Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press
The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity

The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity

by Bruce Hood
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Most of us believe that we are an independent, coherent self—an individual inside our head who thinks, watches, wonders, dreams, and makes plans for the future. This sense of our self may seem incredibly real but a wealth of recent scientific evidence reveals that it is not what it seems—it is all an illusion.

In The Self Illusion, Bruce Hood reveals how the self emerges during childhood and how the architecture of the developing brain enables us to become social animals dependent on each other. Humans spend proportionally the greatest amount of time in childhood compared to any other animal. It's not only to learn from others, Hood notes, but also to learn to become like others. We learn to become our self. Even as adults we are continually developing and elaborating this story, learning to become different selves in different situations—the work self, the home self, the parent self. Moreover, Hood shows that this already fluid process—the construction of self—has dramatically changed in recent years. Social networking activities—such as blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter—are fast becoming socialization on steroids. The speed and ease at which we can form alliances and relationships are outstripping the same selection processes that shaped our self prior to the internet era. Things will never be the same again in the online social world. Hood offers our first glimpse into this unchartered territory.

Who we are is, in short, a story of our self—a narrative that our brain creates. Like the science fiction movie, we are living in a matrix that is our mind. But Hood concludes that though the self is an illusion, it is an illusion we must continue to embrace to live happily in human society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199897599
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/23/2012
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Bruce Hood is currently the Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol. He has been a research fellow at Cambridge University and University College London, a visiting scientist at MIT, and a faculty professor at Harvard. He has been awarded an Alfred Sloan Fellowship in neuroscience, the Young Investigator Award from the International Society of Infancy Researchers, the Robert Fantz Memorial Award and voted a Fellow by the Association for Psychological Science. He is the author of several books, including SuperSense: Why We Believe the Unbelievable. This year he was selected as the 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer—to give three lectures broadcast by the BBC—the most prestigious appointment for the public engagement of science in the UK.

Table of Contents

1. Building a Brain
2. The Machiavellian Baby
3. Who Am I?
4. The True Cost of Free Will
5. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe
6. The Madness of Crowds
7. The Stories We Live By
8. Identity Crisis
9. Pulling Yourself Together

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