Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology
Atlantic Monthly Press
, 2003 - Psychology
- 246 pages
How does the brain construct a "self, " the essence of who we are as individuals? And how does the self respond to the deconstruction of its brain? A neuropsychologist with twenty-five years' experience and a runner-up for the prestigious Wellcome Trust Science Prize, Paul Broks writes with a doctor's precision and clarity in a series of narravtives about the fascinating world of the neurologically impaired, delving not only into the inner lives of his patients but into a deeper understanding of how we define who we are. In "The Sea and the Almond, " a young woman who suffers from daily grandmal seizures agrees toa radical surgery that involves removal of the amygdala (from the Greek for almond) and part of the hippocampus (seahorse), which is responsible for memory and all conscious recall. "I Think Therefore I Am Dead" is both a meditation on human consciousness and an intimate case study chronicling Brok's efforts in working with a patient suffering from a debilitating illness that has no diagnosis or cure. Broks intersperses his accounts of these rare conditions with illuminating studies of what neuroscience can and cannot teach us about the mechanisms that allow us to define ourselves as individuals.