Although published only five years ago, this book is already a bit out of date (MySpace? please), but the research is still very relevant. Narcissism...moreAlthough published only five years ago, this book is already a bit out of date (MySpace? please), but the research is still very relevant. Narcissism is a huge problem in our culture and it's only getting worse. Worth a read if you are new to the subject.(less)
This book was written in the form of a Q&A with a 13 year old boy with autism. Interspersed were a few of his writings, which read much like zen k...moreThis book was written in the form of a Q&A with a 13 year old boy with autism. Interspersed were a few of his writings, which read much like zen koans, with a longer story placed at the end of the book. There were also some amazing illustrations done by Kai and Sunny, that I liked a lot. They reminded me of M.C. Escher, but softer and more expressive.
This rare glimpse into the mind of someone with autism was very enlightening. I was surprised to discover that Higashida's explanations for autistic behaviour allowed me to relate some of my own experiences with his. For instance, when he talks about how encountering familiar things and repetitively watching the same things on tv comforts him, I am reminded of how I inevitably turn to my favorite DVDs and books when I am particularly distressed (Firefly and Jane Austen are two of my most-used pacifiers). The author's pervasive feelings of unease, flashbulb memories, and being misunderstood are also familiar to me.
It seems to me that autism and anxiety are linked, and that many autistic behaviors stem more from the anxiety autism causes than from the autism itself. So much of Higashida's answers revolved around trying to find comfort - by constant movement, arranging his environment or attempting to filter incoming information. With this in mind, as well as the knowledge that there's some sort of disconnect between person and body and even parts of his mind, the severely autistic person's behaviour begins to make a lot more sense.
Most importantly, the author describes how powerful his feelings are, how aware and caring he is about the world and people around him, showing us that, at his core, an autistic person is no different from the rest of us. He has the same desire for life and learning, and the same need for love and comfort. This little book will change the way you think about people with autism, for the better.(less)
It's not often a journalist tells a story of their own illness, and even it's rarer for one to do it with much objectivity. Cahalan has an advantage i...moreIt's not often a journalist tells a story of their own illness, and even it's rarer for one to do it with much objectivity. Cahalan has an advantage in this respect, since she has almost no memories of the acute stage of her illness (the month of madness), and so has had to research her story like any other journalist might. She interviewed doctors, nurses, friends and family, watched surveillance video taken during her hospital stay, and used journals written by herself and her parents to piece together the events that she suffered but cannot remember. She's added to that information the things she does recall from before and after the acute stage of her recently discovered autoimmune disease, in which autoantibodies attacked neuro-receptors in her brain, which resulted in an amazing number of bizarre symptoms, some of which could have (and probably have been, in others) mistaken for schizophrenia. I like that, even after going through this trauma and struggling with about a two year recovery, she realizes how lucky she was. As far as debilitating illnesses go, she basically won the lottery - not because of the illness she got, but because it was discovered and treated and she more or less got her (arguably charmed) life back.
Susannah is by all accounts a gifted, successful and well-loved individual. Her million dollar treatment was covered by insurance and well-off parents. She had a very large support network that were incredibly involved and not one of them abandonned her. She happened to be able to get into a hospital and eventually be referred to arguably the only doctor in the world that could help her. She had understanding employers that kept her job open for her. Susannah was very fortunate, indeed.
This is not to downplay her horrible, nightmarish journey, which I bet a part of her is thankful for not remembering. She suffered, and the people around her suffered too. The story she tells is both fascinating and heart-breaking. For the most part, this book is fast-paced and smooth, but it also includes some scientific information that you may have to slow down to understand.
On a personal note: As someone who has suffered from (non-psychotic) mental illness since childhood, and debilitating, incurable and untreatable physical illness for the past ten years, I have to admit I was envious of Susannah. Her family and closest friends showed a level of loyalty and support that I can't even imagine having. These relationships have remained intact, some of them have even improved, and she has returned to the job she loves. She's even helping others by sharing her story and offering compassion and information to people who contact her with tales of similar illnesses. Once you've had chronic illness for awhile, you realize how preferable acute illness is, even if it is as severe as Susannah's. With chronic illness, family and friends eventually slip away, as do any dreams and plans you had for your future. Your entire life is reduced to infirmity and survival, with literally no end in sight except death. So yeah, I was envious, reading about Susannah's supportive family and ultimate recovery.
To her credit, there is not even a whiff of self-pity in Cahalan's story. She knows how fortunate she was, and how many others aren't nearly so lucky. She's extremely grateful to everyone involved. All in all, a well-written, interesting book that I would recommend to people who like medical memoirs.
After reading 216 pages, I performed a cost/benefit analysis and decided not to continue. Antifragility is an interesting concep...morePartial rating: 2.75/5
After reading 216 pages, I performed a cost/benefit analysis and decided not to continue. Antifragility is an interesting concept with wide ranging applications, but not wide enough to be of practical use to a person in my situation; and this book is just not intriguing or entertaining enough to read for its own sake. It's very challenging, sometimes hard to follow, and the author has a bit of an attitude problem, taking pot-shots at just about everyone. I look forward to the day someone writes a more accessible book on this topic.
3.5 stars. The subject matter of this book didn't interest me as much as that of the other two Mary Roach books I've read, Spook and Bonk, but it was...more3.5 stars. The subject matter of this book didn't interest me as much as that of the other two Mary Roach books I've read, Spook and Bonk, but it was still an interesting and entertaining read. By no means is this book a complete education on the g.i. tract, but rather a collection of interesting stories related to it.(less)
If you've read other books on the topic of sleep, you probably will not find any new practical information in this one. It is however, highly readable...moreIf you've read other books on the topic of sleep, you probably will not find any new practical information in this one. It is however, highly readable and contains some interesting stories, like how the CPAP was invented and the problems with prosecuting crimes committed while sleepwalking. This book isn't going to solve your sleep disorder, but it is a nice layman's summary of the current state of sleep science.