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The Poet's Voice in the Making of Mind


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Conversational play and the Evolution of Self. James: What we Mean by Personal Selves. Analogy and Truth. Brain Bases of Self.The Poet’s Voice.Little Emotions. Empathy and Utterance. Pointing and Depicting. Myth and Proto-Myth. Action Patterns and the Evolution of Language. The Doubleness of Shakespeare. Impediments to Proto-conversation: Blindness and Deafness. The Shape of Culture and Self. An Evolutionary Hypothesis. Automorphosis: The Dreams of Wolfgang Pauli. Personal Myth.

About the Author

Russell Meares is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney. He trained in psychiatry at the Royal Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals, where he formed an enduring friendship with the late Robert Hobson, with whom he collaborated to develop the Conversational Model of psychotherapy, devised to treat people who could not be treated by other means and who would now be called "borderline." His most recent books for Routledge include are Intimacy and Alienation (2000) and The Metaphor of Play (revised and enlarged edition) (2005)


The Poet’s Voice in the Making of Mind is a truly monumental work, the product of Meares’ lifetime exploration of the development of symbolization, language, and the self. It is a beautifully written book in which Meares speaks with the unassuming intelligence of the finest of teachers. Meares brings to life, in a highly thought-provoking way, aspects of the work of William James, Edelman, Geertz, Cassirer, Trevarthan, Vygotsky, Hughlings Jackson, Hobson and other major contributors to the study of human development. But the triumph of this book lies in Meares’ ability to encompass their ideas and the voices of poets, as well as his own original contributions, and to go on to offer a unifying conception of the development of symbolization, language, self, and culture—a unifying view that the reader will find nowhere else. This is one of the finest books I have read on the subject of what is uniquely human. - Thomas OgdenThis beautifully written book is rich in information for psychotherapists, psychologists, neuroscientists, as well as philosophers and physicists, on the poetry of life. Russell Meares’ humanism transcends disciplinary boundaries, offering a picture of the developing personal self as made for discovery of joy in intimate and responsive company; for sharing the symbolic "make believe" of culture. The emotional foundations of metaphor he finds in the melody of mothers’ conversations with infants gives hope for those who have suffered extreme misfortune in living and sharing life, a way to help them recover self-confidence and a feeling for the common sense of life. - Colwyn Trevarthen, Emeritus Professor of Child Psychology and Psychobiology, Department of Psychology, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UKIn this remarkable feat of scholarship, Russell Meares offers a large body of evidence from science, including very recent neuroscience, physics, cognitive science, developmental psychology and anthropology, in order to more deeply elucidate the central questions about the human condition long addressed by poetry, literature, and philosophy. Utilizing an interpersonal neurobiological perspective, he offers a compelling central thesis, that right brain-to-right brain affective communications between mother and infant in early proto-conversations play an essential role in the development and expression of not only all later emotional functions, but also higher cognitive functions, including symbolization, metaphor, music, poetry, higher forms of consciousness, and indeed the self and culture. This groundbreaking integrative work represents a creative interdisciplinary bridge between the sciences and humanities. - Allan N. Schore, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine

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