Author:Kristen Lee, EdD,LICSW

Publisher:Health Communications, Inc.


Mentaligence suggests that we are burdened with an indoctrination dictating how we should behave and strive to meet preordained goals. It is pressed upon us by parents, teachers, religious leaders, and society in general. The premise of the book is that we must recognize these factors and their negative effect on our well-being; learn how to throw off their shackles; and develop a new attitude of mindful thinking. It involves thinking in terms of “we” rather than “I” and acquiring what Dr. Lee calls mental agility.

Indoctrination, group-think, and social brain-washing are related terms for this negative force. Some readers who don’t differentiate between personal religion and church doctrine may take issue with parts of the book. Few would disagree with the negative effect of Nazi group-think or that which resulted in mass suicides in Jamestown. These extremes illustrate the need to apply objective thinking to all manifestations of indoctrination.

In this book chapters become sessions, though you needn’t read it on a couch. In fact, Dr. Lee condemns the work of those psychiatrists who concentrate on treating one’s failures instead of working to build on positive features. Each session defines the topic and elaborates with anecdotes and case studies, then concludes with a work sheet designed to apply the teaching to yourself. In this sense, it is a self-help book.

Calling Mentaligence a self-help book, however, can be misleading since it could easily serve as a textbook for students of human behavior. In spite of a valiant attempt to present material in layman’s terms (even going so far as to include a “street definition” of important concepts), the author never sheds her academic trappings for long. On the other hand, multiple approaches are presented for each topic, including capsule summaries, making possible filtered reading. Digesting every sentence can make it a heavy read, but worth persevering if one identifies with a feeling of being in a rut or depressed by overwhelming pressures. And for anyone with an academic bent, it is an entertaining and instructive read. In short, there are good lessons for all of us.

Even though I am a fan of made-up words, one thing I agree with spell-checker on is the title. The guidance on how to pronounce it leaves my tongue fumbling. My brain is at a loss on how to connect the term with its given definition. Perhaps I simply lack mentagility.