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A thorough and quietly encouraging manual on the causes and containment of panic attacks.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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A comprehensive book looks at the science of acute anxiety—and possible new approaches to treatment.

Manning (CBT Diary and Worksheets, 2017, etc.) is the son of two efficient, hardworking Irish immigrants to Britain who rose to positions of power in their professions. But, according to the author, they were stymied when it came to parenting a son who was hesitant, introverted, and, from an early age, prone to periods of depression. Manning sketches in his autobiography in quick, economical strokes and skillfully uses it to ground the broader inquiry he and Ridgeway (Think About Your Thinking, 2009) conduct into the causes, nature, and possible treatments for panic attacks, which they describe briefly as “a whole-body response to perceived threat or danger.” The key word being “perceived”—the authors point out that one of the many cruel ironies of panic attacks is that they happen in the absence of any actual danger, producing the whole range of physiological and psychological symptoms that would be provoked in a genuine crisis. The amygdala fires repeatedly in the brain; the stomach contracts out of fear; the bowels tighten; the brain goes into a state of irrational hyperalertness; and the individual has little or no control over any of it. The authors make the unsubstantiated but surely correct assertion that far more people undergo panic attacks than anybody knows, since most sufferers probably avoid the associated stigma by refusing to report the incidents. Those secret victims—and their loved ones—should find the authors’ breakdown of the specific causes of fear and anxiety invaluable reading. And they may take comfort from the subsequent lucid discussion of cognitive behavioral therapy, a method of dealing with panic attacks that encourages sufferers to analyze the precise steps and timing of what’s happening to them through a variety of approaches. The authors’ wise choice to avoid hypertechnical professional jargon makes their book immediately accessible to the people who need it the most.

A thorough and quietly encouraging manual on the causes and containment of panic attacks.

Pub Date: July 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5355-7085-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017



If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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

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