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Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind (original 1998; edition 1999)

by V. S. Ramachandran, Oliver Sacks (Foreword), Sandra Blakeslee

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1,216106,556 (4.23)10
Member:jefware
Title:Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind
Authors:V. S. Ramachandran
Other authors:Oliver Sacks (Foreword), Sandra Blakeslee
Info:Harper Perennial (1999), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library (inactive)
Rating:*****
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Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V. S. Ramachandran (1998)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Very interesting cases and insight into the complexities of the human brain. ( )
  joyhclark | Mar 13, 2014 |
This book is on a subject I'm deeply interested in: psychological disorders. I found it quite interesting. Ramachandran's writing style is pleasing. This is in sharp contrast with perhaps the best known writer in this field, Oliver Sacks. This book was accessible, lacking the pomposity of Sacks's work.

The book is a bit uneven. I enjoyed the earlier parts much more than later parts. The author warns in the preface that some of the book's contents are empirical, verifiable explanations and some are quite philosophical, abstract, or speculative. It was the grounded chapters that I gained the most pleasure from. I did appreciate Ramachandran's defense of Freud's theory of defense mechanisms. All in all, this is quite a book, with a range of interesting topics investigated with experimentation, conjecture, and speculation. ( )
  The_Kat_Cache | Jun 27, 2013 |
Ramachandran has possibly done it. He is quantifying the qualitative. What is red? There are three laws of qualia. 1 irrevocably input. 2 Choice of output. 3. Transient permanence. The problem of building a model becomes one of modeling the flexibility of choice. ( )
  jefware | Nov 28, 2012 |
This book, written by neurologist V. S. Ramachandran, suggests that by looking at case studies of individuals with particular types of brain injuries we can learn a lot about the the human mind. He looks at examples of patients with phantom limb syndrome, vision problems, paralysis and other problems and uses his understanding of their neurological (physiological) causes to speculate on their implications about the structure and functioning of a "normal" human brain.

I found this very interesting to read, with descriptions of both symptoms and anatomy being very clear and easy to follow, although it is a little repetitive in places. However, although I know very little about neurology myself, I found some of his theories hard to swallow - it was often unclear if he was neglecting to mention the evidence he had to back them or if there was no evidence at all. I am particularly skeptical of his explanations for foot-fetishes and anorexia.

A quote which I think sums up Ramachandran's view of the brain well: "Freud's most valuable contribution was his discovery that your conscious mind is simply a facade and that you are completely unaware of 90 percent of what really goes on in your brain." ( )
  tronella | May 21, 2012 |
(Reviewed August 20, 2008)

A bit of a schizophrenic read. The first two thirds are dumbed-down to an amazing extent, and the last third tends to ramble. Rama has a very high opinion of his own views, and has a tendency to say things like "most scientists think this. Well, they're all wrong and I'll tell you why." But other than some of these hiccups in the prose, it's an interesting and intriguing book. ( )
1 vote closedmouth | Jul 21, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
V. S. Ramachandranprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blakeslee, SandraAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Garène, MichèleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nelissen, JeskeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sacks, OliverForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serra, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688172172, Paperback)

What would you say about a woman who, despite stroke-induced paralysis crippling the entire left side of her body, insists that she is whole and strong--who even sees her left hand reach out to grasp objects? Freud called it "denial"; neurologists call it "anosognosia." However it may be labeled, this phenomenon and others like it allow us peeks into other mental worlds and afford us considerable insight into our own.

The writings of Oliver Sacks and others have shown us that we can learn much about ourselves by looking closely at the deficits shown by people with neurological problems. V.S. Ramachandran has seen countless patients suffering from anosognosia, phantom limb pain, blindsight, and other disorders, and he brings a remarkable mixture of clinical intuition and research savvy to bear on their problems. He is one of the few scientists who are able and willing to explore the personal, subjective ramifications of his work; he rehumanizes an often too-sterile field and captures the spirit of wonder so essential for true discovery. Phantoms in the Brain is equal parts medical mystery, scientific adventure, and philosophical speculation; Ramachandran's writing is smart, caring, and very, very funny.

Whether you're curious about the workings of the brain, interested in alternatives to expensive, high-tech science (much of Ramachandran's research is done with materials found around the home), or simply want a fresh perspective on the nature of human consciousness, you'll find satisfaction with Phantoms in the Brain. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Dr. Ramachandran recounts how his work with patients who have bizarre neurological disorders has shed new light on the deep architecture of the brain, and what these findings tell us about who we are, how we construct our body image, why we laugh or become depressed, why we may believe in God, how we make decisions, deceive ourselves and dream, perhaps even why we're so clever at philosophy, music and art.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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