The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self
by Anil Ananthaswamy
Dutton, 2015 (($26.95))
“From the Buddha to the modern neuroscientist and philosopher, humans have pondered the nature of the self,” writes science journalist Ananthaswamy, but the “self” remains largely shrouded in mystery. Here he probes selfhood by exploring neurological conditions that rob people of something we often consider integral to human identity—from body integrity identity disorder (which makes people feel that a part of their body is not their own) to Alzheimer's disease. In each chapter, Ananthaswamy details the neuroscience of the disorder and uses personal stories to illustrate the ailment's often heartrending effects. By framing each condition as a perturbation in a person's sense of self, Ananthaswamy demonstrates how intimately brain functions are linked to identity.