Dec 19, 2017
FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO 'STRANGER IN THE MIRROR - THE SCIENTIFIC SEARCH FOR THE SELF' BY ROBERT LEVINE (NEW PAPERBACK EDITION) PUBLISHED BY THE PRESS AT CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FRESNO
I used to subscribe to People.
Then I switched to Us.
Now I just read Self.
—My friend Lenny
I love hearing people talk about their “real”
selves. I still remember my first girlfriend, the seemingly
perfect Natalie Duberman,1
spooking me with the warning: “Be careful. You don’t know the real me.” Was she a werewolf? Could she be in the witness protection program? No, Natalie explained, “It’s just that I’m not this nice with guys I like.” She went on to detail how insecure, jealous, and passive-aggressive she had been with her first two boyfriends. I wondered what it would take for this new version of Natalie, the one I knew, to assume the mantle of “the real Natalie”? What if we were together for a year and, during that time, she never once became insecure, jealous, or passive-aggressive toward me? What if it stayed that way for ten years? How would she decide when the new
Natalie qualified as the real one?
Then there is my friend Lenny, who utilizes an infuriating twist on
Natalie’s warning. When Lenny acts badly—which, incidentally, is more or less constantly—he explains it away by saying, “Forgive me. I’m just not myself today.” Really? Who are you, then? Because I’d like to know the name of the guy I’m thinking about punching in the nose right now.
And when do you expect your real self to return? I’d like to lodge a complaint with him.
FROM AMAZON.CO.UK SITE
In Stranger in the Mirror, Robert Levine offers a provocative, wide-ranging, and entertaining scientific exploration of the most personal and important of all landscapes: the physical and psychological entity we call our self. Who are we? Where is the boundary between us and everything else? Are we all multiple personalities? And how can we control who we become?
Levine tackles these and other questions with a combination of surprising stories, case studies, and cutting-edge research--from biology, neuroscience, virtual reality, psychology, and many other fields. The result challenges cherished beliefs about the unity and stability of the self--but also suggests that we are more capable of change than we know.
Transformation, Levine shows, is the human condition at virtually every level. Physically, our cells are unrecognizable from one moment to the next. Cognitively, our self-perceptions are equally changeable: A single glitch can make us lose track of a body part or our entire body--or to confuse our very self with that of another person. Psychologically, we switch back and forth like quicksilver between incongruent, sometimes adversarial subselves. Socially, we appear to be little more than an ever-changing troupe of actors. And, culturally, the boundaries of the self vary wildly around the world--from the confines of one's body to an entire village.
The self, in short, is a fiction--vague, arbitrary, and utterly intangible. But it is also interminably fluid. And this, Levine argues, unleashes a world of potential. Fluidity creates malleability. And malleability creates possibilities.
Engaging, informative, and ultimately liberating, Stranger in the Mirror will change forever how you think about your self--and what it might become.