- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st ed. edition (1 Oct. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674009363
- ISBN-13: 978-0674009363
- Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.6 x 2.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,552,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious Hardcover – 1 Oct 2002
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More About the Author
Strangers to Ourselves is certainly worth reading and reflecting upon. You will like this book. -- New Scientist 5 October 2002
There is much here to arouse interest and provoke thought in any reader... -- TLS, 13 August 2004
About the Author
Timothy D. Wilson is Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Top Customer Reviews
He argues that the adaptive unconscious automatically processes messages from our senses, and builds them into stories which generate emotions and states of alertness. Our conscious thoughts also build 'stories' to explain what is going on, but there is increasing evidence that people's consciously constructed self bears little correspondence to their nonconscious self. Wilson provides examples throughout the book, and discusses how we come to have conscious and nonconscious personalities. As an example people will often say that they are a better driver than average because their adaptive unconscious generates a 'feel good' feeling as a background for conscious thought, biasing people's self insight into their skills.
Wilson goes into many other areas of the minds working, including why our expectations of how we will feel in the future are usually wrong. He finally ends his broad ranging discussion with a few suggestions about how we can improve the accuracy of our self knowledge.
If you have ever wondered why self improvement is rarely effective, or why people accuse you of racism or sexism when you clearly hold no such views, this book is a useful and worthwhile read.
His final advice? People should think less about themselves, and try and change their behaviour instead.
Using anecdotal evidence and research results, some of which are intriguingly counter-intuitive, he then builds up an interesting and ultimately convincing description of what the adaptive unconscious is actually doing, and why. This in turn leads to some practical recommendations about how best to use your own non-conscious. And in a final section on judging the "goodness" of a self-story he even attempts to trim one corner of the post-modernist briar-patch of endless relativity.
This is an enlightening and optimistic book which will stay in my mind. I'm glad to have read it.
Wilson points out that our brains are the result of life's evolutionary process. There is the ancient, rapidly responding elements inherited from ancient ancestors. There is also the rather cumbersome, plodding segment, more recently acquired by our species. In fact, it may be that which distinguishes our species. The ancient parts drive us to jump back when we see a long, slim, dark shape on the ground while walking in the woods. The newer, slower cognitive functions allow us to detect the object has bark and knots - it's a twig, not a snake. Although Wilson is anxious for us to understand our brains are based on an evolutionary foundation, he's quick to dismiss the nascent science of evolutionary psychology as "too extreme" in comparing us to other animals. His field is psychology, not ethology, and he's not willing to surrender his role.Read more ›
For those who like to give themselves a consistent narrative in life, yet constantly exhibit contradictory behaviour (most of us), there is clearly something fundamental that needs to be understood and changed. Wilson does a great job in shedding some light on this.
This work also so closely parallels that of Gurdjieff/Ouspensky, from decades ago, that is uncanny.
For anyone interested in getting to know -and working on - themselves, this is an extremely valuable book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A really different way of looking at personality and why we do what we do.
The author I feel spends a bit too much time proving he is not a Freudian which is not... Read more
This is well worth reading to help you understand how much we do consciously and unconsciously. Whilst I'm not fully signed up to Determinism, it seems that a lot of _what_ we do... Read morePublished on 11 Jan. 2014 by MarkN
I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who has ever been puzzled by their own reactions or sudden insights and wandered "where did that come from? Read morePublished on 11 May 2013 by Mrs. P.H.Ashford
About halfway through the book the author makes reference to his colleague Daniel Gilbert,whose own book in this area, "Stumbling on Happiness" won the Royal Society prize and... Read morePublished on 1 Feb. 2012 by nicholas hargreaves
This is a really good introduction to dual-process psychology and contains chapters on how the adaptive unconscious (often called System 1 in other works) affects our control of... Read morePublished on 21 Jan. 2012 by Simon