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The Invisible Gorilla October 14, 2010

Posted by roganp in Recommendations.
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I am really excited about two new books I have just finished reading. One is:

The Invisible Gorilla : and other ways our intuitions deceive us by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel Simons. I had recently read about a psychology study using a unseen gorilla in a video somewhere and instantly thought all the way back to my college freshman psychology class where suddenly a few people burst into the room arguing loudly. The professor ushered them out and then had us all write a description of the people and the event. He then read a few aloud. To our surprise, we all thought we had seen some very different people and events (some saw guns) and the incident was so compelling  that  I remained interested in perception, memory, and thought ever since. So when I saw this title, I charged it out of the library. This book reviewing the latest studies was just fascinating, explaining how and why even very smart people can have faulty thinking. It discussed causation versus correlation, subliminal motivation etc. Many fascinating ideas here. They even discussed why a few of the nonfiction best-sellers I’ve read recently were incorrect!

The Naked Lady Who Stood on her Head : a psychiatrist’s stories of his most bizarre cases by Gary W. Small, MD and his wife Gigi Vorgan, a screenwriter, was the second book I couldn’t put down. The cover said “a spellbinding record of the doctor’s most bewildering cases.” But what I enjoyed most was his explanations of his cases and his research into the human mind. So much has been discovered about brain chemistry due to the ability to do non-invasive imaging in the last five years. Dr Small now specialize in geriatric psychiatry and is listed in America’s Top Doctors, a reference work I have recommended before.  The title of Naked Lady referred to a case that demonstrated the physician must first consider a physical, treatable condition, such as diabetic shock or a thyroid condition as a cause  for unusual behavior before he considers mental conditions .  I thought the title was unfortunate because he repeatedly talked about undoing the stigma of mental illness and how the stigma stopped people  who  could  benefit from psychiatry from getting proper care yet the title unfortunately, sensationalizes the subject. Still, the book was fascinating.

Phyllis Rogan, Reference Librarian
Steele Memorial Library

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