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Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships [Hardcover]

Kayt Sukel
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Export (7 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451611552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451611557
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

HardCover Pub Date: 2012 Pages: 288 in Publisher: Free Press Philosophers. Theologians artists. And boy bands Scrap have waxed poetic about the nature of love for centuries But what does the ain have to say about the way we with Carry and our hearts In the wake of a divorce. science writer and single mother Kayt Sukel made herself a guinea pig in the labs of some unusual love experts to find out. In each chapter of this edgy romp through the romantic ain. Sukel looks at a different aspect of love above the belt. What in your ain makes you love someone-or simply lust after them (And is there really a difference) Why do good girls like bad boys Is monogamy practical How thin is that line between love and hate Do mothers have a stronger bond with their children than their fathers do How do our childhood experiences affect our emotional control Should you be taking an oxytocin s...

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good book 21 Feb 2014
By Matt
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had to buy a book to review for my degree course in my biopsychology module and i choose this one as it appealed most to me due to the interesting and more novel topic it is based on. The authors style is very clear and although it is non fiction i did feel like i couldn't put it down.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good product 13 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
product was in good condition
were it not for the hideous piece of coursework that i had to do about it then i would have enjoyed it more
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The science of love and lust 3 Jan 2012
By Nick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kayt Sukel's highly readable book, Dirty Minds, is one of the more unique science books I've read in quite some time. I've always wondered what love actually consists of at a scientific level - what chemicals are involved and how things actually work. What is lust? What's love? What is romance?

Sukel jumps headlong into the science of it all - from the brain juggling hormones and neurochemicals and what goes on in the brain at the chemical level and the brain's reward system. What about romance and love (of all types)? Or even just attraction? Well, that's a bit more complicated. The book takes us on a journey from models to nuns to what exactly goes on during sex.

What I liked about the book is that it's not only an easy read due to the author's handling of scientific jargon, but that the book is also a self-discovery. Sukel learns along with us as we read in order to figure out what is going on between our ears. She also puts a good number of personal anecdotes into the book, making it also a personal odyssey as well as a scientific journey to understand one of the greatest mysteries out there: love and sex.

(review based off of an author-provided advanced release copy)
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at a subject that interests us all 3 Jan 2012
By True Crime Buff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was one of those kids who took biology because the instructor was cute; I was more of a history gal. But this book has changed my mind about both science and its suitability for recreational reading. This is not a dry, by-the-numbers read, but instead Sukel writes about the sciences of attraction and sex and emotion and how they intersect with verve, style and a whole lot of courage. The description of having an organism "for the record" is priceless and fascinating.

I recommend Dirty Minds to readers who love science, to readers who think science is boring (Sukel proves that it's not at all boring!) and to anyone with an inquiring mind. It's sassy, fun, educational and informative all at one time.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and entertaining 4 Jan 2012
By gingerpenny95 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I did not expect to be so entertained by such a book that is primarily about brain research but the author's witty style, laced with personal experiences made this an absorbing read that was, at times, laugh out loud funny. I had enjoyed the author's travel pieces on her travelsavvymom website so based on that, I purchased this, her first book. I thought reading about brain science would be a character building experience for me but it was actually quite fun and I learned something along the way.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A better understanding of me! 16 Jan 2012
By CLK CarolLee Kidd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had so been waiting for this book to come out and it didn't disappoint. After growing up in a somewhat - hello more than somewhat - dysfunctional family and having really bad relationships pretty much all my life, I looked to this book as a guide to help myself overcome the usual habits I follow when in a relationship - any relationship.

This isn't a relationship book per se. This is a source to understand our relationships and how our brains react or don't react to what we think our heart wants and body desires. Just knowing and understanding the science of what is going on gives me peace of mind that it isn't that I am unloveable but I have been placing so much weight on how someone reacts to me that I neglected how I truly felt and reacted to myself and to them, and I just haven't found the one who I can be me with and let go of the games I play with myself, much less the games we play with each other. Where was this book 30 years ago?

I have read the book and am reading it a second time - with my current boyfriend, and my male and female friends alike - and the discussions we have been able to hold about the book and each other are witty, open, informative, and so looked forward to by all.

Learning something new is always a great thing for everybody - learning something new and understanding more about yourself at the same time is the topping on the cake.

It's a whole new way to understand who you are and why you love the way you do.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirty Minds: Your love life is supposed to be complicated 11 Dec 2012
By Joshua Witten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kayt Sukel's Dirty Minds is a book about neuroscience that has questions, not answers. That alone should be enough reason for you to pick it up. Sukel's agenda is not to tell her reader how the human mind works. It is to convince her reader that our minds are complicated messes - they are dirty, in the cleanest sense of the term1. Our mind is the result of a rat's nest of neurons bathed in a complex soup of hormones interacting with our environment. The point is not that our dirty minds have been solved, but that they are so damned interesting.

If you need another reason, a lot of the book is about sex2. Really, it is about research into the neurological basis of love. It covers relationships, parenting, even a wee bit of religion, and sex; but, when you say "and sex", you might as well say "it's about sex".

Sukel helps her reader understand the history of neurological study of love, the process of discovery, complications of the research, where research is heading, and the limits of our understanding. In doing so, Sukel does not give in to the temptation to present the human mind as a pristinely evolved tool, the epitome of adaptation to one's environment. It is instead a kluge, built haphazardly on top of what previously existed. It is "dirty". Dirty Minds presents complex question without simple answers - well, without answers at all, just suggestions, hints.

The book feels like a discussion about love and sex one might have over coffee with friends, not a neurologist. The choice to use accessible language, instead of technical jargon, was a good one, especially when dealing with the sensitive and complex issues of love, sex, and the mind. Technical jargon can streamline discussions between colleagues, but it is also intimidating, inaccessible, and can make folks feel stupid3. On the other hand, I am more used to the neurologist and found the casual language distracted me at times. I think most of my pedantic quibbles with Dirty Minds can be traced back to the use of such casual language, speaking of which...

Epigenetics is presented as the major mechanism for generating difference in gene expression between individuals. While certainly important, this ignores a number of other fascinating mechanisms, such as transcription factors and alternative splicing of RNA, that can generate variability in gene expression between individuals and cells. In keeping with the theme of Dirty Minds, variation in gene expression is even more complicated than presented.

Sukel uses the cliché of nature versus nurture in two variations to emphasize that the neurobiology of love is extremely complicated and that the research is still developing. It is also a trope of popular neuroscience that authors are almost required to include to help orient their readers. I do feel that those goals could have been achieved in both cases with more nuance.

First is the classic nature versus nurture framed as biology (your genetic predispositions ) versus behavior (your interactions with your environment). While researchers often try to remove environmental variables from experiments, this isn't because we think environmental interactions are unimportant. We do it because they are so important and complex that they can make it impossible to understand the basics of a system before we can try to tackle more complex issues.

Second is the portrayal of the brave epigeneticists versus the bull-headed molecular geneticists devoted to described in the book are portrayed as brave prophets standing up to implacable devotees of genetic sequence determinism. The acceptance of epigenetics may not have been as rapid as its advocates would have liked. This is in part due to resistance to new ideas. It is also due to real issues with the research and reaction to overselling of claims, such as the ability to inherit epigenetic modifications from generation to generation (can occur for certain genes, but not common). The debate, however, is not about a dichotomy between epigenetics and traditional molecular genetics, but about how much influence epigenetics has relative to other mechanisms. The correct answer is somewhere between "a lot" and "none", and will vary from gene to gene.

Having just spent some time on pedantic quibbling, I'd like to spent a few moments on pedantic praise. First, Sukel does a good job of treating purported sex differences with caution. Sex is an easy variable to look at because there are usually only two, easily defined states4 in research studies. We look sex differences more often than anything else and, therefore, we find them, whether real or not. In non-human studies, we usually use statistics to correct for sex effects as a confounding variable. In human studies, sex effects often headline the press release. Ironically, many of the sex differences we are so interested in discovering may be the result of differences in the way our culture treats the sexes and our interest in their differences.

A lot of the research presented in Dirty Minds is based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. Interpretation of fMRI results has been controversial within the field. This has been exacerbated by simplified reporting that does not place the technology in appropriate context. Sukel, however, is very clear that fMRI measures blood flow in different regions of the brain as a proxy for neural activity - that it does not actually measure neural activity. She also makes clear that, while the resolution of fMRI is impressive compared to previous techniques, it is still poor compared to the scale at which the brain actually operates. By not being afraid to discuss the limitations on the research she describes, Sukel brings home her point that the study of the neurobiology of love is a developing science that may never solve our dirty minds.

Reading Dirty Minds won't give you that comfy feeling that you now know how your mind works. Rather than being a pessimistic message, this is a hopeful one that, if the machinations of your mind and your "heart" leave you confused, exhausted, anxious, and unsure of who you are, then you are the one with a solid grip on reality. Those moments when people act like they have it all figured out? Probably just the hormones taking over.
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