The Disordered Mind Book Summary - The Disordered Mind Book explained in key points
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The Disordered Mind summary

Eric R. Kandel

What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves

4.5 (295 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

The Disordered Mind by Eric R. Kandel explores the complexities of brain disorders such as anxiety and addiction, using research to unravel their underlying neural mechanisms.

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    The Disordered Mind
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    Brains that work abnormally can teach us how brains normally work.

    We all get terribly sad sometimes. Everyone occasionally has wild ideas, strange urges, and moments of anxiety, euphoria, or forgetfulness. But what if we’re sad, euphoric, or forgetful all the time?

    When ordinary mental experiences go into overdrive and begin to interfere with our daily lives, they might indicate a mental disorder. Mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, or dementia are often characterized by exaggerations of everyday thoughts, feelings, and behavior. When you’re clinically depressed, for example, you don’t feel down occasionally – you feel debilitatingly sad over weeks and months.

    The key message here is: Brains that work abnormally can teach us how brains normally work.

    Psychiatry, the medical study of mental disorders, was founded by French physician Philippe Pinel in 1790. Pinel was the first scientist to suggest that mental disorders have a physical basis.

    Today, we know that all mental disorders are also disorders of the brain. Genetic defects, environmental factors, or injury can change the brain’s normal structure and functioning. Because there’s a direct link between these physical changes and their effect on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior, mental disorders reveal a lot about how our brains work.

    Before we dive into this field of study, let’s go over some basics. The brain is made up of millions of specialized nerve cells called neurons that form intricate networks to pass information between our brain, body, and senses, which give rise to our mental processes. Neurons communicate with each other through a system of electrical signals, and chemical molecules called neurotransmitters. In many mental disorders, certain networks of neurons become dysfunctional, hyperactive, or unable to communicate.

    Modern neuroscience studies why and how this happens, using the latest scientific technologies. For example, scientists can now alter, delete, or insert certain genes in mice to learn how these genes affect the brain. Thanks to such animal models, we now know that there’s simple genetic disorders of the brain like Huntington’s that are caused by a single mutated gene, and complex genetic disorders like depression that involve multiple genes and environmental factors.

    In addition, modern brain imaging techniques allow neuroscientists to study the activity of the brain in action. An fMRI, for instance, measures changes in the concentration of oxygen in red blood cells to determine which parts of the brain are active at any given moment. Equipped with these technologies, the study of brain disorders is shining a light into the healthy brain.

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    What is The Disordered Mind about?

    The Disordered Mind (2018) explores what disorders and diseases of the brain can tell us about the inner workings of our minds. Acclaimed neuroscientist Eric R. Kandel draws on a lifetime of research to explain what depression, schizophrenia, addiction, and more reveal about how our brains affect our thoughts, feelings, and behavior – and explains how new scientific methods could help solve the big puzzle of consciousness.

    The Disordered Mind Review

    The Disordered Mind (2018) by Eric R. Kandel explores the intricacies of the human brain and the complexities of mental disorders. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • With its in-depth examination of the brain's workings and how they relate to mental disorders, the book offers valuable insights into the field of neuroscience.
    • Through fascinating case studies and personal anecdotes, Kandel brings complex scientific concepts to life, making the book accessible and engaging for readers.
    • The book challenges common misconceptions about mental disorders, emphasizing the importance of understanding and empathy, ultimately fostering a more inclusive society.

    Who should read The Disordered Mind?

    • Armchair philosophers, hobby psychologists, and aspiring neuroscientists
    • People affected by Alzheimer’s, depression, schizophrenia, or other neurological disorders
    • Anyone puzzled by the mystery of consciousness

    About the Author

    Eric R. Kandel is a psychologist, physiologist, and one of the pioneers of modern neuroscience. In 2000, his research on memory storage in the brain won him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He has written several books on the topic of neurobiology, psychiatry, art, memory, and the mind.

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    The Disordered Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Disordered Mind?

    An exploration of how neuroscience can help us understand and treat mental disorders.

    How long does it take to read The Disordered Mind?

    The reading time for The Disordered Mind varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Disordered Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Disordered Mind is a valuable read for anyone interested in mental health. It provides insights into the workings of the brain and offers hope for better understanding and treating mental disorders.

    Who is the author of The Disordered Mind?

    The author of The Disordered Mind is Eric R. Kandel.

    What to read after The Disordered Mind?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Disordered Mind, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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