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Paperback Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber: Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture Book

ISBN: 1400048516

ISBN13: 9781400048519

Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber: Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture

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Book Overview

In "Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber," neuropsychiatrist and bestselling author Richard Restak takes an in-depth look at the science of anxiety, offering a fresh perspective and a straightforward approach to exploring and understanding our anxiety before it paralyzes us. In clear, accessible language, Restak addresses such pivotal questions as: - How does anxiety differ from fear and stress? - Which areas of the brain are associated with anxiety?...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

Don't judge a book by its cover

As with Restak's other works on neuroscience, this book provides fascinating examples and insights into the the way the brain experiences the world. This time the emphasis is on the sometimes destructive and sometimes surprisingly useful experience of anxiety to mental and physical health. Restak is a highly respected neurologist and the author of over a dozen books, so I'm sure the information contained within is well researched and credible, but there is one superficial yet glaring flaw in this edition that, were it not for Restak's excellent body of work, might have made me wonder about the reliability of the information inside. That flaw is the image on the cover of Poe above the image of a mountain climber reaching a mountain summit. The problem is that the image is not Edgar Allan Poe, but Mark Twain. It was such a distraction that I finally had to remove the cover to enjoy the book. I guess you could say that it caused me anxiety (say, maybe it's one of the author's clever experiments). Disregard the insult to Twain (he was never a fan of E.A. Poe), and you'll be enlightened and surprised by the insights of a brain expert who not only knows and loves his subject, but knows how to make it accessible to the layperson.

It's an Allusion-- Poe Himself Would Understand!!!

If you want to learn about the life of your favorite author, Edgar Allan Poe, go buy a biography of him and read it. It may help you understand why Dr. Restak chose to allude to Poe in the title of a book on anxiety disorders. You have to admit, Poe's history of abandonment by family members and rejection by critics would certainly predispose him to the kind of anxiety and depression Restak explains and palliates in this book. For people who suffer from panic attacks or chronic anxiety, there comes the shock of clarity and the comfort of understanding. One's symptoms are described and the brain chemistry that causes them is explained in detail. With anxiety there is often a sense of guilt that one cannot "suck it up" and take life's curveballs like so many others seem to. As Restak explains, this is caused not by inherent weakness of personality, but a combination of genetic predisposition and the body's chemical response to life events. It is relieving to know that one's seemingly irrational problems have a completely logical and measurable cause. What's more, steps can actually be taken to improve! Tragically, this book comes over a hundred years too late for its own namesake. Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart"-the one that never recovered from the triple loss of his mother, stepmother, and wife- proved too fragile to withstand the stress of his own life and Poe died an early and still unexplained death. Thankfully, it is not too late for the reader, who can put into practice the exercises outlined in this book and learn how to cope with a mind predisposed to anxiety.

Two things this book is NOT

1- Literary Criticism 2- Self Help (despite offering some anxiety minimizing suggestions), This book explores the experience of anxiety from a neurological point of view. It is a fascinating historical and scientific exploration of the structure and function of our brain as it relates to anxiety. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Students of the neurological and cognitive sciences will probably do so as well.
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