Reviewed Books & Films

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April 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Can Public Campaigns Be More Carefully Crafted to Reduce the Stigma of Disease and Disability?


In her review of Patrick Corrigan’s edited book The Stigma of Disease and Disability: Understanding Causes and Overcoming Injustices,  Janelle Wagner discusses Corrigan’s exploration of stigma associated with  nine health conditions, including serious mental illnesses, substance-related disorders, intellectual disabilities, physical and sensory disabilities, infectious diseases, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. The book examines societal stereotypes and discrimination against individuals with these diseases and behaviors, as well as internalized and structural stigma. Wagner highlights the chapter by Georg Schomerus that focuses the reader’s attention on “public campaigns aimed at stigmatizing behavior versus presenting behaviors as a public health concern (e.g., smoking, alcohol use).” (para. 6).

These issues lead me to ask to what extent our efforts to reduce behaviors that increase risks for disease contribute to societal and self-stigma. If public health campaigns, for example, against smoking, help to create stigma, are health professionals and researchers in a position to develop evidence-based interventions and public policies to protect and provide supportive resources to individuals who are stigmatized? Are there ways that we as psychologist can assist in the delivery of health messages without contributing to stigma?


Read the Review
ReviewThe Enigma of Stigma
By Janelle Wagner
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(13)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Do We Teach People Not to Enjoy Others' Pain?


In her review of Richard H. Smith's The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature, Tanya Telfair LeBlanc notes how we like to look at car accidents, watch TV programs that show others' pain (e.g., Maury), and read the grocery store tabloids.  

Assuming that these behaviors are undesirable, what could psychologists do to teach people, especially young people, to not take such delight in others' pain? Perhaps these efforts would even be a first step toward increasing prosocial behavior (or at least decreasing more negative or aggressive behavior). What stakeholders should be involved—churches, schools, private groups (e.g., Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts), family members, etc.? Who knows—maybe success would even decrease the popularity and number of reality shows.


Read the Review
ReviewKeeping It Real: Unmasking Evidence of Delight in Others’ Misfortune
By Tanya Telfair LeBlanc
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(14)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

All Work and No Play in Academia


Authors Mary Ann Mason, Nicholas H. Wolfinger, and Marc Goulden discuss the difficulties of achieving work-life balance in academia in their book Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower. Faculty positions often require demanding hours to fulfill pretenure obligations to conduct research, publish, write grants, and teach multiple courses each semester. As Linda Berg-Cross and Tiffany Brown note in their review of the book, the authors contend that women with children are particularly burdened by pretenure expectations, evidenced by the fact that women in the sciences who have children under the age of six are less likely to receive tenure compared with their male and childless female counterparts. Several “family-friendly” policies are recommended in the book, including tenure-clock stoppage for childbirth, paid parental leave, part-time tenure track appointments, and modified duties for parents after childbirth.

Why doesn’t academia have more progressive policies that promote work-life balance? Should academia be ahead of the corporate world in this regard? Are female faculty with children indeed at a greater disadvantage than others when it comes to achieving tenure?


Read the Review
ReviewMarriage, Children, and Academia
By Linda Berg-Cross and Tiffany Brown
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(8)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Two Views of Milgram’s “Notorious” Research


Alan Elms and Ian Nicholson wrote two dramatically different views of Gina Perry’s book Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments. Each review had two purposes. First, to critique Perry’s book. Second, which is where the drama comes in, to present the reviewer's judgments on Milgram’s research.

Perhaps the only area of agreement in these reviews is that Perry did a reasonably scholarly job in her research by interviewing participants and others involved (including Elms) in the original research, and in exploring the Milgram archives at Yale University. But Elms sees this book as “Milgram bashing,” whereas Nicholson finds a justified concern with validity and ethics.

They disagree, for example, in their views of the interviews with Milgram’s participants. (We used to call them subjects.) Nicholson sees these as fascinating “graphic, first-person accounts," whereas Elms wonders about selection bias and self-promotion. Their disagreement is stronger when it comes to Milgram’s concern for his participants and his motivation for continuing the studies after seeing the initial results.

Readers of this blog may not have read Perry’s book but surely are familiar with the Milgram research and surrounding controversy. Has Elms's closeness to the research made him too defensive? Is Nicholson being overly harsh? Is this still worth worrying about?


Read the Reviews
ReviewContra Milgram
By Alan Elms
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(11)


ReviewLaboratory Theater Masquerading as Scientific Truth
By Ian Nicholson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(11)

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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