Book Reviews

The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos by Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, Riverhead Books, New York, 2006; ISBN 1594489149, 400 pages, hardcover, $26.95.


This plea for a living, modern cosmology expands the mind, stimulates intuition, and fires imagination. It examines subjects like creation, time, space, and matter, seeking to express scientific findings in terms we can relate to by adapting symbols from world traditions. The authors — professors of physics and philosophy of science respectively — feel that current scientific theories are essentially correct but, rather than implying the hollowness of human life, they can equally well show that each one of us is at the center of the universe and responsible for its well being. Their discussion blends explanations of current science with symbols drawn from many cultures, reminding us of the power of myth and metaphor to preserve and express a higher order of reality. The authors hope that, individually and as a society, we will begin to embody modern knowledge in the stories and symbols we use to shape our lives. — Eloise Hart

The Mind Has Mountains: Reflections on Society and Psychiatry by Paul R. McHugh, md, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2006; ISBN 0801882494, 272 pages, hardback, $25.00.


In this collection of essays, the former director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine examines with wit, common sense, and humanity several trends in modern psychiatry, particularly where he feels it has “lost its way” and harmed patients and the public. He debunks the pretension that psychiatrists and psychologists know the “deep secrets” of human nature because of their special training and experience, and provokes thought with controversial views. The book includes critiques of such subjects as Freudianism, physician assisted suicide, the Teri Schiavo case, repressed and recovered memories, multiple personality disorder, surgical sex-change and sex-correction operations, the over-prescription of psychiatric medicines, and the diagnosing of personality differences as psychological disorders. — S.B.D.

(From Sunrise magazine, Winter 2007; copyright © 2006 Theosophical University Press)

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Nature is a Volume written in celestial hieroglyphs, in a true Sacred-writing; of which even Prophets are happy that they can read here a line and there a line. — Thomas Carlyle