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In Improving Mental Health: Four Secrets in Plain Sight, Dr. Lloyd Sederer draws on four decades of diverse clinical practice, mental health research, and public health experience to create a memorable volume that is as elegant as it is instructive. The book aims to help clinicians improve the lives of their patients – and patients to improve their own lives – by identifying these secrets and taking action in ways that can work immediately, closing the science-to-practice gap. In addition, the book's many stories, clinical examples, and cultural references are fascinating and illuminating.

The book's four foundational truths, all hiding in plain sight and all eminently actionable, are:


  • Behavior serves a purpose.

  • The power of attachment.

  • As a rule, less is more.

  • Chronic stress is the enemy.



This is an intelligent, balanced, and very useful guide to becoming a knowledgeable and confident actor in pursuing your mental health. It will also help you to approach mental health professionals as an equal partner.

Andrew Solomon, PhD

New York Times bestselling author of The Noonday Demon and Far From The Tree

This book is a must read for those who experience or have a family member with a psychiatric condition. Dr. Sederer gives moving descriptions of patients and their suffering, and sage advice about interventions. His deep experience in working with those afflicted with mental illness comes ringing through, page after page.

Maria Oquendo, MD, PhD


Former President, The American Psychiatric Association

Lloyd Sederer has written this book to help laypeople and practitioners see what’s right before their eyes, but often unnoticed. He explores four “secrets” – that behaviors have meaning, that attachment is central to health (and recovery), that “doing more” often means doing more harm, and that chronic stress may be the most debilitating condition of life. He argues effectively that if we bring these secrets out into the open, we will be more effective at understanding mental health problems and how to solve them. And he concludes – persuasively – that this will encourage greater attention to building safer spaces around us all, with a focus on prevention, earlier intervention, and recovery. In doing this, he puts people first, which is where they should be in any therapeutic relationship. His prose is simple and straightforward, clear and concise, graceful and measured, and nonjudgmental throughout. This is well worth reading, digesting, and using as a foundation for interactions between clinicians and the people they aim to serve.

Paul Gionfriddo, PhD

CEO, Mental Health America

Sederer’s thoughtful and provocative book could not be timelier. It arises out of a seemingly confusing moment in mental health and poses an immense creative challenge: to draw out the rules, or laws, that govern the psyche as it adapts to an ever-changing world. His “laws” or “secrets” – often counterintuitive, yet full of clinical utility – illuminate his profound understanding of patients and their particular predicaments. There’s a powerful thread of wisdom that runs through Sederer’s writing like a bright red line, reminding us that by identifying the driving tenets of clinical care we refresh and deepen our engagement with it in the future. I read this book in a single setting, and felt so much wiser at the end.

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene

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