The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self

Anil Ananthaswamy. Dutton, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-95419-4
Science journalist Ananthaswamy (The Edge of Physics) skillfully inspects the bewildering connections among brain, body, mind, self, and society. To get into the details, he profiles sufferers of a range of neurological ailments, including Allen, whose Alzheimer disease has "scrambled his narrative," and the pseudonymous David, who has body integrity identity disorder and believes that he must have his leg amputated. Laurie, a schizophrenic, struggles with inner voices that taunt her and lead her to attempt suicide; she begs doctors to recognize the "unwanted new reality" that schizophrenia creates for people. Readers also meet James, who, because of his Asperger's syndrome, can't accommodate "people's notions of how he should live his life," and Graham, a Cotard's syndrome sufferer whose delusion convinced him that he was brain dead. These patients' stories help shed light on "some sliver of the self, one that has been disturbed by the disorder," and complicate current notions of what the self really is. Readers will be fascinated by Ananthaswamy's chronicles as he explores, with kindness and keen intelligence, the uncomfortable aberrations that reveal what it is to be human. Agent: Peter Tallack, the Science Factory. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/25/2015
Release date: 08/04/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-61176-433-8
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-101-98432-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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