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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional

       What if you have boundless energy, are restless and have mood swings from high to low. Does this mean you are bipolar? Or, if you like everything very orderly, arrange things by size, shape, or color, and have unreasonable recurring thoughts. Do you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? Not necessarily, according to the theories espoused in this book by Dr. Dale Archer. The author, who is a psychiatrist, media presenter and website host, conjectures that eight of the psychiatric disorders highlighted in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of psychiatric diagnosis, are not full-blown psychoses but instead are normal human qualities that each of us possess, whether nearly absent, dominant, or superdominant, along a continuum. So, the person with ADHD may simply be adventurous, an individual exhibiting social anxiety may be shy, and the narcissist is very self-focused. Dr. Archer also compares schizophrenia with magical thinking on the continuum, histrionic personalities with dramatic ones, and people with generalized anxiety disorder with the hyper-alert.

       Although Dr. Archer recognizes that individuals who are super-dominant on the continuums for any one of these psychological traits probably will require psychotherapy and/or medication, he believes that we should appreciate these traits that we all possess to a greater or lesser degree. The easy-to-read book contains several in-depth examples of these behaviors, a list of bibliographic sources, and eight brief questionnaires designed to help the reader determine where he or she falls on the continuum for each.

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