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Summary

A paradigm-shifting study of neurodivergent women - those with ADHD, autism, synesthesia, high sensitivity, and sensory processing disorder - exploring why these traits are overlooked in women and how society benefits from allowing their unique strengths to flourish.

As a successful Harvard and Berkeley-educated writer, entrepreneur, and devoted mother, Jenara Nerenberg was shocked to discover that her "symptoms" - only ever labeled as anxiety - were considered autistic and ADHD. Being a journalist, she dove into the research and uncovered neurodiversity - a framework that moves away from pathologizing "abnormal" versus "normal" brains and instead recognizes the vast diversity of our mental makeups. 

When it comes to women, sensory processing differences are often overlooked, masked, or mistaken for something else entirely. Between a flawed system that focuses on diagnosing younger, male populations, and the fact that girls are conditioned from a young age to blend in and conform to gender expectations, women often don't learn about their neurological differences until they are adults, if at all. As a result, potentially millions live with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed neurodivergences, and the misidentification leads to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and shame. Meanwhile, we all miss out on the gifts their neurodivergent minds have to offer.

Divergent Mind is a long-overdue, much-needed answer for women who have a deep sense that they are "different". Sharing real stories from women with high sensitivity, ADHD, autism, misophonia, dyslexia, SPD, and more, Nerenberg explores how these brain variances present differently in women and dispels widely-held misconceptions (for example, it's not that autistic people lack sensitivity and empathy, they have an overwhelming excess of it).

Nerenberg also offers us a path forward, describing practical changes in how we communicate, how we design our surroundings, and how we can better support divergent minds. When we allow our wide variety of brain makeups to flourish, we create a better tomorrow for us all.

©2020 Jenara Nerenberg (P)2020 HarperAudio

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love this book

I really loved this book and it was so easy to listen to and well read. I am 36 and have just started unravelling and attempting to understand my neurodivergent mind. This book has helped me to undesrand a lot and I am eager to learn so much more now.

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Awakened

Thank you for helping me find myself. Now I can help others with love and connection.

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Highly recommended!

Topics I've not been familiar with before l, very informative and eye opening book.

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  • Gabrielle F Turner
  • 24-06-20

Provided no insight

Plot is: author is smart; goes to ivy league; graduates; cannot keep a job; realizes has issue X; turns out lots of people at ivy league schools have issue x; btw issue x is not understood because of white males; did we mention lots of people smarter than you have issue x? The end. issue X is female autism but the story line could have been replaced with any issue. I was looking for concrete understanding about a loved one with autism, not a name dropping book. I guess I need to keep looking.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Carine
  • 29-08-20

OMG! This is a brilliant ray of hope!

While the narration could have been more animated, I guess the monotone is actually appropriate for those of us who have been told we have robotic sounding voices.

That aside, this book was EXACTLY what I needed to hear at this VERY moment. I am 59 years old and have been struggling all of my life being told by family, friends, and mental health professionals that there is inherently something fundamentally wrong with me. I have been misdiagnosed repeatedly, prescribed what seems like EVERY psychotropic under the sun--new, old, and experimental, and even talked into 12 ECT treatments. None of these helped. All of them harmed. I've been through talk therapy, CBT, DBT, and EMDR with marginal positive results. FINALLY, this book is suggesting that I'm just different rather than damaged at the core of my being. All I've ever wanted was to be accepted and given the appropriate tools to be the best person I can be. This book is the confirmation of that being all I ever needed.

22 people found this helpful

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  • The OTHER Barb
  • 26-07-20

I can’t remember

I can’t remember ever feeling so much gratitude for so sustained an amount of time- start to finish. This book treats the inner worlds of NDW as rich, beautiful, and important, worthy of investigation, in many ways directly because of their neurological make up and the gifts it brings. Until this I can’t remember reading a book that does not treat women with mental health differences as people who are either overcoming or not overcoming deficiencies, or even people defined by their behavior at all. In fact, this book doesn’t even focus on behavior or deficiencies at all! But on these individuals perspectives of the world, their experiences, the ways their neurology have been assets to them and those around them, and the hurdles they’ve jumped navigating a world that would actually do better for all by meeting their needs a little better. Honestly, this book treats these women and their inner worlds the way books like this have historically treated men, who at least had the potentiality of brilliant genius built into the spectrum, and who didn’t have their entire life defined by how hard social norms are for them, and weather or not they can learn to form lasting relationships. I had no idea until reading this how much those books shaped my self image, and my thoughts around wellness and even my purpose in learning about my autism, until this book shined a spotlight in. I’m just so grateful. And relieved.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Hannah Crazyhawk
  • 06-04-20

Wonderful!

As an Autistic, highly sensitive individual, I truly enjoyed this book. It helped me feel more at peace with my own neurodiversity.

14 people found this helpful

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  • R Franson
  • 30-09-20

A revelation

I will definitely be getting a hard copy as well as an additional copy for my sister. I also think it applies so much to my dad but it’s very targeted to women so I might try to find a book that isn’t specifically about women to give to him.

I realized while reading this that I beat myself up for being impatient with my children sometimes when in reality I am overstimulated by noise. I told my teenager this the other day and it was such a great feeling!! Instead of me pushing down how I was feeling until I said something I regretted, I voiced to my daughter that I was feeling overstimulated and explained a bit about this book. Instead of her feeling like I was annoyed by her or that she was bugging me, she understood that I just needed some time not filled with constant chatter.

I feel so hopeful.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Jacob A. Nordby
  • 23-02-21

Revealing

I’m a guy. This book was written specifically for women and the author does a great job of explaining why that’s so. I have many women of various ages in my life who have shared aspects of the struggles that the author describes. As I listened to the descriptions of highly sensitive people, sensory processing differences, ADD, autism, and more, I also found myself looking in the mirror. I found that comforting and revealing in the ways that gentle self-discovery can be. As an HSP myself and having children with autism or other neuro-divergent traits, I felt a lot of relief that these things are coming up for discussion and acceptance. I’ve already shared this book with several people in my life, with thanks to my HSP sister who shared it with me.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Granolamom
  • 09-11-20

Very Insightful

I learned so much from this book. It helped me to see that those of us struggling with neurodivergence are far from alone. So many great terms to use that are not negative. Thank you so much for this insightful, educational literature.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Gretchken
  • 01-07-20

I throughly enjoyed it!

I learned so much about myself and a lot of things finally make since. I hope there will be more books to come on this subject.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Catherine Payen
  • 19-04-21

Allows New Perspectives and Life!

I totally found myself here!
Cried so many times, how pathetic I have felt every time I walk into a supermarket literally brain dead!
It was the first book I read on neurodivergency and I have not stopped since...
My daughter's diagnosis followed and I am now specialised in Aspergers' Females Neuroscience Coaching
I realised as I was getting my coaching certification that other coaches could not hold space for me - no matter how much they tried. This was my line in the sand moment and I niched out because we need space
Step 1. To know
Step 2. To get diagnosed
Step 3. To learn or relearn all our quirks and put them into perspective
Step 4. To relive our life
Step 5. So as to live the future fully with total understanding of whom we are!

I discovered that a particular reaction of mine gave me this response from the neurotypicals 'Stop being so selfish!', 'You spoilt brat...' became for me 'OMG can't you see I'm having a meltdown here!' and thus I had labelled it (Step 1...) Can you imagine how my recovery, personal development and coaching grew exponentially in a fraction of a millisecond?!!

So yes this book put me on the path to discover all this and I love it totally...

Thank you for your amazing work Jenara Nerenberg

Catherine Guimard-Payen

4 people found this helpful

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  • Julia Marshall
  • 25-03-20

Radicalizing

This is work is the conversation for our time. Thanks to Jenara Nerenberg it has finally arrived!

2 people found this helpful