A well-informed and accessible guide to treating addiction.

An exploration of drug addiction and the various treatment options.

In this slim but fairly comprehensive work, Sederer (Improving Mental Health: Four Secrets in Plain Sight, 2016, etc.), the chief medical officer for the New York State Office of Mental Health, aims to inform individuals, families, and communities of the complex issues surrounding drug abuse and addiction, whether the addiction involves prescription pain killers or recreational substances such as marijuana or cocaine. He also focuses on the far-ranging challenges of treatment options, how they can be influenced by physiological issues and often undermined by governmental policies. Sederer begins by identifying 10 key factors for determining how an individual will interact with a psychoactive substance, with regard to personal, contextual, and neurological issues. They include aspects such as age, environmental setting, and the purity, potency, and composition of the particular drugs. In the second part, the author outlines the various approaches to treatments, beginning with healthy alternatives for combating personal struggles that may trigger drug use in the first place—e.g., exercise and sports, mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation. He later provides an in-depth overview of the more substantial principles and forms of treatments, ranging from 12-step programs to medication-assisted treatments. Ultimately, Sederer doesn’t recommend just one single course of action. Recovery is possible when individuals are willing and able to “stay the course.” While the author doesn’t offer much in the way of groundbreaking remedies, he provides a lucid foundation for responding to this complex challenge. As an answer to how we can best respond to our country’s opioid epidemic, he concludes, “the answers are public health in nature: prevention, early intervention, effective and comprehensive treatment programs, and a cultural shift toward understanding not just the neuroscience of addiction but also the psychological and social dimensions central to the commencement and continuation of addictive behaviors.”

A well-informed and accessible guide to treating addiction.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7944-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018



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


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

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