Books et al.Neuroscience

Identity crisis

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Science  07 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6248, pp. 595
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac6681

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"Those of us who inhabit our bodies seamlessly ... may not value what we have," author Anil Ananthaswamy writes in The Man Who Wasn't There. To probe the true nature of the self, he has traveled around the world to interview academics, clinicians, and individuals who suffer from neurological and psychiatric conditions in which an aspect of self-identity has been disturbed. We are introduced, for example, to Laurie from Bristol, England, whose schizophrenia deprives her of feeling like the owner of her actions. Allan, from California, has lost his sense of personal narrative to Alzheimer's. While praising the writing as "comprehensible and compelling," reviewer Oliver Vikbladh questions whether the science is mature enough to offer significant insights into these "maladies of the self."