Monkey mind A memoir of anxiety

Daniel B. Smith, 1977-

Book - 2012

In "Monkey Mind," Daniel Smith brilliantly articulates what it is like to live with anxiety, defanging the disease with humor, traveling through its demonic layers, evocatively expressing both its painful internal coherence and its absurdities.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster 2012.
Edition
1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed
Language
English
Physical Description
viii, 212 p. ; 23 cm
ISBN
9781439177303
1439177309
Main Author
Daniel B. Smith, 1977- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

This is no recovery memoir, Smith writes. Let me warn you now. Right there, you know this isn't one of your usual overcoming-adversity memoirs. When the book ends, Smith is still full of his anxieties, but he's better able to deal with them. Not as traumatic as Mark Vonnegut's The Eden Express (1975), which was about its author's descent into insanity, but written with the same sort of clarity and self-deprecating humor, the book explores Smith's anxiety and the intense irony of his mother being a psychotherapist and fellow anxiety sufferer. Anxiety, he tells us, is the most common psychological complaint, a clinical condition that is pretty much universal. Smith also explores the counterphobic impulse, which drives an anxious person to move toward rather than away from the thing that is causing the anxiety. Is that a sign of masochism, or is it a way for us to confront our fears? The book is one man's story, but at its core, it's about all of us, and anyone who reads it should find a few takeaways. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Anxiety is no laughing matter, yet afflicted journalist and editor Smith uses humor (such as his use of maxi pads to stem his profuse armpit sweat) as he explains the excess of thought and emotion also known as "Monkey Mind" in Buddhism. He traces its roots to his psychotherapist mother, a woman whose life is riddled with attacks she actively works to overcome in her 40s. Smith's attacks are exacerbated by the loss of his virginity in a ménage à trois with two predatory older women whose advances he's too angst-ridden to rebuff. Smith also reflects on college, where the abundance of freedom and absence of personal space induces frequent tear-choked calls home. After graduation, he embarks on his first romance and lands a fact-checking job at the Atlantic. There, he writes his first article, which results in a libel lawsuit. When his two-year relationship falls apart, he steps out of his stress-addled head long enough to heed the advice of his therapist. Reading the harsh comments posted online about his article and tracking his thoughts and behavior for triggers helps him reroute his psychological circuitry and win his ex back. Smith does a skillful job of dissecting the mechanics of anxiety as well as placing the reader in his fitful shoes. Agent, Melanie Jackson. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Shares the author's personal experiences with anxiety, describing its painful coherence and absurdities while sharing the stories of other sufferers to illustrate anxiety's intellectual history and influence.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The author of Muses, Madmen, and Prophets shares affirming, personal insights into the experiences of anxiety in today's world, evocatively describing its painful coherence and absurdities while sharing the stories of sufferers to illustrate anxiety's intellectual history and influence. 60,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In the insightful narrative tradition of Oliver Sacks, Monkey Mind is an uplifting, smart, and very funny memoir of life with anxiety—America’s most common psychological complaint. Daniel Smith’s Monkey Mind is the stunning articulation of what it is like to live with anxiety. As he travels through anxiety’s demonic layers, Smith defangs the disorder with great humor and evocatively expresses its self-destructive absurdities and painful internal coherence. Aaron Beck, the most influential doctor in modern psychotherapy, says that “Monkey Mind does for anxiety what William Styron’s Darkness Visible did for depression.” Neurologist and bestselling writer Oliver Sacks says, “I read Monkey Mind with admiration for its bravery and clarity….I broke out into explosive laughter again and again.” Here, finally, comes relief and recognition to all those who want someone to put what they feel, or what their loved ones feel, into words.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In this New York Times bestseller, Smith candidly but humorously presents his personal story of suffering under the yoke of acute anxiety, discussing his mother, losing his virginity, his favorite therapist, and a series of events which cause or have caused anxiety attacks. In his narrative Smith touches on forms of therapies and those who have written about anxiety in the past, such as Freud and Kierkegaard. While this popular memoir's function is not to present a cure for anxiety, Smith does explain via narrative and anecdote how he has learned to live with, and in some cases quiet, his clinical anxiety. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)