The author was initially misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. Instead, she had autoimmune encephalitis, an organic brain disorder often called The Great Pretender for its ability to mimic the signs of psychiatric disease. Even though she was labeled as a mental patient for only a week, wondering what would have happened if the initial diagnosis wasn’t overturned compels her to investigate the US mental health care system. In fact, she finds someone who spent years in the mental health system before being correctly diagnosed with the author’s disease with unfortunate consequences.
“The brain is a physical organ and physical disease occurs within the brain. Why does that make it a ‘ psychiatric condition’ instead of a physical ‘ disease’?”—from a father of a son diagnosed with psychosis quoted in the book
The Great Pretender makes an excellent case that psychiatry is the study of neurological disease for which we have no cause or cure…yet. Both autoimmune encephalitis and syphilis were originally diagnosed as mental disorders. Once a cause and cure were found, they were moved to neurology.
Originally all mental diseases were thought to be caused by the devil. Next, medical science thought it was a weakness in the person’s character, which could be solved by drastic measures like lobotomy and shock therapy. Now, a person’s history is blamed with talk therapy and strong drugs as cures. Who is to say that that is the final solution to psychiatric disease.
The heart of the book concerns the landmark study in 1973 by Stanford professor David Rosenhan, On Being Sane in Insane Places. He and seven of his students and colleagues self-reported symptoms of psychosis to get placed in one of the facilities. Once there, they acted normally until someone released them. The average time to get out was fifteen days. The study’s conclusion was that psychiatry had no clear way to diagnose or cure mental illness. It was unable to separate the sane from the insane. The author finds additional notes from the study’s now-deceased author. She finds one of the living pseudopatients and interviews him. The author also finds a ninth pseudopatient who is mentioned only in a footnote within the study. His story is told in the book.
Currently, four percent of the US have serious mental illnesses. Many will have their lives shortened by ten to twenty years because of their condition. If you, or someone in your life, have one of these issues, you must read this book for a different perspective. Even if you are just interested in psychology, like me, The Great Pretender is highly recommended. 5 stars!
Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Nov 5 2019, psychology
Society expects that people will use logic and reason to sway others to change their mind. However, Stop Being Reasonable argues that reason doesn’t work, which is why the country is so divided.
Using several true stories, the author anecdotally tries to prove what changes minds. The stories encompass catcalling, cults, individuality, memory, and revealed secrets.
The stories were interesting. However, I don’t believe the author proved her point that reason should be discarded. In fact, in the conclusion, Stop Being Reasonable admits that all she found was more questions. Unfortunately, I can’t give this rather dark “we will never get along” book more than 2 stars.
Thanks to PublicAffairs, Perseus Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Oct 22 2019, psychology
“All our thoughts [are] reflected in our bodies; the reverse is true as well.”—from the Art of Reading Minds.
Reading minds is achieved by reading body language—no New Age mumbo-jumbo is necessary. This book can make you a body language expert. “You already do it, but you could do it better.” You can use the skills taught here to read another person’s underlying feelings. You can also learn how to build rapport with others. By projecting the body language most likely to make someone feel comfortable with you, you can build a common ground even if you are disagreeing with their stated position.
The Art of Reading Minds works! It provides simple methods to build your mindreading skills. Mimicking the other person’s gestures, body position, and even voice characteristics will encourage others to feel you are on their wavelength. So you can test out the techniques, the author provides simple exercises. You can prove to yourself that pupils get bigger when a person is interested in you and your conversation. Another exercise uses an imaginary lemon to prove how your thoughts automatically impact your physical body. You can also discover if you are a visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or neutral (logical) thinker. If you emulate another person’s style in word choice, cadence and volume, it quickly builds an underlying rapport and a feeling of closeness between the two of you.
This is such a fun and useful book. Though it may feel initially manipulative, these techniques are invaluable tools to use with clients, bosses, and even with future mates. Let me reiterate, they work! 5 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Oct 15 2019, psychology
Psychological archetypes and crime fiction are melded in the true crime tales presented in Savage Appetites.
The four tales here describe the mother of forensic science, who did not have a formal scientific background. Another tale describes a person fascinated by the Manson cult’s murder of Sharon Tate. The third tale focuses on the love between a woman and a convicted killer. The final tale shows how online crime websites may encourage fans to kill others.
Fixation is the link between the stories in this book demonstrating the archetypes of detective, victim, attorney, and killer. However, for me, the best part was the book’s excellent beginning. It describes the author’s trip to CrimeCon, a convention for true crime addicts. I thought the Con sounded wonderful. As a minor true crime addict (just watching documentaries—not committing actual crimes), it sounded like fun. However, as I kept reading the book, the author’s point-of-view began to change. It piled all true crime addicts in one crazy boiling-over pot. I truly do not think that every person that views Making of a Murderer on Netflix will go as far as obsession and even murder. I also didn’t like the author inserting her feeling about the people in the book. An author should make her case by showing the facts—not by shoving the point down the reader’s throat.
Overall, Savage Appetites is a miss for me and will probably feel the same for most true crime fans. If you are thinking of emulating a true crime documentary, this might be a good choice. 2 stars.
Thanks to Scribner Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Aug 20 2019, psychology, true crime
The next time you upgrade a perfectly good phone because of a rebate that is denied two months later, don’t feel bad. Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up will introduce you to much worse human errors in judgment.
We celebrated when our hunter-gatherer ancestors started farming. Wrong! That practice started class divisiveness and wars over land.
We romanticized the middle-class Shakespeare fan who brought Henry IV’s starlings to New York City. Wrong! The starlings ate our crops and spread disease like salmonella coast to coast. The starlings’ kinsfolk also killed 62 air travelers in 1960 while forcing a plane to crash land.
There are many more examples of unintended consequences here. If you enjoy irony, Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up is a gem. It also explains history with an eye to the human factor. Disneyland’s Cinderella’s castle is based on a Bavarian castle created by theatrical set designers at Mad King (really just homosexual) Ludwig’s behest as a tourist attraction. It is ironic that it worked for current and olden day Bavarian sightseers but also for copycat Disney. Killing Ludwig after he had built only three castles was the gaffe here.
Other reviewers characterize this book as funny and depressing. However, I think it is empowering knowing that everyone makes mistakes. 4 stars!
Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Humor, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: history, human, May 7 2019, psychology