Gladwell has a way of coming at topics from a slightly different perspective, which makes his books more interesting and thought-provoking. In this caGladwell has a way of coming at topics from a slightly different perspective, which makes his books more interesting and thought-provoking. In this case, outliers are people who operate outside of the usual scope of things, and because of better genes, earlier birthdays, more opportunities, or simple perseverance become hugely successful at whatever they do.
The key idea in this book for me, as it is for so many others, is that one becomes truly proficient at something by practicing it for 10,000 hours. As an example, he uses the time the Beatles spent in Hamburg, where they played seven hours a night. At the end of their time there, they were skilled musicians who had mastered stagecraft as well as musicianship, and were well on their way to earning their 10,000 hours.
Bill Gates started even earlier in life. When he was in high school, the father of one of his friends just happened to work at a computer company where young Bill and his friends were allowed to use the computers on the weekends. They were supported by their teachers as well. Learning about computers and how to write code became Bill Gates' life. No wonder Seattle, where he went to high school, and education went on to become such large beneficiaries of his success.
In the world today, bands can achieve platinum recording status without ever going in front of a live audience. With Pro Tools and all of the gizmos available to music producers, people with no musical talent turn out professionally finished recordings. What Outliers tells us, is that there is no substitute for hard work. No matter how favorable every other aspect of life may be, without dedication to one's craft, there can be no true success....more
A simple yet powerful story of a woman who was sold into sexual slavery as a child and managed to not only extricate herself from an impossible situatA simple yet powerful story of a woman who was sold into sexual slavery as a child and managed to not only extricate herself from an impossible situation, but also to dedicate her life to rescuing other children and young women, this book will knock your socks off. From humble beginnings in the forests of Cambodia, Mam experienced a terrible life. As a child, she was sold to a man whom she referred to as "grandfather," who beat her and forced her to submit to him sexually. When his debts went out of control, he sold Mam to a madam in a brothel. She escaped from that life through working off the debt, and moving in with a foreign aid worker. She eventually married a Frenchman, which gave her the freedom to travel and, with the help of her husband, to begin rescuing girls from the streets. This is a heroic tale of one woman's efforts to make a difference in the world. Very highly recommended....more
When confronted with the idea of the Holocaust, I find the scope of the atrocities perpetrated against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals,and others whom theWhen confronted with the idea of the Holocaust, I find the scope of the atrocities perpetrated against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals,and others whom the Reich considered as "undesirables" is inconceivable. At Treblinka, where Fritz Stangl was Kommandant, one million and two hundred thousand people were put to death. Once the trains reached the pretty little fake railway station, with its flower-filled window boxes and faux clock tower, the passengers in the cattle cars had approximately one hour to live. The trains arrived in the morning, and the killing was finished by noon. The rest of the day was spent disposing of the bodies - first in lime pits, then in great metal racks called "the roasts" where the bodies were burned.
Sixty five Jews survived Treblinka. Some because they had skills that were useful to the Nazis; a very few others escaped in the revolt of August 1943 when the camp was set on fire. Transports to Treblinka were beginning to wind down by that time anyway, because the Nazis were running out of people to kill. The final tally of one million two hundred thousand deaths comes from the stationmaster, Franciszek Zabecki, who was also a member of the Resistance. He kept a tally of every train and the number of people in every boxcar from the day of the arrival of the first Jews until August 18, 1943, when the final transports pulled into the station.
Fritz Stangl presided over this whole operation from the construction of the camp buildings and charnel houses to the final dismantling the gas chambers and dispersal of the troops to other sites. Stangl started out his career as an Austrian police officer who loved his wife and family. He was also ambitious. His first step down the slippery slope was transferring to the political division of the CID in Wels, which was a hotbed of of illegal political activities by Communists, Socialists, and Nazis in 1935. During this period, Stangl may have become an "llegal" Nazi, as did many others in his unit.
After the Anschluss (annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938), Stangl eventually became an SS man in December of 1942. He was handpicked to work in the Tiergartenstrasse 4 division. T4 was in charge of the Euthanasia Programme and the extermination camps. Through a combination of intimidation, opportunity for advancement and assurances that his only job was to keep law and order, Stangl agreed to go to Schloss Hartheim, one of the Euthanasia Institutes, where people with mental and physical infirmities were put to death. From the outside, it looked like a hospital. On the inside, the "patients" were being either gassed or dying by lethal injection. The bodies were cremated, and the ashes given to their relations.
Many of the people who went on to work in the death camps got their start in the euthanasia program. Psychologically, they were inured to the idea of murdering innocent people as being their job. Pressure was exerted from above to keep officers and guards in their places. Stangl was moved from Hartheim to Sobibor, where he made the leap from running a euthanasia clinic to a death camp. One of the most fascinating aspects to me was that there were certain moments when Stangl could have refused to cooperate without sacrificing himself or his family. He chose not to do that, but rather to go along with the program.
In over seventy hours of interviews with Stangl, as well as in interviews with death camp survivors, guards, officers, priests, and with Stangl's family, Gitta Sereny manages to hang on to her objectivity. Until her very last interview with Stangl, he admitted to his guilt on only one occasion. The last day, he finally broke down for a few seconds and allowed himself, as Sereny put it, "to become the man he could have been."
This is a book of psychology - not Holocaust vignettes. Still, with only a few graphic examples, images are seared into my brain that I will never forget. Stangl considered the people he was killing to be "cargo" - so much baggage to be processed through the system. In his evasion of responsibility and unwillingness to stand up and be counted, he has unwittingly given the rest of us a paradigm of how NOT to act, and underlined the critical role we all play in the lives of others. We are responsible for the welfare of our fellow human beings. Each and every one of us. Every One....more
The subtitle of this book is, "The Power of Thinking Without Thinking," and that pretty well sums it up. I found this to be an interesting subject becThe subtitle of this book is, "The Power of Thinking Without Thinking," and that pretty well sums it up. I found this to be an interesting subject because of my work with juries, and also because human psychology is so damn fascinating.
He begins by describing an ancient statue that "didn't look right," and turned out to be a forgery, and then moves on to a psychologist and mathematician who can predict with 95% accuracy whether a married couple will still be married 15 years later. Much of this ability in both cases has to do with the idea of "thin-slicing," the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based upon very thin slices of experience. Gladwell also discusses snap decisions, why they are so accurate, and why we are unable to describe why we made a particular snap decision. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is an interesting part of the study of snap decisions. Try it for yourself at http://www.implicit.harvard.edu
Two other big stories in the book: one is about Marine General Paul Van Riper, and how he was able to outwit the most advanced military technology using expeience and insight and some very fine thin-slicing. Another is about an ER surgeon, Brendan Reilly, who was able to optimize time chest pain victims spent in the ER by reducing the amount of information upon which decisions were based.
Perhaps the most useful section of the book for me was the discussion of the FACS, Facial Action Coding System. By learning the musculature of the face and the roughly fifteen hundred micro expressions a face can make, it is possible to know what someone is really thinking. Lucky for us, only fifty or so people in the world are completely versed in this art. This discussion occurs in the chapter on police shootings. Gladwell makes the point that when the brain is flooded with too many sensory perceptions, it begins to shut down and makes bad decisions. In a sense, we become temporarily autistic.
There are many useful ideas in this book. Gladwell is a chatty sort of writer, never losing his audience's attention. What could have been a rather boring, scholarly tome is instead suffused with energy. Highly recommended....more
Subtitled "Dreamwork Within the Sufi Tradition," this book brings together two different traditions: the Sufi Naqshbandi and Jungian psychology. VaughSubtitled "Dreamwork Within the Sufi Tradition," this book brings together two different traditions: the Sufi Naqshbandi and Jungian psychology. Vaughn-Lee is a Jungian psychologist with a great deal of experience in the Naqshbandi path. He speaks about how dreamwork can be a dynamic part of the spiritual process and not simply a psychological exploration. It is a very interesting book....more
Chris Costner Sizemore's account of her struggle with multiple personalities is much more interesting than The Three Faces of Eve, which was written bChris Costner Sizemore's account of her struggle with multiple personalities is much more interesting than The Three Faces of Eve, which was written by two of her psychotherapists. Sizemore goes into depth about how the fracture of her personality occurred. Rather than being based on one or two traumatic experiences, the splits happened over a period of years. Rather than having three personalities, she had approximately twenty. Rather than being cured, Chris still wrestled with imultiples at the end of her book.
One of the most interesting parts in a consistently fascinating story is Chris' treatment at the hands of the infamous Dr. Corbett H. Thigpen who administered shock therapy to his patients. Thigpen and another psychotherapist who worked with Chris, Hervey M. Cleckley, wrote the three faces book, and sold the rights to Chris' life story to Twentieth Century Fox without her knowledge or permission. She took the two doctors to court on that one, and won.
Unlike many ghostwritten books, in this one, the co-author assumes an active role, particularly at the end of the story. Multiple personality disorder is probably the rarest psychological condition in the DSM-IV, contrary to what the media presents. This book is a valuable contribution to psychiatric literature because it is an honest portrayal of one woman's devolvement into a frightening panoply of personalities, and her heroic efforts to reintegrate those personalities into one healthy whole....more
I read this book while I was in college, not because I had to, but because so many people were talking about gestalt therapy, I wanted to learn more aI read this book while I was in college, not because I had to, but because so many people were talking about gestalt therapy, I wanted to learn more about it. The three authors give a comprehensive overview of gestalt therapy, while at the same time acknowledging that what they are getting at has to be experienced: there are really no words to describe it....more
I stumbled through this book the best I could as a non-mathematician, because a friend suggested I read it. There was also a movement afoot in the psyI stumbled through this book the best I could as a non-mathematician, because a friend suggested I read it. There was also a movement afoot in the psychology world at the time called "Psycho-cybernetics," which borrowed heavily from Weiner's ideas. Perhaps the most significant aspect of Cybernetics to me was Weiner's exploration of human bodies as machines, coupled with the ethical considerations of tinkering with the mechanics....more
Llewelyn Vaughn Lee is a Jungian psychologist who is also a Naqshbandi Sufi. He seeks to combine spiritual life and modern psychology, to present theLlewelyn Vaughn Lee is a Jungian psychologist who is also a Naqshbandi Sufi. He seeks to combine spiritual life and modern psychology, to present the reader with a way of obtaining a more cohesive inner world. He incorporates Jungian imagery of the Shadow, and the dual natures of the masculine and the feminine, as well as dreams, poetry and Sufi teaching stories to illustrate the paradox of the effortless path. ...more
It has been so long since I read this book that I barely remember it. It is very much about dream analysis, and Jung seeks to convey the experience ofIt has been so long since I read this book that I barely remember it. It is very much about dream analysis, and Jung seeks to convey the experience of psychoanalysis from the perspective of the analyst. It also underscores the importance of the unconscious, which endeavors to speak to the self through dreams.
What made a lasting impression, though, was Jung's discussion of modern society, and the dilemma of anyone trying to live in a world that runs contrary to basic human needs. We need quiet in order to uncover our deepest thoughts. In the modern world, time for introspection is comes at a premium....more
Anyone who is interested in doing dreamwork needs to own a copy of this book. We have no idea how the symbols that we see every impact upon our subconAnyone who is interested in doing dreamwork needs to own a copy of this book. We have no idea how the symbols that we see every impact upon our subconscious - at least not until our dreams choose to reveal them to us. I read this book a long time ago, but it formed the basis for an interest in dream symbology that continues to this day. Extremely thought-provoking, the entire book should be read, and not just the chapters written by Jung....more
C.G. Jung is my kind of psychoanalyst, and in his memoirs, he traces the influences that turned him into one of the great psychological thinkers of thC.G. Jung is my kind of psychoanalyst, and in his memoirs, he traces the influences that turned him into one of the great psychological thinkers of the twentieth (or any other) century. Jung sought to analyze the amazing variety of experiences that can come into a human life, and he was not adverse to including muses, ghosts, and spiritual experiences to explain the workings of the human mind. I once had an opportunity to work with one of his students, and I learned much about myself in the brief time I spent with her analyzing my tissue paper collages.
I once had a seventeen year-old client who did very bad things to his family. When this young man was visited at different times by a psychologist and a psychiatrist, both mental health professionals came up with the same conclusion. Jung had a theory that evil sometimes randomly overtakes a person. Both people separately came to the conclusion that was what had happened in this case.. I though it interesting that they both referenced Jung, and I also thought Jung's theory was the correct one.
I have revisited this book many times, because reading of Jung's life journey fills me with hope. I don't think I will ever build a turret out of rocks with my own two hands, but just knowing Jung did it fuels my imagination. The main lesson of this book for me is to never reject any experience, no matter how weird or crazy it may seem to be. There is a place for everything in this universe, whether we acknowledge it or not....more
Along with Secrets of the Great Pyramid, this was one of the most mind-blowing books of the early seventies. Koestler combines explorations into ESP aAlong with Secrets of the Great Pyramid, this was one of the most mind-blowing books of the early seventies. Koestler combines explorations into ESP and psychokinesis with quantum mechanics and Jung's theory of synchronicity in an effort to explain life, the universe and everything. I found this book great fun, and am curious to discover how well it has weathered the past few decades. ...more
For years now, I have heard people saying things like, "Doesn't it seem like the country is becoming more divided?," or "I feel like people just don'tFor years now, I have heard people saying things like, "Doesn't it seem like the country is becoming more divided?," or "I feel like people just don't try to get along any more." This book reveals the growing chasm between liberals and conservatives in the U.S. through extensive use of statistics.
That might not sound like a very interesting read, but it is. Bishop and his slightly-less-than-co-author (listed on title page but not on the front of the book) Robert G. Cushing are journalists, and began thinking about the Big Sort as an off-the-wall series of articles in an Austin newspaper. What they discovered is that since the mid-sixties, the American population has been sorting itself geographically, politically, religiously, and in terms of lifestyle into more and more homogeneous enclaves. When this happens, people who think alike tend to reinforce each others' opinions, leading eventually to more radical opinions that individual community members originally held, and less ability to tolerate conflicting opinions.
The last paragraph pretty well says it all:
Beginning thirty years ago, the people of this country unwittingly began a social experiment. Finding cultural comfort in "people like us," we have migrated into ever-narrower communities and churches and political groups. We have created, and are creating, new institutions distinguished by their isolation and single-mindedness. We have replaced a belief in a nation with a trust in ourselves and our carefully chosen surroundings. And we have worked quietly and hard to remove any trace of the "constant clashing of opinions" from daily life. It was a social revolution, one that was both profound and, because it consisted of people simply going about their lives, entirely unnoticed. In this time, we have reshaped our economies, transformed our businesses, both created and decimated our cities, and altered institutions of faith and fellowship that have withstood centuries. Now more isolated than ever in our private lives, cocooned with our fellows, we approach public life with the sensibility of customers who are always right. "Tailor-made" has worked so well for industry and social networking sites, for subdivisions and churches, we expect it from our government, too. But democracy doesn't seem to work that way.
I found this book fascinating, and very useful in thinking about the challenges facing this country. The reader will find many interesting tidbits, whether finding out that for every twelve doorbells that political volunteers rang, one additional voter cast a ballot in this country, to discovering that the Republican Party based George W. Bush's second campaign for President partially upon the merchandising success of the Applebees Restaurant chain. Since I write a lot of juror questionnaires for criminal trials, realizing that asking four questions on childrearing can accurately predict party affiliation and that asking someone their attitude on public land use was an accurate indicator of their core beliefs probably topped my personal list. ...more
When this book was first published, it caused somewhat of a sensation, especially in the Bible Belt where I grew up. A psychiatrist got interested inWhen this book was first published, it caused somewhat of a sensation, especially in the Bible Belt where I grew up. A psychiatrist got interested in hypnosis in 1952, and tried it on his neighbor's wife. While trying to regress the woman to her early childhood, he ended up in what must have been one of the first past life regressions, where the woman remembered several past lives, including her life as Bridey Murphy, an Irishwoman in the 1800s. Many of the details of her/Murphy's life were able to be documented, and the book is largely composed of tapes from the hypnosis sessions.
I remember this book vividly, because it was the first forbidden book I ever read. My parents read it, and tried not to talk about it when I was around. I can still see them whispering in the kitchen. My mother took the book and placed it on a high shelf. After awhile, my parents forgot about it, and I was able to retrieve it. I read it under the covers at night with my trusty flashlight. I was eight years old, and my other reading materials at the time were about Beezus and Ramona.
If I had the chance to read this book again, I would do it....more
The main point I took away from this book is that children need "real" fairy tales. Not the ones where everyone lives happily after, but the ones wherThe main point I took away from this book is that children need "real" fairy tales. Not the ones where everyone lives happily after, but the ones where the cruel stepsisters get their eyes pecked out by crows, or Hansel and Gretel push the witch into the oven. Things happen and consequences follow. In fairy tales, children learn of the wonders that the world holds, but they also learn of its scary, dangerous parts in morsels that instruct but do not overwhelm. Maybe not all parts of this book have stood the test of time, but, based upon my experience and that of my children, I still believe that Bettelheim's defense of fairy tales is valid. ...more
The standard reference work for mental health professionals, this is a starting point for trying to understand different diagnoses and conditions. TreThe standard reference work for mental health professionals, this is a starting point for trying to understand different diagnoses and conditions. Trends come and go in its pages: at one time, homosexuality was listed as a psychological disorder. Still in all, it is the place to go for a brief yet encyclopedic description of any mental affliction....more
"Nasrudin was in a patent office, trying to patent a magic wand. ""I'm sorry," said the clerk, "but we don't patent impossible inventions.' So Nasrud "Nasrudin was in a patent office, trying to patent a magic wand. ""I'm sorry," said the clerk, "but we don't patent impossible inventions.' So Nasrudin waved his magic wand, and the clerk disappeared."
Whatever could I say that could top that? And it came from a book that turns upside down in the middle. These Sufi teaching stories are funny, thought-provoking, and real. So real, in fact, that I expect the Mullah and his magic wand and his tattered coat, and the goat, and his wife to appear at any moment. ...more
There is something about a square book (the shape, not the content, man), printed on paper that is almost as thick as construction paper, with the wacThere is something about a square book (the shape, not the content, man), printed on paper that is almost as thick as construction paper, with the wackiest insides EVER. And, yes, while we are treated to an overview of Ram Dass' life, and given a primer for becoming practicing Hindus, it is the part in the middle with the mind-melding/melting pen and ink drawings accompanied by words on a page like, "You're standing on a bridge watching yourself go by," that make this book such a trip. Literally. I think it was printed on the same kind of paper blotter acid is "printed" on. Yeah, that makes sense. Now is NOW are you going to BE HERE or not? IT'S ALL AS SIMPLE AS THAT!
As a psychedelic souvenir, or ticket to the future, this book still rocks....more
I read this book when my girls were entering their teen years, and found it to be quite a useful book, Many of the situations she described I found toI read this book when my girls were entering their teen years, and found it to be quite a useful book, Many of the situations she described I found to be true. Among my daughters and their friends, I saw girls who tried to act stupid when they were top of the class, and girls who made themselves to try to conform to an external idea of what they should look like by utilizing everything from hair dying and makeup to harsh, life-threatening "diets."
Pipher makes suggestions for how adults can support girls in their efforts not to be narrowly categorized by their peers and society at large. She emphasizes giving girls creative outlets where they can expend their energy and learn more about themselves. I put her ideas to good use, and both my daughters survived adolescence with their health, sanity, and individuality intact....more
Dr. Robert Hare has a theory he calls "psychopathy," that he uses to describes anyone whose behavior doesn't conform to his standards. He has tried foDr. Robert Hare has a theory he calls "psychopathy," that he uses to describes anyone whose behavior doesn't conform to his standards. He has tried for years to get it into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the psychiatrists' and psychologists' main reference work. Its editors have rejected Dr. Hare's proposition as being too vague. Still, people will read this and think that their landlord or the guy next to them on the bus is a psychopath. I have read many useful psychological evaluation books. This is most decidedly not one of them....more
This book means a lot to me because I read it at a time when I was questioning many of the basic assumptions upon which my life had been based. I stroThis book means a lot to me because I read it at a time when I was questioning many of the basic assumptions upon which my life had been based. I strongly identified with Frankl's story of surviving Auschwitz, because I, too was a survivor, albeit of a different sort. His ideas about man search for meaning made a lot of sense to me at eighteen, and still do today. Many books have cycled through my bookshelves, but this one has remained there forty years....more
Jungian analysts are not known for being easy reads, and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes is no exception. The good news is that for those who are interested inJungian analysts are not known for being easy reads, and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes is no exception. The good news is that for those who are interested in Jung done from a feminist perspective, no one does it better than this author. Keep in mind that when this book came out in 1992, it was groundbreaking and controversial. Anyone advocating the liberation of more uppity women into the culture was not exactly welcomed by certain segments of the society. I love fairy tales and Jungian archetypes, and have two daughters. Of course I liked this book!...more
Sooner or later, we all have to deal with the subject of death. What a boon to have this book along to make the journey. What makes this book a classiSooner or later, we all have to deal with the subject of death. What a boon to have this book along to make the journey. What makes this book a classic is that the author's five stages of death resonate with everyone who has ever had to look death in the face. Just being able to put a name to a feeling, whether it be denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression or acceptance, has brought peace to many people. This is one of the seminal psychological works of the late twentieth century, and should be on every reading list. It is just that useful....more
When this book came out, it was a real stunner. Virtually every young woman I knew read it. We could all identify with the main character, Esther, andWhen this book came out, it was a real stunner. Virtually every young woman I knew read it. We could all identify with the main character, Esther, and her wrestling match with her job and her life. In the world today where we are so inured to violence, this book is no longer shocking. What it remains, however, is a sensitively-written story about a young woman's nosedive into a depression from which she cannot recover. Because Plath was a poet, she writes with a poetic sensibility. Because she also suffered a mental decline, Plath brings a vulnerability and consciousness to Esther's character that has made her deeply beloved by readers everywhere.
I have long enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's pieces in The New Yorker, and am a little abashed that it took me this long to get around to reading this book.I have long enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's pieces in The New Yorker, and am a little abashed that it took me this long to get around to reading this book. In my world, there are two kinds of people: the people who brainstorm, and people who don't.
The brainstormers will love this book, because Gladwell is particularly adept at recognizing patterns in society, and bringing them together in an interesting way. Much of what he says rings true to my personal experience, which is why I keep reading his writing.
The non-brain stormers may criticize a dearth of hard data, but I do not find this to be a problem. Much of what Gladwell talks about is pure common sense, and how does one quantify that? His argument about causes of the increase in teenage smoking were particularly cogent. I also enjoyed the section on Sesame Street and Blues Clues, and his analysis of the "treasure box" advertising.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Power to the brainstormers!...more