Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Explaining Humans:What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships, by Camilla Pang

Penguin Books LTD, March 2020

Camilla Pang, at age eight, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and not long after, she asked her mother if there was an instruction manual for humans. Sadly, there wasn't, so she decided to make her own, and started taking notes.

She now has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and takes a delightfully analytical approach to deconstructing and explaining human behavior. It's startling, but illuminating, to look at human social behavior from the viewpoint of how proteins in our cells behave--individuality, teamwork, and adaptability, and the ways acting more like those proteins can help us live happier, more productive lives.

She's got a lot to say, and it's lively, interesting, understandable, and a total geeky delight.

I've always found human beings strange and difficult to understand, but until very recently, no one thought I should be evaluated for autism. No, I should just stop being difficult, and pay attention to what people are saying and otherwise indicating. Listening to Camilla Pang talk about the challenges of figuring out how to navigate the neurotypical world, even with a diagnosis and a supportive family, is illuminating and helpful. I will say we do have very different personalities, I'm sure partly innate and partly due to the difference in our ages, resulting diagnosis being more available and likely than when I was eight years old.

This book is not addressed only to the neurodivergent, but also the neurotypical, and I think will be an enjoyable and useful listen for anyone interested in human nature. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

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