"Women Who Think Too Much" by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD (Henry Holt and Co.) contends that overthinking -- a psychological dysfunction residing somewhere between normal worry and obessive-compulsive disorder -- wreaks havoc in the lives of many women (and more than a few men).


Nolen-Hoeksema is a University of Michigan psychology professor with degrees from Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. She has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation.


Nolen-Hoeksema makes a persuasive case that too much negative emoting and retrospection can be debilitating. One cited example: the relationship between two female roommates at Stanford University frays to breaking over the incessant rumination by one of them after the 1989 San Francisco Bay earthquake.


Nolen-Hoeksema offers a simple 10-question test (do you "go over and over a recent situation, wishing it had gone better" or "think about how passive and unmotivated [you] feel"?) to assess your status as an overthinker. Suggested techniques for "breaking free" or "avoiding future traps" are summarized in quick charts.


The question of whether the author is onto something was slam-dunked by the "I know exactly what she means" reactions of women who caught sight of the title. The author, though clearly steeped in the serious literature, wisely resists the temptation to tell the reader everything she knows. The result is credible and readable.