Reviewed Books & Films

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March 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gender Issues in Adoption

APA In her review of Blue-Ribbon Babies and Labors of Love: Race, Class, and Gender in U.S. Adoption Practice by Christine Ward Gailey, Judith Gibbons explains that the term blue ribbon in the context of infant adoption refers to parents' preference for a healthy White infant. Author Christine Ward Gailey goes further in describing the term trophy child to refer to "the preference of wealthy couples for a child…who matches them physically and reflects them positively." More specifically, it appears that the blue ribbon and trophy babies tend to be girls rather than boys, especially in intercountry adoption. Nonetheless, gender issues in adoption have not been as thoroughly addressed by researchers as racial issues have been.

What are some potential reasons for parents' preferences for girls in adoption? Why would girls be preferred more in intercountry adoption specifically? Why has this gender trend not been explored by researchers?

Read the Review
ReviewSeeking Healthy White Girls: Negotiating Class, Race, and Gender in U.S. Adoptions
By Judith L. Gibbons
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(51)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is Mindfulness a Passing Fad in Psychotherapy?

APA In his review of Daniel J. Siegel's book The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician’s Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration, Harris Friedman notes that the practice of mindfulness (under different names) has been promulgated by Freud, Fritz Perls, and numerous hypnotherapists. "However, recently there has been a burgeoning growth of interest in such psychological approaches subsumed under the term mindfulness, evidencing that old wine is often more successful when rebottled."

Is mindfulness something genuinely new and exciting or simply a new label for something good therapists have been teaching clients for decades?

Read the Review
ReviewAll Present and (Psychologically, Neurobiologically, and Phenomenologically) Accounted for
      By Harris L. Friedman
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(43)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is Inauthentic Happiness a Worthy Goal?

APA In his review of Fred Feldman's What Is This Thing Called Happiness?, David Manier praises, critiques, and offers a number of interesting observations. One is captured in his summary of the book's central message: "Happiness is a matter of how one thinks about things." Do you agree? Under what conditions might this statement be true and untrue?

Manier notes another interesting and perhaps controversial point made by Feldman, that "it's better to have inauthentic happiness than no happiness at all." This is a fascinating distinction. I wonder if high-functioning depressed people would agree with this? Or, what about people who are high in authenticity and honesty but are unhappy? How about you—would you prefer to have a shallow, superficial, or dishonest happiness than a lack of happiness? As you reflect on this, consider not only yourself but your clients, family, and others in your life.

Read the Review
ReviewHappiness, Push-Pin, and Poetry
By David Manier
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(9)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Treating Depression: Drugs, Psychotherapy, or a Combination of Both?

APA In his review of The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, Dr. Michael Thase notes that the book is "thought-provoking and offers the general public much useful information about the limitations of antidepressants, the power of the placebo effect, and the alternatives that are available for people who do not wish to take antidepressants." He goes on to argue that even though

antidepressants have relatively small specific effects in contemporary RCTs…. ,[f]or a condition as common as depression, even a modest average benefit can improve the lives and lessen the suffering of millions of depressed people. Antidepressants have large, life-saving effects for some people…
Dr. Thase also acknowledges the role of psychotherapy and medication/psychotherapy combinations in the treatment of depression. These comments stimulate the question, how must we change our research strategies and agenda to better understand who should receive what treatment (medication or psychotherapy) and treatment combinations, as well as the optimal timing of intervention protocols?

Read the Review
ReviewExploring the Small Specific Effects of Antidepressants: Myth Busting or Misguiding the Public?
      By Michael E. Thase
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(4)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What Film Would Win If Psychologists Gave Out Academy Awards?

APA The decision to add selected psychologically relevant films to PsycCRITIQUES (a practice introduced by E. G. Boring, the first editor of Contemporary Psychology) has been widely applauded, and many readers report they read the film reviews before turning to the more pedestrian reviews of books.

Some of the films that have been (or will be) reviewed in PsycCRITIQUES include The Secret in Their Eyes, Solitary Man, Black Swan, Peacock, Inception, The Social Network, Life During Wartime, Temple Grandin, Skin, and The Kids Are All Right.

If you were organizing awards for psychologically relevant films, which movies would you nominate?

Read the Reviews
ReviewNo Man Is an Island, or Is He?
By Meera Rastogi
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(8)
  • A review of the film Solitary Man
ReviewOf Two Minds
By Etzel Cardeña and Sophie Reijman
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(51)
  • A review of the film Peacock

ReviewThe Tenacity of an Idea
By Keith Oatley
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(50)
  • A review of the film Inception
ReviewA Life With Autism
By Donald Oswald
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(44)
  • A review of the film Temple Grandin

ReviewA Roller-Coaster of Intelligences
By Jeremy Clyman
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(49)
  • A review of the film The Social Network
ReviewMuddling Through
By Steven N. Gold
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(39)
  • A review of the film The Kids Are All Right

ReviewWhen She Was White: The Value of White Skin During Apartheid
      By Kellina M. Craig-Henderson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(43)
  • A review of the film Skin
By Keith Oatley
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(48)
  • A review of the film Life During Wartime

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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