New Books of Interest in Brief: September 2017

New books of interest, in brief, from this month:

I. Marriage has never been harder — or happier, argues new book. Heidi Stevens, Chicago Tribune

Eli J. Finkel writes about “how marriages moved from pragmatic institutions to partnerships based on love and sentimentality” in The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work.

II. Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Jean M. Twenge, The Atlantic

Jean M. Twenge has authored one of the longest-titled books of recent note: iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Take this and the above-cited article’s subtitle—More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis—and you’ll already know the gist of her message.

III. The Most Important Emotional Intelligence Quote You’ll Hear Today. Damon Brown, Inc.

Brené Brown‘s newest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, tells readers one way Oprah Winfrey has made an impact on her. “Her advice is tacked to the wall in my study: ‘Do not think you can be brave with your life and your work and never disappoint anyone. It doesn’t work that way’.”

Not taken from the above article, a statement by Brown in Braving the Wilderness that’s also bound to become highly quotable: “True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.”

IV. This Stanford Professor Has a Theory on Why 2017 Is Filled With Jerks. Jessica Pressler, New York Magazine

Robert Sutton was behind the popular 2007 book The No Asshole Rule and now gives us The Asshole Survival GuideHow to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt. According to Sutton, the problem of ‘disrespectful, demeaning, and downright mean-spirited behavior’ is ‘worse than ever’.”

V. THE EXPERT WHO HELPED WRITE THE MENTAL DISORDERS MANUAL EXPLAINS WHY TRUMP DOESN’T HAVE ONE: Trump’s narcissism has served him well. Angela Chen, The Verge

Allen Frances‘s Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump presents his ongoing position that Trump doesn’t necessarily have a mental disorder. As he recently stated in an interview with Chen:

Trump causes enormous distress to others, but his behavior doesn’t bother himself. In fact, he gets rewarded for them, he’s not necessarily out of sync with larger society. He’s always terrific at feathering his own nest and he’s been rewarded for his world-class narcissism rather than being punished for it. Having the symptoms themselves does not constitute a mental disorder. In order to qualify as a mental disorder, the individual would have to have distress related to them.

Maybe it’s society itself that has the disorder, states Frances. From Twilight of American Sanity:

What does it say about us, that we elected someone so manifestly unfit and unprepared to determine mankind’s future? Trump is a symptom of a world in distress, not its sole cause. Blaming him for all our troubles misses the deeper, underlying societal sickness that made possible his unlikely ascent. Calling Trump crazy allows us to avoid confronting the craziness in our society—if we want to get sane, we must first gain insight about ourselves. Simply put: Trump isn’t crazy, but our society is.

Marcia Angell, MD: “In this wide-ranging and enlightening book, Allen Frances, one of America’s most distinguished psychiatrists, shows how most of the current problems facing the United States — from denial of climate change to grotesque inequality—arise from mass delusions similar to the delusions of psychiatric patients. Twilight of American Sanity leaves no topic untouched. Readers might disagree with some of his conclusions, but they will always find them provocative and well argued.”

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