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Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality (FT Press Science) Hardcover – July 2, 2011


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Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality (FT Press Science) + Game Theory: An Introduction + How to Think Logically (2nd Edition) (MyThinkingLab Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: FT Press Science
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (July 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132172607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132172608
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“This pioneering book does for our mental life what the periodic table did for chemistry; it breaks the mind down into elementary constituents and their interactions--thereby transforming personality research into science. In addition to being a rich treasure-trove of insights into human nature, it can potentially enrich your relationships with people. Barondes has written a masterpiece.”

--V.S. Ramachandran, author of Phantoms in the Brain and The Tell-Tale Mind

 

“We’re a fantastically social species, constantly taking the measure of everyone’s personality. In this wise, enjoyable book, the esteemed biological psychiatrist Sam Barondes considers ways to build up this vital skill. The book is clear, entertaining, and educational, and will not only make you a more adept social primate, but a more self-reflective one as well.”

--Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Biology, Stanford University; author of A Primate’s Memoir and Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

 

Making Sense of People is a marvelous guided tour through the infinitely variable landscape of personality. Barondes truly illuminates how genes and environment shape human behavior, and he tells the story with an engaging armchair style that makes the book hard to put down!”

--John Oldham, President, American Psychiatric Association; author of The New Personality Self-Portrait

 

“Human beings judge personalities every day, but often in an unconscious muddle. Sam Barondes has taken a daunting research literature on personality and has made it remarkably accessible as well as useful. I suspect that many psychiatrists will find this book as valuable as lay readers will.”

--Steven E. Hyman, Professor of Neurobiology and Provost, Harvard University; former Director, National Institute of Mental Health

 

“In Making Sense of People, Sam Barondes, a superb teacher and writer, creates his own schema to help us better understand each other and make the right decisions about who to share our lives with. A highly readable and enjoyable introduction to the psychology of everyday life.”

--Eric Kandel, University Professor, Columbia University; Nobel Laureate; author of In Search of Memory

 

What really bothers you about your boss--or your daughter’s boyfriend? Could the person you’re dating really become your life partner? Can you really rely on your intuition about people? This book will help you find out.

 

Drawing on extensive research, renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist Samuel Barondes gives you powerful, easy-to-use tools for understanding what people are really like and how they got to be the way they are. These tools will provide you with a system for assessing the person’s traits, character, and sense of identity, and then putting these elements together into a unified picture. Learning to think of people in this way will help you choose more satisfying relationships, recognize telltale signs of dysfunction and danger, and savor the complexity and uniqueness of everyone you meet.

 

Supplement your intuition!

•  Learn a system for understanding anyone

•  Identify character strengths and weaknesses

•  Make better decisions about whom to seek out and whom to avoid

•  Find out how all personalities are shaped by two great chance events:
   the set of genes we happen to be born with, and the particular world 

   we happen to grow up in

 

About the Author

Samuel Barondes is the Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Professor and Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. A leading psychiatrist and neuroscientist, he is a member of the Institute of Medicine and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books include Mood Genes, Better Than Prozac, and the Scientific American Library title Molecules and Mental Illness. He lives in Sausalito, California.


More About the Author

Samuel Barondes was born in Brooklyn and educated at Columbia, Harvard, and the National Institutes of Health. He joined the University of California in 1970 and is now Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Professor and Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at its San Francisco campus (UCSF) where he works to bring together modern biology and psychiatry. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Sausalito,CA.

Customer Reviews

I felt like I was reading a text book the whole time.
KC
It would make sense that the book wouldn't be able to do that since it is reaching a broad audience.
AmMaynard
Well, written and a book that anyone could find interesting and informative.
Barbara E. Freitag

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 92 people found the following review helpful By David Bennett VINE VOICE on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Humans are psychologically complicated, and it would be nice if there was a way to classify people in a way that is both broad (making it convenient) and yet somewhat specific (making it accurate). Samuel Barondes provides the solution with this book - kind of.

This book focuses on two main points, classifying human personality, and how personality is formed. Barondes breaks down basic personality into what he calls the "Big Five." They are extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. We all have varying degrees of each trait. For example, in terms of extroversion, some people are very outgoing, while others prefer being alone. Barondes classifies extremes in each category as a personality disorder. For example, an extremely extroverted person might have histrionic personality disorder, while someone who is an extreme loner might be schizotypal (like chess champion and misanthrope Bobby Fischer). After covering the "Big Five" in some depth, Barondes explains the interaction of nature (genetics) and nurture in forming personality, brain plasticity (the brain makes new connections even to adulthood, so personality is never rigidly fixed, although the adult brain is much less plastic than a child's brain), moral character, and ways we create our own stories.

I enjoyed this book, and I believe it did live up to its subtitle, i.e. it tries to "decode the mysteries of personality." The "Big Five" are helpful when sizing people up, including ourselves. The book provides a link to an online test that classifies where you (or someone else, if you fill it out with them in mind) fall under each category. I scored high on extroversion, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. However, being too agreeable is often correlated with lower pay.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Jena Pincott on July 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is an utterly fascinating and accessible tour of everything science reveals about personality. It gives us the tools to "decode" the people we meet: how to identify personality patterns and traits, gain insight into how genes influence personality, and learn how one's background and context might affect his/her brain and behavior.

At the end of this gem is a quote from Eisenhower: "In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Similarly, in life, the ability to "decode" other people -- our spouses, partners, kids, colleagues, bosses, and so on -- is indispensable, even if how to act on this knowledge is open-ended. This is no "how-to" book, but readers will surely figure out how to apply it to their own situations and relationships.

After absorbing this book, this reader found herself wiser, more understanding, and more effective in dealing with people. Here are tools for life.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this book the author gives a brief overview of how people think, and why they are believed to think that way. Despite the marketing copy, however, this book doesn't lay out an approach to evaluating and dealing with people you encounter.

The first part of the book explains the different personality types psychologists have defined, and also the personality flaws they have defined. The second part discusses the nature and nurture (my words, not the author's) of peoples' psychologies. To somewhat oversimplify, the author takes the common view that genes provide proclivities, and stimuli trigger, or don't trigger, those proclivities. These chapters make for a decent, short overview of the subject, but if you have been following research in this area at all you won't find any surprises here.

The final part has three chapters, the first two of which deal with character and with peoples' development of their life stories. As in the earlier parts, the author uses famous people as examples of how the categories identified by psychologists can be used to develop insight into why people act as they do.

Only in the last ten pages of the book does the author provide an outline of how he uses this material to understand the people he encounters. While the entirety of the book is useful for this purpose, the marketing copy makes it sound much more like a how to book than it is.

Were this book advertised as an overview of the psychological characterization of personality types, I might have given it four stars. But judging it against the product description I can't go beyond three.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gina Pera VINE VOICE on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You only need consider this book's endorsements by many neuroscientific luminaries (e.g. Eric Kandel, Robert Sapolsky, etc.) to know that Samuel Barondes is a highly respected expert.

I wish I could say I liked this book as much as Barondes' previous efforts, which made timely contributions to our collective ability to "make sense of people."

Instead, I'm left scratching my head a bit. While no psychiatric expert, I do have the expertise of an author and veteran advocate in the area of a common mental-health condition (Adult ADHD) and its comorbidities. I've learned that the old psychoanalytic paradigms for framing a person's traits and behavior leave much to be desired; old paradigms often lead us to be more judgmental than understanding. Old paradigms also mean that many adults with ADHD do not get the treatment they deserve, even from allegedly expert psychiatrists.

Yes, terms such as avoidant, narcissistic, and compulsive do help us "name" potentially troublesome behaviors in a future mate, a boss, a friend or a family member instead of explaining it away as stress, for example. I think it is critically important to recognize the "red flags" when you see them, and this book helps in that regard. As a culture, it seems we've come to mistake "tolerance" and "neurodiversity" as being tantamount to accepting clearly aberrant behavior. It wasn't too long ago, for example, that the Titans of Wall Street were held up as national icons of success; why did more people not see them for what they were, what only a few years would clearly show them to be? Because people didn't know what to look for - or they didn't want to see it. Who knows...

But these terms and others used throughout the book (e.g.
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