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Books, Journals, New Media
September 25, 2002

Human BiologyThe Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 2002;288(12):1531-1532. doi:10.1001/jama.288.12.1531-JBK0925-4-1

How wondrous and strange is the human being, whose emotions and inspirations have given equal pause to the poet, philosopher, and priest, but who has in the past century become bound within the disciplines of psychology, biology, and neuroscience. Spiritual, aesthetic, and emotional phenomena that have lent themselves to abstraction and metaphor are now explained by hormonal imbalances, neurotransmitter dysequilibrium, and the like. The ways we listen to music, see light and color, and express anger and compassion have been illuminated by the investigations of psychiatrists and neuroscientists—often to the ire of those who feel something is lost by the application of dispassionate empirical methods to what for centuries has resided outside the realm of the scientific.

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