Roland Jouvent

The Brain as Magician Publication date : April 2, 2009

When reviewing an argument mentally, or recounting it to someone else, we are prone to mix up what we really said with what we wish we had said, so that we come out looking much better. The brain is like a magician: it plays tricks on us. It is capable of giving us a picture of reality that is not a true copy, in order to give us pleasure, or to satisfy us, or simply to keep us from experiencing stress or displeasure.

Using clinical as well as neurobiological examples, Roland Jouvent explains how and why mental illnesses are dysfunctions of the brain as magician. When the brain fails to operate its magic, the psyche meets reality in a head-on collision — and collapses.

Jouvent's new approach to the brain — for which he was awarded a silver medal by the CNRS — explains why all forms of psychotherapy, from amulets to psychoanalysis and behaviourism, are effective, since each, in its own way, seeks to restore the brain's magic powers.

Instead of seeing the brain as a calculator, simulator, or machine, Roland Jouvent views it as a creator endowed with magic powers. He proposes a new theory of mental illnesses, such as manias and depression, and a new explanation of dreams.

This book will make you understand why the adventures of Harry Potter have been such a worldwide success — and not only among the young.

You will also understand why you were right to choose whatever form of psychotherapy that worked for you.

This fascinating, accessible, jargon-free book is illustrated with many clinical examples.

Roland Jouvent, a psychiatrist, is a senior research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He heads the Laboratory on Personality and Adaptive Behaviour at Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, in Paris.