NERVE

ADVENTURES IN THE SCIENCE OF FEAR

Science and psychology inform the engaging memoir of an author on a self-help mission.

Her mother’s unexpected death inspires a Yukon Territory–based adventurer and travel journalist to face her fears.

In a harmonious blend of memoir and science reporting, Outside correspondent Holland describes her attempts to “learn to master my fear,” embarking on a three-year project of research and treatment following the devastating death of her mother. Her mother had been an orphan, shaken by the death of her own mother, which left the author anticipating her mother’s death more fearfully than anything else. When Holland’s fears were realized, she fell apart, unable to work or deal with people and falling into free-floating anxiety and the occasional panic attack. Other fears came to the fore of her consciousness—e.g., a fear of heights from a childhood escalator mishap (though she later learned that her father had suffered from something similar and that such fears might be genetic in origin) and lingering PTSD from a series of car crashes. The book is most compelling at its most personal, as the author makes her story seem both specific and universal: “An irony: fear is an experience that unites us, even as, in the moment, it makes us feel very much alone.” Holland faced her challenges through both exposure therapy and pharmaceutical applications, and she traces the theories of fear and how to treat it, including Freudian therapy, lobotomy, electroshock treatment, and other more modern approaches. Throughout the narrative, the author develops herself as a protagonist whose fears are serious enough to benefit from treatment but whose condition should strike a responsive chord in many readers. Her goal is not to eliminate fear, which serves as a tool for self-preservation, but to put it into perspective. By the end, she writes, “I am much less afraid of fear itself.”

Science and psychology inform the engaging memoir of an author on a self-help mission.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61519-600-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The Experiment

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Categories:

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 26


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 26


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Close Quickview