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Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional Paperback – March 12, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307887480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307887481
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #834,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A psychiatric pep talk guaranteed to rev up any reader.” – Booklist
 
“Archer’s creative redressing of these pathologically considered conditions is compelling and will definitely capture the attention of readers eager to “re-diagnose” themselves using his spectrum scale.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[An] extraordinary book.” -LibraryJournal.com

"With his fresh approach and some interesting ideas, Archer normalizes personality characteristics too often seen as pathological." -Publishers Weekly

About the Author

DALE ARCHER, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist and distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry and the psychiatric program at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. He also runs DrDaleArcher.com, a free advice website.

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Customer Reviews

Read the book and consider what is said here and see what you think.
C. Richard
The book is a fairly easy read and gives nice examples of the types of cases that illustrate his points.
Jed Shlackman
If we can just find a match for their characteristics, we can make them and our world better.
Deborah Price

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lichter VINE VOICE on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In his new book "Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional," psychiatrist Dale Archer argues that each of eight major psychiatric conditions -- attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, histrionic personality, narcissism, bipolar personality disorder, and schizophrenia -- are the extreme expressions of eight widely-shared personality traits: adventurousness, perfectionism, shyness, anxiety-proneness, theatricality, self-focus, high energy, and propensity for magical thinking. Each of us displays these 8 traits to some degree, he says, and one of the traits is usually dominant in our personalities.

Archer says his approach is an antidote to the over-medicalization mental health, the transformation of mild departures from "normal" into disorders that require medication. Archer uses himself as an example. He could possibly be classified as suffering from mild forms of several disorders, but, on the other hand, his adventurousness (ADHD) has bought him many rich life experiences; his affinity for drama (histrionic personality) won him many friends (and lovers) and made him a successful television personality; his self-focus (narcissism) has allowed him to pursue his goals and shake off failure; his high energy (bipolar) accounts in part for his being a successful psychiatrist, television personality, and author; and his magical thinking (schizophrenia) has made him a some-time professional poker player and excellent reader of people.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen San Martino TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Normal People Scare Me" is a statement on a shirt I purchased years ago. Besides the obvious meaning, I think it makes some people who read it question "What is normal?" In his book "Better Than Normal," Dr. Dale Archer says "The box called normal is getting smaller and smaller and smaller every day" and I believe he couldn't be more right.

He describes in fluent detail how the attributes that make us different can actually make us exceptional. As a psychiatrist he is familiar with abnormality. He proved to me what I've known all along yet (until now) I was unable to find anyone who would admit to it--abnormality is definitely rare.

Our society is focused on labeling and medicating people. Dr. Archer reviews these lables as eight personality traits that are considered negative and abnormal disorders in our society and describes the core strengths of each trait and how each individual can embrace those core strengths to live an exceptional life. These traits are:

1. Adventurous (ADHD--Attention Deficit Disorder)
2. Perfectionist (OCD--Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
3. Shy (Social Anxiety Disorder)
4. Anxious (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
5. Dramatic (Histrionic)
6. Self-Focused (Narcissism)
7. High Energy (Bipolar)
8. Magical (Schizophrenia)

In my opinion, Dr. Archer successfully demonstrated that some of the attributes associated with these personalities are actually assets and not liabilities. For instance, a person who is high on the ADHD continuum has an adventurous personality. It is personalities like this that allow the explorers of this world to succeed. Those who are narcissistic tend to be great performers, visionaries, strategic leaders, and CEOs.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A reader VINE VOICE on February 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I ordered this book because I was intrigued by author's contention that our society overdiagnoses and overmedicates people for having traits that could actually be turned into strengths. One of the unfortunate results of this tendency is the squashing down of individual differences that make us unique and human. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and felt that I learned a fair amount about human nature. I did have some concerns about the book, (4.9
stars) none of which detracted from my enjoyment while reading it.

First of all, I found the test questions to be a bit overly general ("are you restless? Have you done things you regret?" Has anybody not?) and the descriptions of the personality types a bit narrow (I know several people who have been officially diagnosed with ADD who are not at all adventurous.)

Furthermore, while it may a good idea to find a job that matches one's talents and traits, it may be equally rewarding to then actively cultivate the opposite side of oneself, in order to broaden one's horizons and grow in versatility and independence.

At the end of the book, the author mentions that some people have three or four or five high-testing traits, while other people may score low in all areas. It would be fascinating to read more about ways in which traits combine.

Again, none of these thoughts detracted from my enjoyment of this book. Instead, I found myself rereading some sections in order to better understand the author's main points.The idea that what seem like symptoms of a disorder can actually be strengths is a very tantalizing one.
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