A vivid and personal story that turns into an enthusiastic advocacy for electroconvulsive therapy.



An executive coach shares her intimate and informative experiences to help dispel the stigma of clinical depression and electroconvulsive therapy.

By her own admission, Kivler (Mental Health Recovery Boosters, 2013, etc.) had a “charmed life”—she had a loving family, both parents still living, a successful husband, and three children, with a nice house, a dream job, and financial stability. The first attack of “the Beast,” what she came to call her clinical depression, was in 1990. And despite her best efforts to pretend to be OK, numerous battles with the monster and the insomnia accompanying it led to a psychotic episode in which she attempted to convince her husband that he and the children should join her in suicide. While she was hospitalized, medication did little to ease her symptoms, causing her to accept electroconvulsive therapy, with no small amount of hesitancy due to its reputation. Kivler’s recovery after numerous sessions is the driving force behind the book, which seeks to confront the misinformation and notoriety attached to ECT. The author calls out antiquated depictions of ECT in movies like The Snake Pit and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and recalls its barbaric past uses as “cures” for truancy or gay sexuality. The text skillfully walks readers through ECT’s process, starting with the administration of anesthesia and a muscle relaxant beforehand and sometimes talk therapy afterward; the difference between unilateral, bilateral, and brief pulse stimulus treatments; and the side effects, ranging from headaches to memory loss, though the book is light on statistics regarding their frequency or relapse. Utilizing a proprietary “Courageous Recovery Wellness Model” that stresses awareness, acceptance, and continued commitment to health, the volume confronts falsehoods about ECT and clinical depression head on with useful self-care tips and checklists for identifying symptoms. Versions of this model are included not just for consumers, but also caregivers and health professionals. Kivler’s writing is thrifty but surprisingly artful, particularly when speaking about her own experiences. Early on, she sets the scene of a hospital lockdown ward that could have been “on another planet,” a place where “we all lost our ability to walk normally. Feet never really left the ground as we slowly scuffed our way through the halls.”

A vivid and personal story that turns into an enthusiastic advocacy for electroconvulsive therapy.

Pub Date: May 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9844799-3-1

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Three Gem Publishing/Kivler Communications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2018

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...



The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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