Goes far beyond the clinic and the lab, representing a whole new way of looking at how mind, brain, and body all work together in a sometimes misguided effort to help us survive in a hostile world. It offers insights into how we could start getting to grips with depression and other mental disorders much more effectively in the future.
The Inflamed Mind isn’t a pop-science book designed to wow you with quirky facts about the brain. Instead, it is a serious attempt to enlighten not just medics, but also the more dimly lit minds of political journalists, for instance. It does demand that you pay attention and there are a number of passages where it is clearly impossible to simplify the science any further without it becoming a nonsense. You may even need to read them twice, but it rewards you by explaining medical history, the body and advances in medical research in recent years.
The cover of The Inflamed Mind should immediately arouse a reader’s suspicions about the reliability of what lies within ... The idea that inflammation is involved in some mental illnesses is not an improbable hypothesis. But the evidence that it’s a significant cause of most kinds of depression comprises a relatively small part of Dr. Bullmore’s narrative, which is puffed to book length with chapters on how the immune system works, some history of depression from melancholia to major depressive disorder, speculation about the evolutionary benefits of depression, and an extended argument that body and mind are intricately related ... the truly radical breakthrough would be to step back from market-driven efforts to reduce the complexities of depression to single biomedical markers and instead to place its symptoms in social context. With depression and anxiety at epidemic levels, do we really want to measure everyone’s levels of cytokines and C-reactive protein or, rather, should we reduce the stressors they face and improve the quality and meaningfulness of their lives?
A rousing, straight-from-the shoulder call for a new approach to treating depression ... Bullmore’s involvement with a research program at the pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline, an arrangement he is quick to acknowledge, may raise questions about his interest in the development of new anti-inflammatory drugs to treat depression, but his insights into depression and its treatments are impressive and valuable. The black-and-white illustrations vary widely in quality, from woodcuts and engravings to some rather amateurish original drawings ... Aimed at the general public, highly readable, and more than a little provocative.