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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking tour of the human mind that illuminates the biological nature of our inner worlds and emotions, through gripping, moving - and, at times, harrowing - clinical stories

“[A] scintillating and moving analysis of the human brain and emotions.” (Nature)

“Beautifully connects the inner feelings within all human beings to deep insights from modern psychiatry and neuroscience.” (Robert Lefkowitz, Nobel Laureate)

Karl Deisseroth has spent his life pursuing truths about the human mind, both as a renowned clinical psychiatrist and as a researcher creating and developing the revolutionary field of optogenetics, which uses light to help decipher the brain’s workings. In Projections, he combines his knowledge of the brain’s inner circuitry with a deep empathy for his patients to examine what mental illness reveals about the human mind and the origin of human feelings - how the broken can illuminate the unbroken.

Through cutting-edge research and gripping case studies from Deisseroth’s own patients, Projections tells a larger story about the material origins of human emotion, bridging the gap between the ancient circuits of our brain and the poignant moments of suffering in our daily lives. The stories of Deisseroth’s patients are rich with humanity and shine an unprecedented light on the self - and the ways in which it can break down. A young woman with an eating disorder reveals how the mind can rebel against the brain’s most primitive drives of hunger and thirst; an older man, smothered into silence by depression and dementia, shows how humans evolved to feel not only joy but also its absence; and a lonely Uighur woman far from her homeland teaches both the importance - and challenges - of deep social bonds.

Illuminating, literary, and essential, Projections is a revelatory, immensely powerful work. It transforms our understanding not only of the brain but of ourselves as social beings - giving vivid illustrations through science and resonant human stories of our yearning for connection and meaning.

©2021 Karl Deisseroth (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Because of his experiences as a physician and researcher, Dr. Deisseroth recognizes the limitations of science and medicine and the transcendent value of elemental human connection.... In life’s most difficult moments, it might be everything.” (The Wall Street Journal

 “Projections asks probing questions about some of our most fundamental human traits to shed light on the origins of our emotions. Why, for instance, do we shed tears? How did this show of weakness survive millennia of evolution? Deisseroth writes of heartbreaking and desperate medical cases with a doctor’s knowledge and a novelist’s skill for narrative. I was fascinated, and could not put this book down.” (May-Britt Moser, Nobel Laureate)

“[Karl Deisseroth’s] imaginative narrative flows effortlessly.... There is a first love of reading and writing and hints of a literary imagination that draws on James Joyce and Toni Morrison.... His narratives are always sensitive.... An admixture of fact and fiction, reality and imagination, damage and desire.” (Science)

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What listeners say about Projections

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Catalyst ❤️

Revolutionary. This book is a catalyst for healthcare reforms of epic proportions. Especially within the VA system. It highlights a need for prioritizing patience, analysis, stakeholder and patient input in an era of Ai development where systems are biased towards concrete symptom checklists and a revolving door of pharmaceutical profitability. Deisseroth is an engaging, talented and revelatory writer who should grace the world with far more words, far more often. Projections is going to save lives.

5 people found this helpful

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Authors, USE BETTER NARRATORS!!

The subject matter is fascinating. However, the author makes the rookie mistake of reading his own book aloud.

Big, big, BIG mistake.

The author's voice may be rather excellent for reading bedtime stories, or soothing a depressed person considering suicide. However, it's just about the worst voice EVER for reading a book on psychiatry and neuroscience. It took every ounce of willpower I had just to pay attention to what he was saying, while fighting the urge to fall asleep the whole time. A science book should NEVER have a narrator this dull, soft-toned, and boring. NEVER. What a completely avoidable disaster this was.

3 people found this helpful

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I bought this book as a recommendation by Andrew Huberman

I bought this book as a recommendation by Andrew Huberman. It is a brilliant book illustrating all the amazing ideas as a combination of science, psychology and the beauty & impact of language.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

Compelling synthesis of science with the warmth of human experience told with wit and imagination.

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Masterpiece

flawlessly written and performed. moreover everything a non fiction book should be but a tad more. rather than polemical or even focused narrowly on a specific message it offers an accessible and human perspective on advanced fields and topics.

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Good content ruined by the author’s artistic ambitions

I really wanted to like this book. I got enthusiastic about it from the interview with the author in the Humbermanlab podcast. There is clearly great research, a wealth of experience/knowledge and valuable messages behind the book. Nonetheless, the writing style doesn’t match the content, the language is overly complicated and it’s purpose not to convey the content but to impress the reader or at least fulfill the artistic ambitions of the author. What made it even worse to get through it is the monotone and melancholic voice and reading style. As a result I struggle to listen to the book and extract value from it. Both wording and reading should have been left for professionals. If I want to listen to poems I will buy a piece from an actual artist read by an actor/actress. Popular science books have the same plain language for a good reason.
I am really sorry for that, but I hope the author will keep his genius research and high school drama group activities separate in the future.

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Exquisite

Moved me to tears. Poetic. Profound. All mental health professionals should read this in their training. And hearing the stories told in the author's own voice adds immeasurably to the richness of the experience.

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Fascinating Read

This is the most fascinating and unusual book I’ve listened to. It is heavy technically, emotionally and poetically; a mix of science, storytelling and personal memoir. This book challenged my understanding of the workings of the human mind and how our suffering and joy is impacted by its operations. Some sections were absolutely mind bending and boggling to listen to, especially the section written from the perspective of a person living with schizophrenia.

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A genius book by a genius author

This book is a masterpiece that merges science, storytelling, poetry and philosophy.
I need to have this book in print. It is profound and dense and if one doesn’t have an expertise in science, one might get lost. I feel like I need to be able to read and stop and reflect to fully grasp everything. But, one also wouldn’t want to miss Karl Deisseroth’s narration: poetic and mesmerizing.

I recommend also viewing Deisseroth being interviewed (e.g. by Andrew Huberman): he is not only a wise genius, but also humble and has a sense of humor. A beautiful human being.

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emotional

Made it so easy to be able to understand from both points of view the struggles of psychological disorders.