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The Blind Masseuse

A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia

Alden Jones

Through personal journeys both interior and across the globe, Alden Jones investigates what motivates us to travel abroad in search of the unfamiliar.

            By way of explorations to Costa Rica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Burma, Cambodia, Egypt, and around the world on a ship, Jones chronicles her experience as a young American traveler while pondering her role as an outsider in the cultures she temporarily inhabits. Her wanderlust fuels a strong, high-adventure story and, much in the vein of classic travel literature, Jones's picaresque tale of personal evolution informs her own transitions, rites of passage, and understandings of her place as a citizen of the world. With sharp insight and stylish prose, Jones asks: Is there a right or wrong way to travel? The Blind Masseuse concludes that there is, but that it's not always black and white.

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Bloody Mary in the Mirror

Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics

Alan Dundes

Bloody Mary in the Mirror mixes Sigmund Freud with vampires and The Little Mermaid to see what new light psychoanalysis can bring to folklore techniques and forms.

Ever since Freud published his analysis of Jewish jokes in 1905 and his disciple Otto Rank followed with his groundbreaking The Myth of the Birth of the Hero in 1909, the psychoanalytic study of folklore has been an acknowledged part of applied psychoanalysis.

However, psychoanalysts, handicapped by their limited knowledge of folklore techniques, have tended to confine their efforts to the Bible, to classical mythology, and to the Grimm fairy tales. Most folklorists have been slow to consider psychoanalysis as a method of interpreting folklore.

One notable exception is folklorist Alan Dundes. In the seven fascinating essays of Bloody Mary in the Mirror, psychoanalytic theory illuminates such folklore genres as legend (in the vampire tale), folktale (in the ancient Egyptian tale of two brothers), custom (in fraternity hazing and ritual fasting), and games (in the modern Greek game of "Long Donkey"). One of two essays Dundes co-authored with his daughter Lauren Dundes, professor of sociology at Western Maryland College, successfully probes the content of Disney's The Little Mermaid, yielding new insights into this popular reworking of a Hans Christian Andersen favorite.

Among folk rituals investigated is the girl's game of "Bloody Mary." Elementary or middle school-age girls huddle in a darkened bathroom awaiting the appearance in the mirror of a frightening apparition. The plausible analysis of this well-known--if somewhat puzzling--American rite is one of many surprising and enlightening finds in this book.

All of the essays in this remarkable volume create new takes on old traditions. Bloody Mary in the Mirror is an expedition into psychoanalytic folklore techniques and constitutes a giant step towards realizing the potential Freud's work promises for folklore studies.

Alan Dundes is professor of anthropology and folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Among many others, his books include Interpreting Folklore (1980) and From Game to War and Other Psychoanalytic Essays on Folklore (1997). He edited Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel: Readings in the Interpretation of Afro-American Folklore (1991), which was published by University Press of Mississippi.

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Blush

Faces of Shame

Elspeth Probyn

With the rise of pride - national pride, gay pride, black pride, fat pride - shame, the "sickness of the soul," has acquired a bad reputation. While the repudiation of some forms and consequences of societal shame are undoubtedly necessary, Elspeth Probyn contends that this emotion is a powerful resource in rethinking who we are and who we want to be. When we blush, we are driven to question what we value about ourselves and why. Blush argues that we are all born with a capacity for shame, much as we are born with the capacity for anger or pride, and that shame, like these other emotions, can be good for us and reveal the good in us. Painfully introspective, shame demands that we question our actions and our relationship to others. Shame's physical manifestation - the blush - gives us away, connecting us to our humanity. What shames us says a great deal about our character as individuals and as a society, about our past and our desires for the future. Written in an engaging and personal style, Blush combines psychology and cultural criticism, sociology and popular science, to present a unique perspective on debates about the ethics and emotion of identity.

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The Bodhisattva's Brain

Buddhism Naturalized

Owen Flanagan

Can there be a Buddhism without karma, nirvana, and reincarnation that is compatible with the rest of knowledge?

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Border Junkies

Addiction and Survival on the Streets of Juárez and El Paso

By Scott Comar

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Boundaries of Touch

Parenting and Adult-Child Intimacy

Jean O'Malley Halley

Discussing issues of parent-child contact ranging from breastfeeding and sleeping arrangements to sexual abuse, Jean O'Malley Halley traces the evolution of mainstream ideas about touching between adults and children over the course of the twentieth century in the United States. Boundaries of Touch shows how arguments about adult-child touch have been politicized, simplified, and bifurcated into "naturalist" and "behaviorist" viewpoints, thereby sharpening certain binary constructions such as mind/body and male/female. In addition to contemporary periodicals and self-help books on child rearing, Halley uses information gathered from interviews she conducted with mothers ranging in age from twenty-eight to seventy-three. Throughout, she reveals how the parent-child relationship, far from being a private or benign subject, continues as a highly contested, politicized affair of keen public interest.

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The Brain and the Meaning of Life

Paul Thagard

Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living.

Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover. Brains come to know reality through a combination of perception and reasoning. Just as important, our brains evaluate aspects of reality through emotions that can produce both good and bad decisions. Our cognitive and emotional abilities allow us to understand reality, decide effectively, act morally, and pursue the vital needs of love, work, and play. Wisdom consists of knowing what matters, why it matters, and how to achieve it.

The Brain and the Meaning of Life shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe. The book integrates decades of multidisciplinary research, but its clear explanations and humor make it accessible to the general reader.

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Braintrust

What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality

Patricia S. Churchland

What is morality? Where does it come from? And why do most of us heed its call most of the time? In Braintrust, neurophilosophy pioneer Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the "neurobiological platform of bonding" that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior. The result is a provocative genealogy of morals that asks us to reevaluate the priority given to religion, absolute rules, and pure reason in accounting for the basis of morality.

Moral values, Churchland argues, are rooted in a behavior common to all mammals--the caring for offspring. The evolved structure, processes, and chemistry of the brain incline humans to strive not only for self-preservation but for the well-being of allied selves--first offspring, then mates, kin, and so on, in wider and wider "caring" circles. Separation and exclusion cause pain, and the company of loved ones causes pleasure; responding to feelings of social pain and pleasure, brains adjust their circuitry to local customs. In this way, caring is apportioned, conscience molded, and moral intuitions instilled. A key part of the story is oxytocin, an ancient body-and-brain molecule that, by decreasing the stress response, allows humans to develop the trust in one another necessary for the development of close-knit ties, social institutions, and morality.

A major new account of what really makes us moral, Braintrust challenges us to reconsider the origins of some of our most cherished values.

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Bulimia Nervosa

James Mitchell

In Bulimia Nervosa, James E. Mitchell provides a concise overview of the topic, a review of the literature available, his interpretation of this information, and recommendations based on his extensive clinical experience.  He concludes that although significant questions about treatment techniques, comorbidity, and the biology of bulimia nervosa remain, practitioners and their clients can be assured about the prospects  for successful treatment.

“Many people assisted the writing of the book...but the skillful editing makes it like a story unfolding, with a tantalizing piece of information at each chapter end to spur the reader on.  There is minimal use of very technical language, which makes the book ideal for nonmedical students or for anybody who needs to read about these illnesses.”  -Choice, November, 1985

James Mitchell, M.D., is associate professor of psychiatry and co-director of the eating disorders  program at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  He is editor of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia: Diagnosis and Treatment.

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The Bully Society

School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools

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