Book Reviews:

As we launch NLDline, we will review books once a month at first, because there are only a few on the specific subject of NLD.  This month we are sending along the review of Robert Ornstein's new book, The Right Mind.

The Right Mind

A Book Review by Judy Lewis

Robert Ornstein’s asymmetrical brain goes to work for us in his newest work: The Right Mind. His left brain does its job well. For those of us interested in nonverbal learning disorders (NLD), this small, tightly-packed tome (176pp) invites us in to glean a myriad of important neurological details - tidbits in each chapter that unveil themselves to reveal a step-by-step construction of each side of the brain, along with a laundry list of unique jobs done by that particular hemisphere. His right brain comes through as well; by the time we reach his all-important chapter 8, we thoroughly understand the clearly defined, broader implications of "text" and "context."

Ornstein begins his work by simply laying out "a developmental timeline" of the way the two sides of the brain organize themselves. This history describes the biological and physiological complexities of the "small differences early on" which take place in the developmental process of the fetus. The author goes on to show the critical role in hemispheric specialization, giving us an easy metaphor to understand NLD: a myopia or nearsightedness of the right hemisphere, which "blurs" the figures and "removes its needed requirements, thus leaving that side of the brain impaired -- unable to "see" the general picture of life (the "context").

Continuing, Ornstein tells us that in those with right hemispheric impairment (synonymous with NLD), the precise job of the right side of the brain cannot be adequately performed, so individuals must endure a foggy view of the contextual side of life. The emerging profile is one we know all too well. While this individual may have an excellent grasp of the details of a narrative or a situation (Ornstein’s left brain "text"), he or she will have a poor grasp of the conceptual, broader view (Ornstein’s right brain "context") and therefore will have trouble making sense of the world.

The Right Mind is clearly written and fast-paced, a must read for those interested in nonverbal learning disorders (NLD). It will clarify questions we have all asked about this puzzling syndrome and bring home in three words the understanding of the responsibilities of the left and right hemispheres: "text and context."

"Robert Ornstein is the author of dozens of books, including The Psychologoy of Consciousness, The Healing Brain (with David Sobel), The Amazing Brain, and Healthy Pleasures (with David Sobel).  He lives in Los Altos, California." The Right Mind was Published in 1997 by Harcourt Brace & Company, 15 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010 ISBN # 0-15-100324-6

Judy Lewis has a private practice in tutoring and in educational consulting. She is the co-founder of Chartwell School, Vice President of SHARE Support, Inc. and the creator and Webmaster of NLDline..