An international bestseller, the story behind Henry Markram’s breakthrough theory about autism, and how a family’s unconditional love led to a scientific paradigm shift.
Henry Markram is the Elon Musk of neuroscience, the man behind the billion-dollar Blue Brain Project to build a supercomputer model of the brain. He has set the goal of decoding all disturbances of the mind within a generation. This quest is personal for him. The driving force behind his grand ambition has been his son Kai, who suffers from autism. Raising Kai made Henry Markram question all that he thought he knew about neuroscience, and then inspired his groundbreaking research that would upend the conventional wisdom about autism, expressed in his now-famous theory of the Intense World Syndrome.
When Kai was first diagnosed, his father consulted studies and experts. He knew as much about the human brain as almost anyone but still felt as helpless as any parent confronted with this condition in his child. What’s more, the scientific consensus that autism was a deficit of empathy didn’t mesh with Markram’s experience of his son. He became convinced that the disorder, which has seen a 657 percent increase in diagnoses over the past decade, was fundamentally misunderstood. Bringing his world-class research to bear on the problem, he devised a radical new theory of the disorder: People like Kai don’t feel too little; they feel too much. Their senses are too delicate for this world.
Lorenz Wagner, born in 1970, is one of the most prominent profile writers and journalists in Europe. His report “The Son Code” about Henry and Kai Markram rapidly became one of the most-read articles in the Süddeutsche Magazin. Lorenz Wagner has been awarded the prestigious Prix Franco-Allemand du Journalisme (PFAJ), among other prizes. He is bilingual, French and German, lived and studied in France, and resides in Germany.
“A moving father-son story interspersed with elegant science writing about regions of the human brain that are still terra incognita. Thoroughly researched and brilliantly written.”—Weser Kurier
“A book for all those dealing with autism and those who love literature.”—Süddeutsche Zeitung
“By the end of this striking piece of reportage, you’ve not only followed an unusual family story but also the rigorous, slow but extremely vivid search for knowledge.”—Der Falter
“A wonderful book.”—NZZ am Sonntag
“A thrilling and moving book.”—WDR 5
“There are two billion people on the planet who are affected by mental disorders, and the drugs that are used today are largely empirical. I think that we can come up with very concrete solutions on how to treat disorders. The mysteries of the mind can be solved—soon. Mental illness, memory, perception.”—Henry Markram, TED Talk about the Blue Brain Project, 1.3 million views