"The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Ryan

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I was recommended this book by a friend, and I'm sorry that I didn't discover it much sooner. Unlike many books about psychology, Martha Stout dispenses with the intellectual jargon and presents the key concepts in clear, concise layman's terms, using many practical examples and scenarios that demonstrate the multiple forms that dissociation and dissociative identity disorder (DID) can take. While some of the composite case studies (created to preserve the privacy of her patients) seem somewhat sensationalist at face value (weeks of "missing time", multiple personality "switchers" etc), they do highlight the very real and documented symptoms that some sufferers of DID experience, as well as the traumatic experiences that create the condition.

Stout very clearly indicates that while the more extreme cases are less common, there are multiple levels to DID which can result in virtually invisible patterns of behaviour that can co-exist with a more or less "normal" life. She explains how aberrant and out-of-character dissociative actions are rationalised with labels like "absent-minded Professor" which enable both the sufferer and the people in their lives to ignore the problem, resulting in a tragic waste of potential and needless degree of confusion and heartache - especially where spouses and children are concerned. In reading about these various levels of dissociation - daydreaming, habitual, intrusion, "switching", demifuge, fuge etc - I was able to immediately identify certain mild dissociative states that have perpetually recurred in my own life. It also seemed quite obvious to me that dissociative states are epidemic in Western society - something that Stout makes brief commentary upon in the closing chapters of the book.

Stout also places a very healthy emphasis on personal responsibility being the deciding factor in recovery from the various DID states. She points out that people who value safety and self-protection above all other concerns have a higher probability of treatment failure, and that a conscientious and competent therapist will always seek to nurture that part of a person's essential self rather than enabling them to perpetuate a "victim mentality". I think this is good advice for those considering psychotherapy and evaluating a therapist, as unfortunately it seems that the psychiatric professions are replete with "sinners", as well as "saints". Let the patient (not just the "buyer"), beware!

For those who consider the idea of therapy too daunting, Stout also recommends various techniques that can be helpful, especially in combating mild and habitual dissociative states. Writing a journal and practicing certain types of meditation are two examples she gives of methods that can be applied by people in their daily lives to help them begin to struggle with the self-defeating effects of dissociation.

With warm compassion and occasional gentle wit, Stout has written a book that in my opinion is one of the missing "textbooks" about human life that people should be given as early as possible in the educational system. I see one of the key problems facing humanity in this day and age as being the lack of adequate psychological knowledge, and that addressing this issue could have beneficial flow-on effects in ways that we cannot begin to conceive of. Perhaps one day we could then claim a place in the universe as an ethically, and not just technologically, advanced species of being.

True Sanity, and not a "myth of sanity" could help us get there. I feel it appropriate to thank Martha Stout for helping point out the way.
 

Zadius Sky

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Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Ryan said:
With warm compassion and occasional gentle wit, Stout has written a book that in my opinion is one of the missing "textbooks" about human life that people should be given as early as possible in the educational system.
Very true. I do wish I had her book when I was either in the secondary school or colleges. This book is extremely helpful and very understandable. And, it is never dry or would it lull you to sleep. I understood every words Stout was addressing. I kept nodding my head to every page. (It's well worth the headaches. =D )
 

CarpeDiem

Jedi Council Member
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

and also hat off to 'liveliness' of her narrative of bizarre reality of psychopaths. Without scrupulous live-situations and her 'peering' into psychopaths heads (if it were only theoretic) it would be really much more complicated to understand how their world differs from ours.
 

Renaissance

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Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Agreed, this is a wonderful book. It really brings home some of the fourth way concepts in a modern understanding too. Stout's books 'The Sociopath next door,' and 'The Myth of Sanity' provide vital knowledge of our inner and outer worlds and I think provides a basis of seeing how the world of psychopathy can create our world of disassociation. I often recommend them to others as 'firsts' for the topics of psychopathy and DID because of there ease in reading as well as accurateness and general essential info.
 

Laura

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Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

I hope that all of you will go over to amazon and write nice reviews for these books as a way of thanking Dr. Stout for her dedication. I also wouldn't hesitate to point out the similarities between this information and the work of Gurdjieff!
 
A

Anders

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Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

CarpeDiem said:
and also hat off to 'liveliness' of her narrative of bizarre reality of psychopaths. Without scrupulous live-situations and her 'peering' into psychopaths heads (if it were only theoretic) it would be really much more complicated to understand how their world differs from ours.
You probably refer to the other book by Martha Stout named "The Sociopath next door", unless I was dissociating while reading 'The Myth of Sanity' ;-)

I just read both her books in the last month and found them to be very enlightening. Just like Ryan I could relate to situations where I mildly dissociate. It further gave me much insight into the family dynamic as she describes how dissociation can come about. Highly recommended read as it gives more insight into the working of the machine.

And yes, reviews have been posted on Amazon. After initial procrastination about writing a review, I discovered how easy it is and what a great way to say thank you to the author, while informing other readers about a good book to read. An added bonus is that it forces you to recap the essential parts of the book, which helps committing it more to memory.
 

Zadius Sky

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Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Stout's new book, "The Paranoia Switch: How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior--and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage," is coming out soon, like in September (since we are on Stout's books). I hope to obtain it when it comes out.

http://www.amazon.com/Paranoia-Switch-Rewires-Reshapes-Behavior/dp/0374229996/ref=sr_1_1/104-5981855-0421515?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185121941&sr=8-1

Laura said:
I hope that all of you will go over to amazon and write nice reviews for these books as a way of thanking Dr. Stout for her dedication. I also wouldn't hesitate to point out the similarities between this information and the work of Gurdjieff!
I wish to do so, but one would need to buy the certain book, wait 24 hours before writing the customer review. I brought both Stout's books in local bookstore.

Edit:

Here's what they said:
To write a customer review: you must have used this account to complete a purchase of an item from Amazon.com. Please wait 24 hours after your first purchase before writing a review.
I have never written a review on Amazon.com before.
 

Beau

Administrator
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Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

I don't think you have to buy the book on Amazon in order to write a review there. I've written reviews for books I haven't specifically purchased on Amazon.
 

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

You don't have to buy THE book, but you do have to buy A book from Amazon to write a review now.

beau said:
I don't think you have to buy the book on Amazon in order to write a review there. I've written reviews for books I haven't specifically purchased on Amazon.
 

Ringo

Padawan Learner
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Shane said:
Agreed, this is a wonderful book. It really brings home some of the fourth way concepts in a modern understanding too. Stout's books 'The Sociopath next door,' and 'The Myth of Sanity' provide vital knowledge of our inner and outer worlds and I think provides a basis of seeing how the world of psychopathy can create our world of disassociation. I often recommend them to others as 'firsts' for the topics of psychopathy and DID because of there ease in reading as well as accurateness and general essential info.
You can get 'The Sociopath next door' in audio format. Great if your currently backed up with books or short on time, you can listen to it while driving or exercising etc.

http://www.audible.com/adbl/entry/offers/productPromo2.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&productID=BK_TANT_000120
or
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sociopath-Next-Door-Martha-Stout/dp/1400151562/ref=sr_1_2/202-8957638-6311008?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185577519&sr=8-2
or
http://www.tantor.com/BookDetail.asp?Product=0156_SociopathNext

Would be nice if more good books like this were in audio format.

R.
 

TheSpoon

Jedi
FOTCM Member
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Just finished reading Martha Stout's Myth of Sanity - good book, very easy light read.

While I was working through it, I felt a tad voyeuristic reading about other people's dissociative illnesses which I didn't think applied to my life. But once I'd finished it I remembered a couple of incidents at work where, in one, my water bottle appeared on my desk filled up (possibly I filled it, possibly someone else did but either way, I don't remember it arriving) and another where I was at the water cooler and noticed my wedding ring was missing (and it's not like it's a loose band) - and I found it under my keyboard?!?

So that got me thinking...either I was dissociated when I took it off, or I was abducted Langoliers style and someone forgot to put my ring back on when they returned me.
 

anart

The Living Force
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

spoon said:
So that got me thinking...either I was dissociated when I took it off, or I was abducted Langoliers style and someone forgot to put my ring back on when they returned me.
The simplest explanation is almost always the correct one - go with dissociation in this case and you might actually have an opportunity to learn something, i.e. you are clearly dissociating, so why (what triggers it)? When? Can you self-observe long enough to figure out those two answers? Then, you might get somewhere!
 

bedower

Jedi Master
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Andy, thanks so much for that audible.com link. :D

The biggest problem for me when ordering books from out of the country is safety of receipt. Now, according to the audible.com site, I can download 'The Myth of Sanity' onto my computer and listen to it via my speakers, yes? All I have to do now is to find someone with a dollar credit card!

I have ordered the other four 'must reads' (Trapped in a Mirror'; 'Unholy Hungers'; 'The Myth of Sanity'; 'The Narcissistic Family') through the American University in Cairo, which is the safest because the AUC already has a system in place re the customs and suchlike, BUT they can't always obtain the books I order, and it takes time. Also, the payment is in local currency.

If all goes well with the audible site, I can see if they have any of the other 'big three' on offer.

Thanks again.
 
H

Hildegarda

Guest
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Los said:
this is a wonderful book. It really brings home some of the fourth way concepts in a modern understanding too.
I just wanted to add to all the praise already given to Martha Stout that she is an excellent, excellent writer. The book is packed with pertinent information but reads in a single breath.
 

Adaryn

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FOTCM Member
Re: "The Myth of Sanity" by Martha Stout

Hildegarda said:
I just wanted to add to all the praise already given to Martha Stout that she is an excellent, excellent writer. The book is packed with pertinent information but reads in a single breath.
I can't agree more, even for a non English speaker her books (I've read Myth of Sanity and Sociopath next door till now) are very easy to read and understand. I've reread a few passages and she talks about her patients, their condition, with a lot of empathy.
 
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