Re: Brave New Brain

From: Curious (
Date: Fri Nov 16 2001 - 20:35:30 MST

author must finnaly realise that delay of publication makes his
scientific observations out of date.

> Oxford University Press, 19.99, pp 368
> ISBN 0 19 514509 7
> In 1984 Professor Andreasen published a book called The Broken Brain: The
> Biological Revolution in Psychiatry. This influenced many latter day
> psychiatrists (myself included). Now Andreasen has produced a work in
> she attempts to assay the field of contemporary psychiatric research, as
> psychiatry enters the 21st century, sandwiched between two major
> developments: the sequencing of the human genome and the use of
> to examine the structure and function of the living brain.
> Is there a need for such a work? Are we not already deluged by brain
> Certainly, if there were a need then Andreasen would be a suitable guide.
> is editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, has contributed to the
> composition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
> made significant contributions to the field of schizophrenia research, has
> studied the relationship between creativity and mental illness
> and has also published early work on post-traumatic stress disorder
(before it
> acquired that name). So, on all levels she is amply qualified. But do we
> another book?
> This book differs from others in that it is written by someone who has
> conducted original research, while continuing to treat patients. Andreasen
> write scientifically, while also addressing the concerns of lay people.
> of the chapters begin with case vignettes (some of them very moving) and
> throughout Andreasen see-saws between cogent descriptions of scientific
> concepts and reference points that all will understanda film that deals
> schizophrenia, a novel whose character was depressed, and so on. This is a
> detailed text, not a coffee table book. It explains the principles of the
> genetics, the anatomy of neurotransmitter systems, and the methodology of
> brain scanning. In four chapters devoted to diseases, Andreasen explains
> schizophrenia, mood disorders, dementia, and anxiety. She does not shirk
> ethical dilemmas and possesses a humane voice.
> Where are the weaknesses? As with any book that attempts to cover a broad
> field, some infelicities occur. These are probably slips of the pen: the
> putamen lies lateral and not medial to the globus pallidus (p 73); reduced
> elevated serotonergic tone is associated with impulsivity and suicide (p
> and in the index, the name of one British psychiatrist is left floating,
> no page attribution (obsessives will find Johnstone, Eve, on p 143).
> Elsewhere, the balance of Andreasen's expertise is clearly present in the
> schizophrenia chapter, while that on dementia lacks the same degree of
> However, these are minor points. I think a lay reader, a medical student,
or a
> generalist who wishes to update on current psychiatry will find much that
> useful and inspiring in Brave New Brain.
> --- --- --- --- ---
> Useless hypotheses, etc.:
> consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
> analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics,
> uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment, malevolent AI,
> non-sensory experience
> We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces

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