We’re all individuals, but is this the right way to think all the time?
Publisher: Free Press (Simon & Schuster)
First Published: May 2011
Date Reviewed: 25th August 2011
McTaggart suggests everyone should work together in mind, body, and spirit, rather than subscribing to the Western idea of individuality. She uses evidence from experiments, research, and current ways of life, to back up her point.
The Bond is quite simply fascinating. A few days after I’d accepted it for review I wondered what I’d got myself into, seeing the similarities with self-help books, but The Bond is like no self-help book I’ve come across. It throws subject after subject at you and yet it never feels like you’re being forced to accept its purpose – which of course is actually what McTaggart is looking to do, to change your thoughts – and which is why it works well. Ironically, a few hours after finishing it, an advert on the television was telling me that there were several different shampoos to choose from a specific brand because “you’re an individual”. The timing was, to use a word being widely supported by all and their grandmother, epic.
Although we classify everything in the universe as separate and individual, individuality, at the most rudimentary level, does not exist.
McTaggart uses the following array of subjects to back up her suggestion, and here I will use a list to make it easier to read:
- Quantum Physics – all particles influence each other.
- Biology – how we react and live with everything is of more importance than our genes in determining our health.
- Astro Physics – the movement of the moon and sun affects our activity (morale, spending habits, mental stability, and so on).
- Neuroscience – how our brain uses the same part to observe as to act and how that creates a relationship between people, as we understand what we see by thinking of ourselves in that same position.
- Psychology and anthropology – generosity contrasted with selfishness, the way different cultures view things differently, unfairness in life.
- Mathematics – probabilities and the results of experiments.
- Present-day work – charities, volunteers.
And she looks at Sociology, which is a blend of a few of the above – how, for example, an interdependent community will have less health issues resulting in death than a society where people are lonely and isolated. Thus Japan has a lower heart disease rate than America despite so much smoke intake, and America has a high rate because of the idea of self and the individual.
Often what McTaggart suggests are things that have always been obvious to the public at large but dismissed by the medical profession – that our environment and what we do determines our fate. Thus the fact that women who go on the pill for years are more likely to get breast cancer than if they hadn’t – information easily found on Internet forums, where the number of women questioning whether their long usage of the drug has been the cause is high. And as McTaggart says, the links found between HRT and breast cancer have caused scientists to recommend it’s end. McTaggart’s research in this and various other areas of health adds up to the fact that our genes can be altered throughout our lives by outside influence.
Sadly, there are other experiments that are the stuff of common sense (for example if you’re surrounded by happy people you’re more likely to be happy than if your happy friends live away) and it reminds you of how many such experiments are pointless, unnecessary because any member of the public could tell you it, and costly – when there are so many really worthy things in the world the money could be spent on. This is a comment on the world at large rather than McTaggart.
Something that is quite funny, when you remember all the arguments in the world between religious people and scientists, is what McTaggart says about scientists finding that life may be controlled by something that is difficult to identify and locate, an ephemeral thing. There is a great possibility that they have scientifically found God.
If we are essentially at the mercy of the slightest move of the sun and its activity, their [the scientists Chizhevsky and Halberg] work stands as a giant refutation of our misplaced belief in ourselves as masters of the universe – or even of ourselves.
But there is something that truly grates about McTaggart’s book and that is the number of experiments on animals described. It’s not that she quotes them, because everyone knows it goes on, it’s that she does it as though it’s just another part of science. It is rather difficult to read pages of an otherwise brilliant and humane book that is filled with experiments on animals – involving but not limited to giving electrical shocks to create cases of epilepsy, and holes being driven into scalps in order that electrodes be fitted to brains – without feeling some revulsion for the author’s plan. It seems rather hypocritical to be all for working together with nature while getting excited over information gleamed from torturing rats, especially as she mentions the laws against testing on humans for ethical reasons.
Yet McTaggart’s book is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the academic subjects she discusses, and, with even just a minor awareness of them and minimal interest it is easy to fly through the pages. And she provides some good life lessons and food for thought.
The Bond is recommended, wholeheartedly, because of the many benefits a person can get from it. Be ready for a hefty, but very good, read.
I received this book for review from the author thanks to Pump Up Your Book.