Reviewed Books & Films

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December 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Overcoming Stigma in Mental Health: Our Role

APA In the review of Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Schizophrenic Psychoses: Past, Present and Future, Larry Davidson, Ph.D., calls on psychotherapists to consider more humane depictions of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Davidson states, "For psychotherapists to garner broader support for their approach, and for them to play a more central role in future developments in clinical psychiatry, they will have to find less de-humanizing, demeaning, and offensive ways to describe the people they want to be entrusted to care for." When psychotherapists must be called to task in this manner, should we consider our role in the ongoing stigma experienced by individuals with mental illness in our society? How do our communications to and about our clients further depictions of individuals as unable to make decisions and contribute substantively to families, communities, and the society at large?

Read the Review
ReviewA Renaissance in Psychotherapy for Schizophrenia?
By Larry Davidson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(49)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Dynamical What?

APA After reading this review, I wondered how many psychologists could define the dynamical approach. Before reading the review of Dynamical Psychology: Complexity, Self-Organization, and Mind by Jay Friedenberg, I could not give a definition, and I am not sure that previously I would have been interested in this topic that seems antithetical to my theoretical approach to human behavior. However, this very readable and intriguing review highlights the promise of this approach and made me consider what the future might hold for psychology's ability to produce long term and effective behavior change in areas such as weight control and addiction.

There has always been acknowledgement of the "complex, continually changing, and self-organizing aspects of many psychological phenomena" (Jeffrey B. Wagman review) assumed in the dynamical approach. Beside this recognition has been healthy skepticism related to the use of "specialized mathematical and statistical tools to understand such systems." The more mathematical and biological the explanation of psychological phenomena, the more some in psychology have claimed that we were moving to mere reductionism. Given the disparate philosophical and theoretical perspectives represented in psychology, can dynamical psychology, or any new perspective, move us toward a paradigm shift that resolves traditional "mind vs. body" and "nature vs. nurture" debates and results in a more unified psychology?

Read the Review
ReviewAligning Psychology With the Physical and Biological Sciences
By Jeffrey B. Wagman
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(45)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Is Overprotection Depriving Today's Children?

APA Ed de St. Aubin and Sharon Shatil, reviewers of Helene Guldberg's Reclaiming Childhood: Freedom and Play in an Age of Fear, summarized the book's take-home message as follows: U.K. and U.S. societies have become too overprotective of children due to out of proportion fears about "stranger danger," bullying, and Internet predators. Guldberg makes other claims about society going too far to protect children, such as excessive worrying over the effects of junk food consumption and overexposure to the media. She believes that this level of overprotection has left today's children worse off than children of two generations past and deprived them of experiences that foster resiliency, curiosity, and self-efficacy. Although initially inclined to agree with some of the book's premises, de St. Aubin and Shatil were very critical of Guldberg's use (or misuse) of science and therefore did not believe that her arguments were persuasive or well supported.

Are parents and societies more overprotective now than generations ago? Are today's children worse off in terms of their resilience, curiosity, self-efficacy, or other outcomes as a result of overprotection? Does the scientific literature provide any validation, or refutation, of these arguments?

Read the Review
ReviewReclaiming Science: Evidence and Truth in the Age of Persuasion
By Ed de St. Aubin [and] Sharon Shatil
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(43)

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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