why we snap book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in your Brain is an interesting and detailed account of what potentially causes humans to snap. R. Douglas Fields is well versed in the study of the brain as an expert in the field of neuroscience and explains the patterns and triggers of rage in a conversational and anecdote filled project that will allow for the casual reader to gain a grasp on how the brain processes the rage emotion. While the stories and examples do allow for the research and explanation to be easily followed, there are of course some scientific points and data that speak more on an expert level. Dr. Fields is a careful writer that successfully manages to turn a lot of research into a well-crafted work of non-fiction. If this book were written in a different fashion, most readers, not in the field or familiar with the study, would probably put the book down.

The book identifies nine triggers that appear to be the root cause of why we snap as humans. These triggers can help identify why people are moved to freak out, act violently out of character or even perform heroic deeds. The triggers are seemingly basic and Dr. Fields does draw many a comparison to the animal kingdom as well. The triggers are fairly self-explanatory and are as follows: Life-or-Limb, Insult, Family, Environment, Mate, Order in Society, Resources, Tribe and Stopped. Any one of these triggers can be responsible for causing rage and can also show up in a combination. Some of the stories in the book are of course upsetting, but they do make you think and wonder often, “just what happened at the moment to cause this”. Each of the nine triggers are well-defined and come in anecdotes throughout the book. Dr. Fields also uses many interviews and stories from Navy SEALS that showcase how these triggers can also be applied or acted upon in a non-violent way and rather as motivation or instinctual motivation to act selflessly.

Why We Snap is an engaging and thought provoking read that will cause the reader to stop and ask themselves questions about their own behavior or even pay attention to others patterns more closely. Some of the stories do cause the book to read a bit like a violent news report, but the reason for their inclusion is obviously critical to the work.

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Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.wordpress.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Dutton. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.