A Review of "Talking to Crazy" by Dr Mark Goulston

in life •  2 years ago 


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Sometimes you read a book that is not only utterly riveting but also gives you useful tips for dealing with difficult situations in your own life.

As I have mentioned before, a lot of self-help/self improvement books make such promises but it is rare that they actually deliver.

"Talking to Crazy" by Mark Goulston is one of the few books that does.

Who is Mark Goulston?


Image of Mark Goulston taken from his website

If you are not familiar with Mark Goulston he is an eminent psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has written a number of best selling books.

He has also contributed to a variety of respected business and health publications but most people will probably know him from being a guest on shows like Oprah!

You can find a bio on his website here.

What is this book about?

Contrary to what you might think this book is not about overt mental illness (at least the vast majority of it is not).


This book is mostly a guide on how to deal with everyday irrationality.

As Dr Goulston himself says in relation to his use of the word "crazy":

"I know it sounds inflammatory and totally un-PC. But when I use this word, I don’t mean mentally ill (although mental illness— which I’ll address separately in Section 5— certainly causes crazy behavior). And I don’t use the word crazy to stigmatize one group of people either. That’s because all of us, at some points in time, are crazy. What I mean by crazy is irrational.

Essentially this book is about dealing with the everyday irrational behaviour that tends to have a more frequent (and sometimes even larger) impact on our lives than people who have actual mental illness.

Dr Goulston uses his many years of experience as both a psychiatrist and psychotherapist to teach us about these everyday forms of "crazy" and different techniques of dealing with it that have worked for him.

How is it to read?

Quite often self-help books forget to break up the information into easy to digest segments.

They may have very important points to make but the presentation can make it hard to take them in. One can often end up at the end of a chapter asking -"What was that about?"

Screenshot 2017-06-14 16.52.49.png

The information is presented in an easy to digest manner. (Kindle Screenshot)

In contrast to that, this book is easy to read and is broken up into nice, short chapters. It is quite clear that Dr Goulston is an experienced teacher who knows how to pace his lessons.

The chapters are further broken up using short vignettes from Dr Goulston's professional and personal life.

These help to further contextualise the points he is making as well as illustrating his instructions for dealing with the specific situations in a practical manner.

There are also summaries of the key information at the end of major chapters. These make excellent points for bookmarking and quick reference.

As an example here is a section from chapter 11:

Screenshot 2017-06-14 16.56.20.png

This book has useful insights for health professionals too

Whilst the main audience for this book is regular people I think it is also something that would be very useful for health professionals too.


There are useful insights for health professionals too.

No matter what your medical field you will deal with some form of crazy on a daily basis.

Any kind of high stress situation seems to bring out the irrationality in people and ill health is one of the most common triggers in my experience.

I only wish someone had given me this book in Medical School!

I will be keeping the Kindle version of this book on my phone for revision before difficult situations.

Some Favourite Quotes

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

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Favourite Quotes.

"If you treat them as if they’re nuts and you’re not, they’ll bite down deeper on their crazy thinking. But if you lean into their crazy, you’ll radically change the dynamic."

"An irrational person’s M.O. is a weapon. However, it’s also a weakness because if you can figure out the person’s M.O., you can turn this information to your advantage."

"Remember: Stripping you of your poise is among an irrational person’s best weapons, and refusing to surrender your poise is one of your best defenses."

"Institutional crazy occurs when otherwise sane people are determined to follow an institution’s rules even when the rules are irrational or destructive. If you work for a large corporation or a government agency—or if you need to deal with one of these institutions—this technique can help you break through to people who are completely trapped in this kind of bullying."

"Many people in the grip of garden-variety crazy—especially if they’re normally pretty sane—are actually looking for a quick way out. So help them find it."

"Think of crying as a high colonic: It happens because people desperately need to get something out, and in this case, it’s tears."

"Splitters can’t take no for an answer. If they hear a negative response from the first person they talk with, they move on to the next person. In addition to bad-mouthing the first person, they delete key facts to make that person look worse. Their goal is obvious: They want the second person to side with them and say yes."



A useful guide for all of us.

"Talking to Crazy" is a fantastic book and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone.

We all encounter irrational behaviour in our daily lives - sometimes in others and sometimes in ourselves!

This book will enable you to become more conscious of the mental processes that are going on in these situations and provide a practical means of dealing with them.

In Summary


I just like this photo.

The Good:

  • Important subject with useful practical advice and examples.
  • Well written and easy to read.
  • Generally well presented with short chapters and summaries of important points.
  • Doesn't take long to read.

The Bad:

  • Kindle font size for vignettes/examples can be a bit small compared to the rest of the text.

Thank you for reading



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Got so many books to read it's 'crazy!'...sorry! But I'll have a look at this on Amazon as sounds intersting.

Cool let me know how you get on if you do get it.

its a long time i never read a proper book but it seems really intresting, i definitely give it a try soon, and for that thank you @thecryptofiend. a big thumbs up from my side..

Thanks you should.

totally interesting read... Many times we don't know how to act in front of certain situations and certain troubled peopled... this kind of advice are always useful

Thanks I think so :)

Congratulations @thecryptofiend!
Your post was mentioned in my hit parade in the following category:

  • Upvotes - Ranked 8 with 637 upvotes

Thank you!

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

is always good to share books and tips that can help others, thanks for sharing

Thanks, you are welcome:)

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Great and thanks for your good posts here. Following you for more


you are welcome....keep up the good work and stay in touch

Thanks for sharing

Your welcome!

Interesting, thanks. 100% upvoted from @chanthasam

Thank you!

People take it the wrong way often, when the context means irrational indeed. Thinking that almond milk has calcium in it extracted from cows milk is a bit "crazy" lol. But then they flip out and do go crazy on you because you used that word lol.


Excellent work dear friend @thecryptofiend very interesting, thank you very much for sharing your point of view and your recommendation, a book that has helped me a lot years ago when I started my professional career fu a book by Isabel Allende the power is in you, In a month or so I change my head and life.
I wish you a beautiful day.

Thank you!

crazy is like stupid; describing behavior that doesn't make sense to us at the moment and usually hinders or annoys us

Absolutely. Sadly I am crazy/stupid a lot myself ;)

I've pitched this series of articles more than once on Steemit; excellent read


*and everyone is crazy/stupid at certain times

Cool thanks :)

This has some good advice on how to deal with ADHD children too :)

Yes :)

@thecryptofiend, I wished I read this some hours ago. Thanks for sharing. I usually look forward to seeing your posts. They educate me a lot.

Please where can I get this book online?

It's on Amazon and pretty much any online bookshop.

Ok. Thanks.

I will definitely make sure to check this one out. We tend to have similar taste in books

I think might like it!


"finding the sane inside the crazy" I might need to read this. Maybe some similar ideas in a book I am in the middle of now: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. l think you might have mentioned the author in another one of your posts. Anyways, thought to share it with you since your sharing good reads. Thanks.

Yes in fact I reviewed that book too earlier this year. They are the best self-help and psychology books I have read this year.

I figured you would. Such a fun read. I got some credits on amazon. I'll check out your book when I finish this one. Thanks.

Thanks for this! Always looking for new ideas.

You're welcome:)

Thanks for the review, it's on my ''to do list''

You're welcome:)

This actually sounds like a good read. It's got my attention. Never thought about the left eye and concentrating on it or even to just let em' get it out and then ask those three questions. Huh. It actually makes sense. We all have our moments don't we?

Yes we do!

Beautifull work ,thank you for sharing

please support #faithinhumanity

Thank you:)

welcome sir

I love this article. Excellent work.

Thank you:)

this is a very articulate review. I like the way you structured your post giving a bit about the background, the author and the subject matter and even the readability. I have evaluated far too many book reviews to count, but yours was excellent. I intend to go on Amazon.ca and purchase the text. I think that says it all :)

Thank you so much for your kind words. I don't think you will regret it!

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

You're welcome.

It was a real pleasure to read your review of the book @thecryptofiend and thanks for sharing it with us. I am a medical student and thanks to your review I know what book i will be reading over the vacation. Mostly thanks to what you said, physically ill people can act like crazy many times, and its our job as health professionals to find the way to understand them and help them in the times they need it.

Thanks - I agree.

Thanks a lot for the lovable insights @nirmal & @thecryptofiend!
Recently, I wrote a Crazy Review of Supercars for steemians.
Please. check it out and vote.