Sunday, 30 November 2008

A Mind of its Own by Cornelia Fine

An guide to the brain, its habits and its doings. Fine has an elegant and amusing style and peppers her work with references to entertainingly sadistic psychology experiments - at one point she suggests that if readers learn anything from her book, it should be to keep away from social psychology researchers, or they will invite you to plunge your arm into icy water or something equally unattractive. Having set out for us the general uselessnesses of the brain - it is vain, weak-willed, bigoted and so on - she reassures us that, with effort, we can overcome these tendencies and train our brains to behave better. However, I for one will be clinging to the notion that the brain's will-power is weak and easily undermined by stress or distraction, in order to explain my inability to resist temptation where food is involved.

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