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CHATTER by Ethan Kross Kirkus Star


by Ethan Kross

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-525-57523-8
Publisher: Crown

A professor of psychology examines the most crucial conversation: with ourselves.

In this deft debut, Kross, director of the University of Michigan’s Emotion & Self Control Laboratory, helps readers better understand what it means to be human. We all talk to ourselves every day, and even the calmest characters among us do so at a blistering pace. What experimental psychologists and neuroscientists refers to as “chatter” is the part of this one-person tête-à-tête that falls into a pattern of thinking, common to the human condition, in which reflection becomes a burden. Since we aren’t going to stop talking to ourselves—and, frankly, we don’t want to; the voices in our heads have valuable things to say—it’s important we use our introspection effectively: “Chatter underlies a variety of mental illnesses,” notes the author, who artfully describes how we talk to ourselves, why those conversations are helpful, and the triggers that can get us into trouble. He shows readers meaningful ways to reframe the discussion, when to seek assistance, and how to better support friends and family. The potential of a mind constructively channeled is no small thing, but it’s not all about being perpetually present. “The power of the mind to heal itself is, indeed, magical (in the awe-inspiring, not supernatural, sense).” Even if you have all the tools, which the author provides, “it’s critical that you build your own toolbox.” Throughout this fascinating narrative, fluidly written and packed with insight, Kross is consistently concise, practical, and well organized. Although an academic with impressive credentials, the author speaks to all students of life, grounding the text with illuminating vignettes pulled from the lives of public figures as well as his own. In the end, he shows us how we might have better chats with ourselves, ones that make us happier, healthier, and more productive people.

A book that will truly change minds.