BETTER THAN NORMAL by Dale Archer

BETTER THAN NORMAL

How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional

KIRKUS REVIEW

A psychiatrist and CNN regular examines commonly held notions of mental-health disorders and their potentials for “normalcy.”

Frustrated with today’s “overdiagnosed, overmedicated, and undertreated society,” Archer attempts to destigmatize eight common psychological ailments by quantifying the dominance level of their inherent traits. In uniquely defusing disorders ranging from ADHD and OCD to anxiety and schizophrenia, the author believes the mental-health industry has been somewhat “glamorized.” Throughout his chatty, anecdotal book, Archer convincingly argues that we can actually function normally with mildly influential characteristics of narcissism, social anxiety and bipolar disorder. When these traits are within the lower (harmless) end of the continuum and don’t become a “superdominant” mannerism, they can be seen as beneficial behavioral enhancements—e.g., high energy and enthusiasm doesn’t always mean a bipolar personality; sensitivity and deliberation shouldn’t equal social anxiety disorder. Archer’s creative redressing of these pathologically considered conditions is compelling and will definitely capture the attention of readers eager to “re-diagnose” themselves using his spectrum scale. The author, who admits to being a hyper-intuitive “world-class poker player,” does gamble a bit, however, with the free association of some of the more volatile psychological conditions in considering their lighter traits as derivatives of normalcy. Drawing heavily on his own experiences, Archer proudly advances his beliefs with episodes from his psychiatric practice, website queries and travels throughout the country. There are some fresh, modern and mildly amusing associations here; however, contrasting self-assessed symptoms of a disorder as significant as schizophrenia with the idiom of “magical thinking” will surely raise eyebrows.

Optimistic and creatively inspired assessments that occasionally overreach.

Pub Date: March 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-88746-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2012




BOOKS FOR WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY:

NonfictionHALLUCINATIONS by Oliver Sacks
by Oliver Sacks
FictionTURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlante
by Alice LaPlante
FictionHALFWAY HOUSE by Katherine Noel
by Katherine Noel
NonfictionMONKEY MIND by Daniel Smith
by Daniel Smith
NonfictionA CALM BRAIN by Gayatri Devi
by Gayatri Devi

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionTREATING MENTAL DISORDERS by Peter E. Nathan
by Peter E. Nathan
NonfictionMAKING SENSE OF PEOPLE by Samuel Barondes
by Samuel Barondes
IndieTHIS WAY OUT by Diane  Light
by Diane Light