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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Oliver Sacks, here is a tour of the latest neuroscience of schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer's disease, ecstatic epilepsy, Cotard's syndrome, out-of-body experiences, and other disorders - revealing the awesome power of the human sense of self, from a master of science journalism.

Anil Ananthaswamy's extensive, in-depth interviews venture into the lives of individuals who offer perspectives that will change how you think about who you are. These individuals all lost some part of what we think of as our self, but they then offer remarkable, sometimes heart-wrenching insights into what remains. One man cut off his own leg. Another became one with the universe.

We are learning about the self at a level of detail that Descartes ("I think therefore I am") could never have imagined. Recent research into Alzheimer's illuminates how memory creates your narrative self by using the same part of your brain for your past as for your future. But wait, those afflicted with Cotard's syndrome think they are already dead; in a way they believe that "I think therefore I am not." Who - or what - can say that? Neuroscience has identified specific regions of the brain that, when they misfire, can cause the self to move back and forth between the body and a doppelganger or to leave the body entirely. So where in the brain or mind or body is the self actually located? As Ananthaswamy elegantly reports, neuroscientists themselves now see that the elusive sense of self is both everywhere and nowhere in the human brain.

©2015 Anil Ananthaswamy (P)2015 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Tom
  • Arvada, CO, United States
  • 10-27-15

Self as malady

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes - a bit heady at times, but cool research and presentation

What did you like best about this story?

I found the topics of the narrative self especially in the context of Alzheimers and schizophrenia the most interesting. My running fascination with the similarities of word choice and characterization of those describing a mystical experience in the religious sense and those describing certain events from a scientific viewpoint was again stoked.

Have you listened to any of Rene Ruiz’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to other Rene performances.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Self: My Malady

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great book

New information, good prospective, a bit poetic at the end. A must read for the people who want to learn more about the self

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One of the best books I've ever listened to about how the mind may work

I've listened twice to this book and it's changed my whole way of looking at the way my mind works. Very good narration as well.



4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent collection of material on the self

I read popular neuroscience and philosophy books by the dozen and regularly come across the same anecdotes to illustrate syndromes and phenomena. This book is excellent, introducing people and stories I have not heard before. I'm very impressed with the author's ability to track down the people involved and weave together first hand narrative describing fascinating cases. Well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Makes a Complex Subject Entertaining!

This book covers neurological issues such as psychosis, autism, and a disorder that makes the subject not recognize a part of their body as their own. I knew a lot on these issues, but this book taught me many things, for instance that most psychotics can tickle themselves, lol! Who knew?

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • AJ
  • 03-25-17

loved it!!

what is there too say...? This book was amazing and very inspiring and eye opening!!

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Needs more stories about real people

Performance was good, and the book was ok; I thought it went a bit farther into brain science than I wanted to go. And I really like science books. I wanted more people stories.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

The examination of extreme conditions was a tedious methodology for the reader to follow. Promised more insights than it actually delivered.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 12-27-17

Better than medication

I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Have done for years. This one stands out as being the one that makes me fall asleep every time. Rather than resenting this, I’ve learned to embrace it. At least once a month, when I’m struggling to get to sleep, I put a chapter of this on, and I’m away in no time. Works like a charm, and available without prescription.