Mood: The Key To Understanding Ourselves And Others by Patrick M. Burke (book review).

December 21, 2013 | By | Reply More

Patrick M. Burke’s book ‘Mood: The Key To Understanding Ourselves And Others’ looks at what makes us depressed or happy, not to mention the multitude of emotions in between. Much of your moods depends on the release of hormones which no doubt explains the variety of drugs that can be used to bring you down or up.


Oddly, I found this an awfully fast book to read. Whether this is because I have some familiarity with the subject or because a lot of the technical info doesn’t always sink in. Burke, according to the back of the book, writes scientific articles for medical publications and this reflects in the style of writing so it might not be a good book for the layperson.

The most obvious thing from this book is how much our moods depend on the hormones we release. It is the disproportionate release of them that causes various ailments like bi-polar and anxiety stress where certain drugs can be used to readjust this. If I’ve understood Burke correctly, using lithium-based drugs, speeds up certain sodium-based hormones, ergo you want to move past a mood than retard or stay within it.

One thing I couldn’t sort out is do our personalities affected by the hormones or do our reactions create them. I suspect there is either a bit of each before one pushes further than it should. This might explain when watching a weepie movie, a lot of people can’t help being affected and then it propagates the mood. Burke does point out that empathy spreads the response to other people about you in such situations because you’re sharing the same experience although I still think some sort of herd reflex ensures this.

Something I can add from being a type one diabetic and anxieties associated with it is because if your blood sugar drops suddenly, as with hypoglycaemia, or go into a coma, you are dependent on others to know what to do and after a couple near misses when you find out they aren’t, I’d defy any diabetic not to be a little apprehensive around people who don’t realise the danger you can be in.

Although you’re not likely to come away from this book thinking you’ll understand how your moods work, understanding what hormones are involved in what feeds them to work will give you a better idea of the biochemistry involved. If you don’t understand chemistry then this book might not be for you. Finding out how little control over emotional mood reactions might also confer in you than we’re all pretty much the same.

GF Willmetts

December 2013

(pub: Prometheus Books. 233 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $18.95 (US), $20.00 (CAN), £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61614-833-1. Ebook: $12.99/ISBN: 978-1-61614-834-8)

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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