Spinella, Marcello 1970-

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SPINELLA, Marcello 1970-


Born September 3, 1970, in Passaic, NJ; son of Philip and Catherine (Palermo) Spinella; married Pamela Karin Rodsniak (a paralegal), July 27, 2002. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Earned Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Drawing, music, reading, writing fiction.


Home—537 Lakeside Dr. N., Forked River, NJ 08731. Office—Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, P.O. Box 195, Jim Leeds Rd., Pomona, NJ 08240-0195. E-mail—[email protected].


Educator and author. Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, assistant professor of psychology, 1999—.


The Psychopharmacology of Herbal Medicine: Plant Drugs That Alter Mind, Brain, and Behavior, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.


Herbal Medicines for the Mind and Brain, for Haworth Press; The Pharma Sutra, a work of fiction.


Marcello Spinella told CA: "My primary motivation for writing is an extension of my sense of curiosity. I'm a neuropsychologist and college professor, so I'm lucky enough to have found my way to an occupation that encourages, if not requires, me to learn and discover. Writing is essentially a way to organize my thoughts and findings, and then to communicate my findings to others. While the goal of any scientific writing is to persuade the reader of the conclusions drawn, the best writing makes those conclusions seem merely apparent. Instilling a sense of clarity in the reader is always my goal while I'm writing. One writer who impressed that upon me was Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence. He took a relatively unknown area of research and turned it into a household word without ever raising an eyebrow. Research results in psychology can be complicated and infested with jargon, but Goleman has a way of expressing it in a way that makes intuitive sense.

"The idea for my book stemmed from a personal interest in herbal medicines. I realized how popular they were and had always been interested in the medicinal use of plants. In an age where medicines usually come in the form of a manufactured tablet, the idea of using a plant as a medicine seems a novelty, which is ironic since plants were the original source of most drugs for most of human history. In graduate school, I happened across a few research articles on the pharmacological effects of herbal medicines and realized that some of them work in a manner similar to conventional drugs. After finding a few such articles, I wondered if anyone had compiled all of the research available on psychoactive herbs, and I soon found out that apparently no one had. Millions of people take psychoactive herbal medicines, and there was no one authoritative source to guide the general public or health care professionals.

"My general areas of interest for research include psychopharmacology, or the study of psychoactive drugs, and executive functions, which are mental abilities that include impulse control, planning, organization, flexible thinking, judgment, and decision-making. The intersection of these two interests lies in addiction, where certain drugs are able to hijack a person's executive functions and make him or her act in a way that is harmful and destructive. So my research focuses on showing the relationships between those two.

"I've also taken a stab at fiction, writing a novel called The Pharma Sutra. It's about a pharmaceutical company that develops a drug to stimulate the oxytocin system of the brain, which strengthens social and emotional bonds. While the anticipated use was for marriage counseling, the company unleashes another potently addicting drug on the public, as so many other pharmaceutical companies have done in the past. It's basically a book about how people manage their lives and manage their emotions, and the pitfalls about doing that with a drug."



Library Journal, September 1, 2001, Natalie Kupferberg, review of The Psychopharmacology of Herbal Medicine: Plant Drugs That Alter Mind, Brain, and Behavior, p. 216.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September, 2002, Elaine D. Mackowiak, review of The Psychopharmacology of Herbal Medicine, p. 366.