Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain Info

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Reviews for Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain:

5

Jan 17, 2014

The myths about the teen brain are not just wrong, but destructive. We've heard for decades about the downsides of the teen years -- the risks taken, impulsivity and the like. Recent brain research has pegged some of this to a peculiarity in brain growth during those years: The growth of circuitry for impulse and pleasure outpaces that for inhibiting those impulses, which do not catch up until the early 20s.

But Dr. Siegel takes that same data and puts a positive spin on what this means for the The myths about the teen brain are not just wrong, but destructive. We've heard for decades about the downsides of the teen years -- the risks taken, impulsivity and the like. Recent brain research has pegged some of this to a peculiarity in brain growth during those years: The growth of circuitry for impulse and pleasure outpaces that for inhibiting those impulses, which do not catch up until the early 20s.

But Dr. Siegel takes that same data and puts a positive spin on what this means for the teen years -- which he pegs at ages 12 to 24. That's a unique period in life, with its burst of exploration, maturation and growth in every way. As he says, "Life is on fire."

And how teens navigate these years has real consequences for how they live the rest of lives. While there are always risks and downsides, the teen mind has unique positive qualities:

- A search for the new and novel. This byproduct of an increased power in the brain's reward circuitry creates a natural urge to explore the world, to try new things and ways of being. While the downside can be taking dangerous and impulsive risks, the upside is being open to change and a sense of adventure.

- A need for social connection. The teen years are marked by the importance of friendships. If teens become too isolated from the adults in their lives, this can increase risky behavior. But the ability to make strong friendships predicts well-being and satisfaction throughout life.

- Intense emotions. Life quickens, becoming more vital. While this can mean moodiness and over-reactivity, this intensity creates immense energy and a zest for life.

- Creativity and curiosity. This openness to the new combines with the teenager's acquisition of reasoning, abstract thinking and a creative bent. While this can sometimes lead to a crisis in identity or lack of direction, the upside can be out-of-the-box innovative thinking and creative exploration of life's possibilities.

All these attributes of the teen brain and the upsides, Siegel points out, would serve us well throughout our adult lives. ...more
4

Oct 07, 2013

Firstly and as usual, I received this book for the ripe sum of nothing via a giveaway, this time from Shelf Awareness. Despite that kind consideration from all involved my candid opinions follow below. To extend the preamble a bit, this book wasn't quite what I expected. Because of that I'm going to keep the value judgments to a minimum and instead just try to describe what the book tries to be. It's up to you whether it's what you want to be reading or not. I just make with the descriptions.

Firstly and as usual, I received this book for the ripe sum of nothing via a giveaway, this time from Shelf Awareness. Despite that kind consideration from all involved my candid opinions follow below. To extend the preamble a bit, this book wasn't quite what I expected. Because of that I'm going to keep the value judgments to a minimum and instead just try to describe what the book tries to be. It's up to you whether it's what you want to be reading or not. I just make with the descriptions.

What I expected out of this book was something rather harder and more rooted in science. The book jacket says it's based on the latest research and I have no doubt that's the case but none of that research seems to have made its way directly into the book. Instead what you have is very soft and results-based approach to the topic. So if you're expecting data on brain chemistry changes through the adolescent years then, like me, you'll likely be disappointed. Instead you'll get instruction through analogy with concepts like "Mindsight" and the "Wheel of Awareness". This all seemed a bit soft to me but I suspect that for the majority of the population this sort of 'softness' is actually a ringing endorsement. Siegel has made a decidedly complex topic easily readable and provides parents with the tools they need to deal with a historically difficult period of parenthood.

Even more usefully, the doctor doesn't just dole out information but provides mental exercises the reader can perform to help internalize the lesson being taught and make it easier to implement personal changes. His text is also filled with abundant anecdotes from his own practice to reinforce the idea that the situations parents face are far from unique and have been dealt with successfully in the past. All in all this is an exceptionally well-balanced book unless you're looking for something a bit more dense and scientific.

--
Rob Slaven
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WordPress: https://tthread.wordpress.com/ ...more
4

Aug 27, 2014

I'm kind of a Danieal Siegel fan boy. I am unapologetic about this. His work is one of the major factors behind my decision to become a mental health clinician. I think he's a master communicator/educator/popularizer of these hitherto esoteric and complicated ideas i.e. the mind, the brain, mental health, mindfulness etc. I loved the Mindfull Brain and Mindsight and (despite the fact that some of this book is fruity as hell) I think this may be my favorite so far.

People criticize Daniel Siegel I'm kind of a Danieal Siegel fan boy. I am unapologetic about this. His work is one of the major factors behind my decision to become a mental health clinician. I think he's a master communicator/educator/popularizer of these hitherto esoteric and complicated ideas i.e. the mind, the brain, mental health, mindfulness etc. I loved the Mindfull Brain and Mindsight and (despite the fact that some of this book is fruity as hell) I think this may be my favorite so far.

People criticize Daniel Siegel for being "light weight" or for "playing fast and loose with the science" or for being a "neophyte meditator". I think these criticisms are missing the real value of his work. There are plenty of technical, comprehensive and arcane texts on the afore mentioned subjects. If you want complex, precise or difficult there are no shortages of books out there that fit that bill. My advise is to go read those if that's what your wanting. Danieal Siegel's work is all about making these ideas available to a popular audience. And based on his popularity (a tautology I know but bare with me) it's working.

One of the major innovations this book offers is an alternative to the threadbare notion that teenagers are dangerous, narcissistic and irresponsible and adolescence is the trying time every parent must endure.

Dr. Siegel gently flips these veritable truisms on their head by reframing adolescence as an important developmental stage, where adventurous creativity and sets for life set the stage for an adult life that (I'm paraphrasing) isn't dead on the vine. In other words, if our adolescents aren't taking risks and exploring their "one wild life" than there is a serious problem.

Their brains are going through a massive "boom and prune" growth faze. They are more or less hard wired to take risks, explore their boundaries and play whatever cards they are holding.

The trick is to offer them enough differentiated connection to the adult world so that they have opportunities to explore their wild and crazy interests in a safe and sustainable way.

Dr. Siegel takes it one step further and challenges adults (in his typical super soft way) to rekindle what's left of their adolescent joi de vivre in order to stave off the dried up old stuck in a rut grown up shit we all swore we'd avoid when we were that age. That's the real message of the book.

Reader beware, if you looking for a How To Parent Your CRAZY Teen, keep looking. This book challenges the reader to focus on changing and improving the one thing you may be able to change and improve. Yourself. The tacit message is if you do that, than your "crazy" teen just may be positively influenced. At the minimum you'll be less crazy. So there.

Lastly: the book has some major flaws. The most glaring being the portmanteau "mwe" Siegel coined by smashing up the words me and we. Mwe! Don't even fuckin ask me what the fuck he was thinking. Any way. I guess you have to take some risks in order to create. And Dr. Siegel makes up for all of his cringable cheese with some really sweet and authentically deep stuff. So (almost) all is forgiven.
. ...more
2

Jun 15, 2014

There were some interesting things in the book, but I had a few problems with it.
First, the title was wrong. This book dealt primarily with how adults can train their brains to be younger - and not about the teenage brain, which was secondary or even perhaps tertiary. Second, the way this book was written reminded me of a 1980's style. The author loved creating acronyms for everything and describing his ideas based on an alliteration of words. This best descriptions don't always rhyme or begin There were some interesting things in the book, but I had a few problems with it.
First, the title was wrong. This book dealt primarily with how adults can train their brains to be younger - and not about the teenage brain, which was secondary or even perhaps tertiary. Second, the way this book was written reminded me of a 1980's style. The author loved creating acronyms for everything and describing his ideas based on an alliteration of words. This best descriptions don't always rhyme or begin with the same letter - so this was off-putting. I felt that the ability to hone a truth took a backseat to branding. If you love acronyms and alliterations to guide you then great.
Third, making up new names for something else. The one that stands out is "mindsight." What is it? Awareness. You can have internal and external awareness, I mean mindsight." Fourth, there's not a bibliography. This kind of puts an additional damper on treating this book like a well researched scientific dissertation, versus a self-help system pulled from the ether with just enough name dropping to give it a sense of validity.

I gave this two stars and not one because if someone picks this book up to read out of interest to learn more about the human brain - well, that's something. ...more
4

Sep 27, 2013

I received this book through a giveaway on GoodReads. Within the first few pages I was already realizing that my way of thinking was being challenged and changed. This book takes a positive look on the changes of a 'teen brain' but isn't restricted for only that age group, but for adults as well. This is not just a book for parents of teens but anyone who is curious about the changes in the brain and how to deal with them.
1

Mar 09, 2014

The tag line for this book is "the Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain". Thus I expected some profound insights on adolescence. And yes, to be fair, the author did talk about teen behavior and how the brain functions. But I felt that the bulk of this book was made up of "mind sight" exercises - things like breathing techniques, reflection, and other stuff that my teen will never do. If this book had been labeled as such - meditation and breathing exercises for teens, or something like that, The tag line for this book is "the Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain". Thus I expected some profound insights on adolescence. And yes, to be fair, the author did talk about teen behavior and how the brain functions. But I felt that the bulk of this book was made up of "mind sight" exercises - things like breathing techniques, reflection, and other stuff that my teen will never do. If this book had been labeled as such - meditation and breathing exercises for teens, or something like that, my decision to read would have been different.
While the book does have useful info, it was not what I was looking for. ...more
4

Mar 28, 2015

i enjoyed this book despite the fact that i cannot stand the way daniel siegel writes. he means well, i know he does--his earnestness and enthusiasm are in boldface all over every page. but i came to this book looking for information, not a new best friend, so at times it was incredibly difficult to get through. still, there's a lot of good stuff in this book, which came across to me as a kind of one-stop compilation of the latest good science on neurology, brain development, mindfulness, i enjoyed this book despite the fact that i cannot stand the way daniel siegel writes. he means well, i know he does--his earnestness and enthusiasm are in boldface all over every page. but i came to this book looking for information, not a new best friend, so at times it was incredibly difficult to get through. still, there's a lot of good stuff in this book, which came across to me as a kind of one-stop compilation of the latest good science on neurology, brain development, mindfulness, psychotherapy, and the role of physical health in mental well-being. i have a 12yo with the brain of a 19yo, and a 9yo with the brain of a tween, so there's a lot here for me to think about. i often cringe when i read parenting books, since they're invariably written by people doing a much better job of things than i am, but for the most part i found the material presented here, and the structure of its presentation, very helpful and very accessible. if you read much at all about the brain or about mindfulness, you'll encounter a lot of familiar information, but the way its organized and the particular context of this book make it still worth your time. ...more
4

Apr 20, 2018

The discussion of the physiological changes in the brain during this period of growth (12-24) was fascinating and I appreciated the reframing of a negative mindset about adolescence. However, the book as a whole tends to be a bit repetitive and Im not sure how willing an adolescent/teen is going to be to engage in the mindful exercises provided. The discussion of the physiological changes in the brain during this period of growth (12-24) was fascinating and I appreciated the reframing of a negative mindset about adolescence. However, the book as a whole tends to be a bit repetitive and I’m not sure how willing an adolescent/teen is going to be to engage in the mindful exercises provided. ...more
3

Jan 10, 2014

Based on research into actual brain changes, this book defines teenage years as between ages 12-24. This book was written so it could be read by either teenagers or their parents. While somewhat simplified for the benefit of younger readers, the book presents ideas that are helpful to any person (even senior citizens).

I heard Daniel Siegel being interviewed on NPR and instantly ordered a book for myself and one for our daughter-in-law. My husband is always interested in learning more about Based on research into actual brain changes, this book defines teenage years as between ages 12-24. This book was written so it could be read by either teenagers or their parents. While somewhat simplified for the benefit of younger readers, the book presents ideas that are helpful to any person (even senior citizens).

I heard Daniel Siegel being interviewed on NPR and instantly ordered a book for myself and one for our daughter-in-law. My husband is always interested in learning more about brain function. He agreed with me that, since the oldest grandchild was already showing signs of teenage angst, we should buy and send the extra copy. Anything to help the kids survive their children's teenage years.

The book gives detailed explanations of how the teenage brain functions and how it is different from earlier or later years. It helps parents and teenagers recognize the strengths of those drives and how to channel energy into productive behavior. Some sections are general guides for surviving the changes.Some sections about specific (sex, drug use, separation issues, and other teen issues).

Some of the strengths of the teenage brain really should be reactivated as adults, to keep us from becoming set in routine, less willing to step outside our comfort zone. Sections are spent reflecting on past relationships and how to bridge or build better relationships (helpful at any age). Sections are given on how to build a balanced, healthy lifestyle that are also valuable advice for all ages.

Three and a half stars. I would give it 4 stars for the subjects covered (and have already recommended it to several parents with teenagers), three for the simplified writing. I appreciate the reason for that format, but it detracted from some of my reading pleasure. As I read I couldn't help but think that my scientifically-oriented husband may not stick with the book (though he should). The problem? It talks about inner reflection--the bane of the left-brained.

This should not be a book just to read and apply in your evaluation of other people. It should be a book where you learn (or redirect your attention) to reexamine yourself and how you respond to significant others. However, if adults are looking for nothing else than help to survive living with teenagers, this book would be worth the time and effort.

...more
3

May 23, 2015

Brainstorm is a book that deals with a very pertinent topic- understanding adolescent brain. I had picked up the book hoping it would shed light on research in the area of neuroscience of adolescent brain. It did that to certain extent but it tried to do much more and lost the plot. There were nuggets of good information and some strong case studies but there was way too much repetition and meandering thoughts which made it very difficult to get through the book. Particularly irritating were the Brainstorm is a book that deals with a very pertinent topic- understanding adolescent brain. I had picked up the book hoping it would shed light on research in the area of neuroscience of adolescent brain. It did that to certain extent but it tried to do much more and lost the plot. There were nuggets of good information and some strong case studies but there was way too much repetition and meandering thoughts which made it very difficult to get through the book. Particularly irritating were the Mindsight sections interspersed through the book that dealt with mindfulness techniques which really seemed out of place largely because my expectations were different.

Having said that, I am glad I read through the whole book. The chapter at the end had a couple of great case studies that were very insightful. ...more
1

Jan 03, 2014

"The Teenage Brain for Dummies"
I personally was hoping for a science and research-heavy book about adolescent development and brain changes. Maybe that was my mistake, because this book is definitely not any of that. No, it's like a bad self-help book for teens/parents. Definitely not worth the read.
2

Jul 06, 2017

Ugh. I read plenty of books for adults as a teen and still read YA fiction, so I didn't think I would have a problem with a book directed at both adolescents and their parents.... but I did not have the patience for a book that provides labored definitions of basic terms like ambivalence and empathy. I also loathed the illustrations, which were not adolescent but downright juvenile. I want to understand more about adolescence and the teenage brain, but I'm not sufficiently motivated enough to Ugh. I read plenty of books for adults as a teen and still read YA fiction, so I didn't think I would have a problem with a book directed at both adolescents and their parents.... but I did not have the patience for a book that provides labored definitions of basic terms like ambivalence and empathy. I also loathed the illustrations, which were not adolescent but downright juvenile. I want to understand more about adolescence and the teenage brain, but I'm not sufficiently motivated enough to wade through all the stuff designed to make this book's cheesy self-help advice palatable to a thirteen-year-old. ...more
3

Aug 30, 2013

I received this book in a GoodReads Giveaway; this was a galley copy.

I found this book informative, but dry. I enjoyed the sections about how to use the teenage mind's propensity for pleasure and new things in a positive way very enlightening, and was definitely one of the highlights of the book. The beginning I found very drawn out, but it picks up pace and becomes less repetitive in the later chapters. I think Siegel is at his best when explaining the neurology and science behind adolescent I received this book in a GoodReads Giveaway; this was a galley copy.

I found this book informative, but dry. I enjoyed the sections about how to use the teenage mind's propensity for pleasure and new things in a positive way very enlightening, and was definitely one of the highlights of the book. The beginning I found very drawn out, but it picks up pace and becomes less repetitive in the later chapters. I think Siegel is at his best when explaining the neurology and science behind adolescent behaviors in an easily understood way. ...more
2

Jun 22, 2017

An attempt to expand on his previous works, by bringing mindfulness to adolescence. The book fails to choose if it will focus on the adolescent or the parent who is trying to help them, and switches back and forth, without good effect. The parent focused section just tells you to analyze your own up-bringing and resolve your issues. The examples of clients in therapy provided were so mild they don't really seem like they needed therapy. It took me forever to get through because I was determined, An attempt to expand on his previous works, by bringing mindfulness to adolescence. The book fails to choose if it will focus on the adolescent or the parent who is trying to help them, and switches back and forth, without good effect. The parent focused section just tells you to analyze your own up-bringing and resolve your issues. The examples of clients in therapy provided were so mild they don't really seem like they needed therapy. It took me forever to get through because I was determined, but there was no real payoff for finishing. ...more
5

Mar 14, 2017

Appreciated the scientific basis for teenage decision-making and behavior. Also, enjoyed the positive perspective and explanation of unique gifts that teenagers possess at this time of life.
5

Apr 03, 2014

If you ARE an adolescent, LIVE WITH an adolescent, ONCE WERE an adolescent, work with adolescents, or hope to one day nurture any adolescents, I HIGHLY recommend this book. Oh, also, if you don't fit any of the above categories, but you are a human with a brain... This book was absolutely incredible, shed a tremendous amount of light on aspects of my humanity, and, I daresay, was written in such a way that I feel reaches out to my human experience with empathy. I'll be mulling this one over for If you ARE an adolescent, LIVE WITH an adolescent, ONCE WERE an adolescent, work with adolescents, or hope to one day nurture any adolescents, I HIGHLY recommend this book. Oh, also, if you don't fit any of the above categories, but you are a human with a brain... This book was absolutely incredible, shed a tremendous amount of light on aspects of my humanity, and, I daresay, was written in such a way that I feel reaches out to my human experience with empathy. I'll be mulling this one over for an insightful while. ...more
5

Aug 07, 2019

The teenage and adolescent years are the most frustrating years for most of us. Neither are we kids anymore nor are we fully grown-ups.
Personally, I found this age disturbing when all of us were growing to face the real world and yet we were not ready.
Daniel has beautifully explained the psychology of a teenager and the ways to deal with it. This will be helpful for most of the parents who are facing their kids' teenage.
5

Feb 18, 2015

A great book for professionals as well as those seeking professional help. A great read, though there are a few flat bits of meandering prose is more than made up for by the examples and personal insights that are covered in great breadth and depth. Definitely one I pass onto my patients which creates a helpful perspective to therapy.
2

May 26, 2016

It's a good overview of brain development, particularly as it relates to the adolescent. He discusses the pros and cons of the need for exploration and experimentation that is characteristic of teens. There are some great sections on meditation and mindfulness. One thing I really liked is that he wrote the book with both adolescent readers and adult readers in mind.
2

Jul 18, 2014

155.5 SIE All
PLAYER 155.5 SIE All
My review: Basically I read twice, simply because before I finished it I had to return back to library. After I got it from library, I simply feel I could not recall anytime I remember. So I reread it again. Basically I find the main theme of this is how to integrate your brain.

p1 Adolescence 12 -24 years old.
p2 one myth ...is that raging hormones cause teenagers to "go mad" or "lose their minds". That's simply false. ..is primarily the result of changes in 155.5 SIE All
PLAYER 155.5 SIE All
My review: Basically I read twice, simply because before I finished it I had to return back to library. After I got it from library, I simply feel I could not recall anytime I remember. So I reread it again. Basically I find the main theme of this is how to integrate your brain.

p1 Adolescence 12 -24 years old.
p2 one myth ...is that raging hormones cause teenagers to "go mad" or "lose their minds". That's simply false. ..is primarily the result of changes in development of brain.
another myth is the adolescence is simply a time of immaturity and teens just need to "grow up"
a third myth requires moving form dependence on adults to total independence from them.

p4 As Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote: "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become they are capable of being." Adolescence is not a period of being "crazy" or "immature". It is essential time of emotional intensity, social engagement, and creativity. This is the essence of how we "ought to be", of what we are capable of, and of what we need as individuals and as a human family.

p7 Brain changes during the early teen years set up four qualities of our minds during adolescence: novelty seeking, social engagement, increased emotional intensity, and creative exploration.

Part II Your brain
p67 The brain's increased drive for reward in adolescence manifests in teen's lives in 3 important ways: ..increased impulsiveness(counteract by cognitive control); ...increase susceptibility to addiction; hyperrationality.
p70 Research suggests that risky behaviour in adolescent have less to do with hormonal unbalance than with changes in our brain's dopamine reward system combined with the cortical architecture that supports hyperrational decision-making creating the positive bias.
p75 Their decision were a combination of reward drive, peer process, and hyperrational, non-gist thinking....So 2 broad ways that risky behavior emerges in adolescence are hyperrationality, the downplaying of cons of an action, and impulsivity, or simple flying off the handle.
p81 Brain changes is 2 dimensions pruning and myelination:
. One is how it reduces the number of the brain's basic cells, the neurons, the their connections, the synapses. This decreasing of neurons and synapse is called "pruning" and appears to be genetically controlled, shaped by experience and intensified with stress.. During childhood there is an overproduction of neurons and their synaptic connection. The blossoming of neurons begins in utero and extend to pre-pubertal, about 11 year of age in girls and 12 and half in boys. Some pruning begins early as we learn and develop skills, but the removal of our overall number of neurons and their connection reaches its peak during the robust remodeling period of adolescence. In adolescence we prune those excess connections away, leaving the ones we've been using and discarding the ones we don't seems to need anymore. Experience shapes which neural circuits -the neurons and their synaptic connection - will be pruned away. So if you want to have a musical skill, best to star early, before the end of adolescence.
another myelination

Part III Your attachment
p145 Human attachment can be understood as involving four S's: seen; safe; soothed; secure.
Model of attachment: The secure model; The avoidant model; Ambivalent model; Disorganized model. and Reactive model.
Feeling felt is the basis for secure attachment.

Part IV Staying Present through changes and challenges
p217 As as adults supporting adolescents, such changes may challenge us to be open to what is happening, to be receptive and responsive instead reactive, to connect rather than correct. ..
p218 Presence involve being aware of what is happening as it is happening, being receptive to our own inner mental sea, and attuning to the inner life of another person. Being present for others means we resonate with that is going on in their inner mental sea, creating the essential way we feel their feelings. The feeling felt is at the heart of how we can help one another feel seen, safe, soothed and secure. Feeling felt is the basis for secure attachment. It is also the essence of healthy relationships in all domains of our lives.
So often we want to help the people we love to fix their problems. We want to show them how to solve a dilemma, resolve a conflict, or get rid of painful emotions. But in order to give them what they need most of all, which is to make them feel felt and connected with us, we need to not do these well-intended things first and instead simply to be present for our loved one. If we stay attuned to this person and allow the SIFTing that merges to enter us, we can truly resonate with what this other person is sharing about their experience...This is ..challenging, (because parents and adolescents) do not seeing eye to eye. Resonance requires that we let someone's internal feelings enter us and change us.

Mindset Tools #1 Seeing and shaping the sea inside
p40 Mindsight includes 3 fundamental skills:
.insight: ability to sense your own inner mental life. or self-awareness
.empathy: ability to sense the inner mental life another person
.integration: ability to link different parts of something into interconnected whole.
p40 SIFT check inward on Sensation, Image, Feeling, Thought

Mindset Tool #2 Time-in
p119 Breath awareness: (need) regular, daily practice, 12 minutes minimum, 30-40 minutes ideal
http://drdansiegal.com

Mindset Tool #3 Time-Between and Reflective conservation
p211 PART: present, attune,resonate, trust . The PART we play in creating ourselves in relationships.
p215 Listen to what is being said, don't judge. Being open to the other person is essential to let the person feel felt and for you to truly understand what might be going on. One of the hardest elements may be to let go of the notion that you are right, and other person is wrong. Listen, take in the other person's perspective. ...Be sure your are in that receptive hub of your mind before you start, so you can be open to whatever arises in the conversation. There are no rights and wrong in repair, simply a sharing of each person's experience.
...more
2

Dec 03, 2013

"What were you thinking!" is a phrase I repeat often as my son approaches adolescence. After reading Brainstorm, I realize his typical answer of "I don't know" is probably correct. If this knowledge helps our relationship (because I'll try not to roll my eyes and sigh in exasperation), Siegel has accomplished one of his goals.

He also has convinced me to focus on the positive aspects of adolescence and try to nurture my teen's brain development (and, along the way, my own). The book is a "What were you thinking!" is a phrase I repeat often as my son approaches adolescence. After reading Brainstorm, I realize his typical answer of "I don't know" is probably correct. If this knowledge helps our relationship (because I'll try not to roll my eyes and sigh in exasperation), Siegel has accomplished one of his goals.

He also has convinced me to focus on the positive aspects of adolescence and try to nurture my teen's brain development (and, along the way, my own). The book is a refreshing break from the typical harangues about this age group. It's clear that Siegel truly respects teens and feels they can do a great amount of good if steered in the right direction (although this idea can veer toward teens-will-save-the-world hyperbole).

Unfortunately, it took a lot of time and effort to glean these points. If I hadn't received the book in a giveaway, thus felt compelled to review it, I probably would have put it aside or skipped large chunks.

Lack of Science

The book description is misleading. Neurobiology is not the main focus. If it were, the scientific discussions would have received more in-depth coverage. We simply are told that "Science says…" and "Research shows…." Even worse, there's no bibliography or endnotes for readers who want to explore the topics further. Siegel's Parenting from the Inside Out includes sections called "Spotlight on Science," which highlights specific researchers, studies, and results, and "Digging Deeper," which provides resources. It surprises me something similar wasn't included in this book.

Instead, the book is largely self-help. Siegel pulls exercises directly from his book Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. While I appreciate the desire to promote mindfulness (specifically meditating and integrating consciousness), I didn't expect it to be the focus of this book. A more accurate title for Brainstorm would have been Mindsight for Parents and Teens.

Writing Style

Siegel has an annoying tendency to reiterate facts in only slightly different language. I often reread sections thinking I missed something. An example occurs on p. 231:

For any adolescent, the new sensations of romantic interest and sexual arousal can be uncomfortable. When they first arise, their newness and their intensity can be confusing. These feelings can be powerful and exciting, but also overwhelming. And when sexual feelings intensify, they can feel like too much to handle.

It's a sentence thesaurus!

The redundancies may occur because he wants the book to be like a conversation with the reader. The ramblings and repetitions common in a discussion, however, do not make good reading. Perhaps the audio is a better way to "read" this book.

Audience

Siegel wants to address both adult and adolescent readers. This leads to jarring shifts from "we" to "them" to "you," sometimes within one paragraph. The writing is best when he addresses parents and he should've stuck to this. Surely any teen precocious enough to read this book would have been able to apply the information to his or her life without being told how.

Overall Structure

After looking at Parenting from the Inside Out, I believe Brainstorm would have benefitted greatly from a similar structure. The lack of a basic introduction mean that information about the purpose of the book, who the audience is, and how to read it, are sprinkle throughout leading to redundancies. PFIO also includes short introduction to each chapter. Brainstorm would have especially benefitted from these because it's designed to be read in any order. And, as already mentioned, "Spotlight on Science" and "Digging Deeper" information is sorely missed.

Rating

It's ok (2 stars). It was saved from being one star by Siegel's obvious enthusiasm and hopeful tone, as well as the useful information that will help me comprehend and navigate my child's adolescence. ...more
2

Jan 27, 2014

I received a copy of Brainstorm from Goodreads First Reads.

Brainstorm was more spiritual than I expected. I was looking forward to concrete examples of how to get my future kids in shape for the world, and I got breathing and meditation exercises instead. As a practicing psychiatrist, Siegel is very knowledgeable on the topic of adolescence, and its his clinical stories that I found most interesting; however, this book reads more like a textbook than anything else, and even though Siegel wrote I received a copy of Brainstorm from Goodreads First Reads.

Brainstorm was more spiritual than I expected. I was looking forward to concrete examples of how to get my future kids in shape for the world, and I got breathing and meditation exercises instead. As a practicing psychiatrist, Siegel is very knowledgeable on the topic of adolescence, and it’s his clinical stories that I found most interesting; however, this book reads more like a textbook than anything else, and even though Siegel wrote this for both adolescents and adults, I’m not sure if these age groups (especially the prior one) can relate to what he’s written.

Introduction
Most of us think of the period of adolescence – between the ages of twelve and twenty-four – as when our hormones go haywire and we do stupid things; “those crazy kids,” people shake their heads and say. Siegel aims to elucidate the challenges and benefits of that period of our growth and explain why adolescents feel the way they do by examining changes in the brain. As a book for both adolescents and adults, he provides Mindsight Tools as guidance for obtaining mindful awareness and a healthier mind and body.

Discussion
Brainstorm is divided up into four sections, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t like. I felt that sometimes the transition from subtopic to subtopic was a bit sudden, since this book isn’t tied together by a single “story.” I enjoyed reading about Siegel’s patients because it puts what he’s saying in perspective, so I wish that there were more real-world examples than explanations and facts.

Likewise, the four Mindsight Tools – which applies the concepts learned from each section – were useful at times and too abstract for me at others. For example, Siegel provides an awareness exercise (which he also has audio for online) that’s basically meditation, and I’m not sure how adolescents feel about actually doing it. I personally remember being subjected to a similar exercise when I was in my teens, and some kids actually fell asleep during the exercise. With that said, my favorite Mindsight Tools is the last one, in which Siegel describes seven activities (downtime, playtime, sleep time, etc.) that “keep your body healthy, your mind strong, and your brain continuing to grow in integrative ways throughout your life.”

And as a book catered to two different populations of readers, I think Brainstorm is more adept at reaching the adult population than the adolescent population. The writing style in this book makes it feel like a lecture given by a professor with a very soothing voice that makes me bored and sleepy at times. When Siegel talks about his young patients or his adolescent children, his voice inevitably shifts to that of an adult, and it makes him a little bit harder to relate to.

I also wish that this book provided more detailed references to studies and scientific methods; often the phrase “science has proven that…” is given, and I think the studies themselves would’ve been interesting to read about too.

For me, the best parts of Brainstorm are the comics that are interspersed throughout the text. They’re simple, cute, and witty, and made the book more enjoyable to read.



Conclusion
Overall, Brainstorm explains the workings of the adolescent mind in a somewhat abstract way, and I wish that there were more concrete examples and detailed explanations of the research in this area. However, there were stories that I could relate to and sections and graphics that I enjoyed, so I did learn something from this book. (Oh, and I learned how to make a brain with my hand! That was pretty cool.)

Paper Breathers (Book Reviews & Discussions) ...more
2

May 01, 2016

Talk about bait-and-switch. I thought that this was a neuroscience book; it was rather a reminiscence on mindfulness that read like a Buddhist self-help book with some science sprinkled throughout. This is not to say that it had no redeeming qualities; rather, such qualities should have taken up most of the book.

As a teacher, I was curious about adolescent development and motivation. Siegel mentions, for example, how pitching anti-smoking campaigns as resistance against brainwashing Talk about bait-and-switch. I thought that this was a neuroscience book; it was rather a reminiscence on mindfulness that read like a Buddhist self-help book with some science sprinkled throughout. This is not to say that it had no redeeming qualities; rather, such qualities should have taken up most of the book.

As a teacher, I was curious about adolescent development and motivation. Siegel mentions, for example, how pitching anti-smoking campaigns as resistance against brainwashing corporations is more effective than identifying health risks associated with smoking as a deterrent to teen smoking. This was fascinating. I was excited to learn why, neurologically and psychologically, this was the case. Instead, Siegel simply moved on. Later, he describes a teenaged client who is struggling with alcohol abuse. The conclusion is that Siegel hopes that she gets help. What? Although I am rather young and have been told by my colleagues that "you can only hope for the best," that "there is no guide to raising children," Siegel clearly disagrees, otherwise he would have not written a self-help book for teens and the adults interacting with them. I was looking for incisive scientific insight into how to help teens recognize proper courses of action or at least how to benevolently manipulate them. Unfortunately, I was told over and over again using slightly different wording that adolescents have a lot to offer. Of course, how to get them to actually offer their gifts to meaningful pursuits is left to the reader to determine.

I will end with a summary of the last section of the book:

Siegel's son moves back in after college. He does not do the dishes. Siegel's wife has a talk with him about the importance of keeping things clean. Son has friends over that same day and leaves dishes everywhere, including the floor. Siegel returns home and after an unproductive conversation, tells son that the house is not "his." Siegel feels regret about this despite the fact that legally and financially, the son indeed has no ownership over the house. Siegel has conversation with son about this issue, and son suggests that Siegel has some unresolved psychological distress about this issue from his adolescence.

The End.

I still want to know what the f*** happened to the dishes and how Siegel resolved the actual issue, which was -- as far as I could tell -- an adolescent who refused to accept clearly communicated rules.

If you think I am missing the point, read this book. If you are wondering about the dishes, save yourself the trouble. ...more
1

Feb 04, 2015

The idea was interesting, to observe the traits of adolescence from the perspective of the brain. After finishing the book, I think I do a little more things about teens, but I do not know whether it was worth the whole time it took me to read it.

PROS:
The writer has many years of experience working with adolescents and shows passion about his profession and field of studies.

CONS:
Honestly speaking the book feels like an almost desperate attempt from the author to popularize his ideas and methods The idea was interesting, to observe the traits of adolescence from the perspective of the brain. After finishing the book, I think I do a little more things about teens, but I do not know whether it was worth the whole time it took me to read it.

PROS:
The writer has many years of experience working with adolescents and shows passion about his profession and field of studies.

CONS:
Honestly speaking the book feels like an almost desperate attempt from the author to popularize his ideas and methods of psychology. It feels as if half of this book was unnecessary to complete the original thesis. The reader will find himself wondering whether he mistakenly chose a book on psychological therapy or if the author is trying to sell him something. I got fed up with the "wheel of awareness," the mindsight, and the unsubstantial acronyms that the author uses. I feel that the book is unnecessarily long (just check the introduction) and the same content could have been delivered more effectively had the author given up on his attempts to "sell himself." Lastly, I felt many times the desire to stop reading, but I just have the personality that needs to finish something once I have started it; if you really want to know about adolescence, I am pretty confident you can find better sources than this one. ...more
4

Jan 04, 2014

I think it's a tremendously important book for parents of teens and preteens to read and a pretty compelling read even if you don't have skin the game, parenting-wise. Dr. Siegel walks the reader through the "Whys" of the adolescent brain, not to mention the "Huhs?" and the "CAN YOU PLEASE STOP DOING THAT YOU ARE MAKING ME INSANES" (Sorry; they can't). The science is up to date and chewy but not overwhelming and it will give the reader a real sympathy and understanding for the degree to which I think it's a tremendously important book for parents of teens and preteens to read and a pretty compelling read even if you don't have skin the game, parenting-wise. Dr. Siegel walks the reader through the "Whys" of the adolescent brain, not to mention the "Huhs?" and the "CAN YOU PLEASE STOP DOING THAT YOU ARE MAKING ME INSANES" (Sorry; they can't). The science is up to date and chewy but not overwhelming and it will give the reader a real sympathy and understanding for the degree to which adolescence is both necessary and, ultimately, positive. They have to do what they do, act how they act, in order to grow into fully-formed adults. Dr. Siegel also gives real concrete suggestions for how to improve communication with your teen and help them use this lovely weird new brain in positive and not destructive ways. This is good stuff, people,

(Disclosure: Dr. Siegel and I share a publishing house and I received a prepublication copy from Penguin.) ...more

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