Book Review: Mind
A Journey to the Heart of Being Human
By Daniel J. Siegel, MD
W.W. Norton & Company
You’ve probably said something like, “I have a lot on my mind,” or, “He’s out of his mind!” We use these expressions all the time, but rarely do we stop to examine, What is the mind? And how is it different from the brain? In his enlightening and challenging new book, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human, Dr. Daniel J. Siegel digs deep into the concept of “mind,” reflecting on the spheres where psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience interconnect—and more important, what may lie beyond.
Siegel is a Harvard-trained physician, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, executive director at the Mindsight Institute, and an author of numerous books. In Mind, he takes us through parallel journeys. On one hand, he’s telling the story of his career—which is fascinating, as he’s both struggled with mainstream medical doctrines, and soared, getting to work with Pope John Paul II. On the other, he discusses how the past four decades have been a pursuit to understand “what is the mind?” It is, it turns out, more than what’s in our skull: it is a flow of energy and information.
But Siegel goes further. Mind isn’t just inside the individual. “The mind may not only be within us—it may also be between us. This notion may certainly be a stretch for how we usually think of mind in modern science.” As we widen our perspective, thinking of “mind” as a flow between humans—as a small facial expression from a husband to a wife, for example—starts to make sense. Communication creates an interpersonal neurobiology that is much stronger than we are aware of. Siegel’s book is a worthy exploration of exciting new concepts, from one of the giants in this field.