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A General Theory of Love
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About the Author

Thomas Lewis, M.D. is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, and a former associate director of the Affective Disorders Program there. Dr. Lewis currently divides his time between writing, private practice, and teaching at the UCSF medical school. He lives in Sausalito, California. Fari Amini, M.D. is a professor of psychiatry at the UCSF School of Medicine. Born and raised in Iran, he graduated from medical school at UCSF and has served on the faculty there for thirty-three years. Dr. Amini is married, has six children, and lives in Ross, California. Richard Lannon, M.D. is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCSF School of Medicine. In 1980, Dr. Lannon founded the Affective Disorders Program at UCSF, a pioneering effort to integrate psychological concepts with the emerging biology of the brain. Dr. Lannon is married and the father of two; he lives in Greenbrae, California.

Reviews

A traditional subject of poetry and pop psychology is treated here as a scientific construct. Three psychiatry professors (Univ. of California, San Francisco) cover an impressive vista of research and clinical insights from Freud to contemporary neuroscience. They focus on the limbic brain as the source and conduit of emotions like love. The link between the development of the limbic brain and the development of personality are described here in confident prose. Society is castigated for failing to encourage full-time parenting and other policies that support limbic development and the human need for love. Although the authors sometimes substitute metaphor for empirical support and easily dismiss other perspectives, the book is well written and provides a credible introduction to the neuroscience of emotions. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.--Antoinette Brinkman, Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"An insightful look at the science of human emotions. . . . A rare example of the fusing of scientific rigor with literary eloquence." --San Fransisco Examiner "Bold. . . . Eminently readable. . . . Convincingly connects love and biology." --The Washington Post Book World "A lovely, furious book. . . . It puts love right where we're not used to finding it--in the company of physics and economics as a suitable object of study. . . . Comparisons to Oliver Sacks and Lewis Thomas become inevitable." --San Francisco Chronicle "In elegant prose . . . [the authors] argue why we need a culture attuned to the ways of the heart." -Entertainment Weekly

The Beatles may have sounded naive when they assured us that "all you need is love," but they may not have been far off the mark. New research in brain function has proven that love is a human necessity; its absence damages not only individuals, but our whole society. In this stimulating work, psychiatrists Lewis, Amini and Lannon explain how and why our brains have evolved to require consistent bonding and nurturing. They contend that close emotional connections actually change neural patterns in those who engage in them, affecting our sense of self and making empathy and socialization possible. Indeed, the authors insist, "in some important ways, people cannot be stable on their own." Yet American society is structured to frustrate emotional health, they contend: self-sufficiency and materialistic goals are seen as great virtues, while emotional dependence is considered a weakness. Because our culture does not sufficiently value interpersonal relationships, we are plagued by anxiety and depression, narcissism and superficiality, which can lead to violence and self-destructive behaviors. It is futile to try to think our way out of such behaviors, the authors believe, because emotions are not within the intellect's domain. What is needed is healthy bonding from infancy; when this does not occur, the therapist must model it. The authors' utopian vision of emotional health may strike some as vague or conservative to a fault, and the clarity of their thesis is marred by indirect and precious writing. Yet their claim that "what we do inside relationships matters more than any other aspect of human life" is a powerful one. Agent, Carol Mann. 9-city author tour. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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