Reviewed Books & Films

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December 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How Does Religion Relate to Positive Youth Development?

APA In their edited book Thriving and Spirituality Among Youth: Research Perspectives and Future Possibilities, Amy Eva Alberts Warren, Richard M. Lerner, and Erin Phelps explore the current research on the roles of spirituality and religion in youths' lives. The book features a chapter on religious conversion during adolescence that highlights three case studies of youths who were non-practicing Jews or Christians and converted to Islam. On the basis of the case studies, the chapter authors concluded that there is "evidence to support the relationship between religious conversion and positive youth development" (p. 161).

According to reviewer Joan Koss-Chioino, further research on religious conversion among youths is needed to elucidate the role of such experience in positive youth development. On the one hand, religious conversion could engender the individual's greater concern with community in the context of a "hoped-for positive and peaceful state of the world," but she cautions that conversion to a fundamentalist form of a religion could have negative results.

What role, if any, do religion and spirituality play in positive youth development? Is there a need for religion or spirituality to be incorporated in youth prevention programming? How might religious conversion specifically either contribute to, or detract from, positive youth development?

Read the Review
ReviewToward an Ideal Solution for Adolescent Well-Being
By Joan Koss-Chioino
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(47)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seeing Our Shadow Side in Films

APA Roman Polanski, the controversial filmmaker, recently adapted the play God of Carnage into a film, Carnage. It's a fascinating, raw, yet realistic film about two couples who meet to discuss an altercation between their sons. This discussion soon leads to subtle and very direct confrontation between the parents and a situation in which each character affronts the others in a harmful way. The deteriorating interactions between the families are troubling and the tension palpable.

Despite the negativism, the film is incredibly engaging and interesting. How could viewers use the film to enhance their own communication skills?

In their review of the film, Dana Dunn and Sarah Sacks Dunn assert that, despite the despicable behavior of these characters, every viewer has some degree of each of the four characters within himself or herself. However, if we accept this fact, we can use the film, or others like it, for personal growth.

What movie characters in history do you resonate with the most? Do you see parts of yourself in their shadow side?

Read the Review
ReviewNarcissists Are Us?
By Dana S. Dunn and Sarah Sacks Dunn
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(48)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Does the Internet Make Dating Any Easier?

APA In her review of John C. Bridges's The Illusion of Intimacy: Problems in the World of Online Dating, Stephanie Evans notes, "digital technology is fundamentally changing the landscape of intimacy and mating in America," claiming, "traditional stages of building a relationship are often missed in the accelerated pace of online dating." Evans believes the Internet itself becomes addictive, "with each click revealing a potential liaison with a new partner," and she claims that turbocharged intimacy associated with online dating results in "inflated expectations and perceived rejection [that become] risk factors for mood instability and depression."

In toto, is online dating a blessing or a curse? Should therapists discourage their clients from jumping into the world of online dating too quickly after leaving a relationship?

Read the Review
ReviewLove With a Perfect Stranger: Romance and Resilience in Online Dating
By Stephanie Evans
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(48)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Men’s Role in Reproduction

APA In a review of the book Reproductive Justice: A Global Concern edited by Joan Chrisler, Abigail J. Stewart calls attention to the book's focus on "women's agency in making decisions and choices" related to reproduction, as well as "the social and economic constraints on those choices." Many of the papers in the edited volume cover issues that are associated with women's issues in non-Western nations including female genital cutting, female feticide and infanticide, and sex trafficking. Stewart states that the papers in the edited volume are "valuable and clarifying resources for discussions in U.S. classrooms that are often filled with confusion and distress" when these practices are viewed from a lens lacking cultural respect.

This seemed like a good book to facilitate an examination of women's reproduction in a global context, then I caught myself: The United States is a part of this global context. Sex trafficking takes place in the United States, although we spend little time discussing this exploitation of women and girls. Stewart's review led me to think about recent discussions of mandated insurance coverage for birth control and the ongoing debate over abortion in the United States. When was the last time there was nonacrimonious public discussion of the "broader relational and temporal context of pregnancy and childbirth" in the United States? Some feel that women's reproductive rights are more secure in the United States, but perhaps we, in the United States, have as much at stake in this global discussion of reproductive justice as women and men living in other countries.

How do we make these men's issues as much as they are women's issues? Do the moral positions that inevitably affect the framework for discussions about reproduction ensure that the divisiveness observed in other political debates in the United States will persist here as well?

Read the Review
ReviewWith Liberty and Justice for All? Women and Reproduction
By Abigail J. Stewart
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(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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