The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior

Jordan Smoller, Author
Jordan Smoller. Morrow, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-149219-8
Reviewed on: 02/13/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-06-210133-4
Paperback - 638 pages - 978-0-06-206497-4
Paperback - 390 pages - 978-0-06-149220-4
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The premise of this exciting book by Smoller, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is as simple as it is provocative: “Rather than constructing disorders by labeling the extremes—the troubled mind and the broken brain—we must start with an understanding of the normal.” As he so well explains, normal isn’t a singular form of behavior or feeling but a range on a broader spectrum. Similarly, there is no single point at which normal becomes abnormal in all situations. Smoller says that understanding the evolutionary roots of human brain functioning and behavior is essential to defining “normal.” Clearly and articulately, tying evolutionary psychology, biological psychiatry, animal behavior, and related fields into a package of rare coherence, he integrates cutting-edge research with case studies of his own patients. By exploring the origins of emotions such as trust, fear, love, and empathy, he forces us to think about what it means to cross the line from normal to abnormal. And he does a remarkable job of ensuring that we revisit and improve both the concept of pathology and its treatment. 11 illus. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. (May)
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