978-0-87113-901-6 / 9780871139016

Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology


Publisher:Atlantic Monthly Press



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About the book:

Like some aberrant surgeon, neuropsychologist Paul Broks' debut book, Into the Silent Land peels apart the skull and declines to cauterise. We are plunged straight into the macabre world that Broks inhabits--an infernal and tragic look at people with bits of their brains missing. We meet Michael and Stuart, textbook cases of equal and opposite brain wreckage; Jeanie, who believes herself already dead and Robert's tumour that "reset his personality dials". But this is no travelling freak show. Broks is careful and gentle with his subjects, recognising the humanity in each, which turns Into the Silent Land into a rare work of compelling, cerebral genius.

Broks is as much a part of this book as any of his patients. He turns the glare of his analysis on himself as intensely as he does on any of his other "characters", revealing his own deepest concerns. He also includes professional anecdotes and other interesting phenomena that will be familiar to students of consciousness--phantom limbs, out-of-body experiences, ghosts, emotional response and the social instinct.

He goes on to explore his doubts as to whether neuropsychology can truly attain its stated aim of understanding consciousness. But despite his deft touch and elegant, sparse style, toward the end he begins to leap fretfully from subject to subject before coming to an abrupt end. Nevertheless Into the Silent Land is as unsettling, mentally engaging and unusual a book as you are likely to read for some time. --Dan Green

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