Reviewed Books & Films

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June 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is Dieting a Waste of Time?

APA Kelly Bliss provides a sympathetic and enthusiastic review of Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (2nd ed.), a scholarly book that turns conventional wisdom on its head and suggests that much—if not all—of what we have been told by the medical establishment about weight control is simply untrue. As Bliss notes (quoting Bacon), "'Not one study has ever shown that diets produce long-term weight loss for any but a tiny number of dieters. Not one' (p. 47)."

Is there really a conspiracy to mislead the public about dieting and weight? Have psychologists, unwittingly or not, been a part of this conspiracy?

Read the Review
ReviewEnding the War on Obesity and Starting a New Peace Movement
By Kelly Bliss
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(25)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Should Psychologists Be Sympathetic to Hate-Crime Perpetrators?

APA In her review of Gadd and Dixon's Losing the Race: Thinking Psychosocially About Racially Motivated Crime, Kellina Craig-Henderson states about the book:

A second aspect of this work that is distinctive is its unapologetic focus upon the motivations, circumstances, and frailties of offenders. This is a book that aims to give voice to those who have been charged with, accused of, or punished because of their participation in racially motivated offenses. Indeed, in making the case for studying racism, the authors include a revealing quote by another researcher, Les Back (2004). What follows is an excerpt of that quote:
[We must] allow the people we write about to be complex, frail, ethically ambiguous, contradictory and damaged. … [W]hen we make white racists into monsters there is a danger of organizing racism into some—often very predictable white bodies—and away from others. (pp. xvii–xviii)
Should psychologists and other social science researchers be sympathetic to those who engage in racially motivated crimes? The book clearly takes this approach. What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Read the Review
ReviewRacially Motivated Hate Crime in One Region of England
By Kellina M. Craig-Henderson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(18)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Oedipus Complex and Psychoanalysis: What Might the Future Bring?

APA Regardless of what anyone believes about the future role of psychoanalysis in psychology, discussions within the psychoanalytic community remain vibrant. Readers of PsycCRITIQUES have likely noted the number of books related to psychoanalysis produced and reviewed in any given year. However, few of these titles ever focus on the traditional psychoanalytic construct of the Oedipus complex. In his review of Oedipus: The Most Crucial Concept in Psychoanalysis, Paul Brinich highlights author Juan-David Nasio's argument that, "the Oedipus complex remains at the center of psychoanalysis—indeed, that without it there can be no psychoanalysis."

A return to a discussion of the Oedipal complex stimulates several questions related to the future of psychoanalysis in psychology. Are the original psychoanalytic constructs still central to this school of thought today, whether Oedipal issues, castration anxiety, or other factors that affect ego development? Will there be a definitive statement that harmonizes traditional components of the theory with new developments, or will this school of thought necessarily splinter and move in separate directions? And finally, what would be the implication of such a splinter for psychoanalysis, if any?

Read the Review
ReviewOedipus Through Lacanian Eyes
By Paul M. Brinich
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(19)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

It Was the Sixties, Man

APA In the late 1980s I taught a course on humanistic psychology during which I talked about its origins in the 1960s. In discussion a student said, "Dr. Korn, tell us about the sixties," a clear clue to me that I was aging. A sense of the importance and excitement of that period came back as I read Frederick Heide's review of The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America by Don Lattin. This is the story of the rise and transformation (good and bad) of Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, Andrew Weil, and Huston Smith from early experiences with psychedelic drugs (mostly LSD), through serious though poorly designed research to divergent individual paths.

Heide's review refers to "the dizzy sense of possibility that characterized America in the 1960s." That excitement also was present in psychology: humanistic psychology developed to challenge established approaches, cognitive psychologists were using computers (big ones) to simulate human thought, and social psychologists were using elaborate (and deceptive) stage productions in their research.

By the end of the century psychology's involvement with pharmacology came to focus on prescription privileges for clinicians, humanistic psychology became marginal, brain imaging replaced the computer simulation, and social psychologists rarely ventured beyond paper and pencil instruments.

Were the 1960s really a time of unusual creativity and excitement in psychology, or am I just being nostalgic? And I didn't inhale.

Read the Review
ReviewTo Fathom Hell or Soar Angelic: Four Psychedelic Explorers Who Changed America
By Frederick Heide
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(17)

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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