By Gerald Huther, PhD
Trumpeter Book,s $18.95, 152 pages

If you’ve misplaced the user manual for your brain, The Compassionate Brain: How Empathy Creates Intelligence by Gerald Huther is the ultimate guide for all who think. The chapters move through the brain’s structures, from worm brains to the human psyche, then moves to discuss the hardware already installed in the brain and how to repair that hardware, also how to service the equipment and what to do when malfunctions occur. If you’ve ever wondered what the differences are between a mole brain and human brain, this is a good place to look. And the last twenty pages, how to fix malfunctions in the brain, are high quality indeed.

“Our brain is thus much more a social organ than it is a thinking organ.”

As a translation to English from the German, part of the difficulty in reading this could arise from the language barrier. As a reader, this reviewer assumed the connection between brain structure and empathy would be stronger. There seems to be no central thesis that directly and definitively connects brain function to empathy or builds a consistent argument through the text. That being said, the information is interesting and accessible to the average reader, if a bit thick to wade through. It’s an educational book if not a practical plan for actual self-improvement.

Axie Barclay

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