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Bristol professor delves deep into the perceptions of our ‘self’ for new book

Press release issued: 19 April 2012

People’s perception of their inner being, the individual ‘self’ which controls the body and mind, is an illusion according to the latest book from Professor Bruce Hood.

The Self Illusion, published today [19 April], challenges the idea that we are autonomous individuals. Instead, the renowned experimental psychologist believes that we are a product of the history and influences of those around us.

Professor Hood, who is Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol, examines the neuroscience and complex psychology behind the concept of ‘the self’ – concluding that it’s a convenient construct our brains generate to help us make sense of the world.

Most of us believe that we possess a self - an internal individual who resides inside our bodies, making decisions, authoring actions and possessing free will.

Professor Hood said: “There is the sense that we are the same person throughout our lives, although the rest of our body changes around us.

"Almost everybody believes they are slightly higher than the average intelligence, that they have a slightly better than average sense of humour, and that they never quite give away the full picture of themselves to others – that they are always slightly misunderstood.

"In fact we know that our sense of self is a construct of our neuroscience – it is based on the physical development of our brains. We see this by the simple fact that people's personalities can be altered so dramatically by head injuries, or more commonly by the gradual disintegration of the self that occurs in dementia cases.”

  • The Self Illusion: Why There is No 'You' Inside Your Head, written by Bruce Hood and published by Constable & Robinson, RRP £12.99.


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