Inner Worlds

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In the early 1940s, two researchers on either side of the Atlantic, child psychiatrist Leo Kanner in Baltimore and paediatrician Hans Asperger in Vienna, independently identified and classified a condition they both called autism (from autos, Greek for ‘self’). This conjunction ‘is still considered one of the great coincidences of twentieth-century medicine’, writes Steve Silberman […]

Lest We Remember

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Bucked from his half-broken horse in Jorge Luis Borges’s famous short story ‘Funes the Memorious’, Ireneo Funes suffers a head injury that leaves him pathologically unable to forget. ‘He knew the forms of the clouds in the southern sky on the morning of April 30, 1882, and he could compare them in his memory with […]

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Esprit de Corpse

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

As a visiting professor in Germany in 2011, I found myself alone above the gravestone of Richard and Cosima Wagner at Wahnfried, the couples’ legendary home in Bayreuth. I was studying the corrosive influence of the cult of genius on the Nazis. The anti-Semitic Wagner, however beautiful his music, played a central role in that […]

Identity Checks

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

A history of the idea of the mind might seem a curious project. We tend to assume that all human beings see themselves as creatures possessed of some kind of controlling intelligence that directs their behaviour. But it is far from clear that this has always been how human beings have thought of themselves. When the […]

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