Better Than Normal

  • by Dale Archer, MD
  • Narrated by Marc Cashman
  • 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking new view of human psychology that shows how eight key traits of human behavior—long perceived as liabilities—can be important hidden strengths.
What if the inattentiveness that makes school or work a challenge holds the secret to your future as an entrepreneur? What if the shyness in groups that you hate is the source of deep compassion for others? What if the anxiety and nervousness you often feel can actually help energize you? What if the mood swings you sometimes experience canbe the source of tremendous creativity?
Renowned psychiatrist and popular on-air personality Dr. Dale Archer believes that labels for behavior like “ADHD,” “bipolar,” and “OCD” are normal human qualities—and contends that we all experience these and other psychological traits to some extent, yet fail to leverage the significant advantages they can offer. Worse, we stigmatize one another for these prevalent, widely shared aspects of our personalities.
In Better Than Normal, Dr. Archer offers an empowering framework for redefining what constitutes mental health. Drawing on his 20 years of clinical experience, he describes eight traits of human behavior—heretofore knownonly as psychiatric diagnoses. Each of these occurs along a continuum rather than as a simple on-off switch (where “off ” means we’re fine, and “on” means we’ve got a problem). These are the aspects of our personality that we worry about the most, but these are also the very things that make us distinctive and different.
According to Dr. Archer, each of us has a unique personality that emerges from our hardwired genetics and individual life experiences. With Better Than Normal, you can map your individual characteristics by taking the eight trait self-assessment quiz and see how what makes you different can indeed make you exceptional. Filled with engaging anecdotes and practical tools to help you capitalize on your unique characteristics, Better Than Normal offers a new and liberating way to look at ourselves and others.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Rather Obvious, but Maybe Not to Some

Only about one out of every 50 audiobooks that I buy I find so boring that I give up on them. This was one of them. The problem is that the contents of the book just seem so obvious.

The author's point is that several personality traits that at the extreme ("extreme" meaning the traits are so strong that they directly cause the person to have problems functioning throughout much of what they do) are each part of a personality spectrum. These traits exist because even at high levels they are adaptive for our species, and most important, adaptive for individuals given that they understand their traits and the manage their lives appropriately.

The problem is that our current society is so focused on what is "normal" (and by this what is really meant is what is average), that people with traits well outside what is average, but within what is healthy and adaptive, are stigmatized and told, either directly or implicitly, they're not normal and that they should get help.

The traits discussed are:

1. Adventurous (ADHD--Attention Deficit Disorder)
2. Perfectionist (OCD--Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
3. Shy (Social Anxiety Disorder)
4. Anxious (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
5. Dramatic (Histrionic)
6. Self-Focused (Narcissism)
7. High Energy (Bipolar)
8. Magical (Schizophrenia)

For each trait the author describes what the trait is and how it is useful and adaptive. He then gives examples of people high in the trait, how they have been situations that have made them suffer for the trait, and how they have figured out how to arrange their lives to use their traits to their advantage.

If you don't know what these traits are or have trouble thinking of ways the traits can be used to an individual's advantage, then this book may be interesting. Otherwise, it will all seem obvious and uninteresting.

Marc Cashman does an excellent narration.
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- Douglas C. Bates

An Exceptional Book

What did you love best about Better Than Normal?

Very interesting material! Easy to listen to. Good use of stories to illustrate the key points.


What did you like best about this story?

Pertinent for all and I'd love for more health care providers to listen to (or read) this. As a health care provider myself, I find it offered me more ways to relate to my patients and help them understand their own unique ways of experiencing life.


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- Melissa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-13-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio