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Book Forum: Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry   |    
The Self in Neuroscience and Psychiatry
KEMAL SAGDUYU, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:1238-1238. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.6.1238
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Edited by Tilo Kircher and Anthony David. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 484 pp., $140.00; $53.00 (paper).

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In this unique book, Kircher and David have managed to compile the most recent contributions to scientific approaches to understanding the self. The neuroscientific study of the self and self-consciousness is in its developmental stages. In this premiere edition addressing the scientific contribution to an understanding of the self, a brave team of authors focus on current models of self-consciousness in neurosciences and psychiatry. The team strives to excel in gathering contemporary constructs for understanding the self and models of self-consciousness arising from psychiatry and the neurosciences.

There are introductory essays describing the philosophical, historical, and psychological approaches, making this a uniquely comprehensive overview. The introduction presents the background of the concept of the self from the perspectives of philosophy, psychiatry, neuroscience, and the social sciences. The book continues with several chapters that look at neural correlates of self-awareness. The second chapter ends with the conclusion that "neuroscience, philosophy, and psychiatry execute their investigation from different perspectives," each presenting the "truth," relative to their certain point of view. In chapter 6, Philip Barnard provides a neat set of figures and illustrations giving an overview of the cognitive systems architecture, followed by figures attempting to simplify "abnormal formation of meaning," in understanding schizophrenia.

In chapter 10, Dr. Panksepp suggests an anatomical location for the "neural nature of the core self," as the "neuronal densities and patterns in more caudal midline," which are yet to be explored. The rest of the chapters in part 3 are clustered in titles exploring the disturbances of the self in schizophrenia from the perspectives of phenomenology (chapters 11 to 13), social psychology (chapters 14 to 16), and clinical neuroscience (chapters 17 to 22). In the final chapter, Kircher and David introduce a new model of the self, based on concepts of philosophy, the cognitive sciences, and the neurosciences, as well as the normal and the abnormal, by giving an overview of the current positions.

To a nonadvanced student or resident, this may feel like a bit dense. A good example would be the figures in chapter 6, requiring thoughtful absorption, beautifully compiled by Dr. Barnard, in an attempt to "outline the basic architecture of interacting cognitive subsystems." Reading the essays, which complement each other, one begins to feel the integration of new knowledge that illuminates the complex issues surrounding the complex relationship between mind and body.

A wonderful addition to any library, this book will appeal to a wide audience of scientists, clinicians, and scholars concerned with the phenomenology and psychopathology of the self. This book is a must for the library of every science- or social-science-oriented college or university, neuroscience-oriented medical school, as well for all who are in the basic and clinical fields close to psychiatry. It will be useful for anyone who wishes to learn more about the concept of self, who is familiar with the basic neuroscience and psychology concepts that the book builds on. As a bonus, this book comes in an affordable paperback version as well.

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