Monkey Mind*: A Memoir of Anxiety was written by Daniel Smith, son of a psychotherapist and brother of a hypochondriac. His whole life experience it turns out was lived with very anxious people. It was only natural that he should suffer from something and anxiety seemed only natural. When he explained what he had come to understand as the underlying cause for his affliction he said:
...[my brother's] admonition is that I never realized how influential our upbringing must have been....
In his early 40s, my father had a series of panic attacks that sent him packing to the behavioral ward. My mother, meanwhile, was struggling to make it through P.T.A. meetings without hyperventilating herself into unconsciousness. (NYT 4/2012)So Smith did something I thought such an monkey minded person could never do...he wrote a book. It turns out it is a wonderful read. If this book doesn't become a movie, I will be very disappointed. Woody Allen would be the perfect star. Daniel Smith's choice to write about his life would terrified most of us...he wrote about what is going on inside his head. Ironically it was fall on the floor funny. Usually anxiety does not make me laugh. The Amazon review echoed my feelings about the book.
I chose this book because of an article titled The Manic in Me published in the New York Times last April. The short piece written by Smith was humorous and interesting. So interesting I actually reread every word. Believe me I don't do that very often.
Neurologist and bestselling writer Oliver Sacks says, “I read Monkey Mind with admiration for its bravery and clarity. . . . I broke out into explosive laughter again and again.”
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
Here is the thing...I cannot tell you why you should read this but I do know you should. Maybe because it is one of the best pieces of writing I have come across in a long time. Or it could be that we are all anxious at least part of time and Smith insights are very helpful. Of course wandering around inside another person's head can be a lot of fun AND very therapeutic. It is a known fact that laughter is the best medicine. At least it was for me!
On a political note: Daniel Smith was a "fact checker" for The Atlantic...a job that drove him nuts. Really. He is currently a writer but maybe he could work on the side for CNN...I'm just saying.
*Mind monkey or Monkey mind: from Chinese xinyuan and Sino-Japanese shin'en 心猿 [lit. "heart-/mind-monkey"], is a Buddhist term meaning "unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable".