Monkey Mind

Monkey Mind : A Memoir of Anxiety

3.24 (7,042 ratings by Goodreads)
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For years, Daniel Smith suffered from bouts of acute anxiety, extended episodes without any apparent cause that seized control of his body and mind, leaving him an emotional wreck. Sleep was impossible and headaches and nausea haunted his days. Anxiety threatened his sanity and jeopardized his relationships. He had a prestigious job, a comfortable apartment, and caring friends-but, according to his therapists, nothing seemed to be wrong.

Now in paperback, Monkey Mindis the story of how one man finally learned to live with-and laugh at-his own anxiety issues. Smith shares his own hilarious and heart-wrenching story from his first severe episode at age sixteen to his discovery of the author Philip Roth, who made anxiety seem noble, to his first job, which nearly drove him to distraction, to his struggle to give up the endless cycle of hand-wringing angst in order to keep the love of his life.

Through medication, endless psychoanalysis, self-imposed isolation, and meditation, Smith finally makes peace with his restless mind and becomes the husband and father he longs to be.

Whether you suffer from clinical anxiety or an overdose of modern life in our "Age of Anxiety," Monkey Mind's combination of wit, candour, and serious advice will help you live in the moment instead of inside your own head.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 140 x 213 x 15mm | 210g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1439177317
  • 9781439177310
  • 33,957

Review quote

"[Monkey Mind] will be recognized in the years to come as the preeminent first-person narrative of the anxiously lived life." * Psychiatric Times * "For fellow anxiety-sufferers, it's like finding an Anne of Green Gables-style kindred spirit." * New York magazine's * "Here's one less thing for Daniel Smith to worry about: He sure can write. In Monkey Mind, a memoir of his lifelong struggles with anxiety, he defangs the experience with a winning combination of humor and understanding." -- Heller McAlpin * * "Monkey Mind is a perfect 10.... Hilarious, well-informed and intelligent, Smith conveys the seriousness of his situation without becoming pathetic or unrelatable, and what's more, he offers useful information for both sufferers and non-sufferers.... He gives us a reason to stay with him on every page." * Newsday * "A true treasure-trove of insight laced with humor and polished prose." * Kirkus Reviews (starred) * "[Smith] adroitly dissects his relentless mental and physical symptoms with intelligence and humor. . . . An intelligent, intimate and touching journey through one man's angst-ridden life." * The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) * "The book is one man's story, but at its core it's about all of us." * Booklist * "You'll laugh out loud many times during Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind. . . . In the time-honored tradition of leavening pathos with humor, Smith has managed to create a memoir that doesn't entirely let him off the hook for bad behavior . . . but promotes understanding of the similarly afflicted." * O Magazine * "Superb writing [and] marvelous humor . . . If you're chronically anxious and want to better explain to a loved one what you're going through, hand them Monkey Mind." * Psychology Today * "Monkey Mind is fleet, funny, and productively exhausting." -- Ben Greenman * The New York Times Book Review * "This book will change the way you think about anxiety.... Daniel Smith's writing dazzled me..... Painful experiences are described with humor, and complex ideas are made accessible.... Monkey Mind is a rare gem." * Pittsburgh Post-Gazette * "In this unforgettable, surprisingly hilarious memoir, journalist and professor Smith chronicles his head-clanging, flop-sweating battles with acute anxiety. . . . He's clear-eyed and funny about his condition's painful absurdities." * People (four stars) * "Daniel Smith has a written a wise, funny book, a great mix of startling memoir and fascinating medical and literary history, all of it delivered with humor and a true generosity of spirit. I only got anxious in the last part, when I worried the book would end." -- Sam Lipsyte * author of Home Land and The Ask * "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 * author of Drop Dead Healthy and 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 psycho-pathology of chronic nail biting, an ill-fated menage a 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 * author of The Geography of Bliss * "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-chronic anxiety-and it does so with wisdom, honesty, and the kind of belly laughs that can only come from troubles transformed." -- Chad Harbach * author of The Art of Fielding * "Monkey Mind does for anxiety what William Styron's Darkness Visible did for depression." -- Aaron T. Beck, father of cognitive therapy "I read Monkey Mind with admiration for its bravery and clarity. Daniel Smith's anxiety is matched by a wonderful sense of the comic, and it is this which makes Monkey Mind not only a dark, pain-filled book but a hilariously funny one, too. I broke out into explosive laughter again and again." -- Oliver Sacks * bestselling author of The Mind's Eye and Musicophilia *
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About Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is the author of Muses, Madmen, and Prophets and a contributor to The Atlantic, New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate.
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Rating details

7,042 ratings
3.24 out of 5 stars
5 14% (997)
4 26% (1,804)
3 36% (2,549)
2 18% (1,277)
1 6% (415)
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