Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

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It is quite common to reflect on what startles you. In the most diverse social contexts and cultures, the inescapable physiology of the reflex both shapes the experience of startle and biases the social usage to which the reflex is put. This book describes the ways in which the reflex is experienced, culturally elaborated, and socially used, and offers explanations for both patterned commonalities found across cultures, and for the culture-typical differences which differing cultural systems more

Product details

  • Hardback | 286 pages
  • 156 x 233.9 x 19.1mm | 580.61g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • black and white photographs throughout
  • 0195096266
  • 9780195096262

Review quote

." . .a useful source for those who want to pursue studies of similar behaviors."--Journal of Anthropological Research"A car backfires, your foot slips, a child shouts 'Boo!' In these and many other situations we respond. That brief, but often intense, startle reflex takes us by surprise. We soon recover only to be startled again and again. In Boo!, Ronald Simons reports the results of his twenty-year interest in the startle reflex. He gives a scholarly, exhaustive yet fascinating account of the startle reflex including when, where, why, and how it occurs, and the role of experience and culture in the expression of the reflex. In an informative and engaging presentation, Simons describes his own extensive observations of startle and skillfully uses a wide range of literary, physiological, psychological, and anthropological resources. . . . Boo! . . . has greatly increased my knowledge of this intriguing aspect of human behavior. Simons has written a book on a very specific response that turns out to be of general interest and significance."--Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences"This book is the culmination of Simons's longstanding interest in disorders of startle, and more specifically in the culture bound startle syndromes. He has carried out extensive studies on Latah in Malaysia. The book contains an encyclopedic description of references to startle in literature, the press and in everyday life. The book is beautifully produced. BOO! can be highly recommended as an important, scholarly and elegant source, not only for people interested in startle and its disorders, but as an example of cultural determinants of pathophysiological aspects of human behavior." -- Transcultural Psychiatry, 37(4)show more

Back cover copy

The startle reflex provides a revealing model for examining the ways in which evolved neurophysiology shapes personal experience and patterns of recurrent social interaction. In the most diverse cultural contexts, in societies widely separated by time and space, the inescapable physiology of the reflex both shapes the experience of startle and biases the social usages to which the reflex is put. This book describes ways in which the startle reflex is experienced, culturally elaborated, and socially used in a wide variety of times and places. It offers explanations both for the patterned commonalities found across cultural settings and for the differences engendered by diverse social environments. Boo! will intrigue readers in fields such as psychological anthropology, medical anthropology, general cultural anthropology, social psychology, cross-cultural psychiatry, and human more

About Ronald C. Simons

Ronald C. Simons is Professor of Psychiatry and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Michigan State University, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of more

Table of contents

PART I: STARTLE AND HYPERSTARTLE ; Introduction ; 1. Startle as a Personal Experience and as a Social Resource ; 2. Making People Jumpy: Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn Create a Hyperstartler ; 3. Variations on a Theme: Being Startled Makes One Ill ; 4. The Startle Museum I: Exhibits of Startle Sorted by their Expository Uses ; 5. The Startle Museum II: Exhibits of Startle Sorted by Properties of Startle Events ; PART II: LATAH AND OTHER STARTLE-MATCHING SYNDROMES ; 6. Attention Capture and the Startle-Matching Syndromes ; 7. Latah: The Paradigmatic Startle-Matching Syndrome ; 8. Explaining Latah: The Importance of Descriptive Detail ; 9. The Startle-Matching Syndrome in Other Cultures ; 10. Culture, Biology, and Individual Experienceshow more

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