Being Brains: Making The Cerebral Subject

Chap. 4: Brains on Paper

The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen

Book cover

Neuronovels, of course, often make characters speak in a neuro idiom supposed to account for their psychological situation. For example, in Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, the protagonist Gary finds it hard to believe that his depression “wasn’t neurochemical but personal” (Franzen 2001, 198).

Franzen writes:

Various chemicals that molecular floodgates had been holding back all afternoon burst loose and flooded Gary’s neural pathways. A cascade of reactions initiated by Factor 6 relaxed his tear valves and sent a wave of nausea down his vagus, a “sense” that he survived from day to day by distracting himself from underground truths that day by day grew more compelling and decisive. The truth that he was going to die. (156–157)

Jonathan Franzen, American novelist. Photograph by David Shankbone.

About the book

Jonathan Franzen's third novel, The Corrections, is a great work of art and a grandly entertaining overture to our new century: a bold, comic, tragic, deeply moving family drama that stretches from the Midwest at mid-century to Wall Street and Eastern Europe in the age of greed and globalism. Franzen brings an old-time America of freight trains and civic duty, of Cub Scouts and Christmas cookies and sexual inhibitions, into brilliant collision with the modern absurdities of brain science, home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and the anti-gravity New Economy. With The Corrections, Franzen emerges as one of our premier interpreters of American society and the American soul.

Enid Lambert is terribly, terribly anxious. Although she would never admit it to her neighbors or her three grown children, her husband, Alfred, is losing his grip on reality. Maybe it's the medication that Alfred takes for his Parkinson's disease, or maybe it's his negative attitude, but he spends his days brooding in the basement and committing shadowy, unspeakable acts. More and more often, he doesn't seem to understand a word Enid says.

Trouble is also brewing in the lives of Enid's children. Her older son, Gary, a banker in Philadelphia, has turned cruel and materialistic and is trying to force his parents out of their old house and into a tiny apartment. The middle child, Chip, has suddenly and for no good reason quit his exciting job as a professor at D------ College and moved to New York City, where he seems to be pursuing a "transgressive" lifestyle and writing some sort of screenplay. Meanwhile the baby of the family, Denise, has escaped her disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man--or so Gary hints.

Enid, who loves to have fun, can still look forward to a final family Christmas and to the ten-day Nordic Pleasurelines Luxury Fall Color Cruise that she and Alfred are about to embark on. But even these few remaining joys are threatened by her husband's growing confusion and unsteadiness. As Alfred enters his final decline, the Lamberts must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs. - Goodreads

Being Brains: Making The Cerebral Subject

Inspired by the homonymous book by Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega, this timespace presents the authors' genealogy of the cerebral subject and the influence of the neurological discourse in human sciences, mental health and culture.

De Anima, by Aristotle On the Sacred Disease, by Hippocrates Edwin Smith surgical papyrus Galenic Corpus Aristotelianism The Tryal of Wits, by Juan Huarte Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton Passions of the Soul, by René Descartes Corpuscularianism The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves, by Thomas Willis The Second Treatise of Government, by John Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke Analytical Essay on the Faculties of the Soul, by Charles Bonnet Phrenology The Constitution of Man Considered in Relation to External Objects, by George Combe The Duality of the Mind, by Arthur Wigan Self-Help, by Samuel Smiles The case of Tan, studied by Paul Broca The New Thought or Mind Cure Movement The Brain Power of Man: Has He Two Brains or Has He One?, by Brown-Séquard First Book in Physiology and Hygiene, by John Harvey Kellogg New Methods in Education, by James Liberty Tadd Foundation of the British Ambidextral Culture Society Quote by Auguste Forel Quote by Oskar Vogt First human electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, by J.D. Bernal Cybernetics Albert Einstein's death Widespread of the definition of death according to brain-based criteria in clinical practice Right-brain boom Self-Knowledge and Self-Identity, by Sidney Shoemaker Harvard Medical School landmark report Brain Transplantation and Personal Identity, by Roland Puccetti Philosophical Explanations, by Robert Nozick The Mind’s I, edited by Daniel C. Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter Reason, Truth, and History, by Hilary Putnam Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, by Foucault Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments, by Kathleen Wilkes Technologies of the Self, by Michel Foucault Quote by James D. Watson Neuroplasticity Smart for Life, by Michael D. Chafetz Le philosophe et son scalpel: le problème de l'identité personnelle, by Stéphane Ferret Exploding the Gene Myth, by Ruth Rubbard and Elijah Wald Scott Gilbert's article about four biological views of the body/self—the neural, immunological, genetic, and phenotypic The DNA Mystique, by Dorothy Nelkin and Susan Lindee Japan's Organ Transplantation Law The Genetic Self, by June Peters Brain Death and Transplantation in Japan, by Masahiro Morioka The Executive Brain, by Elkhonon Goldberg Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death, by Margaret Lock Foundation of the Posit Science Corporation Neurochemical Selves, by Nikolas Rose Jonathon Keats copyrights his brain Is It Me or My Brain? Depression and Neuroscientific Facts, by Joseph Dumit How to Talk About the Body? The Normative Dimension of Science Studies, by Bruno Latour Completion of the Human Genome Project The Ethical Brain, by Gazzaniga Article on Brain Calisthenics, at The New York Times Can neuroscience be integrated into the DSM-V?, by Steven Hyman A Social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk-Taking, by Laurence Steinberg Identity, Identification, and the Brain, by Emily Martin Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome: A New Name for the Vegetative State or Apallic Syndrome, by Steven Laureys Withdrawal of Artificial Nutrition and Hydration for Patients in a Permanent Vegetative State: Changing Tack, by Catherine Constable A Stone in a Spaghetti Bowl: The Biological and Metaphorical Brain in Neuro-Oncology, by Sky Gross More Dead Than Dead: Perceptions of Persons in the Persistent Vegetative State, by Kurt Gray Constituting Neurologic Subjects: Neuroscience, Subjectivity, and the Mundane Significance of the Brain, by Pickersgill, Cunningham-Burley and Martin Émergence du moi cérébral de Théodore Meynert à Antonio Damasio, by Arminjon, Ansermet, and Magistretti The Transatlantic Divide Over Brain Death Determination and the Debate, by Wijdicks Rebelling Against the Brain: Public Engagement with the ‘Neurological Adolescent, by Choudhury, McKinney and Merten Neurobiological Narratives: Experiences of Mood Disorder Through the Lens of Neuroimaging, by Daniel Buchman Neurobiology in Public and Private Discourse: The Case of Adults with ADHD, by Broer and Heerings Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind, by Nikolas Rose and Joelle Abi-Rached How Has Neuroscience Affected Lay Understandings of Personhood?, by O'Connor and Joffe Beyond the Brain, by David Brooks David Brooks and the Anti-Neuroscience Backlash, by Paul Waldman The Problem with the Neuroscience Backlash, by Gary Marcus Brain Talk: Power and Negotiation in Children’s Discourse About Self, Brain, and Behavior, by Ilina Singh Death, treatment decisions and the permanent vegetative state: evidence from families and experts, by Stephen Holland The Embodied Brain, by Kiverstein and Miller Thomas Insel appointed head of the new life sciences unit of Alphabet
Primitive Culture, by Edward Burnett Tylor Coming of Age in Samoa, by Margaret Mead Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions, by Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, by Derek Freeman Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, by Raymond Williams Thinking Through Cultures, by Richard Shweder Early use of the term social neuroscience Appearance of the term neuroanthropology in the Dictionary of Anthropology Topics researched in cultural neuroscience Social Neuroscience, by John T. Cacioppo and Gary Berntson Launch of the journal Social Neuroscience Launch of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience First appearance of the term cultural neuroscience Neural Basis of Cultural Influence on Self-Representation, by Zhu et al. Foundation of the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society Culture-sensitive neural substrates of human cognition: a transcultural neuroimaging approach, by Han and Northoff The first Ph.D. in Neuroanthropology Special Issues on Cultural Neuroscience Neural basis of individualistic and collectivistic views of the self, by Chiao et al. Foundation of the Society for Social Neuroscience Neuroanthropology vs. Cultural Neuroscience How Cultural is ‘Cultural Neuroscience’? Some Comments on an Emerging Research Paradigm, by Denkhaus and Bös Special Issues on Neuroanthropology The Encultured Brain, by Greg Downey and Daniel H. Lende Foundation of the journal Culture & Brain Cultural Neuroscience: Connecting Culture, Brain, and Genes, by Kitayama and Huff
Influence of psychoanalytic explanations Synthetization of Chlorpromazine The Divided Self, by Ronald Laing National Autistic Society Autism Society of America Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry, by David Cooper Mental Patients' Union The rise of Internet Autism Network International National Alliance for Autism Research The Looping Effects of Human Kinds, by Ian Hacking Thinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin Cure Autism Now Foundation Autism Genetic Resource Exchange Books by David Healy Neurodiversity Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical Thoughts on Finding Myself Differently Brained, by Jane Meyerding Functional Neuroimaging Studies of Depression: The Anatomy of Melancholia, by Wayne Drevets Why I Dislike 'Person First' Language, by Jim Sinclair Why Can’t You Be Normal for Once in Your Life? by Judy Singer Of Two Minds: An Anthropologist Looks at American Psychiatry, by Tanya Luhrmann Nosologomania: A Disorder of Psychiatry, by Herman van Praag World Health Report A Default Mode of Brain Function, by Raichle et al. Globalization of Psychiatry Neuroscience Research Agenda to Guide Development of a Pathophysiologically Based Classification System, by Charney et al. Functional Neuroimaging of Depression, by Erk, Walter and Spitzer Depression: Perspectives from Affective Neuroscience, by Davidson et al. Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation, by Davidson et al. The Misbehavior of Behaviorists: Ethical Challenges to the Autism-ABA Industry, by Michelle Dawson Petition to the United Nations Acceptance Versus Cure, by Sue Rubin A Mother's Perspective, by Kit Weintraub The bio-bio-bio model of madness, by John Read Deep Brain Stimulation for Clinical Study of Treatment-Resistant Depression, by Mayberg et al. First Autistic Pride Day Can Brain Scans See Depression?, by Benedict Carey Autism at the Crossroads: Determining the Phenotype Matters for Neuroscience, by Tony Charman Voices From The Spectrum, by Ariel and Naseef On Our Own Terms: Emerging Autistic Culture, by Martijn Dekker Autism Movement Seeks Acceptance, Not Cures, by Joseph Shapiro A New Look at the Neural Diathesis-Stress Model of Schizophrenia, by Jones and Fernyhough Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture, by Emily Martin Global Mental Health Movement (GMH) Light and Dark: Correcting the Balance, by Judy Singer Defining the Neural Circuitry of Depression: Towards a New Nosology with Therapeutic Implications, by Helen Mayberg Orchestrating Voices: Autism, Identity, and the Power of Discourse, by Nancy Bagatell Can Neuroscience be integrated into the DSM-V?, by Steven Hyman Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), a National Institute of Mental Health initiative Biological Vulnerability of Depression, by Nantel-Vivier and Pihl Neuroimaging and Depression: Current Status and Unresolved Issues, by Gotlib and Hamilton A glimmer of light for neuropsychiatric disorders, by Steven Hyman Major Depressive Disorder and White Matter Abnormalities: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study with Tract-Based Spatial Statistics, by Kieseppä et al. Lack of evidence of causality in depression Identity Politics and the Language Controversy, by Dora Raymaker Biomarkers in Psychiatry: Promises and Perils in the Real World, by Ilina Singh and Nikolas Rose Major Depressive Disorder: 2nd leading cause of disability worldwide How It Is Not ‘Just Like Diabetes’: Mental Disorders and the Moral Psychologist, by Nomy Arpaly Aspergia The pharmaceutical industry's turn: from medication to genetics The Pharma-Psych Nexus Structural Neuroimaging Studies in Major Depressive Disorder: Meta-analysis and Comparison with Bipolar Disorder, by Kempton et al. The Genetic Blueprint of Major Depressive Disorder: Contributions of Imaging Genetics Studies, by Scharinger et al. In Search of Biomarkers for Autism: Scientific, Social, and Ethical Challenges, by Walsh et al. The Epigenetics Revolution, by Nessa Carey Antipsychotics: Is It Time to Introduce Patient Choice?, by Morrison et al. Myth: Reframing Mental Illness as a ‘Brain Disease’ Reduces Stigma, by Joanna Cheek A Systematic Review of Resting-State Functional-MRI Studies in Major Depression, by Wang et al. The Book of Woe, by Gary Greenberg Classification of Depressive Disorders, by Philip J. Cowen The search for treatment-specific biomarkers Hopes for diagnostic based on identified biomarkers Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind, by Rose and Abi-Rached How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown, by Edward Shorter Brain Scans Could Become EKGs for Mental Disorders, by Roxanne Khamsi Concentrating on Kindness, an article on Science Mag Neuroimaging and Psychiatry: The Long Road from Bench to Bedside, by Helen Mayberg The Neurobiology of Meditation and Mindfulness, by Tobias Esch Is the Agenda for Global Mental Health a Form of Cultural Imperialism?, by Gavin Miller Connecting the Dots: A Review of Resting Connectivity MRI Studies in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, by Posner, Park, and Wang Most recent edition of the Handbook of Depression Is Evidence-based Psychiatry Ethical?, by Mona Gupta Melancholia: The Western Malady, by Matthew Bell
Sketches by Boz, by Charles Dickens Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë Shirley, by Charlotte Brontë David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens Villette, by Charlotte Brontë Bleak House, by Charles Dickens The Professor, by Charlotte Brontë The Lifted Veil, by George Eliot Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert L. Stevenson The Legacy of Cain, by Wilkie Collins Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy Dracula, by Bram Stoker Heart of a Dog, by Mikhail Bulgakov Professor Dowell’s Head, by Alexander Belyaev The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, by J.D. Bernal Donovan's Brain, by Curt Siodmak ¿A dónde van los cefalomos? by Ángel Arango Odd Corners, by William Hjortsberg The Terminal Man, by Michael Crichton Asleep in the Sun, by Adolfo Bioy Casares A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick The Making of Mind: A Personal Account of Soviet Psychology, by Alexander Luria Antecessors of Neuro Lit Crit Reason, Truth, and History, by Hilary Putnam Neuromancer, by William Gibson Schismatrix, by Bruce Sterling The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales, by Oliver Sacks Mindplayers, by Pat Cadigan When Gravity Fails, by George Alec Effinger A Fire in the Sun, by George Alec Effinger The Exile Kiss, by George Alec Effinger Fools, by Pat Cadigan The Turing Option, by Harry Harrison and Marvin Minsky Galatea 2.2, by Richard Powers Descartes' Error, by Antonio Damasio Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan Albrick's Gold, by Simon LeVay Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem Thinks... by David Lodge
The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
The Epistemology of Cognitive Literary Studies, by Elizabeth Hart Adjusting the Frame, Comments on Cognitivism and Literature, by Adler and Gross Mind Catcher, by John Darnton My Father's Brain, by Jonathan Franzen Darwin and Derrida: Cognitive Literary Theory as a Species of Post-Structuralism, by Ellen Spolsky Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology, by Paul Broks The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon Saturday, by Ian McEwan The Echomaker, by Richard Powers Observe the Neurones. Between, Above and Below John Donne, by Antonia Byatt Proust Was a Neuroscientist, by Jonah Lehrer Atmospheric Disturbances, by Rivka Galchen Neuroesthetics, Neuroscientific Theory, and Illustration from the Arts, by Suzanne Nalbantian Consciousness as Content: Neuronarratives and the Redemption of Fiction, by Gary Johnson Lowboy, by John Wray The Rise of the Neuronovel, by Marco Roth Next Big Thing in English: Knowing They Know That You Know, by Patricia Cohen How Is the Selective Nature of Memory Explored by Ian McEwan and in Biology? by Imogen Ash This Is Your Brain on Jane Austen, and Stanford Researchers Are Taking Notes, by Corrie Goldman Phrenology and Physiognomy in Victorian Literature, by Boshears and Whitaker
Miracles, Science, and Testimony in Post-Tridentine Saint-Making, by Fernando Vidal Brainhood, Anthropological Figure of Modernity, by Fernando Vidal Ectobrains in the movies, chapter by Fernando Vidal in William Tronzo's book The Fragment: An Incomplete History The Moral Authority of Nature, edited by Lorraine Daston and Fernando Vidal Neurocultures: Glimpses Into an Expanding Universe, by Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega The Sciences of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology, by Fernando Vidal La neuroesthétique, un esthétisme scientiste, an article by Fernando Vidal Are there Neural Correlates of Depression?, book chapter by Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega Neuroaesthetics: Getting Rid of Art and Beauty, reviewed article by Fernando Vidal L'expérience mélancolique au regard de la critique, an afterword by Fernando Vidal Prospero Lambertini's On the Imagination and Its Powers, by Fernando Vidal La vue d'ensemble délivre de l'inquiétude: notes sur un thème starobinskien, by Fernando Vidal Corporeality, Medical Technologies and Contemporary Culture, a book by Francisco Ortega Critical autism studies: exploring epistemic dialogues and intersections, challenging dominant understandings of autism The Biopolitics of Autism in Brazil, book chapter by Francisco Ortega, Rafaela Zorzanelli and Clarice Rios Being Brains: Making The Cerebral Subject, by Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega Academic and professional tensions and debates around ADHD in Brazil, book chapter by Francisco Ortega, Rafaela Zorzanelli and Valeria Portugal Phenomenology of the Locked-In Syndrome: an Overview and Some Suggestions, an article by Vidal Neurociências: Não somos o nosso cérebro?, a talk by Ortega Brazilian edition of Being Brains