– or possibly interesting but irritating.
Kelly Lambert is ‘a Professor and Chair of Psychology’ and spends a lot of time with rats. Her book includes material about rat behaviours and neurological developments in various early years conditions, mating behaviour, motivation and reward behaviour, upbringing of rat infants and the maternal imperative, and consequences of different types of stress.
The lessons to be learned from neurological activity in rats may or may not be fully transferable to human contexts, but some of them sound horridly plausible – for example, the stress responses in rats when their lives are out of their own control. The author draws the parallels and this is indeed a major purpose of her book.
One of the things she professes is fascination with and respect for her rats, but there is an elephant in the room: very little reference is made to the ironmongery introduced to their brains during life, and their inevitable end on a slab. This is no book for anti-vivisectionists to read. Leaving aside the principle itself, I’d have liked to know how she mentally accommodates her respect with the ongoing slaughter.
The irritation? Well, quibbles in a way. But I could do without her matey all-pals-together tone. It felt intrusive, like someone who starts giving you proprietorial pats when you’ve only known them five minutes. And the writing was sloppy. For example, a professor of anything, not to mention their publisher, ought to know the difference between ‘diffuse’ and ‘defuse’, especially when the context is not in the least metaphorical but refers to land mines. Alas for the demise of the reasonably-educated copy editor!