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3.28.14 Issue

by Ozzie Nogg

Count yourself lucky if you don’t count yourself among the estimated 40 million American adults who suffer from anxiety disorders. Acute nervousness, bouts of insomnia, increased heart rate and full-on panic attacks can lay a person low, as author Daniel Smith well knows. On Wednesday evening, April 2, the community is invited to hear Smith discuss his book, Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety. The presentation, which runs from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Temple Israel, will be followed by a book signing.

Smith, a victim of worry since childhood, says, “The hard work, you discover over the years, is in learning to discern between correct and incorrect anxiety, between the anxiety that’s trying to warn you about a real danger and the anxiety that’s nothing more than a lying, sadistic, unrepentant bully in your head.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviewer Julie Azzam, was “dazzled” by Monkey Mind. “Mr. Smith discusses his own experiences of anxiety, but it’s not all about him.” Azzam wrote. “In fact, much of the book reads like a cultural history of anxiety. He discusses many intellectuals and writers who suffered from anxiety, and credits the novelist Philip Roth with providing the most clarity on the subject. For Mr. Smith, Mr. Roth ‘seemed to articulate my condition with such uncanny precision that his novels came to be not just a comfort but an explanation.’ By way of Mr. Roth, Mr. Smith explores the connection between anxiety and Jewishness. With his usual wit, Mr. Smith claims that anxiety is ‘a Jewish disorder. This thing I was walking around with wasn’t psychiatric; it was ethnic.’”

Karen Gustafson, Jewish Family Service Executive Director, said, “As a therapist, I appreciate Daniel Smith’s work very much. He uses honesty and humor to describe his personal battle, and offers hope for recovery to other anxiety sufferers. We look forward to Daniel’s visit and invite everyone to hear him speak at Temple Israel on April 2.

The program is sponsored by Jewish Family Service in partnership with Temple Israel, Beth El Synagogue, Beth Israel Synagogue and National Council of Jewish Women, and underwritten by a grant from the Lazier L. Singer Memorial Fund administered by the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation.