From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This latest from Ohio State University psychology professor Reiss (Who Am I?) takes on a good majority of working therapists and academics by positing that "values, not unconscious psychodynamics, drive the human psyche." With vigorous research, analysis and anecdotal evidence, Reiss argues convincingly that by addressing ordinary personal problems with "constructs developed to study mental illnesses," the community has pathologized normal human personality traits and behaviors: "orderliness is a mild form of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder; unhappiness is a mild form of depression." Reiss's model, "motivation analysis," sees problems as the result of frustrated goals or values in the here and now, rather than hidden reserves of anxiety or anger. One's mix of goals and values can be determined and analyzed using the Reiss Motivation Profile (RMP), based on what Reiss argues is the most complete taxonomy of personality yet developed. Extensive empirical research has led Reiss to identify sixteen basic desires (including acceptance, curiosity, family, power and tranquility) that, together, provide an accurate personality portrait. Reiss makes an accessible case for his approach's superior ability to understand problems and predict behavior. It should provide food for thought for anyone in the mental health community, as well as those who feel they've been underserved or misunderstood by traditional psychotherapy.
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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"...In a time when children, and even household pets, swallow Prozac, Reiss revives a neglected diagnosis for worrywarts, wallflowers, daydreamers, pessimists, and eccentrics alike: normal. He broadens normality by outlining how abnormal behaviors can arise when life motives are obstructed or personal values contradicted. Reiss lists how various combinations of 16 basic desires lead to dilemmas that eventually bring people to counseling. He offers a way to manage personal problems, without cracking the medicine cabinet or the skeleton closet."
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"...this book advances a scientific theory of psychological needs, values and personality traits. Reiss' research shows how the motivational spectrum produces different personality traits and values, and how that correlates to the way we handle/deal our personal relationships. "
--Lenore Skomal, divorce360.com
"The Normal Personality: A New Way of Thinking About People, Steven Reiss (Cambridge University Press): Good news: You're normal. Despite the fact that every lesbian you know is on Prozac or in therapy, Reiss insists most of us aren't crazy. Instead, he contends that an over reliance on Freudian analysis led modern psychopathology to evaluate normal personal problems using constructs developed from studies of mental illness. Rather than unconscious mental forces originating in childhood, Reiss points to 16 basic human desires lead that lead to personal issues. Not immune from the natural human intolerance of people expressing significantly different values; Reiss argues, psychologists and psychiatrists often confuse individuality with abnormality and over-diagnose disorders."
"...it offers a new view of the "normal" personality, one firmly ensconced in the study of values and motivations...an intriguing account of why human conflict, particularly the romantic variety, occurs with such regularity...Recommended..."
--D.S. Dunn, Moravian College, CHOICE