MEMOIR: "Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety," by Daniel Smith

  • Article by: JULIE FOSTER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 30, 2012 - 4:46 PM

Navigating, and delineating, an anxious life

MONKEY MIND: A MEMOIR OF ANXIETY By: Daniel Smith.

Daniel Smith's severe anxiety began in childhood, and he suffered his third serious anxiety attack when he was 23. On the surface, Smith appeared poised for success. A recent college graduate, he was blessed with good friends, a job he loved and a lovely woman with whom he shared an apartment. Yet a rabid, free-floating form of anxiety haunted him. "A sense of impending catastrophe colored every waking moment. Worse, I had the distinct sense that catastrophe had already occurred," Smith writes.

In "Monkey Mind," he adroitly dissects his relentless mental and physical symptoms with intelligence and humor, describing how he coped for years. Sweat, "the great unspoken foe of the chronically anxious," gets its own chapter. Smith wore black shirts and even tried stick and peel disposable sweat pads shaped like "morbidly obese butterflies." He explains the difference between homesickness, anxiety and panic attacks and the symptoms associated with the various types of anxiety. Smith eventually found peace through cognitive therapy and meditation. He does a creditable job juxtaposing the dense clinical language describing his condition with the intimate and often painfully humiliating situations of his daily life. An intelligent, intimate and touching journey through one man's angst-ridden life.

  • MONKEY MIND: A MEMOIR OF ANXIETY

    By: Daniel Smith.

    Publisher: Simon

    & Schuster, 212 pages, $25.

    Review: Smith does a good job of describing the panic attacks that have dogged his life, as well as explaining all the different kinds of anxiety that can plague us.

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