Synopses & Reviews
A paradigm-shifting exploration of neurodivergent women--those with autism, ADHD, synesthesia, and other sensory processing differences — offering a timely, provocative examination of why these traits are overlooked in women and how our society can benefit from allowing their unique strengths to flourish.
As a smart, successful, Harvard and Berkeley-educated writer and devoted mother, Jenara Nerenberg didn't discover her own autism and ADHD until well into her adulthood, after misdiagnosis had already taken a huge toll on her personal and professional life. Being a journalist, she dove into the research and discovered neurodiversity — a movement which seeks to stop pathologizing 'abnormal' versus 'normal' brains and start embracing the variety of mental makeups we all have.
But we can't accept what we don't recognize, and when it comes to women, sensory processing differences including high sensitivity (HSP), autism, sensory processing disorder (SPD), ADHD, and synesthesia are often overlooked, masked, or mistaken for something else entirely. Between a flawed system that focuses on diagnosing younger, male populations, and the fact that women are conditioned from a young age to blend in and conform to gender expectations, women often don't learn about their conditions until they are adults, if at all. As a result, millions live with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed neurodivergences, and the misidentification leads to depression, anxiety, shame, and low self-esteem. Meanwhile, we all miss out on the gifts their neurodivergent minds have to offer.
Divergent Mind is a long-overdue, much-needed answer for women who have a deep sense that they are "different." Sharing real stories from women with high sensitivity, ADHD, autism, synesthesia, dyslexia, misophonia and more, Nerenberg explores how these brain variances present differently in women and dispels widely-held misconceptions (for example, it's not that autistic people lack sensitivity and feeling, they have an overwhelming excess of it).
Nerenberg also offers us a path forward, taking readers through practical ways that innovative minds in healthcare, architecture, technology, and therapy are changing the way we communicate, how we design our homes and offices, and how we can better support the people we care about — which has wide-ranging benefits for everyone, divergent or not.
It's time to treat distress, not difference. When we let the variety of brain makeups we all have flourish, we create a better tomorrow for us all.
"An extraordinary, jaw-dropping take on a topic with which many women will identify." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Empowering....This important book not only advocates for research and innovation; it demonstrates the power of acceptance, kindness, and the celebration of differences." Booklist
“Divergent Mind explores powerful and positive ways to understand our fundamental differences. Its focus on women is much needed and timely....eye-opening and healing.” Mary Pipher, New York Times bestselling author of Women Rowing North and Reviving Ophelia
About the Author
Jenara Nerenberg lectures widely on neuroscience, innovation, sensitivity, leadership, and diversity. Selected as a "brave new idea" presenter by the Aspen Institute for her work on re-framing mental differences, Jenara is also the founder and host of The Neurodiversity Project. She holds degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health and UC Berkeley. Her work has been published in Fast Company, New York magazine, Susan Cain's Quiet Revolution, Garrison Institute, Elaine Aron's HSP, Healthline, KQED, and elsewhere. In addition to her work as a journalist, Jenara is a frequent workshop facilitator, speaker, and event host for institutions including the Stanford Graduate School of Business and elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.