The Mind and the Moon: My Brother's Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches (Hardcover)

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An important—and intimate—interrogation of how we treat mental illness and how we understand ourselves

In the early 1960s, JFK declared that science would take us to the moon. He also declared that science would make the “remote reaches of the mind accessible” and cure psychiatric illness with breakthrough medications. We were walking on the moon within the decade. But today, psychiatric cures continue to elude us—as does the mind itself. Why is it that we still don’t understand how the mind works? What is the difference between the mind and the brain? And given all that we still don’t know, how can we make insightful, transformative choices about our psychiatric conditions?

When Daniel Bergner’s younger brother was diagnosed as bipolar and put on a locked ward in the 1980s, psychiatry seemed to have achieved what JFK promised: a revolution of chemical solutions to treat mental illness. Yet as Bergner’s brother was deemed a dire risk for suicide and he and his family were told his disorder would be lifelong, he found himself taking heavy doses of medications with devastating side effects.

Now, in recounting his brother’s journey alongside the gripping, illuminating stories of Caroline, who is beset by the hallucinations of psychosis, and David, who is overtaken by depression, Bergner examines the evolution of how we treat our psyches. He reveals how the pharmaceutical industry has perpetuated our biological view of the mind and our drug-based assumptions about treatment—despite the shocking price paid by many patients and the problematic evidence of drug efficacy. And he takes us into the pioneering labs of today’s preeminent neuroscientists, sharing their remarkably candid reflections and fascinating new theories of treatment.

The Mind and the Moon raises profound questions about how we understand ourselves and the essential human divide between our brains and our minds. This is a book of thought-provoking reframings, delving into the science—and spirit—of our psyches. It is about vulnerability and personal dignity, the terrifying choices confronted by families and patients, and the prospect of alternatives. In The Mind and the Moon, Bergner beautifully explores how to seek a deeper engagement with ourselves and one another—and how to find a better path toward caring for our minds.

About the Author

Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of five previous books of award-winning nonfiction: the New York Times bestselling Sing for Your Life, What Do Women Want?The Other Side of Desire, In the Land of Magic Soldiers, and God of the Rodeo. His writing has also appeared in the AtlanticGrantaHarper’s MagazineMother JonesTalk, and the New York Times Book Review.

Praise For…

The Mind and the Moon offers readers a critical, wide-ranging tour through the maze of modern biological psychiatry, interrogating some of its most widely accepted premises. Daniel Bergner’s accounts of the struggles of three very different people, including his own brother, are overflowing with sensitivity, wisdom, heart, and soul. This is a work of hard-won perspective and intense empathy — intimate and heartbreaking, deeply personal and lyrically powerful.”

Robert Kolker, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hidden Valley Road

“In book after book, Daniel Bergner has dramatized hard subjects—an American prison, a West African war, sexuality, race—with all the compassion and courage of a great writer. But he's outdone himself in The Mind and the Moon, where he explores the most perilous region of all and finds extraordinary suffering, beauty, and common humanity. This is a troubling, exhilarating work of science and high art.”

George Packer, author of Last Best Hope, Our Man, and The Unwinding

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063004894
ISBN-10: 0063004895
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English