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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars16
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on January 23, 2013
"Ophelia: Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be." I read "Angst" both as a general reader and as a consultant in the field of work disabilities. I found Kahn's book to be unique and stimulating, particularly in helping me to understand human behavior in response to stressful events. It had never occurred to me that behavior after stressful events could be influenced by instincts, and that these instinctive influences are so pervasive among humans that we implicitly accept them as life conditions - even while mental health professionals may wish to label them with diagnoses and treat them. ("Angst" shifts rather too frequently for me between a general readership exposition and tactical advice to clinical psychiatrists, but for the psychiatric community this formula might work well.)

The title of the book is intriguing, As I understand Kahn, the struggle of consciousness, one of Kahn's six instincts, to guide us to counter-instinctive behavior gives rise to angst. The implication is that angst is more among us now than 500 or 5000 years ago. Part of angst, I infer, is a very troubling sense that we do not know ourselves - that our consciousness is engaged in a dark battle with our instincts. Consider Ophelia. Her rejection by Hamlet deprives her of a means of her expressing adult love for another. Her father's death voids her role as a caring daughter. Melancholic depression, Kahn's instinct that leads us to separate ourselves from the world, overcomes her. And she is conscious of how this fatal drive has utterly transformed her.

I give this book less than maximum stars because of the awkwardness of the exposition as the author shifts between audiences - general vs psychiatric.
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on June 20, 2013
I was really excited to read this book because it seemed like it had the potential to be something amazing. As someone who has suffered from anxiety I was looking forward to a book that would help explain in a coherent manner the evolutionary history of anxiety. Also from looking at the glowing reviews on Amazon and on the back cover one comes away with the impression that the book is going to be well written and full of useful incites. The first several chapters where moderately well written but soon it becomes apparent that Dr. Kahn has no idea how to structure or even write in a coherant and strong manner. It as if Dr. Kahn stops trying and the rest of the book is very poorly organized and almost unreadable. He divides chapters up into little chunks that barely relate to each other and he goes off on random tangents that don't add anything and distract from his message. Most shocking of all, he doesn't talk at all about how evolutionary psychology could be used to better treat anxiety disorders. All his chapters basically end by saying that we should put everyone on SSRIs, a hypothesis that lacks originality and looks like it was copied strait out of drug company literature. In the end after reading all the positive reviews, I was so disappointed that I couldn't even finish the book. I did gain some knowledge and insights that I thought was interesting but compared to what the book could have been it was a thoroughly disappointing read.
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on December 1, 2012
Very enjoyable reading. A must for mental health specialists as well as (educated) general readers interested in mental health. He draws from such fields as Biology,Evolutionary Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Psychiatry to paint a grand canvas depicting what affects most of us.
By concentrating in five psychiatric syndromes, he tries to simplify the bewildering nomenclature of the DSM IV, whit its often overlapping and confusing descriptions of mental illnesses. Well written and often humorous. His main thesis will be discussed for a long time.
Lorenzo Margini MD (Psychiatrist)
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on March 16, 2013
It is a very interesting theory of how mental health issues resulted from evolution. It was very well written and had bits of humor in it... which is something to say for a psychology book. It was more than well worth the time
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on November 12, 2013
Fascinating approach to understanding the evolutionary origins of our mental health issues. Humor and cute illustrations make this serious topic easier to read, understand, and remember. A great gift for all my angsty friends and relatives!
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on August 30, 2014
Reading the book was nice to find there are people who share the close to me ideas about human nature and tell about it on the simple language. The special value of this book lies in the fact that the theory grew out of practice. This book is, in fact, the recommendation for many to understand what happens to us in this life and how to solve our problems correctly, thereby improving the quality of life.
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on September 24, 2012
I've been counting the days until this book was available. Dr. Kahn's approach to mental health is a refreshing and insightful. The thesis and case studies in the book shed a new light on our own interpersonal interactions and those in the animal kingdom all around us. I can't help but notice the principles he discusses coming to life in the everyday exchanges all around me.
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on September 19, 2012
I was one of the few who were privileged enough to get an advanced read. Kahn has done a remarkable job, making his theory on mental illness and evolution accessible to the masses. A must read for anyone interested in sociology, evolution, or psychology. Highly recommended!
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on October 28, 2012
Coming on the heels of a number of articles and studies investigating the link between evolution and mental health, "Angst" is a thought-provoking and highly enjoyable read. Dr. Kahn draws from years of clinical research as well as numerous observations and anecdotes (many relating to the family dog) to present a very convincing and detailed argument on why we are what we are.

"Angst" is the rare book that manages to straddle the line between serious scholarship and a wide readership. Whatever your background, you'll find yourself highly engaged by "Angst" and pondering it's pages long after you've finished the book.
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on April 11, 2013
I'm a musician, not a psychologist and have not read very much about the theory of mental illness, but I became intrigued by Jeffrey Kahn's concept that social instincts are the basis of mental disorders after reading a review. I like the writing which is simple and not heavily laden with jargon. When there are specific medical terms, they are clearly defined. He also writes with humor which for the most part helps to explicate the subject. Related quotes and cartoons are employed to open each chapter. I found it entertaining, informative and hard to put down.
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