• Divergent Mind

  • Thriving in a World that Wasn't Designed for You
  • By: Jenara Nerenberg
  • Narrated by: Tegan Ashton Cohan
  • Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (611 ratings)

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Divergent Mind

By: Jenara Nerenberg
Narrated by: Tegan Ashton Cohan
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Publisher's 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

Editor's Pick

A welcome alternative to pathologizing difference
"I consider myself quite privileged to know—and love—several people living on the autism spectrum. Growing up in a household that championed the neurodivergent, I learned from an early age to value diversity and difference in neurological function. In fact, far from being damaged or broken, those with atypical sensory processing abilities are in many ways endowed with unique, paradigm-shifting perspectives and proficiencies. In Divergent Mind, author and activist Jenara Nerenberg unpacks this emerging reevaluation of neurological variability, focusing in particular on how women are routinely underdiagnosed with conditions such as high sensitivity, ADHD, misophonia, dyslexia, and autism. In sharing her own story and breaking down common misconceptions regarding neurodivergent minds, Nerenberg gives listeners a roadmap for constructing a world that works for everyone, built on a supportive framework that shuns shame and stereotype. Coupled with the guiding, measured narration of Tegan Ashton Cohan, this listen challenges the notion of "normal," instead providing an argument for understanding and acceptance that’s long overdue." —Alanna M., Audible Editor

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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.

67 people found this helpful

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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.

48 people found this helpful

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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.

33 people found this helpful

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Wonderful!

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

29 people found this helpful

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Important paradigm shift but hypocritical and exclusionary

The critique of modern psychiatry is valid and important. So is documenting and making mainstream the traits of “highly sensitive people.” Thankful for that.

The book also lacks a racial justice framework, fails to identify clear patterns of what’s described as neurodivergent/sensory processing difficulties, fails to disentangle behaviors, discomfort, or challenges stemming from sensory processing and neurodivergence from other ones.

For example it’s unclear to me if the author is documenting sensory processing difficulties and their "misdiagnosis" and inappropriate treatment. or if this is a muddled defense of the author's harrowing experience as a human being and perfectionist; intended audience white women with graduate degrees. Author used social justice framing to complain about women being left out of narratives and agendas in psychiatry and compiles interviews from women with degrees from Harvard, yale.

the demographic interviewed seems to be “high-achieving” women who have had access to psychiatry, school resources, and a plethora of doctors even since since childhood. People who are labeled low-achievers; people who are low or working class seem to be left out. This is problematic since this paradigm catches on, accommodations will be made for those with the most privilege. Major oversight.

26 people found this helpful

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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.

26 people found this helpful

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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.

24 people found this helpful

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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

10 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jodie Lancaster
  • 09-05-21

Thank you!

I have recently been going through a journey of discovery into my own neurodivergence including reckoning with the impacts this has had on my own life- both good and bad and everything in between.

Upon finishing listening to this I felt an overwhelming rush of emotion (not great at identifying what - hello neurodivergence in action).

I felt seen.I felt understood. I felt that everything that I had been thinking and debating inside my own mind had been put into words for me.

Thank you so much for this book

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sally
  • 02-27-22

Mind blowingly fascinating if you can get over the narration

I have already ordered this book to read and share and lend. The content is gold and I want to research each of the contributors Nerenberg mentions.

The narration is tough to listen to, though - I don’t know whether they have deliberately chosen someone who speaks in this robotic manner, but it does a disservice to the importance of the content. If you can get over it (I read at 1.4 speed!), it’s 100% worth it and has really opened my eyes, mind and heart to what is out there.

Thank you.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Nicky Teverson
  • 02-21-22

New insights

The book has really helped me understand a life time struggle of reactive behaviour when over stimulated, exhaustion and over empathy that has pulled me to work tirelessly for others. I have a need to be alone that my family and friends don't understand and nor did I until reading Divergent Minds. Thank you

3 people found this helpful

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  • E. Tumilty
  • 03-23-22

Robotic voice spoils this interesting book

It’s a shame about the robotic automated audio, as the book itself sounds really interesting. Just hard to engage with it properly when you don’t have a real person reading it. Especially to people with sensory processing issues! Ironic.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ami Rice
  • 03-22-21

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jess Sabbath
  • 03-13-22

lots of word salad and focussing on the problem

rather than focusing on the solution.
i cant tell you what I learned/will use

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jason
  • 02-09-22

good insight into Neurodiversity

loved listening to the personal stories and the progress as they understood there differences with their brain

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sally Nilsson
  • 01-21-21

Awakened

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Antonio Padiglia
  • 11-18-22

Is Tegan Ashton Cohan a robot?

I enjoyed the subject but I don't understand the feminist tone in this context

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-13-22

misled

I downloaded this book with interest but soon found that this is focused on neurodivergent women. there is some really interesting concepts from a societal perspective that would equally apply to men so I don't understand why this was necessary. The author could have written a chapter specifically about women. That aside, the narrator didn't help, quite robotic and judgemental sounding.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-01-22

Helpful viewpoint but hard to listen to

I am 3/4 through and so far I think the overall premise and information contained in this book is interesting and helpful. But I found the narrator to be robotic sounding and hard to listen to. As someone with adhd I found this distracting. Oddly, this is the second book for neurodiverse women that I’ve listened to with a flat robotic sounding reader so maybe it’s on purpose and supposed to help? Although I listen to many audio books and a more natural tone is less distracting when trying to absorb new ideas and research.

3 people found this helpful

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  • "animoller"
  • 07-21-21

If you’re recently diagnosed as an adult, get this book

There are a lot of books out there on autism and neurodiversity but so far this is the most practical, relatable, and positive I’ve found. It gives a great overview about the neurodiversity spectrum and talks about how women have been failed by the system. A must read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Emaa
  • 05-05-21

Amazing book

Not patronising, well researched - some interesting things to think about. I am now able to put many things into words I thought I never could.

1 person found this helpful

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  • John Greive and Joanna Duda
  • 11-27-22

really good.

not too long. lots of information and studies. easy to listen. recommend for all neuro divergent gals.

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  • Crystal
  • 10-18-22

Relateable as a late diagnosed Autistic/ADHD

The voice was somewhat robotic, but was okay to listen to for me overall as at least the speed kept me focused. So much was relateable. I had so many Aha moments and began to understand alot more about Neurodivergence. I often lose interest easily. I found it easy to listen whilst driving. Happy I found it. I felt validated at a time when I was quite lost, just after my diagnosis.

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  • Danikka Taylor
  • 10-05-22

Life changing

So much helpful information for women on their diagnostic journey. I'll be re listening to this again and again

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-15-22

Wow

Really good insight into various neuro divergent conditions - I hope to understand my daughter better who is on the spectrum and has ADHD. My only criticism is the robotic sounding voice narrating

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  • Kerry King
  • 07-15-22

Informative

Some great tips for neurodivergents. Very hard to listen to the voice reading it though.

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  • jacqueline rozenfeld
  • 06-26-22

Absolutely BRILLIANT!!!

I cannot recommend this book for highly to anyone who has always felt “Different”, too intense, too sensitive, too perceptive, too ANYTHING.

I wish I had read this book decades ago.

It feels nice to finally understand why it is often so very challenging to live in a world that to the extra sensitive person can feel abrasive, excluding, too loud, too bright, too EVERYTHING.

This book is life changing and should be read by all who interact with the public but especially teachers and healers.

Should be compulsory for all humans.

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  • Sam
  • 05-06-22

Do not recommend

Transphobic and dated (despite it only being recently published)

Horrible narration particularly when she puts on accents of people she's quoting.

Content is very basic.