Don Hosek - Past reading - Psychology

I considered being a psychologist for a while in the late 90s and a lot of this reading is a result of that phase in my life. As an educator, I feel, however, that it's important to keep up with psychological issues, so you'll note that the reading in this arena has not stopped.

What I've been read in the past - Psychology
Sociopath by Patric Gagne
[Finished 10 May 2024] An absolutely fascinating look into how the mind of someone diagnosed as a sociopath (itself a kind of badly defined term) with a pretty high level of self-awareness and understanding. I was less enthralled by the memoir-ish aspects, but understand their need for commercial reasons.

Answer to Job by C. G. Jung
[Finished 4 April 2024] A brief book, and an interesting look at Jung’s approach to theology.

How Not to Kill Yourself: A Portrait of the Suicidal Mind by Clancy Martin
[Finished 29 December 2023] After hearing Martin interviewed on Fresh Air (it had never occurred to me that not everyone contemplates how they might kill themselves), I thought I’d pick up this book and read the whole thing. It’s a mix of memoir and writing about depression and suicidality from the inside, but I kind of hoped for a bit more than there was.

The Night Parade by Jami Nakamura Lin
[Finished 1 December 2023] I was a bit bemused when I saw “a speculative memoir” on the cover of the book, wondering what that could possibly mean. It turns out to be a mix of writing about Japanese (and to a lesser extent Taiwanese) folklore in the context of Lin’s own life with her struggles with bipolar disorder, her father’s death from cancer and giving birth to her first child. An absolutely amazing book and one that merits revisiting.

Non Violent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD
[Finished 4 September 2023] To a certain extent, this book doesn’t really say a whole lot that’s new, and it doesn’t fully justify its page count, but even so, the way that Rosenberg presents his ideas about how to communicate in a way that can eliminate conflict is brilliant and I think there’s a lot to be learned from this book. So much so, in fact, that while it’s not a five-star book, it’s still one that I feel that I need to own a copy of rather than merely read through it once from the library.

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron
[Finished 21 July 2023] Another case of my experiences and the authors being mismatched. Styron’s depression is so far removed from my own that it seems unrecognizable.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
[Finished 10 July 2023] Not sure what to say about this. It didn’t do a whole lot for me, but I think that some of it is that my grief is so different from Didion’s rather than her writing.

The Better Brain by Julia Bucklidge, PhD. Bonnie Kaplan, PhD.
[Finished 4 July 2023] I heard an interview with Kaplan on a podcast which intrigued me enough to take a look at this book. I’m not entirely sold on the central thesis, but I am willing to make some efforts to boost micronutrients in my diet to see what it can do for me.

Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima by Robert Jay Lifton
[Finished 22 November 2022] Some interesting insights into the psychology of survivors of Hiroshima.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
[Finished 20 September 2022] Sort of two books in one: the first half is a Holocaust memoir, but one which is colored by Frankl’s psychiatrist’s perspective where he viewed everything through a mental health lens, one which gave interesting insights into his observations. The second half is an account of Frankl’s theory of psychotherapy which he calls logotherapy which is based around the idea that finding meaning in life is the essential task of human life.

Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation by Ayelet Fishbach
[Finished 24 July 2022] I heard Fishbach interviewed on a podcast and found what she had to say intriguing so I decided to check out her book. Not a whole lot of new information here, but it was nice to see a lot of the scientific research laid out in this fashion. There could have been a bit more done in connecting the dots between the research and the practical applications thereof, but I suspect that this didn’t happen at least in part because Fishbach, as a responsible scientist, is unwilling to make connections she can’t fully support through research,

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke
[Finished 30 October 2021] An amazing book. Radtke’s illustrations do a lot to enhance her text (modulo a few pages where they’re a bit weak). The subject of loneliness is one that is barely discussed and there’s a lot of depth that I was unaware of.

Married to Distraction: Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption by Edward M. Hallowell, Sue George Hallowell and Melissa Orlov
[Finished 24 September 2021] Hallowell is best known for writing about ADD issues, and there’s a chapter in this book about ADD, but here, writing with his wife and contributor Orlov, he broadens his focus to relationships in a culture which creates a sort of cultural ADD. There are some rough patches in the book—particularly through a mix of first-person voices in the book where it’s not always clear who “I” is at any point, but overall, a pretty good book.

Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey
[Finished 5 September 2021] There were so many points in the course of reading this book, I found myself thinking that Hallowell managed to somehow know exactly who I am and what I’m like. I’d’ve liked more concrete coping tips, but it was still an illuminating read.

Parenting Forward: How to Raise Children with Justice, Mercy, and Kindness by Cindy Wang Brandt
[Finished 5 August 2021] I’m not really in Brandt’s target market of ex-vangelicals, most likely because my own religious journey is quite different from hers, spending my life as a questing agnostic before eventually becoming a Dorothy Day Catholic. But there was still plenty of good ideas here about how to raise children in an open-minded way.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by don Miguel Ruiz
[Finished 18 July 2021] Well, first off, I’m not really buying the whole “ancient Toltec wisdom” thing. But even so, I think that Ruiz has some good ideas for how to approach life and there is a lot to commend this thin little book.

The Last Asylum: A Memoir Of Madness In Our Times by Barbara Taylor
[Finished 19 March 2021] I got this as one of the free e-books from University of Chicago Press and finally got around to reading it. Overall, it was not terribly satisfying. The writing was dry and I found little to keep my interest in Taylor’s account of her time in an asylum.

Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality by James M. Nelson
[Finished 4 November 2020] Largely a survey of existing research more than anything else. It does reveal a lot of the narrowness of the field: The vast majority of study has been focused on Christianity, which given the locus of much psychological research shouldn’t be surprising, but is still something to recognize. Overall, I found The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach to be a more satisfying read.

How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2–7 by Joanna Faber and Julie King
[Finished 6 June 2020] Declaring a behind on this journal amnesty.

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman
[Finished 6 April 2020] Declaring a behind on this journal amnesty.

Treating Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety: A Guide for Caregivers by Eli R. Lebowitz and Haim Omer
[Finished 17 December 2019] Declaring a behind on my book log amnesty on writing reviews.

Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done by Josh Davis
[Finished 17 September 2019] See my review at

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
[Finished 16 July 2019] Declaring an “I’m way behind” amnesty.

The Selective Mutism Resource Manual: 2nd Edition by Maggie Johnson and Alison Wintgens
[Finished 19 February 2019] This book is geared primarily to the practitioner who has little or no experience with Selective Mutism. As a parent, it had minimal relevance, but I can see this being a vital reference to speech pathologists, child psychologists, etc. who are treating children with selective mutism.

Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children by Thomas Gordon
[Finished 11 February 2019] A lot of this is familiar to me from having read humanist psychology and some of the books that have built upon this, but it’s always good to get to the source. The principles in the book are simple, but not always easy to apply. It’s worth the work, though, to do so.

Helping Your Child with Selective Mutism: Practical Steps to Overcome a Fear of Speaking by Angela E McHolm, Charles E. Cunningham and Melanie K Vanier
[Finished 5 February 2019] A pretty good overview of SM and its treatment. It seems geared towards parents without professional help and shows its age in the introductory chapters where a lot of the answers to the basic questions (what causes SM? what’s the best treatment?) come down to “more research is needed.”

Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey through Sex and Porn Addiction by Erica Garza
[Finished 28 September 2018] I heard Garza interviewed on “Writers on Writing” and thought her story sounded interesting (and potentially useful for background information for a story I’ve contemplated writing). Her accounts of her youth were compelling reading, but there began to be a certain sameness to things as she moved into adulthood, which, I suppose, artistically, works in service to the story as it fits the sameness to the sexual experiences she had even as she sought out more and different kinds of experiences.

Suicide and Attempted Suicide by Erwin Stengel
[Finished 2 May 2017] Aside from being several decades out of date and occasionally racist (it attributes violence in suicides to an inherent attribute among black people), this is still an interesting read, if only for its snapshot of perspectives on suicide in the mid-1960s.

My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote your Child’s Language Development by Kimberly Scanlon
[Finished 19 May 2016] Some useful information, although the bulk of the book, the games and activities, could be condensed to about two pages of general principles. I suppose some people might find them helpful though.

The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World by Jessica Alexander
[Finished 10 May 2016] I’ve reached the point where I’m realizing that pretty much every parenting book is saying more or less the same thing. I guess that means either that I’m choosing (or more accurately, my wife is choosing) titles wisely, or I’ve fallen into a self-reinforcing silo of epistemic closure. Fortunately, even if the latter is true, it all seems to be working quite well with my kids.

The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander by Barbara Coloroso
[Finished 4 April 2016] See my review at

Siblings without Rivalry: How to Help your Children Live together so You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
[Finished 30 December 2015] Having two kids, there’s the whole issue of how to deal with the potential of sibling rivalry and conflict. There are portions of the book that are not relevant to me since we have twins so there was never a time that there was an only child with a second on the way, but other aspects do seem helpful. What’s interesting is how much overlap there is between this and the RIE stuff I’ve read along with the discipline book reviewed earlier.

Girl Land by Caitlin Flanagan
[Finished 18 November 2015] See my review at

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
[Finished 18 November 2015] There’s not a whole lot to the discipline strategy in this book, which is not to say that it’s ineffective, just that the principles are simple and straightforward. The use of specific instances to consider how best to react to a child’s misbehavior was an effective way of delving into exactly how the principles that Siegel and Bryson lay out. It seems that this is a book useful for more than just dealing with child discipline but for keeping any interpersonal conflict from going awry.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury
[Finished 1 November 2015] The bulk, if not the entirety of this book, is available on Lansbury’s website, so this is one of those books that exist primarily to provide a more convenient way to read the site’s contents.

This book provide a pretty good overview of RIE parenting, a philosophy that tends to be child-centered, allowing children to do things when they’re ready for them while providing them with the rules, boundaries and limitations necessary for a sense of security in their lives. Definitely recommended.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean my Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotl by Gretchen Rubin
[Finished 21 August 2015] I’m declaring a behind on my reviews amnesty for a while.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
[Finished 12 June 2015] A wonderfully detailed historical piece played out by Hungarian Jewish protagonists against the times just before and after the second world war (apparently at least partially inspired by Orringer’s own family history). I realized while I was reading this that I knew little of Hungary’s involvement in World War II so I read the wikipedia article and when I read about how roughly 70% of the Jewish population of Hungary was killed during the war, I was left with a feeling of deep dread as the war began and continued.

Unfortunately, the book fails somewhat in its final chapters, perhaps because Orringer was conscious of the already sizable length of what she had written and she engaged in a great deal of compression to the story as it reached its conclusion, to the detriment of the narrative. It seems strange to say about a book so long, but it could have stood to have been a fair bit longer.

The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan
[Finished 4 May 2015] See my review at

Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman
[Finished 3 February 2015] Herman, in this book, is doing a lot of the work to establish PTSD as a genuine disorder, tracing its origins from the “hysteria” of Freud and his contemporaries to contemporary survivors of trauma whether in war or through abuse. Her orientation is very much psychodynamic and feminist and this seems at times to adversely affect her focus and perspective, but even with those limitations, this is a brilliant and well-written book on the subject.

5 Survivors: Personal Stories of Healing from PTSD and Traumatic Events by Tracy Stecker, Ph.D.
[Finished 19 January 2015] This was not the book I was hoping for. What I was interested in reading were first-person accounts that described what it was like to live with PTSD. Instead we had five peoples’ autobiographies, focusing on what led up to their traumatic event and then a shorter passage about their healing process, but little about the actual experience of having PTSD.

Cognitive Therapy of Depression by Aaron T. Beck, A. John Rush, Brian F Shaw and Gary Emery
[Finished 25 November 2014] A re-read, it feels rather short on specifics and is substantially geared towards practitioners, but insufficiently so to be a practical handbook. I looked at my original review from 1999 and found that my opinion then was pretty much the same.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth
[Finished 13 August 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

Weekends at Bellevue by Julie Holland
[Finished 6 August 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
[Finished 16 July 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff with Sharon Mazel
[Finished 19 March 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

Wood Nymph Seeks Centaur by Francesca Lia Block
[Finished 7 March 2014] No review: I’m declaring behind-on-this-list amnesty.

The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn
[Finished 6 February 2014] While there’s some good ideas here, I felt like a lot of this was marred by a rather western sensibility of goal-orientedness. The presentation of ideas through “case studies” in particular struck me as rather irritating.

Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest
[Finished 9 January 2014] There’s a fair amount here which seems to be common sense and a disturbing assumption that parent is the same as mother. But even with that, this is a useful resource it seems.

The Best American Essays 2012 edited by David Brooks
[Finished 3 August 2013] I’m not really a non-fiction person. It’s always surprised me how little the fiction section comprises of most bookstores. So this is the first time I’ve given the Best American Essays series a go. I have to admit it hasn’t really changed my mind. The pieces that I enjoyed the most were those that formally could have been short stories rather than essays, such as David J. Lawless’s “My Father/My Husband” about his wife’s Alzheimer’s-related dementia, while those that veered into polemic, like Marcia Angell’s “The Crazy State of Psychiatry,” were difficult to get through (I almost wonder, given the tone of Angell’s piece whether she might be connected to the Scientologists).

The Mosher Survey: Sexual Attitudes of Forty-Five Victorian Women by Clelia Duel Mosher
[Finished 17 August 2012] I first heard about this book courtesy of an article from Stanford Magazine which got some play on the internet. An ILL request later and I was reading the book myself. This is pure primary source material, other than a pair of short introductions, this is nothing more than raw typescripts of the handwritten survey forms. Despite the relatively narrow demographics of the survey (these seem to be mostly faculty wives in the survey), there is a surprising variety of attitudes to sex and some wonderfully expressed views about marital relations. I guess the thing to do know is to look to see if this appears in the social sciences citation index and read those papers.

Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang
[Finished 19 September 2011] I think i heard about this book from Science Friday. At the very least, I remember hearing about many of the topics covered in the book on that program. The book is written in a casual breezy style, frequently choosing anecdote as a way of introducing a subject. There was little in here that I didn’t already know, but I’ve managed to read a bit more than the typical layman on questions of neuroscience and psychology, but for the neophyte in this arena, I can see this being a valuable introduction, especially since there’s a good selection of references for deeper reading referenced to each chapter.

On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
[Finished 1 July 2011] A collection of essays rather than a comprehensive work in itself, so at times it gets repetitive, but an interesting look at the point in which psychology/psychiatry finally began to break from its Freudian pseudo-scientific roots.

Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences by Abraham H. Maslow
[Finished 26 May 2011] Not really what I had hoped it would be. Rather than a scientific and clinical appraisal of peak experiences, the book is largely anecdotal with a stated goal of creating a new religion with psychiatrists as its high priests and Freud as its prophet.

Meanings of Life by Roy F. Baumeister
[Finished 30 September 2010] A re-read. When I first read this book, I managed to find it in the interregnum between the end of the hardcover’s print run and the release of the paperback. Coming back to it a decade later, I found it interesting for perhaps different reasons than the first time around. I was particularly struck by the fact that much of what makes life—or at least work—meaningful is precisely what contemporary society is trying to pull out of the last corners of work where meaning could have been found.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
[Finished 7 March 2008] I first learned about GTD from Merlin Mann, and frankly, there’s enough from that site that the book isn’t strictly necessary, but I still found the book really wonderful and helpful. I’ve just begun really employing a GTD workflow in my work day, focusing on capture and categorization at this point, but it does make my life much easier, especially as my responsibilities at work have increased and I find that there’s much to take care of. I’m using Omnifocus as a primary organizer at the moment, although I’m finding that in some ways, the software acts as an obstacle to the workflow as much as an assistant. But regardless of my own experiences, I can see that there’s a lot to be learned here and I can see how it will make me more productive and less stressed.

Five Cries of Youth by Merton P. Strommen
[Finished 8 February 2008] An interesting book. It’s a bit dated in that much of the book is based on surveys done between the late 60s through early 80s (what’s more, it feels as if most of the book was written in the early seventies then lightly edited to reflect societal changes in the early 80s).

While the work is based on good hard data, there does seem to be a bit of an a prioristic slant to the interpretation, where the five cries were pre-determined, rather than emerged from data clusters. But even with that, it does provide an interesting framework for working with youth, and a pointer, if not a model, for how to do research in psychology of religion

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
[Finished 25 October 2007] An interesting book, although not quite the book promised by the title. Gilbert’s interests are primarily in cognitive psychology, particularly in the study of perception, so while we would think that this would be a book about what makes people happy, it turns out to instead be a book about how people perceive and anticipate the world and only tangentially about how this impacts happiness.

But getting beyond that, Gilbert has written a good overview of much of current research into cognitive psychology in a humorous and engaging style which I find the sort of thing which could be helpful for teachers to read to get an idea of how to make dry material engaging.

101 Common Therapeutic Blunders by Richard C. Robertiello and Gerald Schoenewolf
[Finished 12 September 2007] I hadn’t looked too closely at this book when I picked it up at a used book store in Chicago some years back while I was studying psychology. Had I done so, I would have doubtless put it back on the shelf. This is a monstrous collection of Freudian mythology in fable form: Therapist A made mistake B with patient C because of some unresolved issue with his/her mother/father. At times, the Freudian jargon verges on the absurd. Castrating mothers, indeed! I had thought, perhaps, that reading this I might at least come up with some story ideas for fiction. Not hardly. I am happy to note that while the book was released in a paperback version, it has since gone out of print. Nevertheless, I am astonished that something like this could have been published as late as 1992. Somebody needs to make it abundantly clear to the psychodynamic people that they’re not practicing psychology, they’re practicing witchcraft. The few valid observations of Freud were much more efficiently and effectively explained by B. F. Skinner.

Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama by Daniel Goleman
[Finished 20 June 2006] Whatever preconceptions I had when I picked up this book and what form it would take were nowhere near what the reality was.

The book is largely a narrative of discussions between scientists and the Dalai Lama about scientific and Buddhist perspectives on destructive emotions. This part of a continuing series of meetings/books. The discussions themselves were often a bit shallow, but hinted at some tantalizing deeper ideas and discoveries.

If that was all there was to the book, it would be a disappointment indeed, but the final section, offered just what I hoped it would: Some pointers to the research that had come out of the meeting and even better, there’s a website which presumably includes some live updates on the material.

It almost makes me wish I were a psychology or neuroscience graduate student (or better still, PhD).

The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
[Finished 17 April 2005] Reading this book, one name kept leaping to my mind: Erik Von Daniken.Von Daniken had posited that various ancient monuments (and passages from the bible) could be explained by the presence and intervention of space aliens.

Jaynes makes his case a bit more down to earth (so to speak), but engages in many of the same sorts of logical errors: His evidence frequently seems rather a prioristic to me. Looking at what he finds in literature, it seems that the difficulty in explaining the lack of internal monologue in the earliest available writing could just as easily be explained by the development of langugage: It took a millenium or so to be able to speak linguistically about interior life.

Perhaps most disturbing to me is that Jaynes’s thesis seems to rest on some sort of Lamarckan evolution of the brain. Although he doesn’t go so far to claim this explicitly, he leaves the reader little other choice to explain the kinds of development in the brain necessary to justify his theory.

Another thing to consider is that some of Jaynes’s theses could be more easily tested now than when he wrote the book. At that point, he makes a passing reference to EEG scans of hallucinating schizophrenics. More modern technology, such as PET scans could offer a bit more indication as to whether the hemispheric thesis that he puts forth is valid.

In all, Jaynes’s book makes for good mythology, but as science, it seems a bit lacking for me. More the pity because the opening chapters on consciousness and the closing chapter on science have something real to offer. Even the mythology does a good job of bringing to the fore interesting questions. It’s just that there are simpler answers than the one that Jaynes puts forth.

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher
[Finished 6 January 2003] A rather frightening account of how social pressures constraing the potential roles of girls in our American society. After reading this, I’m terrified at the prospect of raising a daughter.

Theories of Adolescence by Rolf E. Muuss
[Finished 6 January 2003] A survey of theories of adolescent development, beginning with the ancient Greeks and working through contemporary developmental psychologists. Some of the historical material could be profitably omitted or skipped, but it’s a nice overview of the field.

Adolescents Worlds: Negotiating Family, Peers, and School by Patricia Phelan, Anne Locke Davidson and Hanh Cau Yu
[Finished 4 November 2002] A selection of case studies of high school students along with some commentary on their relationships to family, peers and school from a educational psychologist’s perspective.

Alone in the Universe by Walker Percy
[Finished 7 July 2002] Sort of a parody of 70s self-help books, but with a serious agenda as well.

Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty by Roy F. Baumeister
[Finished 12 May 2001] Baumeister is fast becoming one of my favorite non-fiction writers. His journal articles are especially fascinating. In this book, Baumeister turns to the question of evil. He makes a conscious point of avoiding literary depictions of evil and instead tries to apply social scientific tools to the question. What he found is that people tend to prefer not being evil in general and attempts to identify some of the root causes (one that stands out is that “evil” behavior is not generally rooted in a lack of self-esteem, but in fact the opposite: It’s generally a consequence of a surfeit of esteem.

I attempted once to replicate one of his studies in which he found that submissives outnumbered dominators in the alternative newspaper classifieds. In the issue of the Reader that I looked at, the opposite was quite the case.

Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B. F. Skinner
[Finished 9 February 2001] Skinner’s controversial work in which he argues for using behavioralist techniques to shape society. But ultimately, it’s much less controversial than the title would imply. Perhaps it’s just that I’m sympathetic to the behavioralist viewpoint (although not necessarily to the extremes that Skinner sometimes espoused, although I’m not sure that Skinner himself believed in those extremes--rather he was just being provocative to get his ideas debated), but much of Skinner’s arguments seemed eminently sensible.

Amazing Conversions: Why Some Turn to Faith & Others Abandon Religion by Bob Altemeyer and Bruce Hunsberger
[Finished 28 January 2001] I’m always happy to read books which try to scientifically study religious phenomenon. In this particular case, Altemeyer and Hunsberger attempt to address the question of what the factors are which lead some young adults to turn to religion while their peers abandon their childhood faiths. It’s a difficult question to address because it’s looking at the outliers on the question of religious belief (the vast majority of young adults don’t go through any change in religious belief either towards or away). Definitely worth a read for those interested in the topic.

What You Can Change... And What You Can't by Martin E.P. Seligman
[Finished September 2000] Seligman is, I think, one of the greatest psychologists of the late twentieth century, and this book, one of his works for the general populace, is a good overview of what psychological research can tell us about the things that matter most to us: Everyday problems like phobias, weight loss, addiction, depression, anxiety, etc. If only more people would read Seligman and fewer would read John Grey’s claptrap

The Feeling of What Happens by Antonio Damasio
[Finished June 2000] An interesting attempt to look scientifically at what consciousness means.

The Undiscovered Mind: How the Human Brain Defies Replication, Medication and Explanation by John Horgan
[Finished 4 February 2000] When I first flipped through this after I got it for Christmas, I formed a (mistaken) impression that Horgan was Freudian. However, upon reading the book, the truth is that Horgan is an extreme positivist, who despairs that any psychological theory will be productive for anything.

Kinds of Minds by Daniel Dennet
[Finished 30 January 2000] An intriguing inquiry into how consciousness works, by a philosopher with a scientific bent.

Shyness: What It Is, What to Do About It by Philip G. Zimbardo
[Finished 11 June 1999] A nice examination of research and its applications to social phobias.

Fundamentals of Cognitive Psychology by R. Reed Hunt and Henry C. Ellis
[Finished 20 April 1999] Cognitive psychology is usually a dry subject but it doesn’t have to be that way. Unfortunately, Reed and Ellis don’t seem to know that.

Cognitive Therapy of Depression by Aaron T. Beck, Gary Emery and Brian F. Shaw
[Finished 8 April 1999] Generally interesting, but incomplete. For example, the Beck inventory and a few other diagnostic tools are included, but no instructions on how to score them is given.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C. G. Jung
[Finished 24 January 1999] Let me be on record as saying that Jung was very weird. Very, very weird.

Male Homosexual Behavior and the Effects of AIDS Education: A Study of Behavior and Safer Sex in New Zealand and S Austr by B. R. Simon Rosser
[Finished 19 January 1999] Rosser does a good job presenting the results of a series of related studies and discussing the implications of their findings, especially in their broader context.

Heterosexism: An Ethical Challenge by Patricia Beattie Jung and Ralph F. Smith
[Finished 15 January 1999] While some of their arguments fail to persuade me, valuable if only for its taxonomy of religious views of homosexuality.

Gay and Lesbian Mental Health: A Sourcebook for Practitioners edited by Christopher J. Alexander
[Finished 12 January 1999] The chapter on eating disorders was especially fascinating, and while some portions were a bit more psychodynamic than is in accord with my tastes, still a good read.

Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow
[Finished 11 January 1999] The summaries of Maslow’s theory that I’ve read elsewhere haven’t really done justice to what Maslow himself has to say. has a comment from Maslow written January 1999, while Maslow was mouldering in his grave. Interesting.

Spirituality and Religion in Psychotherapy: Diversity in Theory and Practice by Eugene W. Kelly, Jr.
[Finished 8 January 1999] A practical examination of how and why to bring spiritual issues into counseling practice.

Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm
[Finished 19 December 1998] Provocative and interesting. I think that in some ways Fromm’s ideas are less historically determined than he thinks, with the form of the escape from freedom changing on the basis of the sociocultural moment, but the underlying concept remaining constant.

The MMPI: A Practical Guide by John Graham
[Finished 23 November 1998] A decent enough guide except that (a) it’s now the MMPI-2 and (b) it’s overly invested in psychodynamic theories.

Body, Sex and Pleasure by Christine Gudorf
[Finished 29 October 1998] When I first started reading this book, I though Gudorf was way off base on a number of her conclusions. I still think that she is, but she does a much better job of explaining why she’s reached her conclusions than other theologians have and is much less likely to argue by handwaving.

Personality Theories: Development Growth and Diversity by Bem P. Allen
[Finished 27 October 1998] This book is a bit confused as to whether it wants to be a personality theories book, be a history and systems text or be a counseling and psychotherapy text. More than any psychology text that I’ve encountered, this is one that I would write radically differently if it were up to me.

Meanings of Life by Roy F. Baumeister
[Finished 17 September 1998] A systematic exploration of where people derive the meanings in their life from a primarily social psychological standpoint. Baumeister tends to be rather dismissive of religion in general and Christianity in particular and occasionally dramatically demonstrates his lack of knowledge in the subject area (“Damn it Jim, I’m a psychologist, not a theologian!”), but still manages to provide a well-written, thoughtful exploration. His defining meaningfulness in terms of its objects rather than its loci is especially interesting to me.

Helplessness: On Development, Depression & Death by Martin E. P. Seligman
[Finished 2 August 1998] A fascinating explication of theory. I wish that Seligman had been a bit more thorough in some of his empirical descriptions, but he does make his case quite well. I would assume that this book has been a wellspring for further research.

The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach by Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Bernard Spilka, Bruce Hunsberger and Richard Gorsuch
[Finished 24 July 1998] Absolutely fascinating. This book has already sparked some other reading. Which brings up my lone complaint: It’s hard to use this as a starting point for further reading because of the use of footnotes to get to APA-style citations which must then be located in the bibliography. In-text citations and perhaps a further reading section at the end of each chapter--or at least a chapter bibliography--would have been welcome.

Research Methods in Psychology by John J. Shaugnessy and Eugene B. Zechmeister
[Finished 24 July 1998] A bit dry and the information on statistical analysis comes across as a bit opaque, but I suppose it’s about as good as it gets on the subject.

In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development by Carol Gilligan
[Finished 6 July 1998] Interesting theories, but I wonder where the empirical basis is?

The Principles of Learning and Behavior by Michael Domjan
[Finished 16 June 1998] Dry and some of the examples are a bit off (for example, examples of inhibitory classical conditioning seem more like instrumental conditioning to me).

Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabel Briggs Myers with Peter B. Myers
[Finished 6 June 1998] A surprisingly scientific book, given how much “this sounds good” type writing there is surrounding the MBTI. It’s perhaps a bit too psychodynamically oriented in places, but much of it is based on sound statistical analysis showing that the MBTI does have some pretty good statistical validity.

Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy by Gerald Corey
[Finished 2 April 1998] A bit dated--the book was written in the late 70s, but still rather interesting. I would have liked to have seen some more concrete examples of the different styles of therapy though. [Note: The link appears to be to a more recent edition.]

Abnormal Psychology by David Holmes
[Finished 11 March 1998] A truly outstanding textbook. The use of illustrative case studies is great and the organization is pretty good although I wish that different understandings of abnormal behaviors weren’t presented as orthogonal choices.

Talking Back to Prozac: What Doctors Aren't Telling You About Today's Most Controversial Drug by Peter Breggin
[Finished 21 February 1998] There may be some good arguments against the safety of Prozac, but Breggin does a poor job of presenting them. He demonstrates a poor understanding of statistics and a strong prejudice against psychiatric medication. One telling moment in the book happened when Breggin talked about how it was widely agreed that X was true (I forget what X was) and then cited himself as the authority for that statement. Sorry, it don’t work that way.

And Breggin’s title and his continued use of the phrase “talking back to Prozac” betrays either that he didn’t read Kramer’s book or if he did, he didn’t comprehend it.

From Image to Likeness: A Jungian Path in the Gospel Journey by W. Harold Grant, Magdala Thompson and Thomas E. Clarke
[Finished 20 November 1997] Perhaps it’s a lack of background, but I found myself frequently thinking as I read this book that I didn’ buy some of their basic premises. The developmental stuff, especially didn’t ring true to me although it is an interesting idea.

Listening to Prozac: A Psychiatrist Explores Antidepressant Drugs and the Remaking of the Self by Peter D. Kramer
[Finished 3 November 1997] Kramer, a psychiatrist, is generally positive about the benefits of Prozac, a stand which I find myself shrinking from more from instinct rather than any definable rationale. There’s a wealth of psychological information included in this book which makes it quite interesting. Kramer’s kindling model of depression, for example is rather intriguing and leaves us wondering whether it might also be the basis for a psychotherapy-based treatment for depression. The possibility that it might is really only addressed in a footnote which mentions that cognitive behavioral therapy has caused similar changes in brain chemistry to those caused by Prozac. Presumably, these would be more permanent than the Prozac effect which disappears almost immediately when the pharmacological treatment is ended.

There’s a lot to this book and much more than I can (or am disposed to) write about in this small space.

Personality Type and Religious Leadership by Roy M. Oswald and Otto Kroeger
[Finished 2 November 1997] Despite being rather painfully dependent on the work of others, this is a relatively useful book insofar as it presents a new presentation of the ideas underlying the MBTI as regards religious issues. The book is a bit too focused on clergy and too little on lay leadership and seems to often fall trap to a conception that all religious leadership is in the hands of protestant parish clergy (even though the authors clearly recognize that this is not the case in reality).

Introduction to Psychology: Exploration and Application by Dennis Coon
[Finished 29 October 1997] A popular psychology text book, its size perhaps makes it a bit daunting but it is reasonably comprehensive (and includes surprisingly contemporary examples throughout). Some of the author’s attempts at humor fall flat but Coon does a good job of keeping the text readable throughout. One assumes that it’s filthy lucre behind the decision to include such poor study aids in the text itself (they’re instead provided in a study guide which of course costs extra).

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
[Finished 7 October 1997] An interesting book, marred by the surprisingly strong prejudices of turn-of-the-century liberal protestantism. I can see why it’s not universally assigned reading in psychology of religion courses.

Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates
[Finished 7 August 1997] Much of the contents of this book have been condensed, paraphrased and plagiarized by the Myers-Briggs groupies on the internet, so I was left with a strong sense of Deja Vu as I read this. On the plus side, it’s nice to get a lot of this without the mediation of Joe Butt and there are some bits that are not on the internet. I’m certainly interested in learning more about personality theory.

Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide by Gary R. Collins
[Finished 22 October 1996] Generally a very good book. The theological orientation is a bit “low church” (a perception doubtless colored by my own Catholicism) and the chapter on homosexuality is of dubious validity in its claims of the origins of homosexuality (its perspectives are determined more by wishful thinking than by clinical research). Still, it’s an interesting overview of issues in pastoral counseling. Not for those without at least some training in counseling issues, but for those who feel that counseling has an imperative to have a spiritual basis, this is a good resource.

Counseling in Catholic life and Education by Charles Curran
[Finished 20 March 1996] Curran is both a psychologist and a theologian. This work focuses primarily on the counseling side of life and less on the theological, although the implicit connections are really quite profound. The premise of Curran’s counseling is quite the opposite of the stereotype of the counseling process as portrayed, say, on Frasier. Rather than being an interventional presence in the life of the person being counseled, the counselor’s role is to be an objective mirror to help the person see what they should do more clearly on their own.

The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management: Proven Strategies for Increased Productivity and Inner Peace by Hyrum W. Smith
[Finished July 1995] I’m generally skeptical of books with titles like this and I certainly wouldn’t have bought this. Instead, I was given a Franklin organizer recently and this book came with it. It’s a quick read, and the ideas seem sound. I’m working on putting them in practice and I’ll see what comes of it.