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The Normal Personality: A New Way of Thinking about People 1st Edition

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521707442
ISBN-10: 0521707447
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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --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."
--Science News

"...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,

"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."
--Curve Magazine

" offers a new view of the "normal" personality, one firmly ensconced in the study of values and intriguing account of why human conflict, particularly the romantic variety, occurs with such regularity...Recommended..."
--D.S. Dunn, Moravian College, CHOICE

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (June 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521707447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521707442
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Tujeehut on September 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the first moment I began reading DR. Reiss first book "WHO AM I" I got fascinated in his theory of motivational-profiles.
I have a academic degree in "adult-education" and am a professional trainer since 2000.
I have implemented DR. Reiss findings within my training-program. People open up and feel comfortable when you help them understand their profile and why their behaviour is characterized in their peculiar manner.
The second book "the normal personality" has given me more assurance as to why my "methods" are based on reliable assumptions; from my own research viewpoint.
Both books are part of my background-documents.
They need to be studied over and over again so to sharpen my own approach with the people I help.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Riddiford on July 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Reiss Profile is still little-known in the academic world, let alone by the general public. Yet it is starting to make waves.
This book is an excellent introduction to this cutting-edge assessment tool, and to the philosophy that underpins it.
Using this tool one can quickly obtain external confirmation about our innermost motivations, and how exceptional they are in comparison to the general public.
Buy the book and take the test!
Then take the results seriously!
Andrew (Mo) Riddiford (2008 Amazon best-selling co-author of "Upping the Down Side")
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sara Thomas on June 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ground breaking research. Reiss's has finally solved the human equation with his science based motivation profile. This and his other book, "Who am I", really explains personality differences, how we're driven by motivations to get to our own "Goldilock's zone" of not too little and not too much of our own unique individual set point for each of the 16 disires that motivate all humans and shape our personalities.
If you like people watching or are curious or frustrated about your own or other's behavior/personality, Check this out. This is the ultimate self-help book becaues you'll understand what area of your 'self' you need to help to match your desire profile. Explains why 'self-help' solutions that worked great for someone else, could fail completely for you.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Iwanska on March 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I can unfortunately say that I have experience in the 'conventional' psychiatric ways of thinking. I did a serious suicide attempt a half year ago, after being diagnosed depressive (and about six other 'illnesses' in a six month period).

Already at the beginning of the therapy, I had the feeling that my situation and the things the therapist tried, did not match. Would not lead to relief. The book of Reiss gives a clear insight in the reason why.

I strongly believe that not understanding or describing my character in a sound manner, in combination with a wrong remedy approach (talk-pills), forced me into committing suicide. How can a depression remedy process work, when already at the beginning there was no proper modeling and understanding of the main character?

My case stands not on its own, sadly. Yesterday's news: more ten people killed in German by a youngster who was `treated' for depression. Off course we cannot say that this happened due to a improper method, but we feel there are too many cases pointing in the same direction: treatment for depression does often not work, and sometimes even lead to more destruction.

I joined a group of 'free thinking people' who want to turn their painful experience into good things. We therefore started to create a depression diagnosis and curing method. And we took the Reiss' method as a basis instrument for the analysis phase. There are mainly two reasons for this:
1. Reiss' starting point is that people 'in trouble' are mostly not ill or disturbed (instead of assuming an illness with a certain curing method attached, mainly based on chemicals).
Read more ›
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Garrick on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I always find work on personality types and the like interesting, so I always enjoy reading this type of work. However, this book tried to be more than a more detailed and thoroughly researched version of MBTI or similar work. This author first spends some time trying to convince readers that he is very smart. He then presents his work on personality attributes as a way to show that most of the disorders recognized by psychologists are in fact simply personality attributes. I appreciate the attempt to include more people in the "normal" category and help people with psychological disorders feel more mainstream, but I fail to see (in this book at least) how this isn't just a question of semantics. The author doesn't show that psychological disorders aren't reasonable descriptions or that the work psychologists do is invalid. He does make the case that the underpinnings of modern psychology are not very well supported with empirical evidence, but he does seem to ignore decades of successful work by psychologists based on that theoretical base (however shaky its foundation). The personality typology and modern psychology seem to be competing ways of viewing the world, neither of which can be shown to be right or wrong, both offering help for different people with different issues. I am not sure why the author felt the need to compete with psychology instead of simply offering a useful model for understanding ourselves and others in a different and perhaps more complete way. In sum, a nice quick read, but not the groundbreaking work for which the author was clearly reaching.
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