Robert Ornstein
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Newest Publications:
With Paul R. Ehrlich
Available Now!

A project under the direction of Robert Ornstein with contributions from associates of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge.

"The future depends on how we understand who we are, and how the past has made us so: what is unchanging about Human Nature, and what we CAN and MUST change to face a world that is far different from our ancestors'". From the Introduction,

The All About Me is a series of books to help young people understand themselves and how we all, as a human beings, work. This is fundamental information, but we often forget to teach students about it in school. The series provides an all-inclusive program designed to meet the American Psychological Association's National Standards for Psychology at the high school level, the standards established for the College Board AP Psychology course, and the National Board Standards for Science/Adolescent and Young Adulthood. Focused on the mind, each text provides a set of lessons and various activities that teach sophisticated brain research in an accessible and interesting way. Edited by Robert Ornstein and Denise Nessel, with a Foreword by Robert Ornstein.

For more information please visit:

Humanity on a Tightrope

Paul R. Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein
ISBN 1-4422-0648-9 / 978-1-4422-0648-9
Price: $22.95 (hb) 210pp
Available in English

When we think of family, we most often think of our sisters and brothers, our cousins and grandparents, rather than our world family or even our community connections. We still identify with our differences more than our similarities, unless it's convenient to do otherwise. Here, two seasoned authors tackle the question of family and what it means to us now and how it might change to help us address the problems that affect us all.

"With stark examples such as Rwanda to serve as warnings, Ehrlich and Ornstein segue into chapters on 'building the global family.' While political watchers may find it impossible to believe we could ever see beyond the smallest of differences, the authors remain hopeful and offer plenty of evidence that change will come, simply because the twenty-first century requires it. Thoughtful and sincere, this is a solid evidentiary presentation of an all-too-often emotional topic."-Booklist

"In this compact, thought-provoking book, well-known authors Paul Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein have collaborated to lay out a blueprint for our survival in this globalized world. We got away with attitudes of 'us vs. them' in the past; we can no longer get away with those attitudes today."-Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography at UCLA, and Pulitzer-prize-winning author of best-selling books including Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse

"How do we know who is a relative? If you're a rat, it's easy-there's instinctual recognition by smell. But it's hard for humans, because amid us figuring it out rationally, a sludge of emotions helps determine who feels like an Us and who like a Them. In this superb book, Ehrlich and Ornstein explore the evolutionary biology, brain science, anthropology and psychology of how a Them can become an Us, how we can expand our sense of empathy, family and relatedness. But the book is more than merely a masterful and readable review of the subject. It is also a clarion call about what will happen if we don't get better at turning Them's into Us's. This is a deeply important book."óRobert Maurice Sapolsky, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience, Stanford University; author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers and A Primate's Memoir

"The weighty question of whether a truly unified human family is possible deserves an equally weighty analysis. Thank goodness, then, for this profoundly important book."-Robert B. Cialdini, Author, Influence: Science and Practice

"These guys, not for the first time, have cut to the heart of the problem we face. And do not for a moment think it can't be done. Last year at we organized 5,200 simultaneous rallies in 181 countries to demand scientific action on climate change-we can work globally, but we've got to think through precisely the problems outlined here."-Bill McKibben, Author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Meditation and Modern Psychology

Robert Ornstein
ISBN 978-1-933779-63-8
Price: $15.99 (pb)
Available in English

This new 2008 edition is available now from Malor Books. It is a reprinting of the authoritative essay written in 1971 from the volume of work entitled Psychology of Meditation by Claudio Naranjo and Robert E. Ornstein.

This new Malor book edition examines meditation from two perspectives: first that of religions and philosophies such as Zen, Yoga and from the Sufis and Christian mystics, and second from the modern psychologist's point of view -- what is happening neurophysiologically and what is the resulting experience?

By looking at meditation from both points of view, Ornstein produces a modern scientific view - one sympathetic to the practice and enables the reader to appreciate and understand meditation as a tool which, under the right direction, leads to a different mode of perception.

Robert Ornstein, Ph.D., has written more than twenty books on the brain, mind, and consciousness since the publication of the first edition of this book in 1971. This work emphasizes our urgent need and ability to develop perceptions beyond our human inheritance.

"I wrote this essay in 1970, when meditation was a curiosity, known only to a few tie-dyed people and, of course, The Beatles...this book now looks like a good basic introduction to the high-tech research that followed." --Robert Ornstein, from the Preface to the 2008 edition

"This book is thoroughly worth buying, and reading-with a pencil. We desperately need what the book is talking about and showing to be a real possibility. We can no longer ignore the impressive testimony to the nature of consciousness that is coming from a convergence of the mentalities of the East and the West. The freeing of consciousness is a most urgent need of our time." - SEBASTIAN MOORE, The Critic

"This book is the first scientific treatment of meditation that is really good. If you're a meditator and want your worldview expanded, this will help. If you're a scientist and want your worldview expanded, this will do it." - CHARLES T. TART, The Last Whole Earth Catalog



How the Mind Creates its Own Virtual Reality
Written by Robert Ornstein
Contributions by Ted Dewan
ISBN: 978-1-933779-39-3
Price: $27.99 (hb)
Order MindReal

"The mind is nothing like what youíve been taught to believe. There are many different access routes into it, and understanding its overall simplifications and policies can make you operate better and more effectively manage yourself and your own thought processes, as well as manage other people." -- From MindReal

This is a book that shows, in simple detail, one of the most startling findings of modern science: We donít experience the world as it is, but as virtual reality. And while much of the latest scientific work demonstrates this, as do many of the classical psychological illusions, it is an important meeting point for students of the mind, brain, philosophy and religion because, as we can now see in light of this book, all these disciplines begin at the same place.

This is not an abstruse treatise, but part graphic novel and part direct address. It allows the reader a breakthrough understanding of the mind which is not available anywhere else. It is, in part, a summa of Dr. Ornsteinís research and writing of the past 35 years (with pieces and references to many of his works) as well as a seminal introduction to new readers.

Advance review of MindReal

" excellent read for people who have read Ornstein...for those who haven't, an excellent introduction to his work." -- Charles Swencionis, Ph.D., Director of Ph.D. program in Clinical Health Psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The Amazing Brain

The Amazing Brain

Robert Ornstein and Richard F. Thompson
Illustrated by David Macaulay
Hardback and Paperback
Available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Japanese.

Whether viewed as a biological organ, an incredible machine, a supercomputer, or simply a miracle, the human brain is surely one of the most amazing things in the universe -- and the more we find out about it, the more amazing it becomes. Beginning with the simplest view of brain anatomy, mechanisms, and processes, and making use of the most up-to-date research available, The Amazing Brain takes the reader on a visual and intellectual exploration into the history, evolution, construction, and chemical and electrical operation of the only object we know of that is able to contemplate, study, and describe itself.

The text is brilliantly accessible, and the illustrated essays and many drawings by David Macaulay provide both an actual and a metaphorical picture of the brain that makes even its most hidden secrets not only comprehensive but filled with beauty as well. This book is an exciting adventure for the layman and a sound introduction for the serious student.

Richard F. Thompson, formerly professor of psychology at Harvard, is now professor of psychology and human biology at the University of Southern California. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

David Macaulay is the author and illustrator of a number of books, including Cathedral, Castle, City, and Unbuilding, all of which have been widely praised by the critics.

Praise for The Amazing Brain

"The clarity they [Ornstein and Thompson] offer is enhanced by the wonderfully detailed illustrations of David Macaulay that take us to the surreal landscape of the interior of the brain." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Fascinating study of the human brain. While the text is accessible . . . it is the illustrations that separate this book from others." -- Library Journal

"A fascinating approach, combining a light and whimsical text accompanied by the stunning drawings and illustrations of artist David Macaulay." -- Greensboro News and Record

The Axemaker's Gift

The Axemaker's Gift

A Double-Edged History of Human Culture
James Burke and Robert Ornstein
Hardback and Paperback
Available in English, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese.

This book is about the people who gave us the world in exchange for our minds . . .

At the close of this century of creativity and discovery, humanists and scientists alike wonder: How could human beings in all their brilliance -- those "axemakers" with the genius to invent, lead, inspire, heal, design -- have brought the world to the brink of destruction?

The answers can be found in The Axemaker's Gift, an imaginative and brilliantly informed double-edged history of human culture. James Burke, a leading expert on the interaction of technology and society, and Robert Ornstein, a pioneer in charting the evolution of consciousness, show how the interaction between innovation and the brain has continually reshaped the world and, more important, the way we think.

Using the whole of human history and Western culture as its canvas, this magnificent book shows how, at each major stage of innovation, from the first stone axe to the supercomputers of today's world, those few with the capacity for sequential analysis (the axemakers) generated technologies that gave them the power with which to control and shape the rest of their community. The other, older kinds of knowledge, born of intuition and the brain's multiple nonverbal talents, were undervalued and largely ignored. Now, the authors say, the cumulative effects of axemaker technology have brought us to the point where it is possible -- and imperative for our survival -- to bring back into use those ancient forms of knowledge, still resident in the non-axemaker cultures of the modern world.

Once in an era, a book comes along that changes the way we think about ourselves, our culture, and our future. Brilliant, radical, and extraordinary in its range, The Axemaker's Gift poses the right questions at a critical moment and begins to find the right answers. It offers a sophisticated and original way to recapture hope for the future.

James Burke is an award-winning television host, author, and educator, best known for his extremely successful PBS series Connections. He has hosted many other PBS series on topics such as the Greenhouse Effect, Renaissance painting and the human brain, as well as the recent Connections (2). He is the author of the best-selling companion books to Connections and other series, including The Day the Universe Changed, and is a regular columnist for Scientific American. He lectures around the world and divides his time between London and France.

Having trained as an engineer and taught physics, Ted Dewan became a professional illustrator and cartoonist in 1988. He has illustrated nonfiction children's books, including Inside Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures and Inside the Whale and Other Animals, the latter of which won him the Mother Goose Award in 1992. The Axemaker's Gift is his third illustrated book with Robert Ornstein.

Praise for The Axemaker's Gift

"The Axemaker's Gift compresses millions of years of human history into an exciting page-turner. Familiar events emerge from the narrative with sparkling freshness, interpreted by the authors' keen intelligence and vast knowledge of human behavior. It is a book that defines some of the central issues of our times." -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow

"The book is a triumph. I don't think there's been anything like it in its combination of erudition of the highest order and of penetrating forward thinking of similar quality." -- Robert Cialdini, author of Influence.

"Their account of the development of human culture is a genuine tour de force. Burke and Ornstein's description of the emergence of writing - enabling the manipulation and modeling of the world in radical new ways - is an especially brilliant syntheses." San Francisco Chronicle

"A detailed, original and persuasive reading of cultural and intellectual history." Los Angeles Times

"This fascinating new book tells a gripping story about how we humans have used our minds throughout history in a way that has led to both our biggest successes and our biggest problems. And the book ends with a provocative suggestion about how modern information technologies may, paradoxically, embody both the ultimate fruits of this approach and the seeds of its transcendence." -- Thomas W. Malone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This unusual and readable book traces the history of science and invention from the first axemakers until today. It is about the inseparable consequences of good and evil that come from our inventions." -- Professor James Lovelock, author of Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine

The Evolution of Consciousness

The Evolution of Consciousness

Of Darwin, Freud, and Cranial Fire -- The Origins of the Way We Think
Robert Ornstein
Hardback and Paperback
Available in English, German, Spanish and Swedish.

The Evolution of Consciousness is nothing less than a fundamental challenge to our assumptions about the human mind and how it works. It represents the culmination of Robert Ornstein's lifelong research on the structure and function of the human brain and is destined to become a classic.

In the twenty years since Robert Ornstein first published his groundbreaking The Psychology of Consciousness, the world has changed dramatically and so has our place in it. In order to survive in our world, Ornstein believes that we must do nothing less than redirect our minds. As he says, "There will be no further evolution without conscious evolution." But first we must understand from the dawn of evolution how our minds developed.

In a provocative and entertaining style and drawing on the most up-to-date evolutionary science, Ornstein puts forth a number of challenging, even revolutionary ideas. To explain the central mystery of the mind -- why we are so advanced relative to our nearest ancestors -- Ornstein posits that the human mind is an accident of nature. Our cortex enlarged to keep the brain cool and once that happened, extra cells became available to be recruited for other as-yet-unforeseen functions, such as writing operas, inventing microchips, and creating smog.

We learn that we are adaptive, not rational, and that Darwin -- not Freud -- is the central scientist of the modern mind. Our minds, like all else on the Earth, evolved to help us survive in our environment -- to get food, avoid danger, and find the right mate -- not to reason why. This adaptive mind, which tries to make sense of the world, uses the same process at all times, whether it is dreaming at night, recollecting our childhoods, or imagining a new home. Dreams and memories are illusions, constructs made in much the same way anthropologists construct whole beasts from a bone or two.

And Ornstein explodes the myth of the "self." We think our conscious mind, "the self," is in control, but in fact it is a small isolated part of the mind, sometimes called into play by consciousness, most often on the sidelines. We have many minds that shift into place, and "we" are not the same person from moment to moment, not the same "self" at all.

The Evolution of Consciousness offers a challenging new perspective. The world we adapted to is gone and we need to do nothing less than adapt anew. A tribal mind has no place in a global world.

Here is science as narrative. Full of wonderful examples, stories, and passion -- and illustrated throughout -- The Evolution of Consciousness is a major achievement.

Praise for The Evolution of Consciousness

"Every few years one comes across a book that will change one's thinking forever, and this is one such book. A most incredible work of synthesis and insight . . . [The Evolution of Consciousness] could be the first work of a new Bible, read again and again by those who search for a wise and intelligent future." -- Stuart Whitwell, Booklist

"One of those rare books that are so profoundly exciting they raise the hairs on the back of your neck." -- James Burke, author of The Day the Universe Changed

"A fascinating and eminently readable description of how our minds have evolved to cope with -- and create -- our world. As Ornstein shows, the successive adaptions of our 'monkey brains' help explain not only how we act today but also how we need to approach key problems in our increasingly technological society." -- Thomas W. Malone, Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Information Systems, Sloan School of Management, MIT

"Draws together such an abundance of exciting information from so many different sources that the reader is transported years ahead of current thinking and understanding. This breakthrough book sets the stage for a new era in science and in society, about where we come from and how we might remake our minds to overcome the perils we face. A tour de force!" -- Stephen LaBerge, Stanford University, author of Lucid Dreaming

The Healing Brain

The Healing Brain

Breakthrough Discoveries About How the Brain Keeps Us Healthy
Robert Ornstein and David Sobel
Hardback & Paperback
Available in English, German, Japanese, Norwegian and Spanish.

A celebrated neurobiologist and a physician specializing in preventive medicine take us on an intriguing, fact-filled exploration of the myriad healing powers of the brain. Ornstein and Sobel show us how the brain constantly interacts with the body, changing its responses to experience.

Combining the cutting edge of neurological research with holistic health concerns, The Healing Brain is smart and, above all, wonderfully healthy reading.

David Sobel, M.D., MPH, is director of patient education and health promotion for Kaiser-Permanente Medical Care Program in Northern California. He has written seven books including Healthy Pleasures and The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook, both of which are co-authored with Ornstein.

Praise for The Healing Brain

"This is a very readable, thoughtful, creative book. It brings together a vast amount of information . . . in a new way that I have never seen before. This is a brilliant tour de force that will be a major force in setting a new direction for research in the years ahead." -- S. Leonard Syme, Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley

"The Healing Brain is a gem. The authors have managed to synthesize, summarize, and clearly communicate a broad body of knowledge . . . into a coherent description of how the brain affects our health and well-being. It is a treasure trove of information and insights into an area of vital importance to us all." -- Philip R. Lee, M.D., Stanford University and former Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

"Entertainingly written and authoritative. A superb, comprehensive, balanced review of how the brain guards the health." -- Jerome D. Frank, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

"Carries pioneering new knowledge forward to new high ground." -- Norman Cousins

"Provocative and well-argued . . . testifies to the brain's phenomenal capacity to integrate and simplify." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Lively and fascinating account that will give the reader new insights into the ways in which the brain manages health." -- San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

"Entertainingly written and authoritative. A superb, comprehensive, balanced review of how the brain guards the health." -- Jerome D. Frank, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

The Healing Brain: A Scientific Reader

The Healing Brain

A Scientific Reader
Edited by Robert Ornstein and Charles Swencionis
Hardback & Paperback
Available in English.

It has long been known that the body may respond positively when an individual believes that he or she has been given medication. For years the placebo effect remained an isolated and unexplained phenomenon. Recent research has shown, however, that psychological states and life traumas, including divorce and loss of employment, can adversely affect immune-system responses. This volume, composed of contributions by noted researchers in psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience, explains the fascinating investigations of brain-mind-body relationships that are changing the way we think about health and illness.

The book's first three chapters demonstrate how the brain operates as a health-maintenance organization and describe the brain's growth in response to experience. Psychosocial factors in healing are explored in chapters that examine the social environment's effect on susceptibility to illness, the mechanisms and implications of the placebo effect, and the ways in which social support and health are related. Included is a chapter entitled "The Broken Heart," an exceptional explication of the psychobiology of human contact.

Because healing does not merely return the mind or the body to its presymptomatic condition, but more usually brings about lasting change, chapters on psychoneuroimmunology examine the neuropeptide and emotional interactions that promote healing. Possible psychoneuroimmunological mechanisms are considered, and the emerging field as a whole is discussed with a special note on the timely question of AIDS.

The section on coping and stress investigates why demanding situations affect some people's health adversely whereas others thrive under the same duress. Topics include stress-resistant personality, coronary-prone behaviors, and examinations of environmental factors that influence health. Other chapters on diet and nutrition examine how food affects the brain and how the brain regulates body weight.

Together, the articles in this volume describe a world of scientific research that offers potent possibilities for the future of mental and physical health care. It will prove invaluable reading for all mental health clinicians and researchers, physicians, and serious readers interested in the health and well-being of the human organism.

Charles Swencionis, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology/Social Medicine and Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, where he is Associate Director of the Health Psychology Program. He conducts research on the psychological aspects of hypertension and the use of technology in weight control in the context of cardiovascular risk factors.

Praise for The Healing Brain, A Scientific Reader

"An exciting 'must read' book . . . Every chapter provoked, stimulated, and sharpened my thoughts about my role as a physician-healer as opposed to being a physician-technician." -- Charles F. Stroebel, Ph.D., M.D.

"Dr. Ornstein and Dr. Swencionis have given us an excellent overview of the current status of mind-body research which should be of great use to those interested in the field." -- Herbert Benson, M.D.

"The quality of presentation is excellent, and the information provided accurately represents the current state of thought in this emerging scientific specialty. The material is well organized . . . professionals as well as college students at all levels will find this volume to be a valuable reference." -- Science Books & Films

The Healthy Mind Healthy Body Handbook

The Healthy Mind Healthy Body Handbook

How to Use Your Mind to:

  • Relieve Stress
  • Stay Well
  • Manage Illness
  • Boost Immunity
  • Improve Mood
  • Reduce Costs

David S. Sobel, MD and Robert Ornstein, PhD
Available in English, Danish, Dutch, Hebrew and Spanish


  • Optimistic thinking enhances immunity (p. 36)
  • Laughter reduces pain (p. 51)
  • Relaxation speeds recovery from surgery (p. 84)
  • Touch reduces anxiety and depression (p. 58)

Check Yourself:

  • See how assertive you are (p. 126)
  • Check your hostility (p. 170)
  • Find out if you are an optimist or pessimist (p. 37)
  • Decide whether you are addicted (p. 211)

What the Research Shows:

  • Mood, immunity and the common cold (p. 14)
  • Helping others reduces illness and death (p. 136)
  • A room with a view speeds recovery (p. 62)
  • Group support helps cancer patients (p. 136)

Try This:

  • Tame your anger (p. 175)
  • Communicate directly about sex (p. 76)
  • Do self-hypnosis (p. 100)
  • Prepare for surgery with mind exercises (p. 262)

Watch Out:

  • Know when negative feelings are healthy (p. 46)
  • Watch for unhealthy humor (p. 55)
  • Recognize relaxation-induced anxiety (p. 85)
  • What doesn't work for changing bad moods (p. 158)

Special Interest:

  • The role of spiritual beliefs in health (p. 39)
  • The keys to listening well (p. 122)
  • Deal with unexplained physical symptoms (p. 232) and much more . . .

David Sobel, M.D., MPH, is director of patient education and health promotion for Kaiser-Permanente Medical Care Program in Northern California. He has written seven books including Healthy Pleasures and The Healing Brain, both of which are co-authored with Ornstein.

Praise for The Healthy Mind Healthy Body Handbook

"A valuable, new kind of prescription for health and well being -- this book is a guide to those who want more control of their life and health. The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook offers easy-to-understand, practical advice on improving physical health and leading a happier, more productive life. From how to manage stress, moods and illness to communicating effectively, this book offers guidance that can make a positive impact in your life now and in the future." -- C. Everett Koop, MD, former US Surgeon General.

Healthy Pleasures

Healthy Pleasures

Robert Ornstein, Ph.D.
David Sobel, M.D.
Hardback & Paperback
Available in English, Danish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Swedish.

Imagine a medical treatment that can decrease heart disease, boost immune function, relieve depression, and block pain -- whose only side effect is that it makes you feel good. It's safe, inexpensive, and readily available. No, it's not a miracle drug; rather, these benefits come from the experience of pleasure itself. And this pleasure prescription is filled in the internal pharmacy of the brain.

Psychologist Robert Ornstein and physician David Sobel deliver the latest scientific evidence that pleasures -- from saunas to siestas, chocolate to charity -- and positive attitudes -- from happiness to optimism -- are not only enjoyable but also good for you.

Called "brilliant, liberating, and life-changing" by Paul Ehrlich, Healthy Pleasures offers the tools to make pleasure the centerpiece of a long and happy life.

Praise for Healthy Pleasures

"This book is a breath of fresh air. Ornstein and Sobel have proved scientifically what we have known in our hearts all along -- the path of healing is the path of joy." -- Joan Borysenko, author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

Live a longer, healthier, and happier life:
"Well grounded in solid science and good common sense, Healthy Pleasures reassures those who want to have their cake and eat it too by providing sound advice on how to enrich health through pleasurable pursuits." -- Philip R. Lee M.D., former Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Learn your body's cues that signal good health:
"Bob Ornstein and David Sobel are helping physiological psychology catch up with Mother Nature. She has always used the gentle encouragements of sexy pleasures and tasty food to encourage the survival of each species. But researchers, perhaps blinded by too much Calvinism, have focused instead upon blood, death, and pain as if they were positive reinforcers. In their turn toward the hedonics of survival, these two radicals will begin to move us toward reality." -- T. George Harris, founding editor of American Health and past Editor in Chief of Psychology Today

Free yourself from medical terrorism:
"Good news for all those devoting their lives to the search for health. Sobel and Ornstein dispel the myths associated with simple pleasures through careful documentation of the actual health benefits of enjoying life as you like it. There's not a trace of Pollyana here, just good scholarship that supports a welcome balance in our view of health and how to achieve it." -- Lowell S. Levin, Yale University School of Medicine

Forget about the idea that you have to suffer to be healthy:
"A brilliant, liberating, and life-changing book. In a world filled with increasing perils, it is vital to have a source of information that helps us restore our natural pleasures. This is the best book written on the subject and the one to read to help guide your life." -- Paul Ehrlich, professor of biology, Stanford University, and author of The Population Bomb and coauthor of New World New Mind.

"Reading it is one of life's healthier pleasures." -- The New York Times

"A volume that could change the way we all think about health and behavior." -- Joel Gurin, American Health

"In emphasizing the importance of pleasing rather than punishing ourselves, Ornstein and Sobel encourage us to think of the basic elements of our existence -- food, drink, rest, work, sunrises and sunsets, too -- in a refreshingly affectionate light." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

The Mind Field

The Mind Field

Robert E. Ornstein
Hardback & Paper
Available in English.

For years, Americans have been seeking rational, analytical answers to despair and anxiety. But now, this rational Western perception of consciousness has been challenged by an Eastern discipline which brings into sharp focus the travesty and deception underlying many of the contemporary awareness movements.

However, the excesses of the self-improvement packagers have obscured what may be of real value. Meditation may be a valid method for eliminating stress, but are maharishis and franchised growth centers the requisites for achieving peace of mind? How is it that promoters have supplanted real teachers in the realm of consciousness? Ornstein extends his argument to the sacrosanct psychiatric profession, as well as to meditation, parapsychologies, shamanism, and the numerous trademarked "awareness systems."

Yet, it is also Ornstein's intent to combat the easy criticisms of the super-rationalists who dismiss every new development as the irresponsible invention of the "guru-of-the-month club." He offers not only the findings of extensive scientific research on the brain but the valuable discoveries of personal experience as well. There is no one who is better qualified to assess modern America's approach to matters of the mind than Robert Ornstein, and he does so with clarity, wit, and utter persuasiveness.

Praise for The Mind Field

"Works with cool logic and scientific skepticism to point up the potential of intuitional, inductive, and holistic modes of thought, while separating out the voguish chaff" -- The New York Times

"For genuine enquirers this book is a must!" -- Doris Lessing, author of The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing



A New Way of Looking at Human Behavior
Robert Ornstein
Hardback & Paperback
Available in English, Dutch and German.

Multimind presents a startling new concept of how the human mind works. Robert Ornstein's thesis is that it is not a super computer but a far more complicated machine--an information system made up of a number of "computers," each with a special function and each brought in sequentially and perhaps even simultaneously to deal with the processing of the immense amount of information that we need in order to survive and deal with the outside world.

At least one system, for example, takes care of maintaining the homeostasis of our internal environment; another handles immediate reactions to danger; another is concerned with screening out unnecessary information; another is concerned with simplifying judgments by making comparisons of salient aspects of objects or events; yet another makes comparisons against stored memory--and most of this goes on without our "conscious" awareness.

The multiple brain reconciles the split personalities, the multiple personalities, and other psychoses of the mind, while at the same time showing how we can function healthily on a daily basis.

This is the first time all this information has been put together in one coherent theory, thereby providing an intellectual framework for discussing such things as dreams, illusions, hypnotism, psychosomatic effects on health, and the causes of personality.

Praise for Multimind

"Presents in a most enchanting style, provocative insights into the human mind." -- Donald C. Johanson, coauthor of Lucy: The Beginnings of Human Kind

"Robert Ornstein has always been on the frontier of new, speculative thinking about the workings of the mind which has recently given us so many provocative insights. But he has another quality too: he can describe these ideas so that people without scientific training can grasp them . . . And now, in this book I begin to glimpse the implications of seeing our minds as 'multi-minds.' Professor Ornstein, no narrow specialist, uses literature, myth, and poetry, not to mention jokes, to illustrate his ideas, so this book is not only informative but entertaining as well." -- Doris Lessing, author of The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing

"If there is one book to read on the nature of the human mind, this is it!" -- Paul Ehrlich, professor of biology, Stanford Universityand author of The Population Bomb and coauthor of New World New Mind

"Better than Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat." -- The Economist

"Ornstein is one of the more original thinkers in the fields of neurology and psychology. He has also the advantage of being gifted with the ability to expound difficult ideas simply, as many of the most significant gurus do by means of parables . . . This is a beautifully written, amusing and provocative book." -- The Guardian

"Bob Ornstein's tour de cortex is smashing -- battering barriers between domains of knowledge that have traditionally been isolated because they have been viewed by scholars as unrelated." -- Philip G. Zimbardo, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University and coauthor of Shyness and The Shy Child

"This is the most exciting psychology book I have read in many years . . . the first to give a believable approach to how the whole mind may work, not just bits and pieces of it. Psychology is at last coming of age." -- Charles Swencionis, Assistant Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

"In this engagingly written and highly original book, Robert Ornstein integrates findings from the usually disparate areas of cognition, personality, and the emotions. The result is a persuasive and practical demonstration of the multiplicity of mental phenomena." -- Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind and Mind's New Science; Director of Project Zero, Harvard University

The Nature of Human Consciousness

The Nature of Human Consciousness

A Book of Readings
Edited by Robert E. Ornstein
Available in English.

Drawn from the fields of anthropology, psychology, philosophy, mystical religion, and physiology, these readings provide a fascinating tableau of insights into human consciousness. Here the ideas of William James shed light on those of Idries Shah, who writes of the Sufis. Here Carl Jung's discussion of "Synchronicity" provides background for Charles Tart's "Preliminary Notes on the Nature of Psi Processes."

In The Nature of Human Consciousness, a young and imaginative psychologist and researcher has collected and conceptually integrated 41 articles into a book that will serve as stimulating supplementary reading for courses in cognition or consciousness. Together with The Psychology of Consciousness, by the same author, it can form the basis for such a course.

New World New Mind

New World New Mind

Moving Toward Conscious Evolution
Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich
Hardback & Paperback
Available in English.

Culturally and biologically, humankind has evolved further and faster than any other species on earth. In the process, we have also changed the planet more in the past ten thousand years than all its inhabitants did in the first four million. New World New Mind is an investigation into what we have done to our planet . . . and a warning about the consequences of progress "as usual." Unless we consciously evolve to fit our advanced society, we will destroy all that we have created.

According to Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich, we function today with a mind-set fit for the eighteenth century, while playing with the "toys" of the twenty-first. Why, for instance, on a planet that has an exploding human population, a deteriorating environment, and steadily dwindling resources, have we spent more time, energy, and genius building arsenals to destroy our enemies rather than working to save ourselves? Why does the world respond to an infrequent airline hijacking and virtually ignore the daily killings on our streets?

"The mismatch of our brains with our environments has been produced by millennia of effort, by the skill, ingenuity, and drive of our species -- by the very minds that are now out of step with the world they live in," say the authors. New World New Mind offers explanations, ideas, and possible solutions to our need for conscious evolution in the coming century.

We need to develop a new mind -- a set of thought processes, reactions, perceptions, and impulses -- for our new world. Ornstein and Ehrlich present an invaluable study of where our society is going and what we can do to keep up with it.

Paul R. Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University. An expert in the fields of evolution, ecology, taxonomy, and population biology, Professor Ehrlich has written more than 800 scientific articles as well as many books (some coauthored with his wife, Anne) including The Population Bomb, The Machinery of Nature, Extinction, The Population Explosion, Betrayal of Science and Reason, and Human Natures. His many scientific honors include membership in the National Academy of Sciences and fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received awards such as the first AAAS/Scientific American Prize for Science in the Service of Humanity as well as the Crafoord Prize in Population Biology and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Together with his wife, he received many other distinguished prizes including the United Nations Environment Programme Sasakawa Environment Prize.

Praise for New World New Mind

"A rare book that changes people's minds, rarer still a book that changes the world." -- Pat Holt, front page book review, The San Francisco Chronicle

"The world may be going to pot or up in smoke, and all because our miserable unprepared yet powerful brains can unleash forces beyond our moral and political control. We shall have to bring mind and world together, with proper respect and understanding of both, if we are to maintain any hope for human salvation on a beautiful planet. This book by two great humanists -- one an expert on mind, one on the natural world -- points the way . . . Let us all listen, read and act . . . -- Stephen Jay Gould

"This is a brilliant book . . . We have to learn to think differently . . . this new way of thinking should begin in schools, colleges, and be taught in popular TV programs. There is still time to save ourselves, if we listen to authors like these." -- Doris Lessing

"New World New Mind should become required reading for all those who want to know where humanity has come from and the changes we now need to make to face our future." -- Dr. Donald C. Johanson, Author of Lucy

"In New World New Mind, Ornstein and Ehrlich brilliantly propose some changes in our modes of thinking that could help us avoid nuclear catastrophe." -- Senator Alan Cranston (California)

"New World New Mind shows what we have done to not only our surrounding world but to ourselves. It would be a dangerous oversight to miss this book's message." -- Roger Caras, Correspondent, TV Network News, ABC News

"We will never look at our world and ourselves in the same way again after reading this book. New World New Mind is an astonishing synthesis of biological, social, and historical knowledge, one that points the direction for the future evolution of our society." -- Terrance Leighton, Professor of Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of California at Berkeley

"New World New Mind is an extraordinary look at human beings and our civilization. I strongly recommend this book to my Senate colleagues and all Americans." -- Former Senator Timothy Wirth (Colorado)

"New World New Mind has a compelling message of urgent importance. It both diagnoses the psychological causes of the current planetary crisis and points to a way out. It we don't act on this information, our grandchildren may never forgive us." -- Daniel Goleman, The New York Times, author of Emotional Intelligence

"An important and urgent prescription for sanity . . . Their engagingly written, continually provocative synthesis effectively demonstrates how we use crude mental caricatures to manipulate a social and physical environment gone haywire." -- Publishers Weekly

On the Experience of Time

Robert E. Ornstein
Available in English and Japanese.

How do we experience time? What do we use to experience it?

In a series of remarkable experiments, Robert Ornstein shows that it is difficult to maintain an "inner clock" explanation of the experience of time and postulates a cognitive, information-processing approach. This approach alone makes sense out of the very different data of the experience of time and, in particular, of the experience of duration -- the lengthening of duration under LSD, for example, or the effects of an experience felt to be a success rather than a failure, time in sensory deprivation, the time-order effect, or the influence of the administration of a sedative or stimulant drug.

On the Psychology of Meditation

Claudio Naranjo & Robert E. Ornstein
Available in English, Dutch, German and Greek.

The authors authoritatively draw on the history of Eastern religions and philosophies as well as on Western experimental laboratories, deciding that each has much to offer. From Zen, Yoga, the Sufis, and shamanism have come the roots of the book's synthesis of the multiple manifestations of meditative techniques; from the current experimental work with computers and electroencephalograms has come a new insight into the nature of consciousness.

With Naranjo's demonstration of the unity of meditation beyond its forms, and Ornstein's "translation" of the metaphors of esoteric traditions into those of modern psychology, this book as a whole proves a keystone work in the study of the experiential, psychological, and physiological aspects of the total phenomenon of meditation, one of the most rapidly proliferating phenomena in the world today.

The Psychology of Consciousness

The Psychology of Consciousness

The Classic Study, Completely Revised & Updated
Robert Ornstein
Available in English, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.

In this revised edition of his revolutionary study, Robert Ornstein reexamines what is known about consciousness today and answers the question "What is consciousness?" through a consideration of intuition and reason. Ornstein goes beyond the theory that creative impulses originate in the right side of the brain and rational impulses originate in the left side to show how a synthesis of these two functions can bring about "a more complete science of human consciousness with an extended conception of our own capabilities."

Praise for The Psychology of Consciousness

"This is a fine, fine book -- lucid, unsmug, amazingly comprehensive, and fascinating. If I had read it when I was an undergraduate, I probably would have majored in psychology myself . . . It is a book with a great number of implications -- among them that we can all learn how to make use of our whole selves and that anyone who does will find that he is a rich and varied person, full of talents and intelligence and problem-solving abilities. And full of life. Reading The Psychology of Consciousness, I felt over and over that this was the book I had been waiting for." -- The New Yorker

"This is an original and explosive book. It starts out by making psychology, the science of the mind, what it actually is -- as exciting and suspenseful as a good mystery story." -- George B. Leonard

"The first edition of The Psychology of Consciousness is already a modern classic . . . So much has been learned about consciousness since 1972 that this is more like a sequel to itself than a revision. Our ordinary consciousness . . . can now be seen as a major barrier to more effective thinking about the problems we all face collectively: the population, the environment, the bomb. At the same time, it is equally sobering to find out that it may now be possible to learn how to permanently improve our thinking abilities." -- Tony Hiss, author of The Experience of Place

"The Psychology of Consciousness . . . should be read by all students of the mind, including psychiatrists and clinical psychologists . . . it would make a fine text to introduce students to the new ideas that are transforming the study of the mind. And to all of us bound by our present conceptions it says powerfully: there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your psychology." -- Psychology Today

"Ornstein has written one of the most important psychological books in many years." -- Contemporary Psychology

The Right Mind

The Right Mind

Making Sense of the Hemispheres
Robert Ornstein
Hardback & Paperback
Available in English, Dutch, Japanese and Portuguese.

Incredible strides have been made in recent decades into the science of the brain. And exciting research has been done in labs all over the world by innovative scientists. But the specialists cannot see the big picture, and the general reader certainly cannot make sense of it all. That's where Robert Ornstein comes in.

A psychologist and writer who began the conversation about the differing roles of the right and left hemispheres in his best-selling The Psychology of Consciousness twenty-five years ago, Ornstein has in his books and lectures provided a running commentary on the significance of what we are learning about the brain.

Now the time has come for a new synthesis: The Right Mind. It is short but rich in its detail, light-hearted but profound in its conclusions.

A central argument of The Right Mind is that while facts (what we might think of as text) are stored and processed in the left hemisphere, the right mind sets the context and makes sense of it all. And so it is with this book. Ornstein has incorporated the important facts and then set the whole thing in context. A brilliant and illuminating work of an important thinker at the top of his game.

Praise for The Right Mind

"Ornstein takes us on a magical mystery tour through a fascinating mix of evidence from experimental psychology, clinical observation, and evolutionary biology. Certainly the most intelligently written, readable account of this topic I have come across." -- Gordon Claridge, University of Oxford and coauthor of Sounds from the Bell Jar

"Ornstein's revisitation of the brain laterality research is astonishing -- so much complex evidence brought to life with such a clear, inviting style. The book gives a cutting-edge picture of how the brain works with provocative insights, exciting applications, and glimpses into the future. It will change how you think about the brain. It is in the first rank of books on the brain, and it is also hard to put down. Ornstein at his best!" -- Claude Steele, Chair, Department of Psychology, Stanford University

"This book is the most innovative, fascinating work yet to appear on the role of the two hemispheres of the brain. It is now the only book you need to read on this important subject." -- Paul R. Ehrlich, professor of biology, Stanford University, and author of The Population Bomb and coauthor of New World New Mind

"I have always admired Robert Ornstein's ability to explain difficult scientific ideas to ordinary people. This book summarizes and elucidates the enormous amount of work that has gone on in this field during the last twenty years since the author was involved with left-brain, right-brain research." -- Doris Lessing

The Roots of the Self

The Roots of the Self

Unraveling the Mystery of Who We Are
Robert Ornstein
Hardback & Paperback
Available in English, German and Swedish.

Around the world and throughout the ages, people have created simple and complex systems -- based on everything from skin or eye color to body type or date of birth, archetypes to unconscious drives, birth order to the inner child -- to attempt to make sense of the riddles of individuality. Modern science has studied the sexes, races, left-handed, blue-eyed, firstborn, genius, and neurologically impaired. Yet the mystery remains.

Now, Robert Ornstein, psychologist, neurobiologist, and the bestselling author of The Psychology of Consciousness and The Evolution of Consciousness, builds on the dazzling observations of modern genetics, biology, and psychology to offer a brilliant, witty, and wonderfully informative science of the self.

  • Why do some meet new people with enthusiasm while others feel dread?
  • Why do some start shopping for Christmas in August while others wait until December 24?
  • Why do some relax with TV or books and others with daredevil sports?

With his customary flair for illustrative detail and breathtaking range of insight, Ornstein illuminates the intricate building blocks of genetics (sex, eye color, etc.) and environment (family size, birth order, etc.) that shape us from womb to grave, as well as the equally important but little understood bedrock foundations of temperament.

Incorporating vivid drawings and citing dozens of sometimes startling examples and studies, Ornstein challenges our assumptions about how we become who we are. He shows, for example, that families have little effect on personality but that a tendency toward criminality and violence can indeed be hereditary.

Ornstein reveals the biological basis of extroversion and introversion, organization and spontaneity, and optimism and pessimism to reveal the "basic rootstock of individuality" and its revolutionary implications. Determining how we will respond to stimuli ranging from light and noise to parties, public speaking, exams, and sexual partners, these three main roots of each unique individual are deep and enduring. Recognizing them allows us to understand how the individual, like the plant, proceeds to flower differently based on the soil of its environment, treatment by its gardeners, and the whims of weather.

Understanding how impressionable development is, understanding our predispositions and wondrous adaptations, give us the greatest hope for the future. As the most "unfinished" of animals, with brains capable of change throughout life, we need this understanding of ourselves and others to make real change possible -- whether it's reprogramming ourselves to allow spontaneity, creativity, and joy into our controlled and fearful worldviews, or comprehending our spouse's or children's or neighbors' "loud" nervous systems, or correcting social policies that misdiagnose and mistreat individuals and communities.

Fast, fun, friendly, and with the power to transform the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us, The Roots of the Self unravels age-old mysteries and reveals untold possibilities.

Praise for The Roots of the Self

A magical tour of the mysteries of human development

"Beautifully written . . . Not self-help but a help to understanding the self . . . [Ornstein's] insights are startling, original and certain to change how we think about ourselves and others." -- Paul Ekman, Ph.D., professor of psychology, University of California, San Francisco, author of Telling Lies and Unmasking the Face

"Presenting a new personality theory grounded in the latest research on child development, genetics and brain organization, Ornstein challenges many popular assumptions in a brilliant, exciting, conversationally written synthesis." -- Publishers Weekly

"A most arresting look at the 'self' by one of the most witty and original psychologists writing today." -- Booklist

"[Ornstein] uses practical examples, humor and nontechnical language to interpret current findings in psychology . . . His chapter on race and culture should be required reading for anyone needing evidence that intelligence and achievement are not genetically determined by skin color or ethnic background." -- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"An intriguing and edifying meditation on how and why we have become the most individuated species." -- Howard Gardner, Harvard University, author of Multiple Intelligences and Creating Minds

Note: Links to purchase Robert Ornstein's books are regularly checked but at any one time may not always be up-to-date.
Updated December 15, 2010