An affecting, honest memoir useful to anyone trying to understand life with psychosis.



In this debut memoir, a woman describes how she came to understand, treat and live successfully with her mental illness.

At first, this memoir’s narrative is difficult to piece together, as it bounces among the author’s memories of her first stay in a mental hospital; her career as a waitress; and stories of her high school boyfriend and her mother’s abusive boyfriend, among other things. However, readers soon begin to understand how fractured, abusive and sad Joiner’s childhood often was, due to her alcoholic mother, distant father and disastrous stepfathers. She began to have paranoid thoughts in high school, and by age 19, she suffered from delusions, including the belief that the Four Seasons’ 1962 song “Sherry,” which she heard on the radio, was “someone singing about me.” Soon, she believed that she was a movie star, that she was Jesus Christ, and that she could control John Kennedy’s and Robert Kennedy’s spirits. She shuffled among various jobs (waitressing, topless dancing, and, later, working as a preschool teacher and a nurse’s aide) as well as different men. She also repeatedly attempted suicide and underwent five different stints in an asylum. She developed a combination of work, creativity, exercise, therapy, and medication and created “Sherry’s Master Plan”—a method of meticulously recording and evaluating her daily achievements—that enabled her to get through each day. The book becomes more coherent as it goes on, as Joiner shines a light into the dark, frightening world of psychosis and its twisted logic. The prose is often beautiful, if harrowing, and readers will have sympathy for Joiner’s utter determination to find a way to live with her condition. The author’s stubborn courage is also admirable; for example, in 1972, she fought for equal pay for equal work, winning a settlement against a pizza place that paid her less because she was female. “I might have been ill, but for once, I knew I was right,” she says.

An affecting, honest memoir useful to anyone trying to understand life with psychosis.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490315133

Page Count: 270

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2014

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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