In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

There are few flaws to detract from this attractively produced and fairly priced volume. Had it been written in this country, there would perhaps be more discussion to the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol on the fetus. Instead these agents are simply listed in a detailed table of virtually all social, physical, toxic, and infectious agents known or thought to interfere with fetal development . There is also no special emphasis on the premature infant who has spent the first days or weeks of his life in one of our modern neonatal intensive care units where the infant has far more contact with machines and lights than with parents. While some of the photographs are old and have been printed in earlier editions, they have been carefully selected for content and clarity of reproduction . The photos in the section on "Assessment of Maturity" and "Reflexes and Reactions" are outstanding and these sections alone would be well worth the purchase price of this entire volume. The style throughout is straightforward and direct without being pedantic. In reviewing this book, I spent far more time than I had originally allotted. I came away with the feeling that I had discussed an interesting problem with a senior clinician with outstanding ability and experience who had shared with me the learnings of a lifetime in practice. When I finished I found it quite difficult to bring myselfto donate this review copy to our medical library as I usually do. I wanted to keep this outstanding volume on my own bookshelf for I know that I shall refer to it frequently as should anyone who deals professionally with developing infants and children. John D. Burrington Department of Surgery University of Chicago The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. By Julian Jaynes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1977. Pp. 467. $12.95. This book propounds the extraordinary thesis that human consciousness first developed during the second millenium b.c. One is tempted to pass by so startling a propostion from a fellow scientist with an embarrassed smile. Yet the author's credentials as professor of psychology at Princeton and his reputation from studies in animal behavior, schizophrenia, and hypnosis demand a closer look. I must say outright that it has been a long time since I read anything in the problem of human evolution that was at once so stimulating with original insights and ingenious interpretations yet disappointing, even exasperating, by the incompleteness of its analysis. First let us clarify the author's thesis. By consciousness he apparently means what I think most people would call self-consciousness, that is, the concept of an internal private world within the individual that in some way mimics the external "real" world with which we have contact through our senses. The author refers to this variously as the "inner space of consciousness" and as the "analog I." He conceives of preliterate man as identifying himself with reality and not recognizing the distinction between the external world and an inner consciousness that must, in some fundamental ways, be different from it. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine ¦ Autumn 1977 | 163 The author's idea of bicamerality as a characteristic of this primitive mind is based on modern research on the differentiation of left and right hemispheres of the cortex. The author accepts, perhaps too confidently, the concept that the left hemisphere is the chamber for language, analytic, and executive functions, the right that of spacial, musical, and holistic programming. It is apparently the author's concept that the right hemisphere is the primary seat of cultural patterning and as such dominates the executive function of the left without selfconscious assertiveness being called into play. This dominance may take the form of voices of elders or the deified dead giving explicit instructions at critical junctures. Such commands elicit unquestioned obedience from the executive brain. The author ascribes the breakdown of this bicameral organization and the accompanying emergence of the self-critical independence of the left hemisphere to historical events in the area of the Mediterranean littoral at about 1200 b.c. Archeological evidence suggests that violent volcanic activity (Thera episodes) disrupted the stable local cultures and led to extensive...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 163-165
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.