9780142000557 / 0142000558

The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness


Publisher:Penguin Books



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About the book:

No one likes being called crazy. But Dr. Martha Stout, a psychological trauma specialist, invites all to question their own level of mental acumen in The Myth of Sanity. Her logic makes sense: all humans experience fear, especially during youth; individuals' response systems determine how their brains catalogue traumatic experiences and trigger "dissociative" coping strategies. Those who experience horrific situations like abuse, catastrophe, or grueling medical procedures fare the worst over time; their dissociative behaviors can manifest themselves as situational fatigue, "lost" hours or days, or split personalities.

Drawing from 20 years of treating such patients, Stout presents several composite characters to illustrate all levels of dissociative behavior: from the very serious DID (dissociative identity disorder, or "switching" among distinct personalities) to the nearly universal "brief phasing out" (losing a thought or getting "caught up" in something). As each patient undergoes psychoanalysis, Stout highlights clues for identifying trauma sufferers and lends advice to their loved ones. Tending away from scientific data or supportive research findings--while tending toward a fiction-lover's prose--The Myth of Sanity focuses on personal stories and Stout's zealous admiration for responsible therapy patients who wake to a sanity unclouded by past fears. --Liane Thomas

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