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THE ADDICTION INOCULATION

RAISING HEALTHY KIDS IN A CULTURE OF DEPENDENCE

Foundational advice to steer young adults away from the urges and temptations that lead to substance abuse.

Education and parenting journalist Lahey presents a memoir of—and research-backed guide to—negotiating the world of substance abuse.

Intoxicants have been with us since the beginning of civilization, writes the author, easing “the ache of common injuries as well as the pain of being human.” In this intimate, fruitful work, she opens with a candid account of her own alcoholism before moving on to an explanation of the deleterious effects of alcohol and drugs on the developing brains of adolescents and young adults. Lahey’s foray into neurobiology is shaped by peer-reviewed journals, so the science is solid, as are her emotional and behavioral insights into mental health. In straightforward prose, the author documents the risks for the young, from ages approximately 10 to 24, including differing triggers for males and females and protective measures that can be deployed to help contend with peer pressure and other factors that may lead them to substance abuse. In addition to examining the effects of epigenetics, ADHD, and “adverse childhood experiences,” Lahey compassionately lays out the societal pressures that can result in toxic stress and aggressive behavior. She emphasizes the importance of keeping open transparent lines of communication and relying on “evidence-based information” in the fight to prevent addiction. What does not work, she points out, is a parental approach that focuses on “lies and scare tactics.” Lahey also provides recommendations such as keeping the alcohol locked up, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, avoiding “secrets and shame,” and getting a pet. Some of the author’s suggestions may not stick with hormone-soaked teens—e.g., mindfulness practice, quiet time, invoking the serenity prayer—but there’s enough here to offer a solid plan for parents. While “every substance abuse story begins at home,” Lahey also introduces inoculation theory, life-skills training, and an array of signals to watch out for during the schooling years.

Foundational advice to steer young adults away from the urges and temptations that lead to substance abuse.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-288378-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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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

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