Monday, 7 May 2012

Stating the obvious

The Chicago Tribune has a piece on the benefits of self-awareness according to a book by neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson.

"Life's slings and arrows" is Harvard-educated neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson's phrase for the events we spend our days ducking, sometimes unsuccessfully.

Losing out on that promotion. Getting dumped. Navigating a cocktail party of boors (or bores). The stuff that conspires to keep us in a foul mood, despite our best intentions.

And Davidson argues that our response to such events — and even to full-on tragedies, such as the death of a loved one — is as much a part of our identity as our fingerprints.

"Each of us is a color-wheel combination of the resilience, outlook, social intuition, self-awareness, context and attention dimensions of emotional style," he writes in his new book, "The Emotional Life of Your Brain" (Hudson Street Press), "a unique blend that describes how you perceive the world and react to it, how you engage with others and how you navigate the obstacle course of life."

I don't know about you, but I don't need a neuroscientist to tell me such things and I'd certainly never buy a book called "The Emotional Life of Your Brain". My brain doesn't have an emotional life - I do. Funny people neuroscientists - some of them seem to think they have the keys to the human condition almost within their grasp. Then they come up with mundane stuff life this.

It has a mixed reaction on Amazon - three five-star ratings and two one-star ratings. If I happened to be a neuroscientist I might be tempted to write a book called "The Gullibility of Your Brain", but I'm not so I won't.


Sam Vega said...

If he were demonstrating that our emotional reactions were the result of chemicals in our brains, and that something like a change of diet or exercise could demonstrably change the chemicals and make our emotional states better, I'd give him five stars, plus a tidy sum of money.

But it seems as if he is stating common sense, and using neuroscience to rev up his credentials.

Anonymous said...

A gloomy subject but this might interest you:

A K Haart said...

Sam - exactly, he's revving up his credentials.

David - thanks for the link. It is interesting, because it's a personality change outside of genes and environment. A third variable.