ligare, ‘that which binds’, sharing its origin with the word religion. Ligand is the term used for any natural or manmade substance that binds selectively to its own specific receptor on the surface of a cell. The ligand bumps onto the receptor and slips off, bumps back on, slips back off again. The ligand bumping on is what we call the binding, and in the process, the ligand transfers a message via its molecular properties to the receptor. Though a key fitting into a lock is the standard image, a more dynamic description of this process might be two voices—ligand and receptor— striking the same note and producing a vibration that rings a doorbell to open the doorway to the cell./24
Candace Pert’s project was since its humble beginnings in the 1970s very daring, as until now mainstream psychology treats emotions as ‘floating parameters’ that are hard to grasp by our reigning mechanistic science paradigm.
But in her own words, her vision even went beyond. She did not just want to succeed in her personal research project, but desired to help bring about this huge paradigm shift to many scientists who are currently working on it. And she wanted this paradigm shift to expand also into medical science, so that the psychosomatic unity of body and mind are definitely recognized in medicine.
It is known from the Bleep movie how brilliantly Pert explained her research, how she can convey complex matters in a simple comprehensive way. And here is how she explains emotions under the particular angle of her research:
—When I use the term emotion, I am speaking in the broadest of terms, to include not only the familiar human experiences of anger, fear, and sadness, as well as joy, contentment, and courage, but also basic sensations such as pleasure and pain, as well as the ‘drive states’ studied by the experimental psychologists, such as hunger and thirst. In addition to measurable and observable emotions and states, I also refer to an / assortment of other intangible, subjective experiences that are probably unique to humans, such as spiritual inspiration, awe, bliss, and other states of consciousness that we all have experienced but that have been, up until now, physiologically explained./131-132
To summarize, this highly readable book from an amazing scientist may scramble you up a bit, but this is a good thing to happen. The book is not a dry research report, but in the contrary reads like an adventure novel—the novel of a daring woman who has achieved much in her life. She has won the hearts of many people and through touching their hearts she has been able to put new seeds in their minds.