The Roots of the Self: Unraveling the Mystery of Who We Are

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9780062507891: The Roots of the Self: Unraveling the Mystery of Who We Are

In this work, the author marshals the evidence for a new science of the self that tries to understand the myriad ways in which individuals become who they are. Drawing on examples and scientific studies, Ornstien sets out recent findings from genetics, evolutionary biology, and psychology to take us on a guided tour of human develoment. The book covers topics such as: why some people meet new people with enthusiasm; why some people start shopping for Christmas in August while others wait until the last minute; or why some relax with TV or books and others with daredevil sports.

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From the Publisher:

Bestselling author and preeminent popular scientist Robert Ornstein is a brilliant and witty guide in this fast, fun, friendly, and wonderfully informative exploration of why we are the way we are.

From the Inside Flap:

Around the world and throughout the ages, people have created simple and complex systems -- based on everything from skin or eye color to body type or date of birth, archetypes to unconscious drives, birth order to the inner child -- to attempt to make sense of the riddles of individuality. Modern science has studies the sexes, races, left-handed, blue-eyed, firstborn, genius, and neurologicallly impaired. Yet the mystery remains.

Now, Robert Ornstein, psychologist, neurobiologist, and the bestselling author of The Psychyology of Consciousness and The Evolution of Consciousness, builds on the dazzling ovservations of modern genetics, biology, and psychology to offer a brilliant, witty and wonderfully informative science of the self.

- Why do some meet new people with enthusiasm while others feel dread?

- Why do some start shopping for Christmas in August while others wait until December 24?

- Why dom some relax with TV or books and others with daredevil sports?

With his customary flair for illustrtative detail and breathtaking range of insight, Ornstein illuminates the intricate building blocks of genetics (sex, eye color, etc.) and environment (family size, birth order, etc.) that shape us fro0m womb to grave, as well as the equally important but little understood bedrock foundations of terperament.

Incorporating vivid drawings and citing dozens of sometimes startling examples and studies, Ornstein challenges our assumptions about how we become who we are. He shows, for example, that families have little effect on personality but that a tendancy toward criminality and violence can indeed be hereditary.

Ornstein reveals the biological basis of extroversion and introversion, organization and spontaneity, and optimism and pessimism to reveal the "basic rootstock of individuality" -- and itsrevolutionary implications. Determining how we will respond to stimuli ranging from light and noise to parties, public speaking, exams, and sexual pertners, these three main roots of each unique individual are deep-rooted and enduring. Recognizing them allows us to understand how the individual, like the plant, proceeds to flower differently based on the soil of its environment, treatment by its gardeners, and the whims of weather.

"Understanding how impressionable development is," understanding our predispositions and wondrous adaptations, "gives us the greatest hope for the future." As the most "unfinished" of animals, with brains capable of change throughtout life, we need this understanding of ourselves and others to make real change possible -- from reprogramming ourselves to let spontaneity, creativity, and joy into our controlled and fearful worldviews to comprehending our spouse's or children's or neighbors' "loud" nervous systems to correcting social policies that misdiagnose and mistreatindividuals and communities.

Fast, fun, friendly, and with the power to transform the way we see ourselves, others, and the world, around us, The Roots of the Self unravels age-old mysteries and reveals untold possibilities.

ROBERT ORNSTEIN

Robert Ornstein, Ph.D, is the author or twenty books -- including The Psychology of Consciousness, Healthy Pleasures, and The Evolution of Consciousness -- that have sold more than three million copies and been translated into twelve languages. He is presisdent of the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge.

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