Battling the Inner Dummy:
The Craziness of Apparently Normal People

From the sexcapades of Bill Clinton to the fifteen-year-old who weighs only eighty-two pounds but believes she's obese to the professor who screams profanities at other drivers in snarled traffic, we wonder, "What are they thinking?" What drives so many apparently normal, intelligent people to act irrationally, at times harming themselves and others?

To Sigmund Freud, such behavior was caused by the "id," our built-in mental invitation to uninhibited action. For popular psychology writer David L. Weiner, who draws on the research of evolutionary psychology, "id" stands for "Inner Dummy," which resides in the primitive, limbic realm of the brain.

Through anecdotes from the famous and infamous this inviting and often humorous romp with the Inner Dummy explores how its thirst for status, sex, attachment and territory...its distorted outlooks and senseless impulses, can drive seemingly normal people to outrageous behavior. Weiner interweaves delightful, imagined conversations with a hesitant Freud and staffers at a mythical advertising agency who have been asked to develop such id antidotes as T-shirts that say "Would someone please fix my Inner Dummy before I fall in love with another idiot?" Then, with clinical psychiatrist Dr. Gilbert Hefter, Battling the Inner Dummy describes the major strategies for dealing with this dunce that resides in a corner of our brains.


A fresh, upbeat, extremely readable contribution to the originally Freudian project of improving our living by making "the unconscious conscious" and taking the "psychopathology of everyday life" seriously. Weiner is a bright auto-didact who has great compassion for human foibles, uncommonly good common sense and a strong sense of humor. He is a Will Rogers of psychology who, in this delightful book, compassionately skewers pretentious theoretical and clinical ideas and demystifies psychological realities that effect us all. He considers a wide range of crucial issues, including nurturance, vengeance and sex, and an array of techniques designed to help, including talk therapy, self-help books, and psychopharmacology. Weiner sheds considerable light on the dark side, makes sense of the mistakes and lapses we fall into, and offers practical advice and encouragement in the ongoing fight to win more of our battles with our own Inner Dummies. -- Michael A. Nagelbach, Ph.D. Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago School of Professional Psychology

An unpretentious, engaging, anecdotal, compassionate, disarming, enthusiastic presentation of many ways irrationality and self-defeating thoughts and behavior intrude on ordinary lives. Mr. Weiner is a lively writer and excellent "teacher," introducing his readers to "limbic language" and "dummy concepts" that become playful yet profound observations about human functioning and a framework in which to consider the powerful, albeit irrational, forces that threaten to overwhelm our rational capacities. The writing is straightforward, the motivation clear, the language and metaphors delightful, the compassion for human fragility heartfelt. His book represents a considerable achievement, a kind of landmark in the important endeavor to make potentially useful psychological knowledge more accessible and available to a wider range of people. An important primer on practical ways to understand, accept, and combat our own internal, irrational, maladaptive tendencies. Armed with this awareness – and doing battle all the way, Weiner persuasively argues that the road to more creative, rewarding, productive living in the present becomes more possible. -- Ava Carn-Watkins, Ph.D., Assistant Director Graduate Program in Counseling Psychology

I found Battling the Inner Dummy the most enlightening, amusing, hopeful and generally wonderful book on "psychology" and brain-science in the last decade. In fact, if anybody asked me for the one book they should read to catch upon our current knowledge of why even the most intelligent among us frequently do incredibly stupid things, I would unhesitatingly recommend this one. Weiner deserves five gold stars and free drinks on the house . I think even I may have become a little less of a Dummy after reading this delightful book. -- Robert Anton Wilson, award-winning author of Quantum Psychology

What I found most appealing about Battling the Inner Dummy was the application of the most recent research in psychology and neuroscience. The limbic capturing metaphor allows for an easy and applicable correlation between the function of this not well understood area, and the irrational behaviors of abnormal people. The idea follows the tradition of the most recent advance in theoretical biology, namely the selfish gene theory. The notion that what we have in our head is a survival mechanism is difficult to accept. However, when presented with the examples of the Inner dummy operating in all of us, it is evident where the evolutionary strategy of self-preservation is present in our thinking patterns. This book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding why they do what they do, and where our inner dummies originate. -- Kevin J. Mackenzie, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario

Why is no Mensa meeting complete without some heavy-brained member or so bragging about what a stupid blunder he or she has just recently made? More to the point, why do you and I commit OUR occasional awkward, inconvenient, embarrassing gaffes? This witty, charming book is a fascinating and illuminating read! -- Win Wenger, Ph.D., author of The Einstein Factor