Out of Mind online

Paul Broks is a British neuropsychologist who wrote a brilliant and insightful column on the brain and its disorders for Prospect magazine in the early 2000s, all of which are now freely available online.

The ‘Out of Mind’ column ran for the best part of five years. Alternately whimsical, profound and poetic, it recounted ephemeral scenes from meetings with brain altered individuals and spun them into reflections on the science and philosophy of human nature.

From July, 2004:

The bespectacled skeleton speaks. “Yes, I’m fine,” she says. Her jaw drops and rises squarely like a ventriloquist’s dummy. But where are the words coming from? All I can see are bones and electrodes. The view shifts and there’s the smoky shape of the heart. The tip of the catheter now appears at the bottom of the screen. This was inserted at the groin and is nudging upward, through an invisible artery, into the rib cage. The radiologist is deft and reaches the carotid in no time: base camp for the brain. He is ready now to squirt the drug into the cerebral blood vessels. Next scene: the inside of Julie’s head. There is nothing much to see.

You may recognise Broks from Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology, quite possibly one of the most beautiful books ever written on the brain. His Prospect columns swim in the same deep blue waters.

Link to ‘Out of Mind’ column archive from Prospect Magazine.

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