The Free Press
(Simon and Schuster), 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85075-3
In The Undiscovered Mind, John Horgan, one of the America's leading science journalists, questions the limits of science in the quest to understand the human mind. He discusses achievements and shortcomings of mind-related science and presents a brilliant literature review and eloquent report on a number of scientific convocations. He acquaints the reader with members of a divaricate family of brain-related sciences: two "fraternal twins" psychoanalysis and neuroscience, which engenders a number of next-order "relatives" such as behavioral genetics, evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and cognitive science.  
      Mr. Horgan's portrayal is skeptical about the future of psychoanalysis. In his view, it persists only because "science has been unable to deliver an obviously superior theory of the mind" and some contend that Freud's deep insights into the human psyche are more literary than scientific in nature. In fact, he contends, neuroscience has not yet overgrown its juvenile age of dividing, separating, and analyzing.  
      Mr. Horgan discusses the effectiveness of psychological treatment and the role of belief, shows how the development of chemical treatment of psychoses has culminated in the introduction of Prozac. However, a symbol of the limitations of psychiatric drugs is the persistence of two notorious biological treatments -- lobotomy and shock therapy.  
      The search for a gene for any behavioral trait gave birth to behavioral genetics, selective breeding, and identical twins studies. However, scientists have not been able to agree on the role of heredity in the definition of such human traits as intelligence. Nature and nurture (hereditary and environmental factors) are entangled so tightly that they cannot be easily separated.  
      Mr. Horgan warns us against a trend in evolutionary psychology that attempts to explain any human behavior, including violence, racism, and sexism, through evolutionary selection. Perhaps in the distant future, Mr. Horgan muses, evolutionary psychology will answer the question about how far evolution can take us.  
      The quest for "plain old common sense" in the realm of the human mind led scientists in search of "artificial common sense" and the creation of artificial intelligence. However, Mr. Horgan contemplates, the failure of artificial intelligence to mimic the mind reflects the larger failure of psychology to comprehend it. The view that reason and logic are the keys to intelligence is challenged by notions that the complexity of biological behavior derives from an organism's interaction with the environment. The mind's success is that it employs many strategies for solving problems.  
      The Undiscovered Mind is a combination of memorable case studies and powerful generalizations written in the witty, earnest and enthusiastic manner of a passionate investigator. Mr. Horgan introduces to us leading scientists, giving highly visual and sympathetic portraits of every person. He presents his own view of a variety of brain-related problems. Though some of his points are removed and sarcastic, some much too biased, his arguments are always appealing.  
      The future "Scientific Savior" will have to arrange a welter of findings into finding an order that has been elusive. So far only easy problems have been solved. "Regardless of the power of our scientific explanations of human consciousness," Mr. Horgan concludes, enough questions will be left unanswered to keep us on a rapturous quest of understanding ourselves for a long time to come.