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Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking: A New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking
Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking: A New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking
by Joe Griffin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate depiction of mental maladies with concise and jargon-free treatments, 27 Dec. 2011
I read Dreaming Reality by the same authors before I read this book. Human Givens takes a necessity-based approach to mental health. Rather than conjuring up sophisticated psychological ailments the authors elucidate the strong link between lacunas in basic needs and mental illness. Their most important contribution is the ''Expectation fulfilment theory" which asserts that excessive dreaming caused by unacted upon emotion causes fatigue, drepression and helplessness. Their major premise is buttressed by the finding that REM sleep-the point within the sleep cycle at which we dream-usually occurs once all the regenerative stages of sleep have occurred. These lower regenerative stages are required for tissue repair as it is in these stages that salubrious hormones and growth factors are released. However excessive emotional arousal, that is repressed, is acted out during REM-sleep in order to delete the temporary emotive cerebral programme (as well as its accompanying motor programmes eg punching or kicking a foe/oppressor) thus skipping the stages of the sleep cycle which proceed it. Thus while depressives may go to bed earlier they still wake feeling lethargic and sluggish. This book is erudite, insightful, accurate and an excellent guide for parents with children/teenagers suffering from psychological trauma. I have a Bsc in Neuroscience and thus I have always found psychological theories of emotion to be void of the scientific vigour required to publish in a respectable journal. Tyrell and Griffithin have conducted numerous experiments and draw on an inordinate/voluminous catalogue of experimental data to adduce their theory. Furthermore they are aptly critical of psychobabble and supercilious gibberish. I strongly recommend this book.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Penguin Press Science)
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Penguin Press Science)
by Steven Pinker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The outsider, 15 Dec. 2011
Blank Slate is a defence of, for want of a better term, pseudo-genetic determinism. Pinker argues that while genetic research has not reached an appropriate level of knowledge to identify specific genes that effect behaviour, the wholesale dismissal of genetic conrtibutions to human psychology are detrimental to scientific inquiry. Having read Neuroscience at UCL I am enouraged by the interest in neuroscience elicited by Pinkers popularization of neuropsychology. However Pinker fails to provide substantive evidence to suppport his claims, besides twin studies and anecdotal evidence. The fact of the matter is that genes are nucleotide bases that code for amino acids which in turn are aggregated to form proteins; how we get from this cellular biochemical arrangement to complex psychological behaviours is beyond me. Although i admire Pinker greatly I can't help but feel that his time would be better spent buttressing evo-psy theory by doing genetic reseach rather than hijacking the hard won discoveries of others in an attempt to support rather flimmsey rationalizations. Genes do determine physical traits and the mind is a product of the biological machinery of the brain (especially the frontal lobes in the case of an individuals personna)however the issue doesnt revolve around which genes do what but rather the extent to which a particular gene is expressed. For example AMPA & NMDA-receptors have been linked to memory formation, it could rather naively be asserted that an increased expression of the genes which code for these proteins may give an individual an intellectual advantage. However synaptogenesis (the formation of synapses) involves myriad genes (Spinster), proteins (Wnts), receptors (Neurexin) and even neuronal activity in the form of action potentials/membrane depolarizations. Furthermore by avoiding physiological differentials between ethnic groups (which unlike hate, anger and criminality can easy be falsified in other mammals) he runs the risk of forming a rather incomplete exposition of genetic determinism. For example Black/African people do produce/express more menalin than caucasian people. Melanin absorbs UV light and prevents it from penetrating the skin where it can have tumourigenic effects on visceral cells. In adition black people have been shown to produce more muscle per unit fat than caucasian people, and they also have denser bones. While these facts are of interest and merit further investigation to fully delineate their clinical relevance, were i or anyone else to use these findings to attribute brutishness or any other undesirable trait requiring physical-prowess to Black/African people i would rightly be chastised. Thus Pinkers frequent reference to the Askenazi Jews and the group of genes reported to be prevelant amongst them which he links to intelligence (as they increase myelination around axons which in turn increases the conduction speed and inferentially the rate at which cognition occurs)is equally repellent. I am not of the credo advocating a moral qualification to the areas of science researched but rather some one who requires that the problems we seek to resolve as scientists are tractable. Perhaps Pinker is a head of his times may be in 100/200 years we may have sectioned out the precise functions of all the genes within the human genome. But until then i reiterate my advice that he join us on the lab bench rather than inflamming the discussion he so desperately wishes to promote.
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