Synopses & Reviews
The human reaction to insects is neither purely biological nor simply cultural. And no one reacts to insects with indifference. Insects frighten, disgust and fascinate us. Jeff Lockwood explores this phenomenon through evolutionary science, human history, and contemporary psychology, as well as a debilitating bout with entomophobia in his work as an entomologist. Exploring the nature of anxiety and phobia, Lockwood explores the lively debate about how much of our fear of insects can be attributed to ancestral predisposition for our own survival and how much is learned through individual experiences. Drawing on vivid case studies, Lockwood explains how insects have come to infest our minds in sometimes devastating ways and supersede even the most rational understanding of the benefits these creatures provide.
No one can claim to be ambivalent in the face of wasps, cockroaches or maggots but our collective entomophobia is wreaking havoc on the natural world as we soak our food, homes and gardens in powerful insecticides. Lockwood dissects our common reactions, distinguishing between disgust and fear, and invites readers to consider their own emotional and physiological reactions to insects in a new framework that he's derived from cutting-edge biological, psychological, and social science.
"In The Infested Mind, Lockwood shifts from entomology to psychology to examine the fascination that first drew him to insects and the terror that later repelled him. His exploration of our complex relations with these critters makes for an engrossing book. For the entomophobic reader especially, the experience is at times thrilling (watch out for the photos!) and therapeutic." --Scientific American MIND
"Lockwood (natural sciences and humanities, Univ. of Wyoming; Six-Legged Soldiers) begins with his own nightmare experience with a locust swarm and proceeds to analyze thoroughly human reactions to insects and spiders. He explores the differences between fear and disgust, both of which help protect us from potential danger and harm... VERDICT: For all who have responded to insects -- entomophobes, entomophiles, or in between -- as well as psychologists and parents." --Library Journal
"By drawing upon the works of Dali, Kant and Jung (amongst others), Lockwood reveals the psychology of our fears and disgust of arthropods. Central to this argument is the idea that human beings are culturally malleable creatures operating within certain evolutionary constraints. Leave it also to Lockwood to examine entomophobia and biophilia in such a reflexive, provocative and engaging fashion, while elucidating the role of the negative sublime in human-arthropod encounters." --Raynald Harvey Lemelin, Lakehead University Research Chair in Parks and Protected Areas, Lakehead University
"A tour-de-force account of the myriad ways that insects and their kin repel, disgust, terrify, and yet paradoxically attract and fascinate humans, irrespective of time and place." --May Berenbaum, Head of Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"The book's exploration of the science, driven by Lockwood's quest to understand himself, is easy to follow and fascinating." --Nature Conservancy
About the Author
is Professor of Natural Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wyoming and author of Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War
Table of Contents
PROLOGUE. Entomophobia from the inside: Swallowed by a swarm
CHAPTER 1. The Nature of Fear-and the Fear of Nature
CHAPTER 2. Entomophobia: A product of our genes?
CHAPTER 3. Entomophobia: Practice Makes Perfect?
CHAPTER 4. Disgust: Horror's Other Half
CHAPTER 5. The Terrible Trio: Imagining Insects into Our Lives
CHAPTER 6. Treating the Horrified: Finally, some good news
CHAPTER 7. Entomophilia: Insects as sources of wonder
EPILOGUE. Tales of Terror: Bed bugs in New York City