TLC Book Tours: Capture

About Capture

Capture cover• Hardcover: 416 pages • Publisher: Harper Wave (April 12, 2016) Why do we think, feel, and act in ways we wish we did not? For decades, Dr. David A. Kessler has studied this question with regard to tobacco, food, and drugs. Over the course of these investigations, he identified one underlying mechanism common to a broad range of human suffering. This phenomenon—capture—is the process by which our attention is hijacked and our brains commandeered by forces outside our control. In Capture, Dr. Kessler considers some of the most profound questions we face as human beings: What are the origins of mental afflictions, from everyday unhappiness to addiction and depression—and how are they connected? Where does healing and transcendence fit into this realm of emotional experience? Analyzing an array of insights from psychology, medicine, neuroscience, literature, philosophy, and theology, Dr. Kessler deconstructs centuries of thinking, examining the central role of capture in mental illness and questioning traditional labels that have obscured our understanding of it. With a new basis for understanding the phenomenon of capture, he explores the concept through the emotionally resonant stories of both well-known and unknown people caught in its throes. The closer we can come to fully comprehending the nature of capture, Dr. Kessler argues, the better equipped we are to eventually alleviate its deleterious effects and successfully change our thinking and behaviors. Ultimately, Capture offers insight into how we form thoughts and emotions, manage trauma, and heal. For the first time, we can begin to understand the underpinnings not only of mental illness but also of our everyday worries and anxieties. Capture is an intimate and critical exploration of the most enduring human mystery of all: the mind. 

 “Kessler proposes an original theory of the mind. His cogent argument is that a great deal of the apparently inexplicable behavior of human beings is the result of impulses, drives, and obsessions that may share fundamental neural and psychodynamic mechanisms. This carefully researched book is both startling and engaging, and is written with brio.”—Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon 

 “In this richly documented, beautifully written, and original work, David Kessler has given us an idea that explains one of the most strange and most powerful processes in the human brain.”—E. O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

 “Capture is a breakthrough book. In a world of increasingly specialized knowledge, it takes a particular gift and some stubbornness to cut across the fields of neuroscience, psychiatry, philosophy, and psychology, and to ask the fundamental question: Why is it that we allow our best selves to be captured and torpedoed by thoughts and actions that sink us? Kessler’s exploration of the question makes for a compelling read. His ultimate answer is profound and one that could be life changing and life saving. I know I will be handing this book out for just that reason.”—Abraham Verghese, MD, author of Cutting for Stone

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As a psychology nerd, I loved this book! Dr. Kessler went very in-depth in this book, explaining much of the history of psychology, as well as several case studies to support his concept of "capture."  Capture is some sort of stimulus, such as a thought, person, place, idea, or something similar that takes hold of our attention ("captures" our attention) and alters our thoughts, perceptions, or actions. Once introducing the concept, the concept is explored through a variety of case studies that make up the bulk of the book.

The case studies were so interesting--many of them were famous people like Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and extensively detailed accounts of David Foster Wallace's struggle with anxiety, depression, and ultimately, committing suicide. He also linked his theory to violent acts like the Columbine school shooting, and spiritual leaders like Martin Luther. I love how he connected the psychological concepts to all areas of life.

Though the book is very detailed an in-depth, Dr. Kessler has a fantastic way of writing the material in a way that the general public can understand. You do not have to be a psychology nerd like me to enjoy this book. It's easy to understand, and very insightful.  If you're interested in psychology in any way, I definitely recommend this book!

My rating: 4 stars

About David A. Kessler, M.D.

David Kessler APDavid A. Kessler, MD served as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He is the author of A Question of Intent and The End of Overeating, a New York Times bestseller. He is a pediatrician and has been the dean of the medical schools at Yale and the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Kessler is a graduate of Amherst College, the University of Chicago Law School, and Harvard Medical School.

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