A Mind Of It’s Own, Cordelia Fine – Review

What goes on up there?

A pregnant Cordelia Fine went to great lengths to find out.

She bring scientific research to life with personal anecdotes, humour and a passion for psychology. Read on…

Chapter 1: The Vain Brain

The vain brain has a lot to answer for. It makes people think they are more ethical, better employees and better drivers than average and that’s just the start.

We give ourselves all sorts of credit for our successes and let ourselves off the hook for our failures to protect our egos.

If we think we are going to do badly we don’t try to give ourselves an excuse for failure.

We spend time with those who think we are great and have a massively optimistic view of our future health, wealth and happiness.

The vain brain is needed though – those with a more accurate view of reality are often clinically depressed and optimistic people live longer!

Chapter 2: The Emotional Brain

Whether you like it or not your emotions play a big part in the workings of your mind. Take this interesting nugget – your emotions are often aware of things BEFORE you are consciously aware of them.

Happy and sad films alter our perceptions, emotions affect how much pain we feel and emotions even affect what we actually see!

People with damage to the emotional parts of their brains can find it near impossible to make decisions, some feel permanently detached from reality, some even think they are dead :(

Chapter 3: The Immoral Brain

Our judgements which we think are based on logic are often based on gut reactions or moral intuitions. Our need to believe in a just world means that we often believe people have brought misfortune upon themselves.

We hold others up to judgement for things whilst letting ourselves off for the same thing. We are basically illogical and mean people!

We judge ourselves morally superior, and think if our intentions were good that’s the main thing, even if the result is catastrophic failure.

Our morality can easily be altered by circumstances too. In an experiment 2/3 of people administered a highly dangerous voltage to fellow human beings.

Authority was a big factor here and has been shown to play a big part in immorality, as a cursory glance at the history books will confirm.

Chapter 4: The Deluded Brain

150 million Americans believe its possible for someone to be physically possessed by the Devil and 25 million Britons believe its possible to communicate with the dead.

In short many of us are deluded. There is a fine line between regular day to day delusion and being banged up in the funny farm too. People can quite easily be turned temporarily insane.

Our minds are shown to be illogical again – beware asking your loved one ‘don’t you love me any more?’ and if there is no correlation between things your brain will help out by making one up.

Some of the truly deluded think their family has been replaced by aliens or that others are controlling their actions… and then there is religion.

Chapter 5: The Pigheaded Brain

Beliefs are a funny thing. We quickly form beliefs based on the evidence, (even if that evidence is telling us the exact opposite?) and won’t let go of those beliefs, even if they are completely discredited later.

Other people’s beliefs have a huge impact over us too so lets hope mummy really believes her little angel is a genius!

Chapter 6: The Secretive Brain

The unconscious mind, one of my favourite subjects.

The big take-away from this chapter is this:

Areas of the brain are dedicated to specific subjects, they are called schemas. If a schema is activated, it will affect your behaviours. Schemas can be activated through environmental factors without your knowledge. Think about that one for a second.

The unconscious walks us places and drives our cars too – but we knew that already.

Chapter 7: The Weak Willed Brain

Face it – your will is weak. Use it up during the day and spend the evening sprawled in front of the TV watching East Enders.

Our willpower is undermined by a bad mood, rejection and distress.

However, keep working that willpower and it will eventually grow strong.

You need your unconscious mind onside for success. Help it out by writing detailed plans of what you intend to do :)

Chapter 8: The Bigoted Brain

Stereotypes, there must be more to life!

Beware stereotypes. They affect you whether you like it or not. We need to do away with them because people which suffer from negative stereotypes are at a disadvantage – and what’s fair about that?!

It’s those blasted schemas at work again… however all is not lost. Become aware of how blatantly bigoted you are being and do away with it now! (apparently its not that hard).

Epilogue: The Vulnerable Brain

Your brain is with you 24/7 so you better get used to it.

We are at the mercy of our emotions and the environment.

Our brain is constantly doing stuff and not even doing us the courtesy of letting us know.

Fortunatel, if you have read this book you might be able to work yours a bit better :)

Take- Aways:

Our motives are often hidden, even from ourselves.

Beware your schemas (and be aware of other peoples), they are critical in the way we behave and can be easily triggered.

Expectations of yourself and others play no small part in behaviour and performance.

Beliefs – easily formed and hard to shift.

Take control of your brain by writing out a plan!

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A Mind Of It’s Own, Cordelia Fine – Review on March 1, 2012 rated 4.0 of 5

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A Mind Of It’s Own, Cordelia Fine – Review on March 1, 2012 rated 4.0 of 5