Book Review: “Monkey Mind: a Memoir of Anxiety” by Daniel Smith

Book Review: “Monkey Mind: a Memoir of Anxiety” by Daniel Smith

In “Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety”, Daniel Smith offers an insightful, funny and intimate account of his struggles with anxiety.

His narrative is as anxious as his descriptions. As reader, you’ll be walked through his torments and may even experience anxiety yourself, albeit by empathy. You will witness the hilarious, the bad, and the worse. Smith, however, commits to working through the challenge of living with anxiety and will leave you hopeful about the power of determination. 

In childhood, his anxiety seems closely associated to the anxiety of his mother, with whom he had a quite enmeshed relationship. His anxious experiencing turned disastrous during his teenage years: he experienced panic attacks and increased disability. During this period, his first sexual experience was traumatizing.

In young adulthood, Smith faces the challenges of increased freedom and angst about it. He becomes more knowledgeable about anxiety, in the light of theories of psychology, but still fails in his attempts to cope. He uses self-medication, spiritual techniques, and some initial therapy experiences as failed attempts. He succeeds, however, at work, as a fact checker for a prestigious newspaper. He takes refuge in books. He falls in love and faces a new dimension of anxiety.

Daniel is finally able to participate in successful therapy, with the help of a caring and courageous therapist. Through genuine care and mutual trust, his therapy helps him confront his irrational automatic thinking and to embark in the process of re-shaping his relationship with his own negative thoughts, responses, and anxious patterns. 

“Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety”, Daniel Smith, like any other book on the topic, is no supposed to offer a silver bullet for how to overcome anxiety. The book, however, will give you a realistic account of how it is to live with anxiety, and, hopefully, will help you gain motivation to seek support.