A revelatory new theory of consciousness that returns emotions to the center of mental life.
For Mark Solms, one of the boldest thinkers in contemporary neuroscience, discovering how consciousness comes about has been a lifetime’s quest. Scientists consider it the "hard problem" because it seems an impossible task to understand why we feel a subjective sense of self and how it arises in the brain.
Venturing into the elementary physics of life, Solms has now arrived at an astonishing answer. In The Hidden Spring, he brings forward his discovery in accessible language and graspable analogies.
Solms is a frank and fearless guide on an extraordinary voyage from the dawn of neuropsychology and psychoanalysis to the cutting edge of contemporary neuroscience, adhering to the medically provable. But he goes beyond other neuroscientists by paying close attention to the subjective experiences of hundreds of neurological patients, many of whom he treated, whose uncanny conversations expose much about the brain’s obscure reaches.
Most importantly, you will be able to recognize the workings of your own mind for what they really are, including every stray thought, pulse of emotion, and shift of attention. The Hidden Spring will profoundly alter your understanding of your own subjective experience.
"The hard problem of consciousness is said to be the biggest unsolved puzzle of contemporary neuroscience," writes psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist Solms (The Brain and the Inner World) in this wide-ranging survey. Solms answers such questions as how consciousness came to be, what it is, and whether it could be artificially replicated his theory proposes that consciousness is an evolutionary response to the human organism's need to minimize the energy it expends to meet its physical and psychological needs. Solms rejects cognitive psychologists' theories that consciousness is lodged in the brain's cerebral cortex it "is far more primitive than that," he writes. To support his theory, Solms provides case studies (he discusses a patient experiencing confabulations in terms of Freud's notions of subjectivity), deep technical dives into the makeup of the human brain, and weaves in entropy and thermodynamics. Solms concludes with a somewhat manically written discussion of the ethics of a conscious machine, complete with a plan for what he'd do if he were able to build one: he'll remove the battery, patent the process, and organize a symposium. His theory is complex, as is his writing (sentences such as "The cholinergic basal forebrain circuits... constrain the reward mechanism of the mesocortal-mesolimbic dopamine circuit in memory retrieval" are common). Still, readers who stay the course will find much to consider.