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Raffaello Cortina Editore

Mourning and EMDR

From Diagnosis to Clinical Intervention

di Roger M. Solomon

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 240

The world’s greatest expert on trauma and mourning    In this book, Roger Solomon draws on his wealth of experience and clinical sensitivity to explain how to work with mourning and the pain of loss. The author describes the impact that the loss of a loved one can have on innumerable functions, both intrapsychic and interpersonal, on the tasks that the mourner has to face in processing the sense of loss and the plethora of factors that can complicate mourning. After providing a brief panorama of EMDR, the author accompanies the therapist through the process step by step, integrating theoretical explanations with numerous accounts of clinical cases, using theoretical frameworks – including the theory of attachment and that of continuing bonds – that are efficacious for clinical work and a complete understanding of the cases presented. The author completes the volume with a detailed explanation of how to use EMDR therapy to facilitate the mourning process: each of the eight phases is examined in depth, in relation to working through grieving and the pain of loss.  

A Biography of Jesus

According to the Gospels

di Gianfranco Ravasi

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 240

The life, passion and resurrection of Jesus as recounted by a great scholar This “biography” of Jesus is constructed on the watershed between faith and historical fact. The opening pages provide a setting that isolates the historical-cultural and geopolitical coordinates of the four Gospels, after which the reader is accompanied in a journey through their pages that offer a composite of portraits taken from different perspectives rather than an academic reconstruction of a character and his story. Gianfranco Ravasi develops this profile of Jesus adhering to certain fundamental features, starting from his public life in the village of Nazareth, his speeches that frequently flowed into parabolic narratives, his hands that moved in surprising gestures, catalogued as “miracles”. Then the supreme sacrifice, his death by capital execution condoned by Rome. But just when the curtain falls on Jesus’s earthly existence, a new phase of his life opens, a discriminant without precedence, defined as “resurrection”.  Understanding this requires another descriptive channel, mainly consigned to a transcendental consciousness, known as the “Paschal Mystery”.  

Serendipity

The Unexpected in Science

di Telmo Pievani

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 200

Great discoveries that happened by chance. Serendipity and its heroes, from Christopher Columbus to Sherlock Holmes. How many times have you searched for something and come across something entirely different? A partner, a friend, a job, an object. It happens to scientists all the time: they design an experiment and the results reveal something totally unexpected, that often turns out to be quite important. This fascinating phenomenon is known as serendipity, coined from the Persian fable of the three princes of Serendip, sent out by their father to explore the world.In the history of science, this is how the greatest discoveries have been made. But here you won’t find the usual list of anecdotes about the discovery of penicillin, X-rays and microwave ovens. The most surprising serendipity stories reveal profound aspects of the logic of scientific discovery. These discoveries cannot be ascribed to fortune alone: serendipity springs from a mixture of astuteness and curiosity, of sagacity and accidents seized upon and transformed into knowledge in the blink of an eye. Above all, serendipity shows us things we didn’t know that we didn’t know. Following the success of The Natural History of Imperfection and Finitude, Telmo Pievani reveals the thrilling story of an idea. From Zadig to Sherlock Holmes, the numerous heroes of serendipity show us that Nature, out there, is always much greater than we ever imagine.

The Sea of the Gods

A Mythological Guide to the Greek Islands

di Giulio Guidorizzi, Silvia Romani

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 326

Santorini, the Pompei of the Aegean, Kos, the island of Hippocrates and so of health and well-being, Rhodes, a flower blossoming from the sea… The islands came into being before mankind. From the beginning the Greeks thought of themselves as a part of constellation of lands surrounded by sea: a myriad of stars belonging to the same galaxy. This was where the sun of our civilization rose: thousands of years ago, in those islands men began to build ships, and model idols from clay. These are wonderful places, the shores lapped by what is probably the most beautiful sea in the world, places where even as tourists it is possible to feel the breath of the gods and the heroes who lived there in antiquity.Following on Treading where the gods once walked. A mythological guide to Greece, this volume embarks on a quest for new beaches from which to enchant the reader with timeless tales of the heroes and the mortals who have made the Greek islands more than just a mark on a map, rather a place to which we dream of returning.

Finitude

A Philosophical Novel on Fragility and Freedom

di Telmo Pievani

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 275

A philosophical detective story: how to find a meaning to existence if everything comes to an end? Camus and Monod provide an answer, in a compelling dialogue between fiction and reality staged by Telmo Pievani. The writer Albert Camus doesn’t die in that accident on January 4, 1960. His closest friend, the geneticist Jacques Monod, goes to visit him in hospital. They are writing a book together. They read the drafts, evoke memories of their adventures in Paris during the Resistance. A world vision starts to take form, full of disenchantment. Science has revealed the finitude of everything: of the universe, of planet Earth, all living species, of each and every one of us. How are we to find a meaning to existence, while accepting our finiteness?Camus and Monod review all the lay possibilities of challenging death. The investigation becomes a philosophical detective story. Maybe finitude does not imply nihilism after all, but rather solidarity, revolution, a life lived to the full. An elegant divertissement of fact woven with fiction, Finitudine is the story of a real friendship between two Nobel prize winners, a fascinating dialogue, a book within a book. Following on the success of his book Imperfezione.

The Basic Reality and the Human Reality

di John R. Searle

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 220

There is a single overriding question in contemporary philosophy, and John Searle addresses it in this book. Given what we know from physics, chemistry, and the other natural sciences--that the universe consists entirely of mindless, meaningless physical particles in fields of force, and these are organized into systems--how do we account for the human reality of mind, meaning, consciousness, intentionality, society, science, aesthetics, morality, and all social organization, including money, property, government, and marriage?Our philosophical tradition evades the problem by postulating two worlds--the mental and the physical--and in some versions even three worlds, with the social world added on. Searle shows how we live in one world whose various higher-level features are natural consequences of the basic world. He begins with how consciousness can be caused by, and at the same time realized in, the brain as a higher level--or system--feature. Given consciousness, it is not difficult to get to intentionality, the property by which the mind is directed at objects and states of affairs typically apart from itself. With consciousness and intentionality, including collective intentionality, in place, we can explain language. And from an account of language we can see how humans use it to construct a social reality of money, nation states, private property, universities, and businesses. His approach avoids the traditional mistakes of materialism, dualism, and idealism.The Basic Reality and the Human Reality includes a discussion of free will, as well as notions of power and human rights.English typescript available

The Natural History of Imperfection

di Telmo Pievani

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 220

In his Notebook B (September 1837), a young Charles Darwin wrote: “When one sees nipple on man’s breast, one does not say some use. So with useless wings under elytra of beetles, born from beetles with wings and modified. If simple creation, surely would have been born without them”. Where there is perfection, there is no history.Where there is perfection, everything has already happened. When we look at nature, our goal is not perfection. We should be interested in imperfections, because they are a promise of change, something is happening there and not everything has already been written. Evolution feeds on imperfections. Acclaimed Italian science writer and evolutionist Telmo Pievani, in the wake of the work of his masters like Stephen J. Gould and Luigi Luca Cavalli Sforza, traces the history and the role of imperfection in natural history, starting with the tiny imperfection into the primordial quantum vacuum that gave birth to our universe from an infinitesimal and random physical anomaly, from a contingent fluctuation.The story continues with the evolution of our planet, randomly in the right place at the right time, the origin of life, the Great Oxygenation Event, the Cambrian explosion and its oddities,the evolution of terrestrial tetrapods and their anatomical imperfect adjustments. And again, other frozen accidents on the scene, like the lucky evolution of mammals, the imperfectionsof bipedalism in our family tree, the risky adaptations of human language and neoteny. Homo sapiens is the son of successful imperfections. And now, such an imperfect species is the master of the ecological world. Our body, our brain, our DNA are repositories of imperfections, and therefore they are so creative systems. Evolution works on existing constrained material and it does what it can, not the best. Tinkering is the right metaphor, not optimal engineering. In this brilliant book, Lucrezio’s clinamen is revisited for the first time through the lenses of contemporary science. Imperfection, like diversity, is seen as our major ally, not enemy. But imperfection associated with power could be dangerous. The title of the final chapter is: Would you buy a used car from Homo sapiens?

Against Sacrifice

Beyond the Sacrificial Phantasm

di Massimo Recalcati

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 140

Humans alone have a passion for sacrifice. They have not only sacrificed animals upon an altar as an offering to their Gods, but upon the same altar they have sacrificed their own life. That’s the case with the hypermoral man who sacrifices his desire, or with the martyr of terrorism, who gives his life for a cause. Sacrifice is an underlying phantasm that has spread across the Western world: living in sacrifice means obtaining an unlimited redemption (by God, by one’s own family, by the Other). In psychoanalysis, this is the paradoxical law of the Superego: sacrifice is not just renunciation of gratification. It is a phantasm stemming from the guilt-creating mindset of Christianity. Psychoanalysis, following the deepest message of Jesus, is committed to setting our lives free from the burden of sacrifice. This entails a different understanding of Law: man is not a slave of Law, because Law – as maintained by the Christian teachings – is made for man and not man for Law.

Mirroring Brains

How we Understand Others from the Inside

di Giacomo Rizzolatti, Corrado Sinigaglia

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 180

"Since their discovery in the mid-1990’s, mirror neurons have been one of the most intriguing and hotly debated topic in an amazing variety of disciplines, ranging from cognitive neuroscience and psychology to philosophy and anthropology. For this reason, we decided 10 years ago to write a book together in order to describe the functional properties of these apparently ‘magic’ neurons. The book had a great and long lasting success, with several translations in other languages. However, over the last few years a great deal of findings provided a much more detailed picture about the extent of mirror neurons and their properties. Indeed, mirror neurons have been found in very different species and in very different brain structures. And several studies suggested that they may function in a much more complex way than previously thought. This lead some scholars to advance doubts about the actual role of these neurons in cognition. Thus, a great challenge seems to urge anyone who is interested in the mirror story today, that is, providing a unitary account of the mirror mechanism and demonstrating whether and to what extent it might be involved in social cognition. Tackling this challenge is the main aim of this book. In doing this, we explore the properties of the mirror mechanism in both the action and emotion domains, by introducing and discussing some of the more recent and relevant findings. We also take in consideration what psychologists and psychiatrics variously labelled as vitality affects or forms.  Our main claim is that the mirror mechanism may provide an understanding of others’ actions, emotions and affects which can be mainly exploited just in ways that depend one’s own processes and representations involved in those actions, emotions and affects. What we think about others’ minds would be different if it were not for our abilities to represent our own actions, emotions and affects. The lack of these abilities may result in social impairment. This is the reason why we define the mirror-based understanding as an understanding from the inside. Such an understanding is not without consequences for our experiencing others. Indeed, it suggests that there are plausible aspects of phenomenal character that are common to experiences of our own and others’ actions, emotions and vitality forms, given that both experiences are shaped by the same processes and representations, or so we argue and provide evidence for".The Authors

Reality is Not What It Seems

The Elusive Structure of the Universe

di Carlo Rovelli

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 241

"If we try to combine everything we have learned on the physical world in the XX century, evidence points towards something very different from what we learned at school about space, time, matter and energy. What emerges in an elementary structure of the world where time does not exist, space does not exist, generated by a swarming of quantum microevents. Quantum fields draw-up space, time, matter and light, trading information between one event and the other. Reality is weaved by a net of granular events; the dynamics tying them up is probabilistic; between one event and the other, space, time, matter and energy melt into a cloud of probability".“Time, space and matter are generated by a swarm of elementary quantum events. Understanding such deep texture of reality is the goal of quantum gravity, major challenge of contemporary science, where all our knowledge about nature is called into question”. Carlo Rovelli, one of the main protagonists of this adventure, leads the reader to the heart of the investigation in a simple and compelling way. He describes how our image of the world has changed, from antiquity to the most recent discoveries: evaporation of black holes, universe before the big bang, granular structure of space, role of information, absence of time in fundamental physics. "He draws a vast fresco of the physical vision of the world, clarifies the content of theories such as general relativity and quantum mechanics, brings us to the forefront of present-day knowledge and offers an original and articulate account of the main issues now open. Above all, he passionately communicates the fascination of this research, the enthusasm driving it, and the beauty of the new perspective on the world which science reveals to us".  "How is it possible that Carlo Rovelli has been able to write an essay in physics that kidnapes your attention from the first line to the last like the most absorbing of the novels? This is perhaps one of the few quantions not faced in the book. 'Reality is not What it Seems' is a marvelous book, with a stunningly vast vision of physics."   

The Empathic Screen

Cinema and Neuroscience

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 250

Film theory is now dealing with the impact of cognitive neuroscience on the umanistic debate, even if the dialogue between film scholars and neuroscientists is still rather shy. Much part of the film studies theoretical tradition – semiotics, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, cognitive science – is challenged by the new insights from cognitive neuroscience. Film art is based on the interaction between the viewer and the world on the screen, and matters like immersion, impression of reality, simulation, not to mention the involvement of the viewer’s body in the fictitious world she inhabits, can be reconsidered within a neuroscientific perspective. At the beginning of XX century a strong theoretical effort came from physiologists and psychologists who immediately noticed the revolutionary and embodied relation between the movie and the viewer. The authors go back to this story in order to integrate neuroscientific research with the present avant-garde of film theory. Their point is that Embodied Simulation (ES) theory, prompted by the discovery of the mirror neuron mechanism – as it has been proposed in many works by Vittorio Gallese, having an extraordinary impact on phenomenological studies, mind studies, and more generally on aesthetic research – could be an useful index to evaluate the role of viewers’ experience of the film body, that is, the virtual body simulated by camera movements, often representing a sort of avatar for the viewers. This will enable the authors to formulate a new approach to the study of film style. The book project is articulated in three main parts. The first part is focused on the concept of mirror neuron mechanisms, ES in their relationship with the humanistic debate. The second part aims to show the relevance of ES to film studies. The third part demonstrates how ES theory can implement our approach to the different stylistic phases in film history. They will work on the so-called “cinema of attractions”, Soviet montage, classical Hollywood cinema, European modern cinema from neorealism to the 1960 new waves, contemporary blockbusters, 3D and CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) films. Since the film is probably the most sophisticated form of mediated intersubjectivity and it has generally a goal-oriented and action-packed structure, it appears to be a very useful model for a research like ours, aiming to have an impact both on the neuroscientific and the filmic side.  

I Know What You Are Doing

The Acting Brain and Mirror Neurons

di Giacomo Rizzolatti, Corrado Sinigaglia

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 226

In the early 1990’s, while studying the activity of single neurons in the premotor cortex of monkeys, Giacomo Rizzolatti and his coworkers at the University of Parma discovered that some neurons of this area (today known as mirror neurons) had a surprising property. They respond not only when the monkey performed a given action, but also when the animal observed the researcher (or another monkey) performing that same action. In the following years, many monkey experiments specified the mechanism of mirror neurons and their possible functions. In addition, brain imaging and other non-invasive techniques demonstrated that a mirror neuron system is present also in humans. These results had a deep impact on cognitive neuroscience. In essay written on the occasion of the beginning of the new millenium, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran predicted that “mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology”. The unexpected properties of these neurons have not only attracted the attention of neuroscientists. Many sociologists, anthropologists and even artists have been fascinated by mirror neurons. The great director and playwright Peter Brook stated that mirror neurons throw new light on the mysterious link that is created each time actors take the stage and face their audience.  The present book provides, for the first time, an accessible and systematic overview of the theoretical issues and experimental work behind the extraordinary discovery of mirror neurons. From the first pages, the reader will discover how certain areas of the brain – traditionally labelled “motor” areas – have much more complex properties than believed in the past. The motor system – or, as the authors prefer to call it, the acting brain – plays an essential role in perceiving and understanding the objects that surround us. This  “sensorimotor understanding” is very different from conceptual and linguistic knowledge. Nevertheless, it plays a fundamental role in cognition and represents the basis for a variety of cognitive skills. The view that perception, action and cognition cannot be considered as separate entities is clearly shown by the properties of mirror neurons. When we see someone grasping a piece of food and bringing it to his or her mouth, we immediately know what that person is doing. We do not need to resort to reasoning. Our mirror system automatically codes the visual information from the scene in terms of action, and because that action is part of our motor repertoire, we immediately grasp its meaning.  In other terms, we perceive the observed action as if we were doing it. This is also true for actions that require particular motor skills, such as those of a pianist or a dancer. The sight of an artist playing or dancing activates in the brain of the observers the same areas that respond when they themselves carry out the same actions. Not only actions, however, are immediately shared. We are linked to others also by emotions. Each of us knows how contagious are fear, disgust, as well as joy. In the past, many reasons were given in order to explain our ability for immediate empathy with others. Only now, however, we are beginning to understand that the various forms of emotional “resonance” are determined by specific, anatomically separated, mirror neuron systems. When we see someone moving away from a glass containing some liquid or from a plate with food with a grimace of disgust, we immediately react as if we were experiencing the disgust. This is indeed what occurs: the sight of an emotional reaction of another person activates, in our brain, the same cortical areas that are activated when we ourselves experience that emotion!

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