Capture: A Theory of the Mind

David A. Kessler. Harper Wave, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-238851-3
In this fascinating book, Kessler (The End of Overeating), former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, probes the nature of the “hijacked” mind, offering a straightforward and plausible explanation of a neural mechanism by which a range of human behaviors can be understood. Drawing on his two decades of research, Kessler calls this underlying mechanism “capture” and reveals its three basic elements: “narrowing of attention, perceived lack of control, and change in affect, or emotional state.” He catalogs the kinds of activities that capture people’s attention—including love, trauma, gambling, and art—and demonstrates that in individual cases these phenomena, or sometimes specific events, can lead from positive mental health to mental illness. Kessler devotes considerable attention to David Foster Wallace as an example of capture turning on the self, with the acute self-awareness that seized Wallace’s attention developing into the self-hatred that led to his suicide. He also carefully points out that capture can lead to violence as well as exalted spiritual experiences. Kessler ends on a note of hope, presenting a range of ways that people can potentially gain more control of their lives through an understanding of capture. This is a hefty yet accessible tome, and Kessler gives readers much to ponder. Agent: Kathy P. Robbins, Robbins Office. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-241666-7
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-06-238853-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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