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.
We all think we know what being anxious feels like - it is the instinct that made us run from wolves in the prehistoric age and pushes us to perform in the modern one - but for forty million American adults, anxiety is an insidious condition that defines daily life. Yet no popular memoir has been written about that experience until now. 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.”
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. He also draws on its most storied sufferers to trace anxiety’s intellectual history and its influence on our time. Here, finally, comes relief and recognition to millions of people who have wanted someone to put into words what they and their loved ones feel.
Daniel B. Smith is the author of Muses, Madmen, and Prophets and a contributor to numerous publications, including the American Scholar, Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, and Slate.
©2012 Daniel Smith (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“You don’t need a Jewish mother, or a profound sweating problem, to feel Daniel Smith’s pain in Monkey Mind. His memoir treats what must be the essential ailment of our time - anxiety - and it does so with wisdom, honesty, and the kind of belly laughs that can only come from troubles transformed.” (Chad Harbach, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Fielding)
“I don’t know Daniel Smith, but I do want to give him a hug. His book is so bracingly honest, so hilarious, so sharp, it’s clear there’s one thing he doesn’t have to be anxious about: whether or not he’s a great writer.” (A. J. Jacobs, New York Times best-selling author of The Year of Living Biblically)
“Daniel Smith maps the jagged contours of anxiety with such insight, humor, and compassion that the result is, oddly, calming. There are countless gems in these pages, including a fresh take on the psychopathology of chronic nail biting, an ill-fated ménage à trois - and the funniest perspiration scene since Albert Brooks’ sweaty performance in Broadcast News. Read this book. You have nothing to lose but your heart palpitations, and your Xanax habit.”(Eric Weiner, New York Times bestselling author of The Geography of Bliss
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I have mixed feelings about this book. The first and last several chapters were captivating. In the middle, however, I wondered if I had wasted yet another credit and even considered not finishing. The problem for me was the amount of time dedicated to the author’s anxiety symptoms, which he described to exhaustion. Fortunately, I stuck with it and my tenacity was rewarded in the end.
Therefore, on the whole, I would recommend it.
By the way, “Monkey Mind” was chosen to be discussed at the “Science Friday” book club. You can download the podcast if you miss the live show on NPR.
Note to the author: Daniel, you should have done the narration. The narrator did a fine job, but this was such a personal story that it felt wrong having someone else speak it. Also, while I do not suffer from extreme anxiety, I felt the same way as you about Bdeis orientation week. It was horrible!
"Initially promising but ultimately disappointing"
I think that there needs to be a more general focus on the symptoms and causes of anxiety, rather than just this narrator's personal experience. Since the triggers for his anxiety are so personal, they don't translate well to the listener.
The ending was a little bit better than the meat of the book in that the author at least begins to pursue some ways to remedy his anxiety, but it's not enough.
The narrator did a good job, but I think was limited by the source material
No. I've had enough of the author and his anxiety problems.
I found this book frustrating because I was really looking forward to reading it, and it started off with such a tremendous bang that I thought it would be great throughout. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I thought that there would be a lot of common ground. Unfortunately, it gets bogged down in endless, repetitive passages in which the narrator talks about his anxiety in general terms and how it caused him problems, but never digs deep enough into the disorder itself. What kinds of warped thinking patterns cause anxiety? Why do some people generate anxious thoughts as their status quo?
It seems like a very self-indulgent and maybe even self-aggrandizing book.
this is crap. Probably most self indulgent I have read in years.
Nothing to redeem it.
waste of time and money
"Didn't even finish it"
My feeling is that this book was written more for the enjoyment of the author than for that of the reader.
"More weird than funny, interesting view of anxiety"
The stories were really more weird than funny, and in places actually somewhat creepy. But the book offers some interesting analyses of anxiety, probably worth a listen for that, but if you're looking for "quirky and fun" look to Jenny Lawson instead.
"Good in theory, poor in reality."
As someone with anxiety, I was hoping for some good insight into dealing with anxiety and how other people have faced theirs but the author is too close to the topic. His descriptions of his anxiety seem forced. His mother was a therapist so it's almost like he was forced into feeling as if there must be something wrong with him. He had too much access to information regarding various mental illness and he uses that to try to take his quirks too a level beyond to write a book. Almost sounds like he just wants attention.
Not sure but I hope it will be better than this!
Read a better book
The author. He really just came across as a narcissist who wanted attention for having anxiety, but his anxiety did not come across as real
A very interesting perspective from someone who has a debilitating anxiety condition. If you have ever thought you suffer from anxiety, this will make you feel better about your own condition, and may help you through it.
"So very glad I found this!"
Yes.....I just gave it as a gift....It was helpful, compassionate, understanding and delightfully written. He shared honestly. Wow.
It wasn't a self-help book, but a dead-on detailed description of the pain and handicap anxiety causes......and the humor....very good!
discovering the safety of the library......but only because favorite means "pick just one"
how he related to Roth....all of it....but especially in understanding & accepting his mother
Thank you Daniel Smith......just, Thank you.
I expected this book to be entertaining and educational and it was neither. I heard the NPR interview, and I can't understand why this book is getting so much attention. The personal story keeps returning to his sexual encounter with a lesbian, and bounces back and forth in time. There is no new information on anxiety that I can tell. I listened to the whole thing, and kept thinking, "Maybe I'm about to get to the good part." There wasn't one.
The book was advertised as a sometimes "funny" memoir about the authors anxiety. However it was much more about his sexual exploits then his anxiety. Had to stop reading after a couple of chapters! Not funny, very little about anxiety, nothing like I was expecting.
All of them!
I don't think the person who wrote the description of the book for Audible ever read the book! I really would like my credit back as I beleive the book description was very misleading.
"funny and human"
I enjoyed this book a lot. very humbling, clever and comical
I think I expected more but still very good
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