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Shadow Syndromes: The Mild Forms of Major Mental Disorders That Sabotage Us Paperback – June 1, 1998


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Shadow Syndromes: The Mild Forms of Major Mental Disorders That Sabotage Us + A User's Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain + Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553379593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553379594
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Freud once said that nobody is "normal," and after reading Shadow Syndromes, you may well be convinced of that. While more than 50 million Americans suffer from full-fledged mental illnesses such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, millions more suffer from milder forms--yet they likely don't realize it. From chronic sadness to low self-esteem to shopping addiction to intermittent rage disorder, compassionate authors John J. Ratey, M.D. and Catherine Johnson, Ph.D. chronicle the often-undiagnosed (yet definitely insidious) "shadow" disorders. One of the most eye-opening points the authors make is that men who "can't commit" to a relationship may in fact be suffering from an unrecognized adult form of attention deficit disorder.

Shadow Syndromes is thorough, but at the same time it simplifies the technical aspects of mental illnesses--no stacks of footnotes or complicated neurotransmitter charts here. The authors use plenty of anecdotes to illustrate how everyday people have recognized and overcome shadow syndromes. They also prevent the book from becoming one big bundle of bad news by stressing that these disorders are treatable with medications such as Prozac, which Johnson took to handle her mild depression. Specific lifestyle changes are also advised, including more sleep, changes in diet, and more exercise. The "Care and Feeding of the Brain" chapter compiles other empowering, healing approaches. This book will be valuable not only for those who believe they're suffering from a shadow syndrome, but for doctors and therapists as well. --Erica Jorgensen

Review

Identify the hidden timebombs in your personality...featuring proven treatments and strategies that can change your life.

More About the Author

John Ratey, M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of numerous bestselling and groundbreaking books, including Driven to Distraction and A User's Guide to the Brain. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has a private practice. Eric Hagerman is a former editor of Popular Science and Outside. His work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2004, Men's Journal, and PLAY.

Customer Reviews

I found his book surprisingly informative.
Tammy
I highly recommend it to sufferers of bi-polar illness as well as their spouses and families.
Vicki Cohn
This is the best book of its kind that I have read.
mpancoe@telenet.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 96 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
What some cynics will have you believe is that everyone is a little quirky, and that you should just accept that. Personally, I think that's a laugh. It's true ignorance shining through. The unwillingness to have an open mind and truly accept that there just might be biological reasons for behavior.
I began reading about anxiety disorders years ago, because my wife was having true panic attacks. When my son was born 7 years ago, we knew we would have to keep an eye on him. Now, as a first grader, we're seeing signs of behavior that don't make sense. They aren't just as simple to brush off as saying "he's just being a boy". So I've been reading more about bipolar, ADHD, ADD, and other conditions.
In reading about some of the mental disorders, I was intrigued by the recent acknowledgement of adult ADD. I read the symptoms, and had to face the cold reality that they really fit me. I'm 41 years old with a BA, MS and I'm halfway through my MBA. I've done well in my career and I've been married for 13 years to the same person. By all rights, I'm pretty normal. But I have always been a terrible procrastinator. I've read books on the subject and tried...REALLY tried...to help myself get organized and on track. Nothing I've ever done has helped. As an example, I had a report to write for work last fall. The CEO wanted me to do this. I knew what needed to be done. I knew how to get the research. I knew what the final presentation should look like. I had 5 weeks to prepare. I would sit at my desk, tell myself I wasn't going to get up until I had a good chunk of it done...and then surf the internet. Or work on another project. Or enter addresses in my Palm Pilot. I was distracted by every noise, every conversation in the hallway...
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By d-g-weaver@a-o.com on March 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book because our child had just been diagnosed with one of the "Shadow Syndromes," Asperger Disorder. As so often happens with childhood-onset brain disorders, he has symptoms that are a mixture of various disorders -- major depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder. (These are hereditary disorders when appearing in one so young.) After reading this book, so many elements of our son's puzzling behavior, and the milder symptoms present in my husband and myself are more understandable. If you or your loved ones have mild forms of more serious brain disorders, this book is for you. I had an "aha" experience at every chapter. Our policy is not to buy any book unless we have already read a copy from the library and know that we will refer to it again and again -- that it is truly useful. This book fits that criterion. Read it.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
I was diagnosed with one of the disorders discussed in this book. "Shadow Syndromes" has helped me realize that there ARE good things about these "disorders". There IS a purpose to all the suffering I and my family experienced before my diagnosis as well as the hard work that has been required since diagnosis.
I accept that my out of control biochemistry will require medication so long as I live in a modern world that has little ability to tolerate someone who lives out of step with the current drum. The need to be able to provide for my family in a time-clock world means I must conform to some degree. However, the knowledge that I have my own contributions to make helps me to hold on to those parts of me that have been enhanced by my "disorder".
I have much work ahead of me. While meds are not the only answer, they seem to buy me the time I need to work with a therapist on other strategies for coping.
This book has been an incredible ecouragement to my loved ones and to me.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By sberger@jlc.net on December 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an absolutely fascinating book. The idea that there are "mild" forms of mental illness, which we may all have pieces of, is extraordinarily useful in understanding myself and others.
The book absolutely cries out for a bibliography. I would guess that the authors prepared one, and that the publishers omitted it. It is an absolute necessity which I trust the publishers will remedy immediately.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Peter McCluskey on April 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book clarifies many aspects of our personalities, helping us to understand why many mental disorders are just one extreme in a continuous range of types, and provides some hints as to why many of those types have advantages and disadvantages that would explain why such a range of personalities ought to exist.

I especially enjoyed their theory about how a smaller cerebellum could explain a number of different symptoms of a nerdy (mildly autistic) personality. I suspect it isn't exactly right, but it explains a good deal more than any alternative I've seen.

One warning - this isn't very valuable as a self-help book. It should be read mainly to improve your understanding of the human mind, not as a means of changing it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
When one has suffered as intensely and for as long with many of the mental disorders described in this book--both major and mild--as I and 4 generations in my family have, FERVENT applause goes to Dr. Ratey for his elegant work. I can attest to his astonishing expertise and extraordinary compassion in this practical, uplifting, fascinating book. The authors make it look easy, but don't be deceived by the lack of jargon. The data is sound. Perhaps your interior life isn't as "interesting" as mine (bipolar II (hypomania), OCD, ADD, a soupcon of autism, a touch of Tourette's, and an eating disorder). You will still learn a lot and enjoy the process. I gained more profound personal insights in one brisk reading of Shadow Syndromes than I did in the last 40 years of slogging from crisis to crisis. Seeing some answers to my deepest, scariest questions about my conditions both moved and elated me. If the truth makes you free, then I am soaring right over the rainbow!
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