Reviewed Books & Films

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January 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Too Much Emphasis on Psychological Causes of Insomnia?

APA Gayle Green, in her book Insomniac, levels criticism at psychologists and psychiatrists who concentrate on factors such as anxiety, depression, and/or stress as causes of insomnia (characterized as "blaming the victim") at the exclusion of examining the contribution of physiology. Stuart Derbyshire, in his review of Insomniac, suggests that physiological explanations of insomnia, however, are flawed. Specifically, he writes: "…the idea that insomnia is the product of faulty neurobiology or hormones or something else is just a guess and a guess that could be horribly wrong in many different ways." Both author and reviewer acknowledge that more research is needed to better understand the causes of sleep disorders.

What are the arguments for and against psychological influences of insomnia? Physiological influences? Can current findings in sleep research shed light on the complexities of this disorder?

Read the Review
ReviewWhy Can't You Just Go to Sleep?
By Stuart W. G. Derbyshire
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2008 Vol 53(52)

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Role of Psychology in the Production of Health

APA In his review of The Contested Boundaries of American Public Health, Brad Hesse notes that in the future, positive behaviors will become more important. Today's discussions of health, including the need to prevent and control chronic disease, highlight the role new knowledge related to motivation and complex behavior change may play in population health. Psychological theories and knowledge have been important to efforts to address the pressing issues of weight control, smoking cessation, and motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, our limited success is glaring.

Are the efforts and directions of academic and research psychology attentive to the needs and opportunities in this area? Are professional organizations providing the guidance necessary to position psychologists to provide the leadership and make the contributions the profession is capable of making?

Read the Review
ReviewRebuilding the Levees in Public Health
By Bradford W. Hesse
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(2)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Interrogations: Does the APA Resolution Adequately Limit the Role of Psychologists?

APA Counseling psychologist and APA council member Larry James has written a provocative and important book, Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib, describing his experiences reforming Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Reviewer Rodney Lowman notes "Whether psychologists should be involved in interrogations at all is a current controversy, still hotly debated, that is only briefly addressed in the book."

Does the recent APA resolution on psychologists' involvement in interrogations put this hotly debated issue to rest?

Read the Review
ReviewReforming the Military in Troubled Times
By Rodney L. Lowman
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(2)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Have Psychologists Ignored Love?

APA In his new book, Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith, George Vailliant writes, "If poets are blind to love, psychologists are struck dumb. For decades psychologists tried not even to mention love." Reviewer Vincent W. Hevern notes, "At times, [Vailliant's] disdain for how psychoanalysis and academic psychology have disregarded the positive emotions is sharp and harshly ironic. At one point he observes, 'Almost since its inception, psychoanalysis has been fascinated with the dynamics of shame and revenge, but psychoanalysis has totally ignored the dynamics of forgiveness' … Freud particularly comes under criticism: 'Although Sigmund Freud was able to focus upon many emotions that others found unbearable, especially grief and lust, he blinded himself to human attachment.'"

Is this criticism of psychology and psychoanalysis justified? Do recent developments in positive psychology signal a growing acceptance of the importance of love as a human emotion [e.g., Peterson and Seligman (2004) include love on their list of those character strengths that make up the virtue of humanity]?

Read the Review
ReviewEmotions and the Sacred in Human Lives
By Vincent W. Hevern
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2008 Vol 53(50)

Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

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