Talking to Crazy

talking to crazy


In today’s complex world, we often encounter individuals who exhibit irrational behavior or seem impossible to communicate with. These interactions can leave us feeling frustrated, helpless, and stressed. However, with the right strategies, it is possible to effectively engage with such individuals and find common ground. In his book, “Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life,” renowned psychiatrist Mark Goulston M.D. offers valuable insights and actionable advice to help us understand and navigate these challenging relationships. This article presents a comprehensive book review, highlighting key concepts and practical techniques discussed in the book.

Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life by Mark Goulston M.D. Book Review

Talking to Crazy is a powerful guide that equips readers with the necessary tools to communicate effectively with difficult individuals. Mark Goulston, a respected psychiatrist, draws on his extensive experience and expertise to provide valuable insights and practical strategies for dealing with irrational and impossible people. The book is filled with real-life examples, engaging stories, and actionable advice that can be applied to various challenging situations. Let’s delve into the key takeaways from each chapter.

Chapter 1: Understanding the Crazy

In this chapter, Goulston explores the concept of “crazy” and how it manifests in different individuals. He explains the importance of recognizing irrational behavior and delves into the underlying reasons that drive people to act in such ways. By understanding the root causes of irrationality, readers can develop empathy and respond more effectively to these individuals.

Chapter 2: Building Emotional Rapport

Effective communication requires establishing emotional rapport with the person you are trying to engage with. Goulston emphasizes the significance of empathy, active listening, and validation in building this rapport. By acknowledging the emotions and concerns of irrational individuals, we can create an environment conducive to constructive dialogue.

Chapter 3: Identifying Crazy in Action

This chapter provides practical insights into recognizing irrational behavior patterns in real-life scenarios. Goulston highlights the key signs and indicators that can help us identify when someone is acting irrationally. By being aware of these signs, we can better navigate difficult situations and respond appropriately.

Chapter 4: Dealing with Difficult Personalities

Difficult personalities can pose unique challenges when it comes to communication. Goulston addresses various personality types, such as narcissists, manipulators, and passive-aggressive individuals, providing strategies for effectively engaging with each type. The chapter offers actionable advice on setting boundaries, managing conflicts, and finding common ground.

Chapter 5: Strategies for Engagement

In this chapter, Goulston presents a range of practical techniques for engaging with irrational and impossible people. These strategies include reframing conversations, asking empowering questions, and utilizing the power of silence. By implementing these techniques, readers can overcome communication barriers and foster positive outcomes.

Chapter 6: Diffusing Anger and Hostility

Anger and hostility can often hinder effective communication. Goulston offers insights into understanding the underlying causes of anger and provides strategies for diffusing tense situations. By adopting these techniques, readers can navigate conflicts and promote constructive dialogue.

Chapter 7: Establishing Boundaries

Maintaining healthy boundaries is crucial when dealing with irrational individuals. This chapter delves into the importance of setting clear boundaries and provides guidance on how to communicate and enforce them effectively. By establishing and maintaining boundaries, readers can protect their well-being while engaging with difficult individuals.

Chapter 8: Self-Preservation and Self-Care

Dealing with irrational and impossible people can be emotionally draining. Goulston emphasizes the significance of self-care and offers practical tips for preserving one’s emotional well-being. This chapter explores strategies for managing stress, practicing self-compassion, and seeking support when needed.

Chapter 9: Finding Common Ground

Finding common ground is essential for resolving conflicts and fostering healthy relationships. Goulston provides readers with strategies to bridge the gap between differing perspectives and create mutually beneficial outcomes. By focusing on shared goals and values, we can find common ground even with the most challenging individuals.

Chapter 10: Moving Forward

The final chapter offers guidance on applying the lessons learned throughout the book in various aspects of life. Goulston encourages readers to continue practicing the strategies presented and provides additional resources for further growth and development.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Can this book help me deal with difficult colleagues at work?

A: Absolutely! “Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life” provides valuable strategies that can be applied to various contexts, including workplace relationships. The techniques discussed in the book can help you navigate conflicts and foster more productive interactions with difficult colleagues.

Q: Is this book suitable for individuals without a background in psychology?

A: Yes, this book is written in a highly accessible and engaging manner. Mark Goulston presents concepts and strategies in a way that anyone can understand and apply to their lives. You don’t need to have a background in psychology to benefit from the insights shared in this book.

Q: How long will it take to see results from applying the techniques in the book?

A: The timeframe for seeing results may vary depending on the specific situation and individual. However, many readers have reported positive changes in their interactions after applying the techniques discussed in “Talking to Crazy.” With consistent practice and implementation, you can expect to see improvements in your communication and relationship dynamics.

Q: Are the strategies in this book manipulative or unethical?

A: Not at all. The strategies presented in the book focus on empathetic communication, active listening, and building understanding. They are designed to promote healthier and more effective interactions, rather than manipulating or deceiving others. The techniques encourage mutual respect and finding common ground.

Q: Can this book help me deal with family members who exhibit irrational behavior?

A: Yes, “Talking to Crazy” provides valuable insights and strategies for navigating challenging family dynamics. Whether you’re dealing with a difficult parent, sibling, or extended family member, the book offers practical techniques to communicate more effectively and establish healthier relationships.

Q: Is this book only for dealing with extreme cases of irrationality?

A: While the book addresses extreme cases, it also offers insights and strategies for dealing with everyday encounters with irrational or difficult individuals. The techniques discussed can be applied in various situations, from minor conflicts to more challenging relationships.


“Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life” by Mark Goulston M.D. is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to improve their communication skills and navigate challenging relationships. Through practical insights, real-life examples, and actionable advice, Goulston equips readers with the tools needed to engage effectively with difficult individuals. By applying the strategies outlined in the book, readers can transform their interactions and maintain their sanity in the face of irrationality. So, if you’re ready to unlock the secrets to dealing with the “crazy” people in your life, this book is a must-read.