ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year 2002
Synopses & Reviews
"Know thyself," a precept as old as Socrates, is still good advice. But is introspection the best path to self-knowledge? What are we trying to discover, anyway? In an eye-opening tour of the unconscious, as contemporary psychological science has redefined it, Timothy D. Wilson introduces us to a hidden mental world of judgments, feelings, and motives that introspection may never show us.
This is not your psychoanalyst's unconscious. The adaptive unconscious that empirical psychology has revealed, and that Wilson describes, is much more than a repository of primitive drives and conflict-ridden memories. It is a set of pervasive, sophisticated mental processes that size up our worlds, set goals, and initiate action, all while we are consciously thinking about something else.
If we don't know ourselves our potentials, feelings, or motives it is most often, Wilson tells us, because we have developed a plausible story about ourselves that is out of touch with our adaptive unconscious. Citing evidence that too much introspection can actually do damage, Wilson makes the case for better ways of discovering our unconscious selves. If you want to know who you are or what you feel or what you're like, Wilson advises, pay attention to what you actually do and what other people think about you. Showing us an unconscious more powerful than Freud's, and even more pervasive in our daily life, Strangers to Ourselves marks a revolution in how we know ourselves.
"Wilson convincingly argues that our conscious minds are but the tip of the iceberg in deciding how we behave, what is important to us, and how we feel....A fascinating read." Library Journal
"Timothy Wilson...offers a charming, talkative and yet authoritative review of how it became clear that most of what happens inside us is not perceptible by us." New Scientist
"This book offers an intricate combination of page-turning reading, cutting-edge research, and philosophical debate....Highly recommended." Choice
"[Wilson's] book is what popular psychology ought to be (and rarely is): thoughtful, beautifully written, and full of unexpected insights." Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker
Third Place Winner, 2002 ForeWord Book of the Year Award, Self-Help/Psychology Category
About the Author
Timothy D. Wilson is Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.
Table of Contents
1. Freud's Genius, Freud's Myopia
2. The Adaptive Unconscious
3. Who's in Charge?
4. Knowing Who We Are
5. Knowing Why
6. Knowing How We Feel
7. Knowing How We Will Feel
8. Introspection and Self-Narratives
9. Looking Outward to Know Ourselves
10. Observing and Changing Our Behavior