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Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional Paperback – March 12, 2013
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“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 the author of The ADHD Advantage and runs DrDaleArcher.com, a free advice website.
From the Hardcover edition.
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I agree with his statements that reflect our culture's belief that we need to be treated for this problem and the popular belief that we need to sit face to face with a professional who will diagnose us, give our meltdowns a name so we can have an answer. He mentions the past when anyone who saw a psychiatrist once a week was considered flawed in a shameful way. Today's culture or society might see a person who has never been in counseling as flawed. (I paraphrase here)
Lately everyone we talk to has some sort of prognosis for their emotional discomfort. I see this as a weakening of our way of life. For most it is easier to complain about things we could be changing than to change what we are doing. I think Dr. Archer's book echoes this.
I am one reader who leans toward the probability that science has failed us. And yet, I wonder if we ever needed to approach science and ask it to help us cope with the normal responses to grief, divorce, job loss or financial peril. There is no magic pill for the normal brain function of someone who reacts to any of those life situations. If we numb our emotional pain we cannot possibly evolve, whether we do it with pills, alcohol or any mind altering substance. Not to say there are not people who were born with a pathological disorder, mind you. I am sure some individuals are struggling with biological issues and medication is their only hope.
The problem I have with western psychiatry is, the professionals who see and hear patients go on about their emotional pain are diagnosing them with some label that justifies medication instead of giving them cognitive tools to apply to their problems. The latest popular treatments contain a mixture of different medications ranging from ADHD med, to a list of antidepressants that mess with brain neurons.
After my son died, I became obsessed with distraction and worked longer hours, working more then I slept. The energy that grief is was channeled toward productive activities (I opened,owned and operated my 5Th restaurant) and I cried a lot even in a "hyper alert state." My husband was concerned and suggested I see a professional. I saw a doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD, and Bi Polar disorder. I went home with and took my pills, and weeks later I was in a mental hospital wanting to die. There, I was given more little orange bottles full of antidepressants with new names. One of those medications was prescribed for seizures, which I didn't suffer from, but the claim was, this medication would be a good mix with antidepressants. (I never understood the gamble) While taking the antidepressants I became or at least felt debilitated in comparison to prior behaviors. I slept too much and couldn't obsess or even process my own thoughts. Months later, I stopped taking them. I didn't know what would happen, but I knew I'd die if I didn't. I found out there is no magic pill for grief.
Because I learned a great deal about psychiatry, I wanted to read Dr. Archer's book, BETTER THAN NORMAL. I learned more than I expected to learn about labels, emotional pain, healing and saw through Dr. Dale Archer's scope of the word, normal.
Many of the book's anecdotes end in a compromise. The patient thought he or she wanted one thing from life, ran into an obstacle involving mental health, and adapted to overcome that obstacle and live a compromised life based on that person's natural strengths. The pages are replete with anecdotes about people changing their jobs and lifestyles to compensate for anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, OCD, and other common mental health issues. The message is not that you can overcome these disorders, but that you can live a life with them, even if that is not the life you planned on living.
I was looking for more and I did not find it.
THIS WORK HAS CONNECTED THE DOTS, FOR ME. WELL THOUGHT OUT, WELL RESEARCHED, CLEAR, AND COMPASSIONATE FUEL FOR ANYONE IN THE ADHD EXPERIENCE. DR. ARCHER IS THE OZZY OSBOURNE OF PSYCHIATRY: STRONG, REAL, BRAVE, AND LOUD ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU HEAR IT. GOING OFF THE RAILS ON A CRAZY TRAIN? GET BACK ON TRACK: WITH THIS INNOVATIVE , DOWN TO THE BONE LOOK AT WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON!
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