Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain

Dennis Cass, Author
Dennis Cass, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (214p) ISBN 978-0-06-059472-5
Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Paperback - 214 pages - 978-0-06-059473-2
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-128618-6
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-128635-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 240 pages - 978-0-06-128636-0
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-173716-9
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When writer's block threatened to interfere with Cass's career as a freelance journalist, he decided the solution would be to learn everything he could about how the brain works. He soon fancies himself an amateur scientist, embarking on a spree of experimentation, self-diagnosing himself with attention deficit disorder and scoring a prescription to Adderall, which helps at first but then starts messing up his mind. As Cass makes clear from the outset, the journalistic enterprise is fraught with emotional turbulence because it forces him to confront his family history, especially his stepfather's manic depression. Yet for all the outward appearances of candor—Cass, a former columnist for GQ and Slate, speaks freely of humiliating childhood experiences as well as of his adult jealousy of more successful writers like Malcolm Gladwell—it still feels like he's holding back. The science elements of the book are also insufficiently developed, especially when writers like Steven Johnson and Daniel Pink have already effectively staked out the genre of first-person guided tours of neuroscience. At times, Cass comes off as genuinely uncomfortable with what his research tells him about his brain and himself, leaving readers wishing he'd pushed harder to get a richer story. (Mar.)

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