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

In this enthralling work of popular science, respected Harvard psychiatrist Jordan Smoller addresses one of humankind s most enduring and perplexing questions What does it mean to be normal In The Other Side of Normal, Smoller explores the biological component of normalcy, revealing the hidden side of our everyday behaviors why we love what we love and fear what we feaIn this enthralling work of popular science, respected Harvard psychiatrist Jordan Smoller addresses one of humankind s most enduring and perplexing questions What does it mean to be normal In The Other Side of Normal, Smoller explores the biological component of normalcy, revealing the hidden side of our everyday behaviors why we love what we love and fear what we fear Other bestselling works of neurobiology and the mind have focused on mental illness and abnormal behaviors like the Oliver Sacks classic, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat but The Other Side of Normal is an eye opening, thought provoking, utterly fascinating and totally accessible exploration of the universals of human experience It will change forever our understanding of who we are and what makes us that way.
The Other Side of Normal How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior In this enthralling work of popular science respected Harvard psychiatrist Jordan Smoller addresses one of humankind s most enduring and perplexing questions What does it mean to be normal In The Oth

  • Title: The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior
  • Author: Jordan Smoller
  • ISBN: 9780061492198
  • Page: 280
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior”

    1. Thorough overview of the current science and thinking about the brain and behavior. Asks the great question: what is the purpose of the brain? The answers to that are what define "normal." I loved this for its easy-to-understand explanations of difficult-to-understand science. Also, loved the humor and stories.

    2. I am literally 2 pages into the book and I think it's pretty good. It has helped me formulate a few questions that I may not have otherwise asked. Like, "How can a person study the brain if that person essentially has to use their brain to do it?"Also, I like how the prologue was very upfront on how parts of the reading may seem obvious and very "duh!" but in my opinion that shouldn't discount the entire material.After I read more I think I'll write a more specific review.

    3. Historically, psychology has been the study of the abnormal. The thesis of this book is that the time has come to turn this formula on its head: the best way to understand the abnormal is to study the normal.One insight from the French physician François-Joseph-Victor Broussais around 1800 was that normal is a spectrum of variability. A bell curve has a “normal” distribution. That’s what normal means. There is no sharp distinction between normal and abnormal, although you can talk about s [...]

    4. A decent pop psychology read with a solid premise that is at the heart of the debate of psychology now (particularly with the release of the DSM-V): that we much define abnormal by first defining normal, rather than the other way around. Smoller brings the neuroscience and biology underpinning psychology down to a layperson's level, which is good for those who have a general interest in the topic. For those who are more versed and looking for something deeper, they probably won't find it here. T [...]

    5. In The Other Side of Normal, Jordan Smoller manages a remarkable balance between scientific detail and easy comprehension. Smoller brings to light the amazing way our brains are built to function and how they can go wrong.I found this book fascinating because it details just how nature and nurture can effect each other and our brains. It's most certainly not an either/or thing. Both are pieces in the detailed puzzle that forms our emotions and personalities. Smoller gives vivid examples and has [...]

    6. The Other side of Normal was actually a fun read. It was fast paced and interesting. Dr Smoller has a way with words and explains some intricate concepts of neuroscience beautifully. His chapter on Fear - Remember to forget-sets up his argument, to study the normal or range of human behavior that doesn't cause functional dysfunction ,on shaky grounds though, at least for me. He delved too eagerly into psychopharmacology for my interest instead of dwelling on the intricacies of the argument and r [...]

    7. For the first time, I find the biological mechanisms of psychiatric behaviour clearly illuminated. Dr Smoller managed to weave together various aspects - molecular biology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience - to explain how the functioning of the brain can go awry. I had readily dismissed pathologies of the mind as subjective and sometimes even self-indulgent practices, and Dr Smoller was able to salvage some of psychiatry's glories and wonders through this book. I had enjoyed this book very mu [...]

    8. One of my favorite books ever! Very interesting & well-written. I might have to read it again soon because I'm a little sad to be finished with it.

    9. Splendid survey of psychiatry todayAs a psychiatry student in the 60s I marvel at how this science has advanced since then. How biology and knowlege about the brain and genetics all have made progress in understanding human nature and nurture is simply stunning. What I miss is perhaps a deeper understanding of how the prenatal environment, in the womb, might influence the devellopement of an individual.

    10. Brain and cognitive science on ordinary psychology and its relation to abnormal psychology. Social aspects, emotions, and normal behaviors. Big idea is that much of our behavior can be found on a spectrum or normal curve with abnormal psychology being on the tails of the bell curve.

    11. I will have a special spot for this book on my list of favorite psychology/biology books of all time. When I went into this book, I expected to understand the topic because I have read over 20 books similar to this one but I also thought terms would be overly emphasized to make the language sound like pretty prose making it too complex rather than complex yet engaging. However, I found it to be the second. I am an avid neuroscience person which can be the reason why I didn't find any of the neur [...]

    12. Interesting particularly if you or someone you know is autistic or have anxiety, depression, etc. issues. The author starts with the question, "What is normal?" He says that "Psychiatry in particular has struggled with this issue, often with unsatisfying results." The chapters that follow deal with: What science is teaching us about its biology The "formative influence of early experience the devopment of key mental fuctions in childhood and adulthood including social cognition and empathy" Biol [...]

    13. This is not a groundbreaking book, but it ties together a number of recent threads in psychology investigation.Smoller gives a hat tip to Martin Seligman and "positive psychology" without buying into every bit of it.He notes that, in the case of something like depression, the modern West's ideas may have influenced the developing world, but with something like schizophrenia ,the cluster of symptoms, whatever the name, is fairly constant in frequency across cultures.He notes that with borderline [...]

    14. I found this book extremely informational, educational, and interesting. I was lucky enough to receive this wonderfully researched mental health advanced reader's copy free from .The book discusses the many new techniques used to assist in determining things about mentally ill patients, as well as the difficulties in determining just what "normal" is. The book touches on vast amounts of current research and many things vital to the human mind's development as well as things that need to be prese [...]

    15. I feel like I just finished a marathon I didn't particularly want to run. The book was vey enjoyable for me, and was basically a recap of my college education condensed nicely into one little book. I'm not particularly fond of the author- he is friends with "The Tiger Mom" and name drops fairly frequently. What is it with front runners in the psychiatric field? Congratulations, you study abnormal psychology, that doesn't make you God. Anyways, I enjoyed the book, it's basic references and explan [...]

    16. For anyone interested in human behavior, this is an excellent book. Smoller explores how the interplay between genetics and environment produces beliefs and behaviors that are both "normal" and those that are outside the broad range of what is considered normal. Relying on dozens of research studies as well as results from his own lab at Harvard, Smoller guides the reader into a somewhat esoteric neuroscientific realm that should help us better understand our fears, anxieties, depressions, moods [...]

    17. This starts with a very good premise that we cannot understand the "normal" by stating that it is the opposite of abnormal. Smoller talks a little bit about the origins of function/dysfunction, order/disorder in psychology. I would have loved to read a few more chapters on that, but this was a book to entertain and not for psychology academics. Not that I am one, but I can keep up with the readings. I found the most interesting and useful message from this book was this: normal mental health, li [...]

    18. I received this book for free through First Reads on Good Reads.This book gives a pretty detailed, though easy to understand, account of what our brains are supposed to do and how they are supposed to function, and the ways it can go wrong.Smoller discusses the ways nature and nurture affect our brains, ourselves, and one another. He uses great examples and makes it less boring with his sense of humor added in.I found The Other Side of Normal to be incredibly interesting and an overall good read [...]

    19. If you love thinking about how the brain works and why we do what we do like me this is a great read. I also think that Smoller does a good job at making the science necessary to understand the brain easy for those without a science background to understand. Although I do have a science background and a love for everything neuroscience so I can't 100% you'll get the biology part, but if you ignore that and just think about what the brain is doing that potentially causes us to behave the way we d [...]

    20. This book served as a nice update for me, since so much in psychology research and treatment has changed since I had AP Psych more than ten years ago. The writing is good, but waxes more technical than most laypersons' science writing. I hate to admit it, but my attention flagged during the nitty gritty parts. It's sad because this really is an area of interest for me, but in my defense, I was reading it in bed after long days. Look for extended babbling about this on The Blue Bookcase next week [...]

    21. This was a very well written, articulate, and coherent book. It included excerpts from case studies, and touched upon a vast array of subjects, from genetics and neuroscience, to psychiatry and neurology. I'm a science major and so have already touched upon these subjects at school, but it might get a bit esoteric in some parts for someone who hasn't yet learned about these things. Overall a great book, though I would mostly recommend it to people who have some sort of background in the sciences [...]

    22. Its a interesting book on why we do what we do. It's another bookon how we are programed is the base for our actions. Free will is anillusion and every aspect of self seems to depend on what you're wiredfor. There are coupe of books that point this out like "The Invisble Gorilla" and "The Believing Brain". This one goes into epegentics and off and on switches in our genome that make us who we are. I will look forward to his next book

    23. The general argument that we should "redefine" psychology/psychiatry to start looking for the normal as opposed to the abnormal is cute and nice and allbut the book doesn't manage to actually lay a plan. A nice read though, and since I got this book on the First Reads giveaway, the price is right. Right?

    24. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free as a FirstReads giveaway winner.*This book is truly fascinating. Smoller (the author) breaks such scientific things down in simplistic ways that make this book enjoyable, rather than textbook-like. Now, I'm fully capable of acting both normal and abnormal. Just kidding. If you like to think outside of the box, this book is perfect for you.

    25. First Read win. This book was very interesting. I thought it was fun to have nature vs nurture come into play. I felt like I was in school again. What made it an easier book to read then usual unlike others in it's genre was the author had a light sense of humor. It gave a very good detail of how the brain works or is designed to do.

    26. How do our brains shape our behavior? How does the environment shape our brains? What IS normal, anyway?I learned so much from this book. It got confusing when genes and receptors and on/off switches and rat genes vs. human genes came in, but I got the gist, and don't think I'll look at my personality or motivations the same way ever again.

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