Reviewed Books & Films

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July 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is Impression Management Really Self-Deception?

APA In his review of Robert Trivers's book The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life, Johannes Bakker notes that the book "is based on the idea that a great deal about everyday life could be explained much better if we paid more attention to the ways in which we human beings tend to deceive others, and even ourselves." Bakker also notes that "[s]ocial psychologists will, for example, find that Trivers does not seem to believe that self-presentation and self-perception are much more than the product of deceit and self-deceit."

However, what do we know about the relationship between self-deception and impression management? If a colleague tells me that he is sure that the female stranger across the room is romantically attracted to him, is this self-deception (egocentric bias) on his part, or is it his attempt at impression management for my benefit (to convince me that he is irresistible to women), or some combination of the two? What are the important moderating and mediating variables?

Do self-deception and impression management work in concert to guide our attitudes and behavior, or does the occurrence of one preclude the other?

Read the Review
ReviewDeceit, Deception, and Strong Opinions: Trivers on This, That, and Almost Everything but Biology
      By Johannes I. (Hans) Bakker
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(26)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Did Dryden Get It Right?

APA Seneca wrote, "There is no great genius without a tincture of madness," and William Wordsworth noted, "We poets in our youth begin in gladness, but thereof comes in the end despondency and madness." Shakespeare wrote, "The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, are of imagination all compact." Most notably, in 1681, John Dryden wrote a phrase that is often quoted today: "Great wits are sure to madness near ally'd, and thin partitions do their bounds divide."

Psychologist Grant Rich, reviewing Judith Schlesinger's The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius, ends his review by commenting, "I suspect the jury is still out on the mad genius controversy."

There are few issues in psychology more hotly debated. But why is the jury still out? Why has it been so very hard for psychologists to use science to resolve this seemingly simple question: Is there any relationship between creativity and certain forms of mental illness?

Read the Review
ReviewThe "Mad Genius" Controversy: The Debate Rages On
By Grant J. Rich
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(28)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are We Tacking Toward the Shoals of the Technical?

APA In reviewing Jeffrey Bishop's new book The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of the Dying, Stephen Diamond describes how medical doctors have become "mere technicians of the body," regarding death as "a preventable failure" rather than respecting it as a natural part of life. But Diamond goes further, arguing that today's clinical psychology and psychiatry have been drifting for decades now "in a dangerously regressive direction" that emphasizes technical expertise over relationship:

This is especially true today in both psychiatry and clinical psychology's blind love affair with "evidence-based" treatments, near-religious worship of scientific method, and mechanistically biased dismissal of psychotherapies more focused on the patient's being, the clinical relationship, and the making of meaning than on directly manipulating cognitions, behaviors, symptoms, or neurochemistry.
Do you agree that our field has a blind love affair with evidence-based treatment? Are we making a mistake to focus on manipulating cognitions and behaviors? Are we underestimating the clinical relationship?

Read the Review
ReviewThe Violence of Knowing: Medicine, Metaphysics, and the War Against Death
By Stephen A. Diamond
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(27)

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Documentation of the Need for Psychologists in the Courtroom

APA Harold Takooshian has written a provocative and thoughtful review of Sarah Burns's book The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding, suggesting that the outcome of the case might have turned out very differently—and justice served—if psychologists had been involved as consultants and expert witnesses.

Why do police and courts so strongly resist testimony by psychology expert witnesses? Might the case have turned out differently if psychologists had been involved?

Read the Review
ReviewDo U.S. Courts Need Forensic Psychologists?
By Harold Takooshian
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(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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