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ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century [Hardcover]

Susan Greenfield
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 May 2008

Our individuality is under attack as never before. Two huge new forces new technology and the rise in fundamentalism are in their different ways combining to threaten the control of our own minds and so the whole way our society functions. We have never more urgently needed to look at what we want for ourselves as individuals for our children, and for our future society.

This book will draw on the latest findings in neuroscience to show how far we are and can be in control of the development of our brains and minds and the actions we need to take now both to safeguard our individuality and to find the fulfilment which our current unfettered materialism cannot provide.

All this inevitably poses many questions about human nature, our past, what makes us individual, the connection between the brain and the mind, what a society of fulfilled individuals would actually mean.all of which this book attempts to answer.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (15 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340936002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340936009
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 14.2 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Susan Greenfield enthrals and intrigues her readers in equal measure . . . a force of intellect and a force of nature’ (John Humphrys 2008-11-21)

'Asks good questions, describes intriguing facts and makes some interesting suggestions' (Financial Times 2008-11-21)

'Susan Greenfield is often described as the foremost female scientist in Britain, but she is one of the best of any gender, anywhere, at getting complicated ideas across' (Independent on Sunday 2008-11-21)

‘Greenfield is an entertaining writer, a brilliant neuroscientist and an excellent exponent of the latest advances in brain chemistry’ (New Humanist 2008-11-21)

'she is so fluent and persuasive a writer that just reading this important book perks up the grey cells' (Telegraph 2008-11-21)

Book Description

A stark warning from one of the world's leading neuroscientists about the threats to our individuality from modern living and what we can do about it. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and insightful 14 May 2012
Susan Greenfield is a neuroscientist, so she knows her stuff when it comes to the brain. In this fascinating and accessible book, she explores the idea of identity. As you might expect, it's complex and not explained by any simple factor or mechanism within the brain, and in fact is not really fully understood. However she clearly describes three main types of identity, ranging from Someone, through Anybody to Nobody.

In brief, Someone is the sense of self as a unique individual, separate from everyone else. Anybody is being part of a group, where you can lose your sense of individuality and become part of a bigger group identity. Finally Nobody is where neither of these is experienced and in a sense your identity is simply a stream of physical sensations.

These three states are present to some extent in all of us - for example being taken up in the joint thrill of a football crowd (if that's your thing) is to be Anybody, or loosing yourself by becoming drunk (or on drugs) is to be Nobody.

The first part of the book is perhaps the most difficult because she lays down the basics of how the brain works: but it's a necessary foundation for what follows. Then towards the end she explores how the modern digital age might presage change - in fact she argues that the changes wrought could be so profound that a post-digital society might have a completely different way of identifying self as a result.

You may not agree with all her ideas, but they are certainly thought provoking and always clearly argued. It's about 4 years old now, but doesn't feel out of date. If anything the latter parts seem even more relevant now.
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14 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars where's my body? 6 Jun 2008
One of the interesting aspects of these frameworks for identity is the absence of the physical body. As Greenfield is talking about the Consumer Society, which begs us to treat our bodies in terms of having rather than being, this dislocation is strange.
Greenfield is enthusiastic - and it is always good to read something written with passion.
And, other reviewer: books are three dimensional, highly tactile objects, utterly different from attempting to read or study using an e-book. Try it.
I can play computer games for hours, may be it'll be the problems of reading a pdf, but I can only bear an e-book for 30 minutes.
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Impenetrable psychobabble 8 July 2009
After reading a very positive review of this in the Big Issue I was very disappointed to find it extremely impenetrable with very little for the layman to get his/her teeth into and far too much technical language - it certainly did not make me want to learn more about the workings of the brain. The author presupposes far too lofty a level of understanding in her readership.The subject matter also seems to jump about a huge amount leading to a great deal of difficulty in attempting to sort out what is happening.
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