Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering

Harper Wave. Apr. 2016. 416p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062388513. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062388537. PSYCH
Kessler (former commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; The End of Overeating) writes about the concept of capture, or forces that strongly influence the mind, overriding reason and will. Such a phenomenon looks at afflictions that seem beyond our control; it can be beneficial but more often is harmful. Widely read, Kessler, an attorney and physician, invokes novelists Henry and William James, Freudian drives, and current neuroscience. Examples include writer Franz Kafka and such behaviors as gambling, hypochondria, creative work, suicide, and addiction. According to Kessler, capture motivates, clarifies thoughts, and provides insight. Destructive forms include assassination and school shootings, as well as ideologies—Hitler, Stalinism, Khmer Rouge—that "yoke utopia to violence." Socially approved models include religion and spirituality: captured individuals are often charismatic leaders. Poet William Wordsworth exemplifies aesthetic capture, contrasted with religious—Martin Luther, Buddhism—or political types. Positive forms such as Alcoholics Anonymous oppose destructive ones. A major section of notes and full essays on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Carl Jung, and Paul Tillich amplify the text.
VERDICT A challenging and rewarding book for both scholars and lay readers who appreciate well-integrated diversity. [See Prepub Alert, 8/17/15.]
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