Synopses & Reviews
The startling new science behind sudden acts of violence committed by ordinary, sane people from a leading neurobiologist
According to R. Douglas Fields, PhD, we all have a rage circuit we cant fully control once it is engaged. The daily headlines are filled with examples of otherwise rational people with no history of violence or mental illness suddenly snapping in a domestic dispute, barroom brawl, or road rage attack. We all wish to believe that we are in control of our actions, but the fact is, in certain circumstances we are not. Something in our environment can unexpectedly unleash an automatic and complex rage response.
Dr. Fields is an internationally recognized neurobiologist and authority on the brain and the cellular mechanisms of memory. He has spent years trying to understand the biological basis of rage and anomalous violence, and he has concluded that our cultures understanding of the problem is based on an erroneous assumption: that rage attacks are the product of morally or mentally defective individuals, rather than a capacity that we all possess. The sad truth is that the right trigger in the right circumstance can unleash a fit of rage in almost anyone. And as Dr. Fields reveals and details for the first time, there are precisely nine triggers.
Fields shows that violent behavior is the result of the clash between our evolutionary hardwiring and triggers in our contemporary world. Our personal space is more crowded than ever, we get less sleep, and we just aren't as fit as our ancestors. We need to understand how the hardwiring works and how to recognize the nine triggers. With a totally new perspective, engaging narrative, and practical advice, Why We Snap uncovers the biological roots of the rage response and how we can protect ourselvesand others.
Neuroscientist Fields provides insight into the seemingly inexplicable: sudden switches into violent behavior an all too familiar narrative that often ends in collective tragedy. From road rage to public shootings he explores manifestations of the human instinct to kill—which Fields views as universal and evolutionarily hardwired into our brains. This discussion for all its relevance to contemporary society can become unwieldy but Fields knows when to use stories including anecdotes from his own life and when to rely on academic material such as his own discipline. Even the most scientific passages are personalized and placed in a narrative context and while his friendly and informative tone can occasionally be excessively digressive it results in a highly readable survey. Most distinctive is Fields’s self created mnemonic device LIFEMORTS an acronym for triggers to violence: life or limb; insult; family; environment; mate; order in society; resources; tribe; stopped. Recognizing these triggers he claims can prevent tragedy. Fields shines a thoughtful and essential light on one of the darkest aspects of human behavior. Agent: Andrew Stuart Stuart Agency. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
About the Author
R. Douglas Fields
is senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He became head of the Neurocytology and Physiology Unit, NICHD in 1994 and chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section, NICHD in 2001. He is editor in chief of Neuron Glia Biology
and a member of the editorial board of several other journals in the field of neuroscience. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.