Synopses & Reviews
Psychiatry has ignored the normal. The focus on defining abnormal behavior has obscured what turns out to be the more fundamental question—how does the biology of the brain give rise to a mind which gives rise to everything we care about: thoughts, feelings, desires, and relationships?
In The Other Side of Normal, Harvard psychiatrist Jordan Smoller shows us that understanding what the mind was designed to do in the first place allows us to demystify mental illness and build a new foundation for defining psychiatric disorders from autism to depression. Smoller argues there are no bright lines between normal and abnormal and explains where our personalities come from, and how our temperaments as infants actually stay with us into adulthood. Along the way, he tackles an even greater question—what do we mean by "normal"?—as he explores puzzles as wide ranging as the epidemic of multiple personalities and the shocking phobia of shrinking penises.
Based on Smoller's groundbreaking research and own experience treating psychological disorders, The Other Side of Normal changes the way we think about the human condition.
"Move over Oliver Sacks - I couldn't put this fascinating book down! I was especially gripped by the parts relating to parenting, but the book has profoundly challenging implications for human behavior more generally. A brilliant mind and dazzling writer, Smoller makes complicated science understandable and riveting for any reader. " Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and New York Times bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
“Exciting... provocative...Clearly and articulately, he ties evolutionary psychology, biological psychiatry, animal behavior, and related fields into a package of rare coherence.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Move over Oliver Sacks - I couldnt put this fascinating book down! Path-breaking and witty, as entertaining as it is informative, The Other Side of Normal is filled with insights into why we behave as we do and how biology determines so much of our emotional makeup. A brilliant mind and dazzling writer, Smoller has written a book that will change the way you look at every day life.” Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and New York Times bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
“Highly interesting and accessible study of brain science and behavior....This thoroughly documented work provides enough information to satisfy the science-savvy without leaving the rest of us behind....Readers will be fascinated.” Library Journal
“An informative overview of research in neuroscience that provides a scientific foundation for understanding mental disorders.” Kirkus Reviews
“Smoller redefines the biology of normal.” Booklist
“Are we born crazy, or is crazy thrust upon us? Smoller investigates.” Denver Post
In this enthralling work of popular science, respected Harvard psychiatrist Jordan Smoller addresses one of humankinds most enduring and perplexing questions: What does it mean to be “normal?” In The Other Side of Normal, Smoller explores the biological component of normalcy, revealing the hidden side of our everyday behaviors—why we love what we love and fear what we fear. Other bestselling works of neurobiology and the mind have focused on mental illness and abnormal behaviors—like the Oliver Sacks classic, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat—but The Other Side of Normal is an eye-opening, thought-provoking, utterly fascinating and totally accessible exploration of the universals of human experience. It will change forever our understanding of who we are and what makes us that way.
About the Author
Jordan Smoller is associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.