Mind Fields:
Adolescent Consciousness in a Culture of Distraction


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"Thomas Cottle has produced a fascinating, remarkable important work. If you ever wondered why our teenagers might celebrate the likes of Hannibal Lechter, Dr. Cottle’s Mind Fields is the first place to turn. "
— Jack Levin, Director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston, and co-author of The Will to Kill: Making Sense of Senseless Murder

"Groundbreaking and powerful, Tom Cottle’s new book is brilliantly insightful, compellingly written and deeply wise. Cottle knows the heart of adolescence in America today. Must reading for both adults and adolescents. "
— Daniel Frank, Psychologist, Head of Frances W. Parker School’s Upper School, Chicago

synopsis and reviews from Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

More praise for "Mind Fields: Adolescent Consciousness in a Culture of Distraction"


In Mind Fields, Thomas J. Cottle argues that the period known as adolescence is essentially a social construct influenced greatly by popular culture. To understand young people, therefore, is to recognize how the very consciousness of adolescents is shaped by a culture, dominated the the entertainment industry, and the power of television and the computer, constantly urging them to turn away from the normal evolution of their personal and social lives.

In this fundamentally distracting environment, young people explore their consciousness, sharing it with others, as well as form their sense of identity, all the while having these most inner experiences affected as much by the culture as by their own temperaments and personalities. It is the culture that determines the forms of recognition and independence, as well as intimacy and attachment that adolescents must learn. In the end, the author argues for the value of self-reflection as a critical ingredient of identity formation and a fundamental antidote to distracting cultural influences.

Excerpt from "Mind Fields"

This book begins with the notion that we are, perhaps, only the stories we tell. Even small children’s lives are predicated on stories, but adolescents bring these stories to new and complex levels. I suggest that people of every age are constantly conversing not only with the outside world but with their inner world as well. In addition, each of these conversations affects the others, because each is not only a momentary reading of the exterior or interior worlds, it represents the way we construct these worlds. Reasoning in this manner, we are nothing more, nothing less than the stories we tell to ourselves and to others. The story I tell about you is not only my representation of you, it signifies the construction I have made of you in my mind. Elie Wiesel said it this way: “Memories, even painful memories, are all we have. In fact, they are the only thing we are. So we must take very good care of them.”

Never is this more true than during that period labeled by psychologists as adolescence. [continue]

Table of Contents

PART I The Fields of Distraction
1. The Language of Distraction
2. The Noise of Distraction

PART II The Fields of Adolescence
3. The Construction of Independence and Intimacy
4. The Construction of Recognition and Attachment

PART III The Fields of Thought
5. Narratives and Reflections
6. Screen Speak, Screen Deep

PART IV The Fields of the Inner World
7. The Exploration of Self
8. The Prize of Self-Reflection


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