Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn't Designed for You

Jenara Nerenberg

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. more

NonfictionPsychologyAutistic Spectrum DisorderMental HealthAdhdSelf HelpScienceDisabilityAudiobookHealth

244 pages, ebook
First published HarperOne

3.85

Rating

5858

Ratings

685

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Jenara Nerenberg

1 books 97 followers

Jenara is a journalist, producer, speaker, and founder of The Neurodiversity Project, hosting bestselling authors in the arts and sciences who push for innovation in research and media. Based in San Francisco, Jenara is a SF native who returned to the area after 6 years of international reporting from Asia and interdisciplinary graduate training from the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Harvard Business School. Her recent events include sold-out evenings with Gabor Mate, Pico Iyer, Dr. Joel Salinas of Harvard Neurology, author Maya Dusenbery, Angel Kyodo Williams, Lissa Rankin, NYTimes bestselling author Bill Hayes, designer Scott Belsky of 99U and numerous others. Jenara continues to write and curate author initiatives for the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, Susan Cain's Quiet Revolution, Garrison Institute in NY, Elaine Aron's HSP site, and elsewhere. Jenara is known for her warm and personal style, not shying away from delivering fierce and vulnerable insights from not only scientific research but also lived experience. Her clients and previous speaking engagements include the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Tahirih Justice Center, Park Day School, OZY Media, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and others. She can be booked at the button below or reached directly at community@divergentlit.com.

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Kate K
190 reviews
32 followers
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I wanted to like this book. I wanted to say that it was helpful in my life as a late-diagnosed autistic person. But it wasn't. This book is geared towards late-diagnosed autistic women who are able to have a "normal" job, given sufficient sensory and social accommodations. (I'm not a woman, but since I spent my first 18 years of my life perceived in all my offline social spheres as a girl, my experiences from then are more like late-diagnosed autistic women's than late-diagnosed autistic men's. more


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Jayde
6 reviews
2 followers
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Oh, a disappointment. I am both neurodivergent (ADHD) and a therapist, I have so many criticisms. I'll start with the actual writing itself: definitely needed more editing, topics do not flow well into one another, and the surface level coverage of too many topics ends up feeling disorganized altogether. This title definitely was going for breadth not depth. As other reviewers have complained, the author is way too generous with generalizations and focuses on highly successful women who are diagnosed later in life. more


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Katie
1 reviews
2 followers
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I really wanted to like this but i found it remarkably tone deaf such as including examples that amazons all neurodivergent group is the most productive and its so much easier to discuss mental health since the royals are doing so or perhaps your sensory issues can be helped by changing neighborhoods. Also a large focus is on highly successful entrepreneurial individuals, further alienating the average high functioning autist. A bummer. I wanted some company. Reads as an extremely out of touch hr manual which is especially jarring considering how much passion the author clearly has for the topic. more


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Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
908 reviews
1691 followers
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I agree with a lot of people who are slightly put off with this book because it doesn’t really dive deep enough into different types of neurodivergent women who fall into these spectrums. For example there are a lot of interviews about women who work in tech or academia who have found their niche within their company and it has brought out the best in them and their neurodivergencies. I feel that the author collected a lot of stories from women that were closer to her economic social circles, which is fine, but I’m very much a working class woman who was looking for more help navigating the struggles I have within my social class, which I didn’t find in this book. However, I take this book as the first crack in the ice and hopefully will expand general awareness and more research for authors to expand their knowledge and aid to all types of women who are neurodivergent. This book was a great first step into understanding women who are neurodivergent and how certain women have adapted and struggled because of their “differences”. more


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Mitra Salasel
20 reviews
10 followers
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Many thanks to HarperOne for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest reviewYES. YES. YES. I loved that. Every page. more


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Kendall Caskie
1 reviews
0 followers
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I was very much looking forward to reading this, as the premise is laudable/something I am selfishly interested in, and I was extremely disappointed afterward. I think this would be useful for someone who is completely new to any of the forms of neurodivergence contained within the book, but otherwise this isn’t that great. The most interesting insight contained in the whole book is a couple (un-cited) paragraphs about the design of the environment/architecture as a function of European desires to demonstrate extreme restraint, and how that can be at odds with the optimal contexts for a woman of neurodivergence. The writing is approachable (I read the whole thing in 2 hours) but it’s not thoroughly citing research, and in many cases obliquely mentions papers by year and journal without author or title, without listing in footnotes or endnotes. Mostly it’s an overgeneralization/simplifications of other, better books that the author herself mentions in the text and that I myself have read. more


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sam
51 reviews
6 followers
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I was incredibly disappointed with Divergent Mind. This book is only for cishet white women working in white collar jobs. To start, the author looked at neurodivergences with the most limited view: from the lens of a white cishet woman from a financially privileged background with pretty much no effort to look outside that narrow view. Throughout the book the author mentions solutions that were not applicable to others. People that may be in a different socioeconomic group, differing sexualities or gender identities (those of us socialized as women, but no longer identifying as women), or women of color. more


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moss
5 reviews
0 followers
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Honestly disappointing. For a book published in 2020, you'd think that the author would realize that "Asperger's" is outdated, or at least mention it (or it's historical connotations). There was just so much focus on "Well, look. We can still make things and be smart. We aren't like those other bad disabled people. more


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Megan
2 reviews
8 followers
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Oof. This was yet another book by a well-meaning, cis-het, middle- to upper-class, white woman that just…totally missed the mark. For starters, the writer has no voice; I’ve read academic journals articles with more personality. This makes the book a dull read from the start. The writer tries to give small critiques of capitalism, systems of oppression, and their affect on mental health and neurodivergency, but the rest of her book points to just how uneducated she is in these areas. more


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Jennifer Overbye
2 reviews
4 followers
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This book left me wondering who exactly this book was written for, the individual neurodivergent, or for those who have the power to enact systemic change. The first part of the book was good. Her inclusion of Samantha Craft's list of ways that autism can present in women was instrumental for me to recognize it in myself, and am now working to get psychological testing. The section of the book about the workplace. Absolutely useless to the individual, and only addressed white collar corporate culture, completely ignoring blue and pink collar work, and offered absolutely no practical advice for the neurodivergent individual working in environments that are controlled at a level far higher than the individual location. more


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Tala🦈 (mrs.skywalker.reads)
360 reviews
73 followers
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I picked this up because as an autistic woman, I'm always looking for new books about neurodiversity, but I was honestly quite disappointed. The author uses the term 'Aspergers' multiple times, without saying anything about the history of that term. I found it confusing because early on, they caution against using terms without researching their origins. I was shocked to see that this book was published in 2020 and still uses that term. The framing of most neurodivergent traits as positive differences is nice, but glosses over the struggles of people who have higher support needs. more


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Crystal Starr Light
1389 reviews
868 followers
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a lot of privileged blahblablah . more


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agua
15 reviews
0 followers
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Bullet Review:I really found this enlightening; this is, in some ways, the successor to Susan Cain's "Quiet", the book about introversion. Women (and nonbinary and trans people) don't usually get diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, because for years, researchers studied the signs in young boys and women are conditioned to mask better. (Hell, even men can slip by the system if they don't adhere to the narrow rules. )I will say, I think a lot of the criticisms about this veering "White Feminist" aren't untrue - most of the examples of women are basically people like me (college educated, working in a tech or academic field). People who do not identify as women (nonbinary, AFAB, transmen, etc. more


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Sarah ~
809 reviews
860 followers
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i wanted to learn more about sensory sensitivity as neurodivergence & some of the diagnoses that overlap with it. it’s a research area with lots of gaps & it’s hard to find practitioners & information about it so i was initially happy to find this. the book has a bit of helpful introductory knowledge but was very corporate/career/productivity oriented & written from a very class-privileged perspective, unfortunately. . more


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Emma.catherine
376 reviews
13 followers
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Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn't Designed for You - Jenara Nerenberg يركز الكتاب على المصابات غير المشخصات بفرط الحركة والتوحد وغيرها من حالات التنوع العصبي “neurodivergent” من الراشدات واللائي لم يشخصن، وتضم حالات فرط الحركة ونقص الانتباه ومتلازمة أسبرجر والحالات ذات الصلة مثل الحساسية العالية . ولكن وجدت الكتاب غير متعمق في تناوله للحالات -ولا أريد أن أقول سطحيًا، لكنه تناول بلا عمق وبسيط في أفضل الأحوال، وإن كانَ يحسب له فتح موضوع النقاش لهذا الموضوع غير المطروق والمعاناة الصامتة والمتجاهلة لملايين النساء من جميع الأعمار، ويعاب عليه أيضًا تركيزه على نساء من الطبقة فوق المتوسطة - مرتاحات ماليًا وخريجات أفضل الجامعات في العالم وموظفات في شركات كبرى مثل ياهو ومحظوظات بالتواجد في بيئات تتفهم احتياجاتهن وتساعدهن على التقدم والتطور ويعشن في منازل تصمم غرفها من قبل متخصصين في تخفيف الضوضاء والحساسية على المصابات بالتوحد واسبرجر والحساسية العالية، وأفكر ماذا عن الفتيات من خلفيات أقل حظًا ومن عائلات لا تستطيع توفير هذا لهن ويدرسن بمدارس مكتظة ولا يعشن بسلام ولا أحد يفكر باحتياجاتهن ناهيك عن نيلهن فرصة للإبداع والتطور . more


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Emily M
424 reviews
35 followers
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Although this book had some useful tips I was a little disappointed with the rest of it. I bought the book hoping for lots of ideas of how to manage life in this world however it seemed more of a book about why and how we should advocate for change. Not a bad thing but just not what I expected or wanted to take from the book. It was comforting to read about others that cope with similar experiences on a daily basis however I really would like more advice on how to actually deal with it. . more


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Bug
10 reviews
0 followers
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I picked this book up by chance while in Portland* for a conference. I was nervous about a relapse of autistic burnout once some of my university administrative duties pick up again with the start of a new school year, but wasn't sure if this would help, seeing as it isn't specifically focused on autism. Turns out - yes. This book focuses on the sensory-sensitivity that is a common theme across multiple neurodivergences, and which I'm just beginning to appreciate as a major component of WHY I find certain environments stressful or overwhelming. It isn't a "new study", as one of the back blurbs describes it - not in the sense of a scientific study. more


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Sara Bakhshi
1264 reviews
300 followers
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initially i was excited to see this book at the library, and quickly began to read it. i found the first few chapters interesting about earlier psychology methods, and related to some of the experiences the author outlined. it is always refreshing as a neurodivergent individual to relate to others and not feel so outcasted. but as i read further, i began to personally find some problems with this book. firstly, the use of the term asperger’s. more


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Miss Bookiverse
2015 reviews
87 followers
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اون اولا یه بخشی داشت که راجع به این بحث میکرد و پذیرش تمام تفاوت ها بدون لیبل زدن و . What happens when we stop pathologizing difference.  وقتی خوندمش ای��طور بودم که چقدر باهات موافقم. جدای از بیمارانگاری خیلی از تفاوت ها، میلیون ها دسته بندی اضافه هی درست میکنیم. تو زمونه ای که همه دنبال ایراد گرفتن از همدیگه و دقیق‌تر کردن دسته بندی اشخاص دیگه‌ایم، برا درست دسته بندی کردن در نهایت به فرد به فرد میرسیم. more


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Beth Cato
1679 reviews
611 followers
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[3. 5 stars]This book gives a great overview of different types of neurodivergence, such as ADHD, synesthesia, and autism, in womxn because they have been painfully neglected in medical research so far. On the one hand, it made me wonder where I'd fall on the neurodivergent spectrum because I could definitely see myself in some of the described symptoms. On the other hand, I bet almost everyone can relate to some of the symptoms which makes sense because we're talking about a spectrum here, but those missing boundaries also make me question why we should place ourselves on a spectrum at all (not seriously, I'm still trying to wrap my head around my own thoughts). Towards the end the book felt a little redundant, which is probably a good thing because my mind drifted off sometimes (I really shouldn't consume non-fiction like this via audio). more


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Caitlin Dionne
22 reviews
0 followers
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I read this as a free book through Prime Reading. If I hadn't already had an autism diagnosis a few months ago, this book would have convinced me of that truth. Divergent Mind is a breezy, approachable read for women who are or suspect they may be neurodivergent, which includes not only autism but ADHD, high sensitivity, synesthesia, and other things that have all too often been dubbed mental illness or other negative labels. I appreciated the positivity of the book. The biggest message throughout is that we are not alone, we are not broken. more


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Chloe Halpenny
92 reviews
19 followers
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DNF @25%. I found this book to be rather out of touch, elitist and ableist. I wanted to like this book, as I had been looking forward to reading it, but it quickly turned me off. more


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Etiene Dalcol
20 reviews
23 followers
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as someone grappling with a number of recent diagnoses falling under the neurodivergent umbrella AND who was assigned female at birth, I was VERY excited to read this. I’m not mad that I did - it was a quick read and well-written, if not a bit repetitive - but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I’ll also preface this (somewhat chaotic) review with the caveat that these topics are new to me and I’m still chewing on some things…so views are subject to change :-)if the neurodiversity paradigm is new to you and you’re looking for a strength-based framing of neurodivergence (specifically among cis women), this books offers a helpful and accessible introduction. it covers a lot of ground (to varying degrees of success) and does a really good job at articulating why certain aspects of neurodivergence should be understood and leveraged as “superpowers” - as well as offering the language to express this. that said, I echo the critiques of other reviewers - a class lens is sorely lacking and the emphasis on neurodivergence-as-strength can come off as minimizing how debilitating it can actually be. more


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Jenny Jaeckel
87 reviews
153 followers
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Great book for foundations of understanding the implications of some types of neurodiversity in women. I especially liked the information on sensory things, how it's common in many different disorders, and how this can concretize in the day-to-day. I feel I learned a lot with this book about things I should watch out for. There's definitely a lot of things that I don't notice are causing me distress and this was great for becoming more aware. However, it's a very bad book for offering solutions. more


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anna
87 reviews
18 followers
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Has anyone ever judged you (or have you ever judged yourself) for being "too sensitive". Divergent Mind takes a deep look at 5 neurotypes--ADHD, autism, SPD (sensory processing disorder), HSP (highly sensitive person--that's me, big time), and synesthesia--particularly in terms of sensory sensitivities, and specifically how these are experienced by women and girls. Nerenberg's view of people with these neurological traits (herself included) is a non-pathologizing celebration of diversity and the gifts that go with it, as well as offering helpful insights into improving one's life through understanding, practical strategies, and innovative therapies. A great resource for anyone who is (or has people in their lives who are) neurodivergent. . more


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Moriah
217 reviews
13 followers
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bardzo rozczarowująca książka. autorka posługiwała się przestarzałymi terminami jak zespół aspergera, wysoko i nisko-funkcjonujący autyzm; bardzo dużo miejsca poświęciła tematowi wysokiej wrażliwości, która jest wątpliwym naukowo terminem. opisywała historie tylko pracujących autystów, kiedy w rzeczywistości około 15% z nich jest aktywna zawodowo. mocno widać, że książka została napisana przez uprzywilejowaną białą cis kobietę, która ma małe pojęcie na temat rzeczywistych trudności neuroatypowej społeczności. more


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Kristen
773 reviews
18 followers
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First off with the lesser cons. There's a little too much "blog" style. Nerenberg seems to have been going for a narrative flow, but there was too much autobiographical content for me to see this as an investigative/research book. There were also a couple things that should have been picked up by an editor. In addition, I don't think the consequences of not having diagnostic labels was explored enough. more


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Amber McConnell
15 reviews
0 followers
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This was a great read on neurodivergence in adult women, specifically those with autism. It did cover some with ADHD, but there were more stories about those with sensitivity conditions. It gave me a much greater understanding of the scope of autism and masking and how it is possible for a woman especially to go her entire life without being diagnosed but still struggle with some of the issues presented with having it. I really appreciated both the deep dive into some of the different types of therapies as well as the solutions some workplaces and communities are looking at to better accommodate and plan for neurodivergence. Highly recommend this book for, well, just about anyone, since we likely all know someone who is neurodivergent. more


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Simone
30 reviews
5 followers
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It does a wonderful job of explaining various neurological “disorders” through the lens of sensitivities and establishes a great foundation for the neurodiverse framework. Highly recommend for anyone who has been diagnosed (self or professionally) with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, as an HSP, or who has ever felt that society was was not designed with their unique sensitivities in mind. . more


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just get some noise cancelling headphones and you can continue serving capitalism. 🙃. more


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