Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith

Book Summary(via Goodreads):
Anxiety once paralyzed Daniel Smith over a roast beef sandwich, convincing him that a choice between ketchup and barbeque sauce was as dire as that between life and death. It has caused him to chew his cuticles until they bled, wear sweat pads in his armpits, and confess his sexual problems to his psychotherapist mother. It has dogged his days, threatened his sanity, and ruined his relationships. In Monkey Mind, Smith articulates what it is like to live with anxiety, defanging the disease with humor, traveling through its demonic layers, and evocatively expressing its self-destructive absurdities and painful internal coherence. With honesty and wit, he exposes anxiety as a pudgy, weak-willed wizard behind a curtain of dread and tames what has always seemed to him, and to the tens of millions of others who suffer from anxiety, a terrible affliction.

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.
This insomniac's opinion:
This was a really, really uncomfortable read for me. As you may know, I am a registered nurse. As this book unfolded, I found myself realizing that the writing of this book did not at all seem therapeutic or healing for the author(this is my perception as a reader only). In fact, Mr. Smith talks about celebrities that have dealt with anxiety and other such facts in such a way that you begin to wonder if he wants to be applauded for his illness. It was desperately sad. I had hoped that near the end of the book, the author would have conquered his anxiety or at least come to some sort of resolution where he was coping better. That simply did not happen and it deeply saddened me. I felt as though reading was akin to watching bad reality television- at first it is terribly interesting but soon becomes deeply sad and leaves you with a 'reality hangover'.
As someone who suffers from intense anxiety at times and anxiety attacks, I applaud the author for his honesty. After all, mental illness is still deeply stigmatized in this country. However, the book was a wild mesh of clinical facts and dramatized sections and had no resolution, whatsoever. I do wish the author the best in his continuing struggles.
Worth staying up all night to read?
Not in my opinion.
Rating: 2 stars

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