McEwen, Bruce S. and Harold M. Schmeck, Jr.
The Hostage Brain
New York: Rockefeller University Press, 1994.

Excerpts: "No forces set to work by the genes are more powerful or more crucial than the hormones. They affect almost every function of the brain, not the least its conscious thoughts. The fact that the mind can be captured by its hormones is one of mankind's oldest stories, and one of the newest. Stress, which can also capture and distort the brain, is largely a matter of hormones. This subject is so important that it deserves two chapters with topics that range from the stresses that keep us alive and vibrant to the shock of armed combat and even the stress of hopelessness. Science today is coming to grips with the anatomy of fear. Specialists have traced the brain circuits by which terror echoes through the mind. They have probed the small, deep-set center where fear begins. These stories are followed by the saga of that other great language, the language of immunity. This is the great biological system that keeps us healthy long enough to pass on our genes. In the later decades of life, more and more mistakes creep in, allowing infections and other more complicated diseases. Could it be that the genes lose interest in the body after the reproductive years? ... "

"For all of its wonders and mysteries that we can only dimly glimpse, the brain is a physical organ. It weighs only a few pounds and occupies no more volume than a half gallon of milk. What is this object that has invented music, truth, and justice, and may have invented the universe? For that matter, is it more the product of its 'nature' or its 'nurture' and what is the good news and the bad news of what we can and cannot do to help the brain?" (p. 19, courtesy Tom Heggestad).




Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles