About Capture• Hardcover: 416 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (April 12, 2016)
Why do we think, feel, and act in ways we wish we did not?
For decades, Dr. David A. Kessler has studied this question with regard to tobacco, food, and drugs. Over the course of these investigations, he identified one underlying mechanism common to a broad range of human suffering. This phenomenon—capture—is the process by which our attention is hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control.
In Capture, Dr. Kessler considers some of the most profound questions we face as human beings: What are the origins of mental afflictions, from everyday unhappiness to addiction and depression—and how are they connected? Where does healing and transcendence fit into this realm of emotional experience?
Analyzing an array of insights from psychology, medicine, neuroscience, literature, philosophy, and theology, Dr. Kessler deconstructs centuries of thinking, examining the central role of capture in mental illness and questioning traditional labels that have obscured our understanding of it. With a new basis for understanding the phenomenon of capture, he explores the concept through the emotionally resonant stories of both well-known and unknown people caught in its throes.
The closer we can come to fully comprehending the nature of capture, Dr. Kessler argues, the better equipped we are to eventually alleviate its deleterious effects and successfully change our thinking and behaviors. Ultimately, Capture offers insight into how we form thoughts and emotions, manage trauma, and heal. For the first time, we can begin to understand the underpinnings not only of mental illness but also of our everyday worries and anxieties. Capture is an intimate and critical exploration of the most enduring human mystery of all: the mind.
“Kessler proposes an original theory of the mind. His cogent argument is that a great deal of the apparently inexplicable behavior of human beings is the result of impulses, drives, and obsessions that may share fundamental neural and psychodynamic mechanisms. This carefully researched book is both startling and engaging, and is written with brio.”—Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon
“In this richly documented, beautifully written, and original work, David Kessler has given us an idea that explains one of the most strange and most powerful processes in the human brain.”—E. O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
“Capture is a breakthrough book. In a world of increasingly specialized knowledge, it takes a particular gift and some stubbornness to cut across the fields of neuroscience, psychiatry, philosophy, and psychology, and to ask the fundamental question: Why is it that we allow our best selves to be captured and torpedoed by thoughts and actions that sink us? Kessler’s exploration of the question makes for a compelling read. His ultimate answer is profound and one that could be life changing and life saving. I know I will be handing this book out for just that reason.”—Abraham Verghese, MD, author of Cutting for Stone
About David A. Kessler, M.D.
David A. Kessler, MD served as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He is the author of A Question of Intent and The End of Overeating, a New York Times bestseller. He is a pediatrician and has been the dean of the medical schools at Yale and the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Kessler is a graduate of Amherst College, the University of Chicago Law School, and Harvard Medical School.
MY REVIEW: I loved the case studies given throughout the book. I think anybody who picks up this book will most likely be doing so because they are trying to learn more about themselves. Reading other people’s stories usually makes it easier to relate. I have always enjoyed the real life stories of people dealing with the same issues. When paired with clinical knowledge like this book does, I think the experience for the reader is better.
The author has coined the term “capture” to encompass a myriad of afflictions that people can find themselves dealing with. Throughout the book I saw the term “capture” used when I would have used the term “addiction” in some places, and other terms such as self-esteem in others. I have no problem with that. I had no issues with the clinical knowledge presented, and felt that the author found a way to narrow down a host of issues into one term while still thoroughly describing a host of conditions.
The book started off a bit like a history lesson, going back to early philosophers and schools of thought such as one learns in Psych 101 classes. The book then covers conditions ranging from serious mental illnesses to minor everyday stressors, addictions, self-harm, creativity and mental illness, violence, spirituality, and life transitions.
I think this is an excellent resource for anyone, professional or layperson. The author obviously has an extensive knowledge of the subject and is well-qualified to write on this topic, yet it is presented in layperson terms for anyone to understand. I know of many people, especially the creative types, who are struggling with feeling different and wanting to understand themselves better. I will recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about why and how the brain works!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review. I was not required to post a positive review, and all opinions are my own.