The Disordered Mind Book Summary By Eric R. Kandel

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The Disordered Mind (2018) is a book that examines the impact of mental disorders and diseases on the workings of our mind.

Written by eminent neuroscientist Eric R.

Kandel, this book draws on his research to explain what depression, schizophrenia, addiction and other brain diseases can tell us about ourselves.

It explains how our brains shape our thoughts, feelings and behavior, as well as how modern scientific techniques could unlock the mysteries of consciousness.

This book can help to provide readers with an understanding into these complex neurological topics in order to gain insight into mental health issues and make sense of why we think, feel and behave the way we do.

The Disordered Mind Book

Book Name: The Disordered Mind (What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves)

Author(s): Eric R. Kandel

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Time: 27 Minutes

Categories: Psychology

Author Bio

Eric R.

Kandel is a highly acclaimed psychologist, physiologist, and Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine for 2000.

He has dedicated his life to researching the topic of neuroscience, psychiatry, art, memory and the mind.

His many books on the topic have helped shape our understanding of these topics and have provided invaluable insight into how those living with brain disorders can cope.

Kandel is an expert in the field and an engaging storyteller who uses clear language to explain complicated science in manageable terms that are accessible to laypeople.

What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Mental Illness And Disorder


Studying disordered minds can be a great way to uncover the inner workings of our own brains.

Brains and computers have much in common; when something isn’t working well, we can learn more about how it works by examining what’s malfunctioning.

Philippe Pinel first founded psychiatry in 1790 and since then, we’ve learned an incredible amount about brain disorders, injuries, and illnesses.

Technology now allows us to study them even deeper, discovering valuable insights about just how our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are all impacted by concrete changes in the brain.

For example, from exploring autism we can find out the role that social elements play in the brain.

We learn from those with schizophrenia about creative processes and those with Alzheimer’s disease teach us more about memory.

Plus, investigating different cases of mental health can help illuminate which brain chemicals link some diseases together and why addiction is actually a chronic illness.

When you take the time to delve into disordered minds you’ll gain a better understanding of your own brain – discovering how your mind works more deeply than ever before!

Mental Disorders Can Help Us Understand How The Brain Works Normally

There is much to learn about the human brain from studying the behavior of those who have mental disorders.

Mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia or dementia, can tell us a lot about how our brains work due to the abnormal behaviour and changes present in them.

It’s now understood that all mental conditions are caused by physical abnormalities of the brain.

To get an insight into these differences, various technologies have been developed to reveal how neurons communicate with each other electrically and chemically.

For example, experimental mice can be modified using genes in order to determine their effect on brain function while imaging techniques like fMRI look at how the active parts of a brain form real-time networks.

This research has given us vital insight into complex genetic conditions like depression which involve numerous elements including both genetics and environment.

Furthermore, it highlights how a single gene mutation can cause simple genetic issues such as Huntington’s disease.

All in all, as Philippe Pinel first suggested in 1790, understanding why such mental disorders occur provides invaluable knowledge on functioning of our brain – showing that disconnected moments of strange behaviour tell us more about normal processes than expected!

Autism Reveals The Special Social Wiring Of Our Brains

Autism reveals just how deeply rooted human social behavior is in our biology.

It shows us that, for humans to decode and interpret others’ thoughts and feelings, the brain relies heavily on specialized areas that help us navigate our social world competently.

This ‘social brain’ concept was first proposed in 1990 by Leslie Brothers, who found that people with autism have regions of their brains which are not developing properly – disrupting their ability to understand or interact with others.

Brain imaging has since shown that watching a person walk looks much different in the brains of autistic children than it does to normally developing children – while it may activate an autistic child’s visual perception and movement regions, a normally developing child’s brain will light up with processes related to social cognition and communication.

Because of this remarkable difference between those diagnosed with autism and everyone else, it’s clear to see the need for a social brain when processing information about other humans.

It goes beyond reading minds though; studies have also revealed difficulties for those with autism in recognizing human faces and movements as well as in picking up language early on.

The implication here is that there is more to understanding human behavior than speech alone, but rather depends upon certain parts of one’s brain working together seamlessly.

Overall, the presence of autism has allowed scientists like Brothers ground-breaking insights into what makes us so innately skilled at living among other humans – our own deeply ingrained social nature.

The Brain’s Emotional System Can Become Imbalanced, Leading To Mood And Anxiety Disorders

Mood disorders, such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders, are linked to chemical imbalances in the brain’s emotional system.

This system is comprised of structures like the hypothalamus and the amygdala which regulate our emotions.

The imbalance of hormones and neurotransmitters within this pathway can lead to a wide range of effects.

For example, in people with depression cortisol levels remain chronically elevated leading to changes in sleep, energy, and appetite.

Anxiety disorders are also associated with lower levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter involved in many cognitive processes from emotion to learning and memory.

These chemical imbalances create disruptions in how we experience the world around us resulting in intense negative emotions that become difficult to escape from creating further suffering.

It is essential to understand these pathways so that proper treatments can be identified.

Mental Disorders And Creative Genius: How Does Schizophrenia Enhance Creativity?

Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that impairs thinking, memory, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.

It affects many different brain structures including the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, two areas linked to thought, memory, and creativity.

Recent research suggests that schizophrenia may be caused by an excess of synaptic pruning during adolescence.

Synapses are connection points between individual neurons.

During puberty they are gradually trimmed down in order to streamline our mental processes and make them more efficient; however in people suffering from schizophrenia this process is disrupted leading to underdeveloped regions of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus.

This excessive pruning appears to have a genetic basis – namely a particular variant of C4 gene that is more commonly found in patients with schizophrenia and is responsible for marking synapses for pruning.

Regulating dopamine levels is another key component when it comes to treating this condition.

Furthermore, surprisingly enough many people who suffer from schizophrenia can produce amazing works of art- a phenomenon known as schizo-creativity where creative flow seems to flourish despite having difficult symptoms of the disorder.

Currently there’s no known explanation for this though one popular theory states that mental disorders may break free inhibitions on thinking providing artists with access to their unconscious thoughts thus unleashing their potential.

How Henry Molaison’S Tragic Memory Loss Helped Us Understand Memory Disorders

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affecting the memory system widely in many cases.

It is believed that faulty proteins are one of the main culprits for this decline in memory functions.

In our brain, explicit memory is managed by the hippocampus, and it is the part of the brain that is affected severely.

Misfolded proteins can clump together a few in a while producing effects within this area that can erode memory functioning over time.

The evidence derived from studying patients such as Henry Molaison (known solely as H.M.) indicates that there are two separate systems of storing memories in the brain: explicit and implicit systems.

Explicit memories involve remembering events and people, which is mainly dependent on hippocampal functioning; whereas implicit memories help automatically store learned motor tasks such as riding a bike for example — these can be stored without the involvement of conscious recollection.

As Alzheimer’s and dementia progress, so does damage to the hippocampus – caused by abnormally folded proteins known as prions interfering with its function.

It begins with prions preventing connection between neurons before killing them off eventually, leading to a horrific loss of our explicit memories entirely – unless treated early enough with therapies or medications targeting these malfunctions in proteins.

Without intervening, these diseases will continue to erode our brain’s precious explicit memory system until it’s too late to make any meaningful recovery.

Brain Chemicals

When we think of the many functions of the brain, movement typically isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

However, Parkinson’s disease has revealed the intricate role that brain chemicals play in governing our ability to move.

Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder caused by misfolding proteins in the brain, and it gradually erodes a person’s capacity for movement.

The motor system comprises neurons that begin in the brain and end up reaching all 650 muscle cells throughout your body.

Some neurons send signals from the brain to muscles in order to initiate movement, while others provide feedback from muscles to the brain regarding this movement.

In people with Parkinson’s disease, this signal loop and balance is disrupted due to lack of dopamine, which normally helps regulate muscle control.

Researchers have linked this diminished amount of dopamine in individuals living with Parkinson’s disease to an obstructed protein known as alpha-synuclein found within a region of their brains called substantia nigra (characterized for its dark pigmentation).

They theorize that these misfolding proteins stem from a spontaneous mutation on the SNCA gene; however science has yet to come up with a definitive answer as to what causes such mutations.

So far, Parkinson’s Disease has taught us much about how brain chemicals influence movement.

Scientists continue researching new ways which may lead towards more effective treatments and therapies so individuals who suffer from this debilitating illness can live their lives symptom free.

Addiction Hijacks The Brain’S Reward System And Permanently Changes Our Behavior

Addiction has long been a fact of life and it is believed to be rooted in both physical and mental factors.

Researchers have now concluded that addiction fundamentally changes our brains and hijacks the brain’s reward system, often permanently.

The pleasure from using drugs, alcohol or other forms of addiction stimulates the dopamine reward system.

This includes dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, which spans deep into other important regions such as the hippocampus, amygdala and striatum.

The hippocampus plays a role in memory formation, while the amygdala is responsible for basic emotions.

The striatum is also crucial in forming habits.

When we come across situations or things associated with an addictive stimulus, dopamine gets released at unusually high levels—far exceeding what can be obtained by eating a banana or maintaining healthy habits like regular exercise.

Drugs like cocaine also interfere with dopamine removal from synapses and thereby create higher levels of euphoria in users than naturally achievable experiences.

This means that when addicts encounter people who used to use drugs with them or something that was formerly associated with getting high (places, music), they are automatically triggered into seeking out those pleasurable experiences again even though they do not necessarily want to do so anymore because that connection has become permanent over time due to long-term exposure to substances of abuse.

It’s no wonder then why relapse rates among recovering addicts are much higher than for other types of health issues – once a part of your brain has been rewired this way, understanding it and moving forward without involuntary urges can be extremely difficult if not impossible!

Our Biological Sex – Anatomical, Gonadal, And Chromosomal – Can Disconnect From Our Gender Identity

Humans have been socially identifying individuals based on their sex and gender for centuries, but what many don’t realize is that the development of our bodies and brains allows for far more variety than just straightforward male and female identities.

The anatomical sex, gonadal sex, and chromosomal sex of an individual may not always line up in perfect harmony.

For instance, a person’s anatomical sex may be female while their gonadal or chromosomal sex is male – often due to mutations in genes or hormones released during fetal development.

These variations can further express themselves in the brain – previous studies have shown that there are metter differences in activity patterns between male brains and female brains related to behavior such as emotion, memory, stress and even sexual/reproductive behaviors.

At the end of the day, this means we need to broaden our understanding of human sexuality so that it accounts for people who identify outside of the traditional binary.

We should celebrate these different expressions rather than shunning them, trying to fit individuals into strict categories that no longer apply.

Neuroscience Is Unravelling The Mystery Of Consciousness


The mystery of consciousness has begun to unravel as neuroscience continues to progress.

What it means to be conscious, or aware of our thoughts and actions, is an intriguing concept.

Research suggests that when we are awake, our brain is more active than when we’re asleep and least active when in a coma – proving that one’s level of consciousness can be modulated by the upper brain stem.

In addition to this discovery, science has found evidence to support what psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud observed back in the 19th century: That there are both conscious and unconscious processes occurring within the brain simultaneously.

Furthermore, scientists have put forth Bernard Baars’ ‘global workspace theory’, which postulates that attention is drawn to certain inputs from the environment, which is then broadcasted onto higher brain regions – thereby making it availble in the conscious global workspace.

Other evidence further supports this theory showing how images flashed quickly (known as subliminals) become conscious after milliseconds and propagated throughout the entire brain.

This research amongst many other findings combined with psychology, psychiatry, and biology hope to further unveil what lies behind how our brains produce consciousness.

Wrap Up

The Disordered Mind offers a comprehensive view of mental disorders, outlining their genetic and environmental causes and looking at the changes related to them in our brains.

It provides insight into how these changes can affect our behavior and mental wellbeing.

At its core, the book is an exploration of how physical aspects such as exercise, anatomy and chemicals in our brain, affect us mentally and emotionally.

The actionable advice provided encourages us to keep our minds fit by exercising regularly, as this has been linked to improved memory thanks to hormones released by bones while exercising.

Ultimately, The Disordered Mind serves as an essential guide that helps us better understand the intricacies of mental health, empowering readers with better understanding of what contributes to their mental health.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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