Ich habe dieses Buch gekauft, weil ich die Romane von Siri Hustvedt mag (wie sie habe ich norwegische Wurzeln). Mir war nicht klar, dass es sich bei diesem Buch um ein Sachbuch über neurologische, medizinische und schließlich philosophische Fragen handelt, aber das bedeutet nicht, dass mich das Buch enttäuscht hat - im Gegenteil. Es war interessant zu lesen und ich habe viel gelernt.
This book is very personal and at the same time impressively erudite. The starting point of Hustvedt's investigation is a strange experience she had in 2006: In the middle of a speech she gave in memory of her deceased father her body began shaking violently from the neck down. She was still able to speak, yet the shaking of her lower body was uncontrollable. This raises the question of identity. What is a self? Can she say "I was shaking", when in fact the shaking occurred entirely against her will? This problem sets Hustvedt off on an eclectic exploration of philosophy (the mind-body problem), psychology and psychiatry, neurology and brain science. She does not develop a stringent line of questioning; rather, she keeps approaching the same set of questions from various angles. She describes a plethora of different conditions - hysteria (or conversion disorder, as it is usually called today), anosognosia (denial of illness), mirror touch synesthesia, to name only a few - all of which serve to show that a person's identity may split, be dissociative and more fragile than we would ordinarily tend to think. One of the most compelling parts of her book is her deconstruction of the mind-body dichotomy; she shows that in many cases it is simply not possible to say whether an illness is organic or mental; in the age of brain science, this whole distinction does not seem to make sense any more. This does not mean, however, that Hustvedt would adopt the position held by some neurologists that a person's identity can be reduced to their set of neurons. Quite to the contrary, she shows how identity is forever elusive, both inside and outside of us, in the people we interact with, in the words we speak - words that we own and that at the same time own us. Hustvedt is widely-read in neurological literature, but she discusses the science in a way that is intelligible to the lay reader. Also, she combines her survey of scientific research with very personal, intimate stories about her family and her own history of illness. This is a refreshing combination, which makes her book a thought-provoking and a very touching reading experience.