The Man Who Tasted Shapes

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MIT Press, 2003 - Medical - 274 pages
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In this medical detective adventure, Cytowic shows how synesthesia, or "joined sensation," illuminates a wide swath of mental life and leads to a new view of what it means to be human.

In 1980, Richard Cytowic was having dinner at a friend's house, when his host exclaimed, "Oh, dear, there aren't enough points on the chicken." With that casual comment began Cytowic's journey into the condition known as synesthesia.The ten people in one million who are synesthetes are born into a world where one sensation (such as sound) conjures up one or more others (such as taste or color). Although scientists have known about synesthesia for two hundred years, until now the condition has remained a mystery. Extensive experiments with more than forty synesthetes led Richard Cytowic to an explanation of synesthesia--and to a new conception of the organization of the mind, one that emphasized the primacy of emotion over reason.Because there were not enough points on chicken served at a dinner almost two decades ago, Cytowic came to explore a deeper reality that he believes exists in all individuals, but usually below the surface of awareness. In this medical detective adventure, he reveals the brain to be an active explorer, not just a passive receiver, and offers a new view of what it means to be human--a view that turns upside down conventional ideas about reason, emotion, and who we are.* Not for sale in the United Kingdom and Eire

 

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THE MAN WHO TASTED SHAPES

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

When a curious-minded neurologist meets a neurological curiosity—in this case, a neighbor who experiences tastes as physical shapes—the result, at least here, is a mixed bag: a fascinating ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sosiles - LibraryThing

It was very interesting and the main narrative was engaging. Towards the end though he goes off on this tangent about 'the primacy of emotion over reason' that heads straight into New Age territory ... Read full review

Contents

February 10 1980 Not Enough Points on the Chicken
3
The World Turned Inside Out
6
1957Down in the Basement The Making of a Neurologist
9
How the Brain Works The Standard View
18
Winters 1977 and 1978 There Is Nothing Wrong With Your Eyes
26
Direct Experience Technology and Inner Knowledge
36
March 25 1980 Blinding Red Jaggers
46
Down in the Basement The History of Synesthesia
51
The Implications of Synesthesia
163
October 5 1982 The Reverend and Martinis
172
ESSAYS ON THE PRIMACY OF EMOTION
183
The Anthropic Principle
186
Free Lunch and Imagination
189
Consciousness Is a Type of Emotion
194
The Limits of Artificial Intelligence
197
Different Kinds of Knowledge
202

April 10 1980 Taste This
64
Diagnosing Synesthesia
73
April 25 1980 Where Is the Link?
80
Painting the Ceiling
89
Summary 1980 Bringing Things to a Close
99
September 1983 Bizarre Medical Oddity Affects Millions
111
Form Constants and Explaining Ineffable Experiences
118
Altered States of Consciousness
127
May 21 1981 Taking Drugs
138
June 29 1981 Bride of Frankenstein Revisited
144
How the Brain Works The New View
153
The Experience of Metaphor
206
Emotion Has a Logic of Its Own
211
Other Peoples Experience
216
The Depth at Which We Really Live
218
Reason Is the Endless Paperwork of the Mind
222
Science and Spirituality
225
Afterword
231
Noted
257
Suggested Reading
268
Index
271
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About the author (2003)

Richard E. Cytowic, M.D., MFA, a pioneering researcher in synesthesia, is Professor of Neurology at George Washington University. He is the author of Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses, The Man Who Tasted Shapes, The Neurological Side of Neuropsychology and (with David M. Eagleman) the Montaigne Medal--winner W ednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia, all published by the MIT Press.

Jonathan Cole, D.M., F.R.C.P., is Consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology, Poole Hospital, and at Salisbury Hospital (with its Spinal Centre), a Professor at Bournemouth University and a visiting Senior Lecturer, Southampton University.

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