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Publishers WeeklyIn his fascinating newest, Hood, director of the Cognitive Development Centre at Bristol University, explores the ways in which the human brain tricks itself and uses others to create an identity. But while we are hardwired with the ability to construct a sense of self, Hood argues that it is our environment-and the people contained therein-that ultimately directs how we do it. The author writes, "People shape themselves to fit other people's perceptions." The definable self, then, is illusory. Using thought experiments, case studies, and research, Hood presents compelling, if sometimes disturbing, arguments. Along the way he touches on the creation and function of memory, free will, the Whitmanesque multitudes contained behind the "I," and the timely topic of digital avatars and Facebook profiles. As complicated as it is to be oneself in the world, Hood's work doesn't make it any easier, but it does make it very interesting. While the notion of the self as illusion might seem disheartening, Hood maintains that our carefully constructed selves are what allow us to continue operating as social animals, "And that, in the end, is a good thing."
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