The human mind is one of the most amazing, amusing, confounding, and outright perplexing things ever conceived of by nature. Many people find themselves wondering why their minds work a certain way, and many experts have written books to help with the problem. Because there is so little known about the human mind (as opposed to the brain, which physiologically speaking doesn’t hold much mystery anymore) a lot of theories, backed by science, have been advanced. Here are the five best books to read if you want to learn why your mind works the way it does!
1. The Human Mind
By Robert Winston
Written from a physiological perspective, this book attempts to bridge the gap between the physiological (objective) and the psychological (subjective) aspects of the human mind. Delving into such facts as why sleep is important for the proper functioning of the brain and the prevalence of lobotomy in “disturbed patients” from 1940 to circa 1955 in the United States. The best part about this book is that Winston doesn’t shy away from discussing theories which didn’t pan out or which have been discredited, but in such analysis he also explains why these theories didn’t do the work their proponents argued for.
2. You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself
By David McRaney
The lengthy and slightly insulting title aside, David McRaney pokes holes in the notion that people are generally rational most of the time. He does this by parsing issues such as Facebook, why politically charged television programming is making most of us dumber, and how the mind of an incurable procrastinator works. Funny, scathing, humorous, and heartfelt by turns, this is a great book for anyone who wants to hear the dissenting opinion about the human mind.
3. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
By David Eagleman
One might expect that there are more than enough books out on the shelves about the subconscious, but Incognito is a fun and engaging dissection of the human mind. (Sans scalpel, naturally.) David Eagleman’s object with this book was to illustrate just how ludicrous, contradictory, and wonderful the human mind is, working through diverse topics from reflex actions to infidelity. This entertaining read is like an introductory psychology class where the professor happens to be an old friend.
4. What It Means to Be Human: Historical Reflections from the 1800s to the Present
By Joanna Bourke
What does history have to do with the human mind? Joanna Bourke argues that the mind and history shaped each other, considered through the lens of what separates human beings (and especially women, taking her cue from an 1872 anonymous letter signed “An Earnest Englishwoman) from animals. This book is a fascinating look at preconceptions, misconceptions, and fallacious ideas of what makes one person “human” and another “not,” without diving into the post-Women’s-Lib feminist dialectic and its underlying assumptions.
5. Ego Trick: In Search of the Self
By Julian Baggini
This intriguing book doesn’t stop at the question “What are you?” going further to examine the question of “How are you?” Working from a philosophical standpoint informed by social sciences such as anthropology and neurology, Julian Baggini takes on tricky questions like what the meaning of identity is and whether you are who you were yesterday, never mind twenty years ago, to offer an informative and enjoyable look at the human mind and how the ego operates both as a survival mechanism and an agent of personal change.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Jeffrey Goode contributed to the creation of the Top Online Bachelors of Psychology Programs as a resource for those interested in continuing their education and taking advantage of the convenience of an online program.
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