Neuroscience and psychoanalysis are historically opposed responses to the age-old quest to understand ourselves—one focused on the brain and the other on the mind. As part of a pioneering program to look for common ground between the two warring disciplines, Casey Schwartz spent one year immersed in psychoanalytic theory at the Anna Freud Centre, and the next year studying the brain among Yale’s cutting-edge neuroscientists. She came away with a clear picture of the distance between the two fields: while neuroscience is lacking in attention to lived experience, psychoanalysis is often too ephemeral and subjective. Armed with this awareness, Schwartz set out to study the main pioneers in the emerging and controversial field of neuropsychoanalysis. With passion and humor, she makes a trenchant argument for a hybrid scientific culture that will allow the two approaches to thrive together.
“Fascinating. . . . Refreshingly honest. . . . Both a smart exploration of a complicated subject and an excellent read.” —Chicago Tribune
“Thoughtful. . . . A thorough review of key neuroscientific findings. . . . If brain researchers plan to conquer the scourge of mental illness, they will have to pay more attention to the mind.” —Los Angeles Times
“Schwartz is onto something. . . . [She] is skeptical where others are swooning and swooning where others are skeptical. These are wonderful qualities in a science writer. . . Schwartz writes with imagination and wit.” —The New York Times
“Exciting. . . . The journey presented in this sharp narrative makes somewhat lofty topics accessible. . . . Schwartz engages the reader with humorous stories of the leading professionals she encounters, providing a thorough, thoughtful account.” —Library Journal
“A brilliant and enthralling exploration of a scientific and philosophical conundrum that has preoccupied thinkers from Descartes to Freud to Oliver Sacks: the relationship between brain and mind. Weaving together intellectual history, science reporting, bits of memoir, and a deep reservoir of humane sympathy, Schwartz brings readers along with her on a bracing quest. . . . A work of remarkable brio, wisdom, and wit, with gems of insight shimmering on nearly every page.” —Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic and author of My Age of Anxiety
“If psychoanalysis studies the brain as mind and neuroscience studies the mind as brain, can they somehow learn to work together to help us understand who we are? Casey Schwartz takes us on a charming, personal quest to reconcile hard-to-reconcile views—watching, fascinated, as the brain, maybe the most unfathomable thing in the universe, tries to fathom itself.” —Alan Alda
“For too long, we’ve had to choose between the mind and the brain. . . . In this generous, insightful, witty book, Casey Schwartz looks at the steep cost of that dichotomous construct. Her meticulous reporting and lucid reasoning resolve seemingly intractable dialectics with the sheer grace of common sense.” —Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree
“Skeptics beware. Casey Schwartz’s reports from the world of neuropsychoanalysis are anything but dull. Her nimble prose, mordant observations, penetrating comments, and unerring sense for the absurd as well as the poignant, make In the Mind Fields a deeply engaging book about a fascinating new discipline.” —Siri Hustvedt, author of The Shaking Woman
About the Author:
Casey Schwartz has worked as a staff writer at Newsweek/The Daily Beast, where she covered neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times and The New York Sun. She lives in New York City.