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The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness
Mark Solms
W W Norton & Co / Softcover / Jul 2022
9781324021919 (ISBN-10: 1324021918)
price: $24.95
400 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

A revelatory new theory of consciousness that returns emotions to the center of mental life.

For Mark Solms, one of the boldest thinkers in contemporary neuroscience, discovering how consciousness comes about has been a lifetime’s quest. Scientists consider it the "hard problem" because it seems an impossible task to understand why we feel a subjective sense of self and how it arises in the brain.

Venturing into the elementary physics of life, Solms has now arrived at an astonishing answer. In The Hidden Spring, he brings forward his discovery in accessible language and graspable analogies.

Solms is a frank and fearless guide on an extraordinary voyage from the dawn of neuropsychology and psychoanalysis to the cutting edge of contemporary neuroscience, adhering to the medically provable. But he goes beyond other neuroscientists by paying close attention to the subjective experiences of hundreds of neurological patients, many of whom he treated, whose uncanny conversations expose much about the brain’s obscure reaches.

Most importantly, you will be able to recognize the workings of your own mind for what they really are, including every stray thought, pulse of emotion, and shift of attention. The Hidden Spring will profoundly alter your understanding of your own subjective experience.


[R]emarkably clear, accommodating and exciting to read…The Hidden Spring provides a necessary reminder that rational thinking isn't all it seems to be. —Jess Keiser, Washington Post

One of the worthiest efforts to come out of neuroscience in recent memory.—Jason Kehe, WIRED

Nobody bewitched by these mysteries [of consciousness] can afford to ignore the solution proposed by Mark Solms…Fascinating, wide-ranging and heartfelt.—Oliver Burkeman, Guardian

Intriguing…There is plenty to provoke and fascinate along the way.—Anil Seth, Times Higher Education

This is truly a remarkable book. It changes everything.—Brian Eno

A remarkably bold fusion of ideas from psychoanalysis, psychology, and the frontiers of theoretical neuroscience that takes aim at the biggest question there is. Solms will challenge your most basic beliefs.—Matthew Cobb, author of The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience

Solms’s efforts…have been truly pioneering. This unification is clearly the direction for the future.—Eric Kandel, Nobel laureate for Physiology and Medicine

This treatment of consciousness and artificial sentience should be taken very seriously.—Karl Friston, scientific director, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging

Solms’s vital work has never ignored the lived, felt experience of human beings. His ideas look a lot like the future to me.—Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World

To say this work is encyclopedic is to diminish its poetic, psychological and theoretical achievement. This is required reading.—Susie Orbach, author of In Therapy

At last the emperor has found some clothes! For decades, consciousness has been perceived as an epiphenomenon, little more than an illusion that can't really make things happen. Solms takes a thrilling new approach to the problem, grounded in modern neurobiology but finding meaning in older ideas going back to Freud. This is an exciting book.—Nick Lane, author of The Vital Question

About the Author:

Mark Solms discovered the forebrain mechanisms of dreaming. He is director of neuropsychology of the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he lives. He is also honorary lecturer in neurosurgery at the Royal London Hospital School and honorary Fellow at the American College of Psychiatrists.

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