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Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Life on Drugs
Synopses & Reviews
A gripping, ultimately triumphant memoir that's also the most comprehensive and comprehensible study of the neuroscience of addiction written for the general public.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION:
We are prone to a cycle of craving what we don't have, finding it, using it up or losing it, and then craving it all the more. This cycle is at the root of all addictions, addictions to drugs, sex, love, cigarettes, soap operas, wealth, and wisdom itself. But why should this be so? Why are we desperate for what we don't have, or can't have, often at great cost to what we do have, thereby risking our peace and contentment, our safety, and even our lives?
The answer, says Dr. Marc Lewis, lies in the structure and function of the human brain.
Marc Lewis is a distinguished neuroscientist. And, for many years, he was a drug addict himself, dependent on a series of dangerous substances, from LSD to heroin. His narrative moves back and forth between the often dark, compellingly recounted story of his relationship with drugs and a revelatory analysis of what was going on in his brain.
He shows how drugs speak to the brain - which is designed to seek rewards and soothe pain - in its own language. He shows in detail the neural mechanics of a variety of powerful drugs and of the onset of addiction, itself a distortion of normal perception.
Dr. Lewis freed himself from addiction and ended up studying it. At the age of 30 he traded in his pharmaceutical supplies for the life of a graduate student, eventually becoming a professor of developmental psychology, and then of neuroscience --his field for the last 12 years. This is the story of his journey, seen from the inside out.
"In this meticulous, evocative memoir, Lewis, a neuroscientist and ex-junkie, explores how narcotics affect the brain and beguile the mind. His picaresque narrative recounts a lavish drug history: booze, cough syrup and pot at boarding school; LSD during his Vietnam-era college days at Berkeley; intermittent addictions to heroin and prescription opiates that led to pharmacy break-ins and arrest; a laughing-gas party in the Malaysian jungle. His odyssey frames a fascinating look at the mechanisms by which drugs disrupt brain chemistry, excite or sedate neurons, and trash perception, reasoning, and emotion. (A chapter on first love shows how sexual attraction stimulates the same dopamine reward system that hooks the brain on smack.) But Lewis also translates the neuroscience into luxuriant sensation with vivid depictions of the 'absurdist carnival' of an acid trip or the 'bright white pleasure' of a methamphetamine jag. His saga is as much trenchant psychology as it is hard neurology, as he probes the constant jangle of self-loathing and social awkwardness that drove him to drugs as an escape from reality. Lewis's unusual blend of scientific expertise, street cred, vivid subjectivity and searching introspection yields a compelling perspective on the perils and allure of addiction. Agent: Michael Levine, Westsood Artists (Canada).(Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In a vivid, candid memoir of his own addiction, a renowned neuroscientist articulates exactly how drugs speak to the brain, illuminating both the science of craving and the human condition
Marc Lewisand#8217;s relationship with drugs began in a New England boarding school where, as a bullied and homesick fifteen-year-old, he made brief escapes from reality by way of cough medicine, alcohol, and marijuana. In Berkeley, California, in its hippie heyday, he found methamphetamine and LSD and heroin; he sniffed nitrous oxide in Malaysia; and frequented Calcuttaand#8217;s opium dens. Ultimately, though, his journey took him where it takes most addicts: into a life of desperation, deception, and crime.
But unlike most addicts, Lewis recovered to become a developmental psychologist and researcher in neuroscience. In Memoirs of an Addicted Brain, he applies his professional expertise to a study of his former self, using the story of his own journey through addiction to tell the universal story of addictions of every kind.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Lewis is a developmental neuroscientist and professor of human development and applied psychology at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. He is the author of over fifty journal publications in neuroscience and developmental psychology and coeditor of Emotion, Development, and Self-Organization: Dynamic Systems Approaches to Emotional Development.
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