Reviewed Books & Films

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May 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Raising Confident or Arrogant Children?


Philip T. Yanos reviewed Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love by Simon Blackburn. In reading this review, I was reminded of all the ways in which psychologists examine self-love. There are thousands of studies on self-esteem, narcissism (as a personality trait and as part of a psychological disorder), egocentricity, actor-observer biases, and self-serving biases just to name a few of the self-love incarnations.

To this day, Tony Greenwald's (1980) "Totalitarian Ego" article in American Psychologist is one of my favorites on this topic. Yanos's review suggests an important question—How do we raise our children to have a healthy self-esteem without raising them to be arrogant and insensitive to others? What one or two recommendations would you give parents and other adults who work with youths (e.g., teachers, coaches) to help achieve this goal?



Greenwald, A.G. (1980). The totalitarian ego: Fabrication and revision of personal history. American Psychologist, 35(7), 603-618.

Read the Review
ReviewIt’s a Thin Line Between Healthy Self-Esteem and Narcissism
By Philip T. Yanos
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(20)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Will We Remember Albert Ellis in 100 Years?


Frank Farley and Mona Sarshar's review of Albert Ellis Revisited, edited by Jon Carlson and William Knaus, is very laudatory, and Farley and Sarshar use the review to underscore their appreciation for the significance of Ellis's work and Ellis's important role in the history of psychology.  For example, Farley and Sarshar write, "Ellis was one of the most colorful, provocative, and influential psychologists of the last 100 years" (para. 10).  

I knew Al, and I cherished his friendship.  He met his deadlines, and he had the distinction of being the only contributor to Current Psychotherapies (Wedding & Corsini, 2014) whose initial draft chapter was accepted without a single revision.

As I reminisced about my friend, after reading Farley and Sarshar's review, I found myself thinking about Isaiah Berlin's  ( discussion of the difference between the hedgehog and the fox, applied to describing different types of writers and thinkers. Hedgehogs have a single, superordinate, all-encompassing idea that defines and shapes all of their work; foxes, on the other hand, have myriad ideas that they draw on when they create new works.  Ellis was incredibly prolific, but he was clearly a hedgehog with one big idea, and almost all of his work links to the core concept of our predilection for irrational thinking.  Some critics have noted this common denominator in all of Ellis's work, and one critic joked that Ellis wrote the same book 85 times.

How will history judge Albert Ellis?  Will he be as highly regarded in 2115 as he is in 2015? Was he treated unfairly at the end of his life by the board of the Albert Ellis Institute (Dobkin, 2005)?



Dobkin, M. (2005, November 7). Behaviorists behaving badly. New York Magazine. Retrieved from

Wedding, D., & Corsini, R.J. (Eds.) (2014). Current psychotherapies (10th ed.).  Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole.


Read the Review
ReviewThe Albert Ellis Legacy
By Frank Farley and Mona Sarshar
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(14)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

When Will We Overcome: Women of Color in the Academy


I have been in academia for a very long time; it will be 26 years in August 2015. As a Woman of Color, I have noticed how few Women of Color there are among the faculty at majority institutions of higher education. Data for psychology indicate that in 2010-11 eight percent of full-time faculty were Women of Color; however, Women of Color had the lowest percentage of tenured positions. Furthermore, there were more Women of Color at the ranks of assistant and associate professor than at the rank of full professor (Bennett-Johnson, 2012). I attained promotion to associate professor with tenure on schedule, but the path to full professor was not as smooth. Having finally obtained promotion to full professor, I found Martha E. Banks’s review of The Duality of Women Scholars of Color: Transforming and Being Transformed in the Academy quite meaningful as I have spent the year analyzing how and why my progress stalled. 

In her review, Banks describes the use of auto-ethnographies to explore the experiences of Women of Color in the academy. She notes the authors’ use of feminist and womanist perspectives, as well as discussions of “the joint impact of static and dynamic socioeconomic status, and perceived and actual immigration status and ethnicity” (para. 2), in the discussions of attempts to balance academic life and personal life. Banks draws attention to the experience of “otherness” as a factor that undermines Women of Color and invalidates their scholarship. Other books have been written in this area, including Presumed Incompetent (Gutiérrez y Muhs, Niemann, Gonzalez, & Harris, 2012) and Making Our Voices Heard: Women of Color in Academia (Curtis-Boles, Adams, & Jenkins-Monroe, 2012) (reviewed in PsycCRITIQUES [Daniel, 2013]). All of these books provide narratives of the personal and professional struggles encountered by Women of Color and the strategies used to overcome the obstacles and barriers that result in their attrition at each “transition [point] (for example, the transition from postdoctoral scientist to assistant professor, assistant professor to associate professor, and associate professor to full professor)” (Sewer, 2012, para. 2). The themes have included balancing family obligations, having a social justice or a research agenda that addresses the realities or needs of the racial/ethnic communities, discrimination due to race/ethnicity and sex, and a lack of role models and mentoring. Women of Color who have been successful found mentors, even when they were not women or persons of color, and have used support networks in and outside of the academy to sustain their efforts. 

The narratives being presented are important, as they give voice to the perspective of Women of Color. They validate experiences and make it clear that we, as Women of Color, are not alone in the struggle. However, when do we transition to the in-depth analyses that move us toward greater representation of Women of Color among tenured faculty and those at the highest ranks in academia?  



Bennett-Johnson, S. (2012, June 7-8). Written statement of Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, ABPP, 2012 president, American Psychological Association, presented on behalf of the American Psychological Association before the National Academies Committee for Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine on the subject of “Seeking solutions: Maximizing American talent by advancing women of color in academia.” Retrieved from

Curtis-Boles, H., Adams, D. M., & Jenkins-Monroe, J. (Eds.), 2012. Making our voices heard: Women of color in academia. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Daniel, J. (2013). Anchored and linked: Women of color write about life in the academy [Review of the book Making our voices heard: Women of color in academia, by H. Curtis-Boles, D. M. Adams, & J. Jenkins-Monroe (Eds.)]. PsycCRITIQUES, 58(22). doi: 10.1037/a0032579

Gutiérrez y Muhs, G., Niemann, Y. F., Gonzalez, C. G., & Harris, A. P. (Eds.). (2012). Presumed incompetent: The intersections of race and class for women in academia. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

Sewer, M. B. (2012, August). Advancing women of color in academia. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Today. Retrieved from

Read the Review

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Is There a Dark Side of Resilience?


Resilience Interventions for Youth in Diverse Populations, edited by Sandra Prince-Embury and Donald H. Saklofske, discusses a three-factor model of resilience that includes (a) having a sense of mastery, which involves elements such as identifying strengths and encouraging self-praise; (b) having a sense of relatedness, which includes, obviously, relationships with caring adults who are trusted, the development of support networks, and from the individual’s side, enhanced social skills and empathy; and (c) having the ability to regulate emotional reactivity. The book overviews interventions designed to enhance resilience for diverse groups of youths, including youths from low-income communities, families who are homeless, youths in foster care, transsexual youths, youths with chronic illness, youths with mental health needs, and youths with specific developmental disorders (e.g., autism).

Reviewers Ian M. Evans and Heather Nakahara offer the following commentary on the concept of resilience, particularly as it applies to the United States and other industrialized nations:

When you then look at the children in the world who are denied education, who are chronically hungry, who are refugees living in United Nations tents in a foreign country, who are orphaned by HIV/AIDS and Ebola, or who are genitally mutilated, stoned, whipped or otherwise denigrated in the name of religion, it is a little difficult to get too concerned about worried Australian teens, financially strapped Greek families, or kids with too many smartphones. All resilience challenges are not created equal.

That may be a harsh comment, but we consider there is a dark side of resilience work: It seems to judge children and youth to be at risk because they are not adequate to weather inequitable systems and flawed institutions…But resilience work, however much we need to be open to its possibilities, also represents a form of political philosophy—an extension of the great American dream: suck it up[,] kid, toughen up[.] [S]uccess comes to those individuals willing to take responsibility (control their emotions), work hard, feel powerful, and reward themselves (paras. 14, 15).

Do you agree with the reviewers’ viewpoint regarding the “dark side of resilience work”? Why or why not?  Does the resilience construct lack applicability across the variety of adversities that youths face globally?

Read the Review
ReviewResilience Interventions Are Here: The Psychology of Toughen Up and Suck It Up
By Ian M. Evans and Heather Nakahara
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(15)

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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