Reviewed Books & Films

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March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Terror of Death and the Passion for Life...Coming Together

APA The prolific psychiatry luminary Irvin Yalom uses clinical case histories to discuss death anxiety and existentialism in his new book Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death. In his review of Yalom's book, Paul Wong reflects,

Our unique human capacity to reflect on our existence, anticipate our own demise, and imagine the horrible details of dying inevitably creates a sense of terror. Death awareness, no matter how vague, poses a constant threat and makes us uncomfortable because we can never escape from the long shadow of death...In spite of the predominance of death in human existence, it is helpful to recognize that there is deep within us a reservoir of passion for life, a longing for meaning and happiness, no matter how dreadful the circumstances.
Wong challenges the reader to syncretize one's deep awareness of death with an embrace of the passion for life. Is this a realistic notion or purely idealistic? Practically speaking, how might one accomplish this? Can the embrace of one enhance the awareness of the other?



Read the Review
ReviewPositive Existential Psychotherapy and Pathways to Death Acceptance
By Paul T. P. Wong
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(8)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Challenges of Choosing a Methodology

APA In their book What Counts as Credible Evidence in Applied Research and Evaluation Practice?, Stewart Donaldson and his colleagues address the challenges of designing and implementing sound applied research and evaluation designs. They attempt to move beyond historical quantitative-qualitative paradigm wars by critiquing a variety of methods across diverse contexts to determine what counts as credible evidence. The reader is then left to make educated decisions regarding how to apply these discussions to their particular projects.

In his review of the book, Cody Ding argues that the critical question is not which "camp" we need to be in for what types of projects, but how to link credible evidence to causality. In that vein, how do we decide which methodology to employ to document program improvement?

Read the Review
ReviewSearch for Truth: What Evidence Are We Looking For?
By Cody Ding
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(11)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Have Psychologists Ignored Human Sexuality?

APA Reviewing Teela Sanders' Paying for Pleasure: Men Who Buy Sex, Barry McCarthy and Maria Thestrup note,

Traditionally, issues involving human sexuality have not received a high priority in psychological theory, research, or clinical practice. Perhaps because sexuality is such a complex, value-laden area (particularly in relation to sexual trauma, sexual orientation, abortion, and extramarital involvement), psychology researchers have often left the field of human sexuality to other disciplines. From our perspective, this is a major mistake. The paradox of sexuality is that healthy sexuality contributes a small positive role in individual and relational well-being, but dysfunctional, conflictual sexuality—and particularly sexual avoidance—can play an inordinately powerful negative role in subverting individual and couple satisfaction and stability…
Have psychologists ignored human sexuality, or do McCarthy and Thestrup overstate their case?



Read the Review
ReviewA Sociological/Anthropological Approach to Men Who Buy Sex
By Barry McCarthy [and] Maria Thestrup
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(11)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire is a Winner

APA David Wall and Jacqueline Remondet Wall enthusiastically endorse Slumdog Millionaire as a film that psychologists should see. They note,

the strong emotional tie-in that [Director Danny] Boyle hits in almost every scene is the underdog status of the three protagonists. It is almost as if he were specifically referencing the underdog psychology research. Did we feel emotionally manipulated by Boyle's effort? Perhaps we did. Did we feel good and happy when we left the theater? Definitely we did. Do we recommend the film? By all means. It is definitely our pick for the Best Underdog Film for 2008 and maybe for all time.
Can psychological science help us understand the widespread international popularity of this film?



Read the Review
ReviewNominations for the Best Underdog Picture Are…and the Winner is…
By David G. Wall [and] Jacqueline Remondet Wall
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(8)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Our Virtual and Real Worlds: How Are They Interacting?

APA In his review of Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human, Richard Velayo notes, "A reader will likely come away asking questions about how our lives are being transformed in very real ways by what is happening in the virtual world," and "There are a number of research methodologies that may be used from within virtual worlds, including formal experimentation, observational ethnography, and quantitative analysis of social networks."

Can social scientists use virtual worlds to study "real world" human behavior? Is this an innovative and valid way to study more sensitive or controversial social behaviors that we would have difficulty studying in the real world? And, would it be useful to examine the effects of what happens to our avatars in the virtual world on our actual real world behavior?

Read the Review
ReviewStudying Virtual Worlds: What's in It for Psychology?
By Richard Velayo
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 53(51)

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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