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Mindblindness: Essay on Autism and the Theory of Mind (Bradford Books) [Paperback]

Simon Baron-cohen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 19.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Mar 1997 Bradford Books
In Mindblindness, Simon Baron-Cohen presents a model of the evolution and development of "mindreading." He argues that we mindread all the time, effortlessly, automatically, and mostly unconsciously. It is the natural way in which we interpret, predict, and participate in social behavior and communication. We ascribe mental states to people: states such as thoughts, desires, knowledge, and intentions. Building on many years of research, Baron-Cohen concludes that children with autism, suffer from "mindblindness" as a result of a selective impairment in mindreading. For these children, the world is essentially devoid of mental things. Baron-Cohen develops a theory that draws on data from comparative psychology, from developmental, and from neuropsychology. He argues that specific neurocognitive mechanisms have evolved that allow us to mindread, to make sense of actions, to interpret gazes as meaningful, and to decode "the language of the eyes." A Bradford Book. Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change series

Frequently Bought Together

Mindblindness: Essay on Autism and the Theory of Mind (Bradford Books) + Autism and Asperger Syndrome (The Facts) + The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain
Price For All Three: 33.93

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; New edition edition (3 Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026252225X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262522250
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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"Wow! in this lucid, compelling book Simon Baron-Cohen guides us deepinto the realm of the mind...This fascinating book captures theexcitment of an emerging field, and advances that field." Henry M. Wellman, University of Michigan

About the Author

Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor in Developmental Psychopathology and Director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, is the author of Mindblindness (MIT Press, 1997) and The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Mind.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 95 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
There are many books about autism and Asperger's syndrome, but they are all superficial. This is the only one that goes to the source of the problem itself: The brain at the hardware level.
What our consciousness 'sees' is not reality itself, but the output of battalions of highly specialized neurone co-processors that interpret reality in a distorted way engineered by Natural Selection to maximize our chances of surviving and reproducing.
We are blind to the existence of these unconscious perception mechanisms, and we confuse their perception of reality with reality itself. This is the reason why autism has been a mystery for so long, because it is not possible to understand autism without even knowing that these perception instincts exist.
Everything about this book is superlative. Autism is *very* *difficult* to understand even for us autistics, let alone Neurologically Typicals. This guy has the ability to explain autism with concepts that make things rather easy to visualize. Concepts so befitting that leave me wondering how he manages to invent them.
Let me give one example: As a kid, I didn't see people like objects, but I didn't quite see them as people either. They were there, but they were not very important. That is as far as I can go explaining how it was for me. The only thing I can add is that I am not giving you anything more than a faint idea of how it really was.
What does Simon Baron-Cohen do? He introduces the concept of "skinbags." Bags of skin that move and talk like people but that are not quite people.
"Skinbags" is precisely what people were for me. They moved and talked, but they had no feelings.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
This book succincntly presents the Theory of Mind (ToM) explanation of autism, i.e. autistic people do not have a theory of mind hence they can't attribute emotions, intentions and beliefs to others. Having a 'theory of mind' largely reduces to a capacity to take another peron's perspective. While the authors are clinical psychologists, this ToM account of the underlying deficit that is autism, raises many provocative philosophical implications about self consciousness and consciousness of others, and pragmatics. Another text by Baron-Cohen and Howlin Teaching Children with Autism to Mind Read operationalises the central ideas in a ToM teaching programme and is worth exploring as a follow on text.
Obviously the primary audience for this book are those working in the field of autism research. However, if you have any interest in cognition and self consciousness whatsoever, whether philosophically or psychologically, don't pass over this book.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provides understanding of non-verbal/social LDs. 20 May 1999
By A Customer
This book takes recent cognitive research findings and aligns it with the problems that autistics and other people with non-verbal learning disabilities have in correctly interpreting and responding to social situations. It was a fast read for me and very helpful in assisting me to understand that there is a physical cause for inability to respond appropriately to social situations by learning disabled people. The book actually gave me the intellectual key to forming an appropriate emotional response to LD individuals and in assisting them in learning how to respond appropriately to social situations.
Excellent discussion on eye contact and interpreting actions. Author also provides some interesting observations on intra species communication and how it relates to the evolution of human response in social situations.
Well worth the read if you work with people who have non-verbal learning disabilities or have a child with learning disabilities that encompass the spectrum of autistic disorders. Good tie in to language disabilities and discussion of temporal and frontal region of the brain.
Aimed at both professionals and the lay person, the author has managed to do a good job of straddling both worlds.
Recommended for those people who have managed to finally catch their breath and are over grieving from discovering the consequences of living with an LD individual, and who have managed to proceed to formulating a program of education, personal and familial response to non-verbal disabilities.
While the author made good points about eye contact and subsequent social knowledge, he did fail to discuss those social situations where eye contact would be considered to be aggressive rather than a bonding or friendly situation.
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