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Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety | [Daniel Smith]

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

In the insightful narrative tradition of Oliver Sacks, Monkey Mind is an uplifting, smart, and very funny memoir of life with anxiety - America’s most common psychological complaint. We all think we know what being anxious feels like - it is the instinct that made us run from wolves in the prehistoric age and pushes us to perform in the modern one - but for forty million American adults, anxiety is an insidious condition that defines daily life. Yet no popular memoir has been written about that experience - until now.
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Publisher's Summary

In the insightful narrative tradition of Oliver Sacks, Monkey Mind is an uplifting, smart, and very funny memoir of life with anxiety - America’s most common psychological complaint.

We all think we know what being anxious feels like - it is the instinct that made us run from wolves in the prehistoric age and pushes us to perform in the modern one - but for forty million American adults, anxiety is an insidious condition that defines daily life. Yet no popular memoir has been written about that experience until now. Aaron Beck, the most influential doctor in modern psychotherapy, says that “Monkey Mind does for anxiety what William Styron’s Darkness Visible did for depression.”

In Monkey Mind, Daniel Smith brilliantly articulates what it is like to live with anxiety, defanging the disease with humor, traveling through its demonic layers, evocatively expressing both its painful internal coherence and its absurdities. He also draws on its most storied sufferers to trace anxiety’s intellectual history and its influence on our time. Here, finally, comes relief and recognition to millions of people who have wanted someone to put into words what they and their loved ones feel.

Daniel B. Smith is the author of Muses, Madmen, and Prophets and a contributor to numerous publications, including the American Scholar, Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, and Slate.

©2012 Daniel Smith (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“You don’t need a Jewish mother, or a profound sweating problem, to feel Daniel Smith’s pain in Monkey Mind. His memoir treats what must be the essential ailment of our time - anxiety - and it does so with wisdom, honesty, and the kind of belly laughs that can only come from troubles transformed.” (Chad Harbach, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Fielding)

“I don’t know Daniel Smith, but I do want to give him a hug. His book is so bracingly honest, so hilarious, so sharp, it’s clear there’s one thing he doesn’t have to be anxious about: whether or not he’s a great writer.” (A. J. Jacobs, New York Times best-selling author of The Year of Living Biblically)

“Daniel Smith maps the jagged contours of anxiety with such insight, humor, and compassion that the result is, oddly, calming. There are countless gems in these pages, including a fresh take on the psychopathology of chronic nail biting, an ill-fated ménage à trois - and the funniest perspiration scene since Albert Brooks’ sweaty performance in Broadcast News. Read this book. You have nothing to lose but your heart palpitations, and your Xanax habit.”(Eric Weiner, New York Times bestselling author of The Geography of Bliss

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (97 )
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3.4 (83 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kindle Customer Walpole, MA, United States 08-18-12
    Kindle Customer Walpole, MA, United States 08-18-12 Member Since 2011

    I'm a bear that likes honey, climbing trees, stealing picnic baskets and listening to audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Initially promising but ultimately disappointing"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I think that there needs to be a more general focus on the symptoms and causes of anxiety, rather than just this narrator's personal experience. Since the triggers for his anxiety are so personal, they don't translate well to the listener.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The ending was a little bit better than the meat of the book in that the author at least begins to pursue some ways to remedy his anxiety, but it's not enough.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator did a good job, but I think was limited by the source material


    Do you think Monkey Mind needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. I've had enough of the author and his anxiety problems.


    Any additional comments?

    I found this book frustrating because I was really looking forward to reading it, and it started off with such a tremendous bang that I thought it would be great throughout. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I thought that there would be a lot of common ground. Unfortunately, it gets bogged down in endless, repetitive passages in which the narrator talks about his anxiety in general terms and how it caused him problems, but never digs deep enough into the disorder itself. What kinds of warped thinking patterns cause anxiety? Why do some people generate anxious thoughts as their status quo?

    It seems like a very self-indulgent and maybe even self-aggrandizing book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane United States 08-05-12
    Diane United States 08-05-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Eye-opening"
    Any additional comments?

    I have mixed feelings about this book. The first and last several chapters were captivating. In the middle, however, I wondered if I had wasted yet another credit and even considered not finishing. The problem for me was the amount of time dedicated to the author’s anxiety symptoms, which he described to exhaustion. Fortunately, I stuck with it and my tenacity was rewarded in the end.

    Therefore, on the whole, I would recommend it.

    By the way, “Monkey Mind” was chosen to be discussed at the “Science Friday” book club. You can download the podcast if you miss the live show on NPR.

    Note to the author: Daniel, you should have done the narration. The narrator did a fine job, but this was such a personal story that it felt wrong having someone else speak it. Also, while I do not suffer from extreme anxiety, I felt the same way as you about Bdeis orientation week. It was horrible!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael Modbury, Australia 12-12-13
    michael Modbury, Australia 12-12-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Self indulgent"
    What would have made Monkey Mind better?

    this is crap. Probably most self indulgent I have read in years.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    anything else


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Paul Michael Garcia?

    noone


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Nothing to redeem it.


    Any additional comments?

    waste of time and money

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Vancouver, BC, Canada 03-18-13
    Ryan Vancouver, BC, Canada 03-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Didn't even finish it"
    Would you try another book from Daniel Smith and/or Paul Michael Garcia?

    My feeling is that this book was written more for the enjoyment of the author than for that of the reader.


    Has Monkey Mind turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Michael Garcia’s performances?

    Yes.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Corcoran Madison, WI 02-01-13
    S. Corcoran Madison, WI 02-01-13 Member Since 2012

    Household Pest

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    "More weird than funny, interesting view of anxiety"

    The stories were really more weird than funny, and in places actually somewhat creepy. But the book offers some interesting analyses of anxiety, probably worth a listen for that, but if you're looking for "quirky and fun" look to Jenny Lawson instead.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada 10-01-12
    Shannon Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada 10-01-12
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    "Interesting perspective!"

    A very interesting perspective from someone who has a debilitating anxiety condition. If you have ever thought you suffer from anxiety, this will make you feel better about your own condition, and may help you through it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    irene bartlett, TN, United States 08-10-13
    irene bartlett, TN, United States 08-10-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So very glad I found this!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes.....I just gave it as a gift....It was helpful, compassionate, understanding and delightfully written. He shared honestly. Wow.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It wasn't a self-help book, but a dead-on detailed description of the pain and handicap anxiety causes......and the humor....very good!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    discovering the safety of the library......but only because favorite means "pick just one"


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    how he related to Roth....all of it....but especially in understanding & accepting his mother


    Any additional comments?

    Thank you Daniel Smith......just, Thank you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annie ALEXANDRIA, MN, United States 10-03-12
    Annie ALEXANDRIA, MN, United States 10-03-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Good in theory, poor in reality."
    What disappointed you about Monkey Mind?

    As someone with anxiety, I was hoping for some good insight into dealing with anxiety and how other people have faced theirs but the author is too close to the topic. His descriptions of his anxiety seem forced. His mother was a therapist so it's almost like he was forced into feeling as if there must be something wrong with him. He had too much access to information regarding various mental illness and he uses that to try to take his quirks too a level beyond to write a book. Almost sounds like he just wants attention.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure but I hope it will be better than this!


    How could the performance have been better?

    Read a better book


    What character would you cut from Monkey Mind?

    The author. He really just came across as a narcissist who wanted attention for having anxiety, but his anxiety did not come across as real


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Columbia, SC, United States 07-30-12
    Rachel Columbia, SC, United States 07-30-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing"
    What disappointed you about Monkey Mind?

    I expected this book to be entertaining and educational and it was neither. I heard the NPR interview, and I can't understand why this book is getting so much attention. The personal story keeps returning to his sexual encounter with a lesbian, and bounces back and forth in time. There is no new information on anxiety that I can tell. I listened to the whole thing, and kept thinking, "Maybe I'm about to get to the good part." There wasn't one.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Myerstown, PA, United States 07-09-12
    Robin Myerstown, PA, United States 07-09-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Very Dissappointing!"
    Would you try another book from Daniel Smith and/or Paul Michael Garcia?

    No!


    What was most disappointing about Daniel Smith’s story?

    The book was advertised as a sometimes "funny" memoir about the authors anxiety. However it was much more about his sexual exploits then his anxiety. Had to stop reading after a couple of chapters! Not funny, very little about anxiety, nothing like I was expecting.


    What character would you cut from Monkey Mind?

    All of them!


    Any additional comments?

    I don't think the person who wrote the description of the book for Audible ever read the book! I really would like my credit back as I beleive the book description was very misleading.

    14 of 24 people found this review helpful
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