Me, Myself, and Why

Inga Dellea-MessnerJust think for a minute: What is, and what makes, your identity?

Me, Myself and Why

“Me, Myself, and Why” by Jennifer Ouellette is available from the library in hardcover.

Is it physical appearance? Inclinations and propensities? Whether we’re good at math or reading?

Are we what we seem, or what we see in the mirror? Can we be the virtual selves we create online? Can I truly be a male if I’m born female?

How much of me is determined by genes vs. society vs. my environment?

How does my mind work?

In her mind-boggling Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self,  Jennifer Oullette approaches identity from these angles and others. She discusses genes; gender and sexual orientation; outward relations with other people and even with objects, real and virtual. She also discusses the effects psychedelic drugs such as LSD have on one’s concept of self and what drugs can show us about the “I” in general.

I opened the book hoping to find life-changing answers about myself, my life, and love. I was thrilled to encounter not impractical, overgeneralized pseudoscience but a literary journey through the messy and winding maze that is the human “I.”

This book is jam-packed with knowledge and perfect for the scientific mind, but you need not fear if you have no background in psychology. I advise you to take your time, though! She gives a LOT to digest. That being said, I found Oullette’s writing extremely clear and remarkably succinct.

A personal journey
The author also maintains a balance between personal anecdote, subjective analysis, and raw fact.

For much of the book, Oullette takes the reader by the hand on her own expedition.  In her words:

You want to know who I am?
Let me tell you a story . . .

And so she does. We accompany her through discoveries about her birth parents, having her brain mapped, psychological testing, LSD trips, her one and only binge-drinking experience . . . even the loss of a dear friend. She’s just too smart to expect us to “get” the science of  identity without disclosing a little of herself.

So whether you’re a budding psychologist or simply introspective, new to the science of self or already immersed, be sure to give Me, Myself, and Why a try. You could be pleasantly surprised at what you may not have pondered—yet.

[Editor’s note: Today we welcome Inga Dellea-Messner as a Next Great Read reviewer. Also, mark your calendar for Wednesday, April 16: From 12 noon to 5 pm you can go to www.facebook. com/nashuapubliclibrary, post the titles of three books you’ve enjoyed, and our librarians will suggest a book for you to read next.]

About Inga Dellea-Messner

Library Assistant Inga Dellea-Messner grew up in Windham and Hudson. She worked at the Rodgers Memorial Library for seven years before becoming a library assistant at the Nashua Public Library. On her way to earning her bachelor’s degree from Keene State, she spent five months studying French in Bretagne (Brittany).

Comments are closed.