Faith, Madness, and Spontaneous Human Combustion: What Immunology Can Teach Us About Self-Perception
Publish Date: 2002-01-03
Author: Gerald N. Callahan
Personal, poetic, and anchored by research, Faith, Madness, and Spontaneous Human Combustion is a provocative look at the startling ways in which modern science shapes our identities.
At the heart of modern medical science lies the soul of self-perception. In this book, scientist and poet Gerald Callahan reveals what science has uncovered, sometimes unwittingly, about us-where we begin, how we grow, why we die, and what comes afterward. An immunologist, Callahan dissects the immune system to reveal its most intimate underpinnings-the selves hidden inside our thymuses, the pieces of others lodged in our lymph nodes, the gift of human death, and the fires that burn inside our bodies. From the seemingly sterile voice of science come the words that define each of us.
We are singular men and women only because we have immune systems. When immune systems fail, people disappear, and in their places arise communities of living things. Buried inside our genes and our lymphocytes science has found faith and love, madness, and the fierceness of human beings.
In Faith, Madness, and Spontaneous Human Combustion, Callahan uses research and personal anecdotes to examine these complex issues, proving ultimately that rigorous scientific facts can be intensely intimate.