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Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional

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3.58  ·  Rating details ·  212 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
A New York Times Bestseller

A groundbreaking new view of human psychology that shows how eight key traits of human behavior—long perceived as liabilities—can be important hidden strengths.

What if the inattentiveness that makes school or work a challenge holds the secret to your future as an entrepreneur? What if the shyness in groups that you hate is the source of deep comp
...more
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Published March 13th 2012 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2012)
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Laurie
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Archer is a psychiatrist with a lot of achievements. He founded the Institute for Neuropyschiatry and the psychiatric program at a hospital. He runs a free advice website, DrDaleArcher. He makes numerous television appearances. He was also a professional poker player.

Wait, what?

Dr. Archer, who has designed a system of eight human behavior traits with a scale of 1 to ‘over 10’ to describe people, is high on the ‘adventurous’ or ADHD scale. This means he has a lot of energy (he puts in an inc
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Heidi The Hippie Reader
I completely agree with Dr. Archer's basic premise which is: Americans are over-diagnosed, over-medicated, and perhaps we need to re-examine our definition of "normal" to fit reality rather than a dreamworld that exists only in our heavily fogged, prescription filled minds. He takes apart eight different, commonly diagnosed "disorders" and demonstrates not only their strengths, but also why many of them were necessary for survival. He doesn't deny that many of these mental health problems, at th ...more
Kim Mcnelly
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book to read if you have to deal with people, EVER!

So many people are seeing their doctors about physiological issues and it's gotten out of control. This book teaches you how to deal with your own personality traits and those of others.

They also include a self test that shows you on a 1-10 scale, where you fall in the categories. You should take the test before you read the book and you will have a good understanding of where you fall!

The 8 topics they cover are:
1. ADHD
2. OCD
3.
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Terri
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Even Dr. Dale Archer's introduction to his book had me hooked, you know, the part we all usually skip.

Archer's premise is that while there are definitely some people in need of clinical help and medication for mental health, many people simply do not need that sort of intervention. Not only have we destigmatized mental illness, we have completely swung in the opposite direction; we glamorize it.

Archer contends that the people labeled "normal" is getting dangerously low. "In fact, it's reached th
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Feng Ouyang

Overall: the general theme is that mild “personality disorders” are natural and useful. We should not suppress it. Instead, we should choose our career, personal relationship and activities in consideration of our unique personalities. For most people, the personality tests will land in the middle and one cannot gain much practical help from the book. However, the mindset is interesting and reaffirming for people who feel his does not fit in. The writing is too formulated (each chapter with the
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Sharon
May 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
A groundbreaking new view of human psychology that shows how eight key traits of human behavior—long perceived as liabilities—can be important hidden strengths.

What if the inattentiveness that makes school or work a challenge holds the secret to your future as an entrepreneur? What if the shyness in groups that you hate is the source of deep compassion for others? What if the anxiety and nervousness you often feel can actually help energize you? What if the mood swings you sometimes experience c
...more
Autumn

3.5 Stars

This book should be a must for everyone intending to seeking more Knowledge and perspective about mental disorders . Dr Archer takes a friendly approach by categorizing said disorders through specific quizzes rating 1 through 12; where those scoring 1 to 5 have a little or absent trait , 5 through 8 present a strong or dominant trait, and 10 + are those whose lives are hindered and benefit from medication.

Each individual needs to learn how to cope with this traits depending on the "sc
...more
Puffling
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. A must-read for anyone with mental illness, or who has been concerned that they have something even if they haven't been diagnosed. I really think this is the future of thinking about these issues: as a spectrum with many potential upsides. I found this particularly helpful as I've had several diagnoses over time and even though I'm in good health, I'm perhaps hypervigilant about symptoms. I am very grateful for this book.

Just to be clear, it is NOT pushing against good psychiatric care or
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Joanne Mazzotta
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THis doctor is brilliant. There is no magic pill. Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional
Elinor Hurst
Fairly superficial.
Melinda
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book expressed clearly and authoritatively a concept I've often thought: the idiosyncrasies we all have are or can be strengths. We need to not condemn each other for being different, but help our families and friends work around and work with their strengths, in many cases instead of medication or treatment, though the author does not rule out medication and therapy in dealing with mental extremes. This book helped me determine that some of the qualities my children have, different from my ...more
Sally
Most of us have some symptoms of something. Others are actually diagnosed and dealing with various aspects of whatever. This book looks at the benefit side of not being "normal." The quizes were interesting. I would have tweaked a thing or two, but they were fairly accurate for me. I scored highest in "adventurous" (aka ADHD tendencies) and "hyper-alert" (aka general anxiety), which is a strange mix. Most interesting thing was that I used to score excessively on "shy" (aka social anxiety), but n ...more
Chris Craddock
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Dr. Dale Archer has written a book of pop psychology that posits the following premise: Most psychological disorders fall into eight categories of traits that exist on a continuum. When any of these traits become super dominant they can present problems, but there are also positive aspects to the traits. Is your glass half empty or half full? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And so forth.

The Bottom Line is that Better Than Normal is better than your normal pop psychology book. It is a
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Alicia
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, science, nonfiction
I love books like this-- ones that make you look at yourself and people around you to figure them out using science. Archer's premise of the book is that everyone thinks they're not normal, but in reality, what's normal is really just on a continuum.

He breaks down personalities that run the spectrum from non-existent to super-dominant and by using a simple questionnaire, you get a reading on where you fall on each of the traits. Then, you read the chapters, reading in to you and picking out tho
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Susannah
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Dale Archer, a psychiatrist, presents an interesting theory about how personality traits fall on a spectrum, from barely present to disorder, rather than either having the condition, or not. He also advocates how you must embrace your dominant traits and make them work to your advantage. There are tests at the back you can take to see if you are dominant in any of these traits: Adventurous (ADHD), Perfectionist (OCD), Shy (Social Anxiety Disorder), Hyper-Alert (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), Dra ...more
Marleah
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a good book for laypeople who wants to gain insight into the people around them. We've all heard people call themselves OCD, or call other people narcissistic - but isn't everyone on a continuum for those traits? Archer takes 8 traits that, in their extreme form, can be diagnosable mental illnesses or personality disorders and shows us how those same traits can actually be very positive and even desirable in certain situations.

Archer breaks each trait down and describes how someone who s
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Katrinka
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps it's a bit too idealistic, but without denying the reality of mental disorders, Dr. Archer gives us a healthy dose of positive thinking and perspective that I can't help but admire and find helpful. He makes an applaudable effort to remove the stigmas attached to certain behaviors and replace them with compassion, understanding, respect, and ultimately wisdom by recognizing "ascendant strengths" in ourselves and others and properly channeling them for optimal success and happiness. Arche ...more
Dasha
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be an insightful and useful book. Both my partner and I tried out the questionnaires in the appendix, and felt like we learned a lot. The author has a strong message, and it is well-researched. Dale Archer is also an quite gutsy in that he uses celebrities as examples of personality types and even mental disorders. I am not quite sure how I feel about that. While very interesting, I wish it was also a bit more thorough (perhaps longer chapters on each of the main conditions discu ...more
Desiree
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Excellent discussion of how those things we diagnose as "disorders" may be beneficial traits that contribute to our personal successes.

I really despised the font, which includes italics with a single cursive letter (s) and found this detrimental to my enjoyment of the text. Otherwise I appreciated its organization, the writing, and the unusual angle.

If you already believe many mental disorders are over-diagnosed, or you think you might be a little weird, or you're curious about personality in
...more
Salimah
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not read the whole book, instead I focued on chapter six pertaining to Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) for my abnormal psychology research paper. I found this book have a more positive (a definite self-help piece) approach to HPD which made for a much different twist on the disorder and how to view it with an open mind. I greatly appreciated this sentiment and I think it added a wonderful dynamic to my paper. Other than with online sources (the internet as well as various respected d ...more
Dana
I thought this book was very eloquently and is brilliant through it's simplicity. The author is capable of making you feel as though he is directly speaking to you without speaking at you. It surpasses all the typical 'think positive' approach most books of the same class have. Instead, he highlights how what to many seem weaknesses are indeed strengths. An awesome perception changer! Would recommend to anyone! :)
Lissa
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and useful.
I like the use of continuums and the idea of traits that can change over time.
I also appreciated the focus on the positive side of all traits and how for the most-part, we can make them work for us.
I gained personal insight, as well as different perspectives on other people in my life.
At this point in my life I find most "self-help" books tedious and un informative - basically a waste of time. Not so with this book.
Karen
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the positive take on here for mental illness and how it can be used for creativity and work. This book was just a different style of self help I found refreshing. Really inspired me and was so uplifting to anyone who is not considered normal by a lot of people. the only reason I did not give this a 5 is I did not agree with some of the evolutionary stuff and skimmed over and past it on every chapter.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Coming from a man in the medical profession who has practiced psychiatry for years and years with excellence, this book carries a lot of weight. You can't help but respect the author and listen attentively to him as writes as if he sitting across from you and sharing with you his wisdom about who is really a "patient"? Aren't well? Are we supposed to be like everybody else so that we may qualify for being called "normal"?
Nathan Sharp
This book is better than average for a personality book in my opinion. I like how he focuses on distinguishing normal personalities from personality disorders and how he mentions the positive aspects of personalities that have become looked on as negative in society. Other than that though it is a typical personality book.
Heather
I'd probably actually give it like 3.5 because it was mostly interesting and gave some good insights into different personality traits. I so agree with this: "In the end we are all much alike and life is very simple. It's just not very easy. But if we give everyone who's struggling a diagnosis and shove a tablet down his or her throat, we make a huge mistake."
Flo
I can't really review this book even though I went through it because it wasn't what I expected. The title seemed to me to imply how being different can be a blessing. Instead the book covers topics of schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, among many other personality traits. I do not have any of these traits so I didn't see the point in actually reading the entire book.
Carrie
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was fun and enlightening. I've always thought everyone tends to lean toward one or more so-called mental illness. Just not to the extreme. So it was fun to read a lot of my ideas, then find more that I agree with:)
Michael Foltz
3.5 stars. Liked the book. Would have liked it even more if there had been some opportunity for character development of the villains in the story. As it was, it felt like the main characters were in a fight against a more or less faceless and generic corporate enemy.
Amel Boussetta
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book makes you understand and sympathise with other persons' struggles. It also shifted my perception of mental illness from an adversity to a challenge.
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Dr. Dale Archer is a Medical Doctor, board-certified Psychiatrist and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association who has helped thousands of patients in his private practice for more than two decades.

Dr. Archer was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a Tulane Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa, he received his BA in Philosophy with honors, and continued at Tulane where he received his M.
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More about Dale Archer...
“not everyone needs therapy or meds, and that embracing who we are is the key to success and happiness.” 2 likes
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