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The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe, and Love Insects
     

The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe, and Love Insects

by Jeffrey Lockwood
 

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The human reaction to insects is neither purely biological nor simply cultural. And no one reacts to insects with indifference. Insects frighten, disgust and fascinate us. Jeff Lockwood explores this phenomenon through evolutionary science, human history, and contemporary psychology, as well as a debilitating bout with entomophobia in his work as an entomologist.

Overview

The human reaction to insects is neither purely biological nor simply cultural. And no one reacts to insects with indifference. Insects frighten, disgust and fascinate us. Jeff Lockwood explores this phenomenon through evolutionary science, human history, and contemporary psychology, as well as a debilitating bout with entomophobia in his work as an entomologist. Exploring the nature of anxiety and phobia, Lockwood explores the lively debate about how much of our fear of insects can be attributed to ancestral predisposition for our own survival and how much is learned through individual experiences. Drawing on vivid case studies, Lockwood explains how insects have come to infest our minds in sometimes devastating ways and supersede even the most rational understanding of the benefits these creatures provide.

No one can claim to be ambivalent in the face of wasps, cockroaches or maggots but our collective entomophobia is wreaking havoc on the natural world as we soak our food, homes and gardens in powerful insecticides. Lockwood dissects our common reactions, distinguishing between disgust and fear, and invites readers to consider their own emotional and physiological reactions to insects in a new framework that he's derived from cutting-edge biological, psychological, and social science.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In The Infested Mind, Lockwood shifts from entomology to psychology to examine the fascination that first drew him to insects and the terror that later repelled him. His exploration of our complex relations with these critters makes for an engrossing book. For the entomophobic reader especially, the experience is at times thrilling (watch out for the photos!) and therapeutic." —Scientific American MIND

"Lockwood (natural sciences & humanities, Univ. of Wyoming; Six-Legged Soldiers) begins with his own nightmare experience with a locust swarm and proceeds to analyze thoroughly human reactions to insects and spiders. He explores the differences between fear and disgust, both of which help protect us from potential danger and harm... VERDICT: For all who have responded to insects — entomophobes, entomophiles, or in between — as well as psychologists and parents." —Library Journal

"By drawing upon the works of Dali, Kant and Jung (amongst others), Lockwood reveals the psychology of our fears and disgust of arthropods. Central to this argument is the idea that human beings are culturally malleable creatures operating within certain evolutionary constraints. Leave it also to Lockwood to examine entomophobia and biophilia in such a reflexive, provocative and engaging fashion, while elucidating the role of the negative sublime in human-arthropod encounters." —Raynald Harvey Lemelin, Lakehead University Research Chair in Parks and Protected Areas, Lakehead University

"A tour-de-force account of the myriad ways that insects and their kin repel, disgust, terrify, and yet paradoxically attract and fascinate humans, irrespective of time and place." —May Berenbaum, Head of Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"The book's exploration of the science, driven by Lockwood's quest to understand himself, is easy to follow and fascinating." —Nature Conservancy

"In many ways The Infested Mind challenges the reader to acknowledge his or her own phobias and assess the rationality of these conditions, be it entomophobia or another fear. However, it does this in a lighthearted and entertaining way. The anecdotes used by Lockwood are amusing and the content never stagnates on one topic. The book is also an eye opener, highlighting the pervasive nature of phobias in the modern world (phobic individuals are more common now than ever before). The Infested Mind would be an appealing read for a wide audience as it is engaging and easily absorbed, while providing relevant information that has a basis in robust scientific studies. Individuals with an interest in phychology may find this book particularly interesting." — Biological Conservation

Library Journal
11/01/2013
Lockwood (natural sciences & humanities, Univ. of Wyoming; Six-Legged Soldiers) begins with his own nightmare experience with a locust swarm and proceeds to analyze thoroughly human reactions to insects and spiders. He explores the differences between fear and disgust, both of which help protect us from potential danger and harm. Children are curious about everything but gradually pick up signals from adults' reactions to the creatures around them. Thus most cases of entomophobia (insect fear) are the result of learned responses. In Lockwood's words, "disgust is a product of encultured ignorance," meaning that we have become disconnected from the natural world. Chapters 1 through 6 assume that nearly everybody finds insects disgusting, though the author does acknowledge that cultural differences are involved. He addresses the nature of fear, evolutionary psychology, our disgust buttons, and our imaginations. The remaining six chapters are devoted to overcoming these fears and to asserting entomophilia as our natural state. At least six percent of Americans (20 million people) suffer from entomophobia, and though treatment is successful in 90 percent of patients, fewer than one in eight seek treatment. Sad, because those who fear insects don't know what wonders they are missing. VERDICT For all who have responded to insects—entomophobes, entomophiles, or in between—as well as psychologists and parents.—Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Balboa, Panama

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199930197
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/28/2013
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
630,968
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Lockwood is Professor of Natural Sciences & Humanities at the University of Wyoming and author of Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War.

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