Books Reviews

Emphasising strength; critical psychiatry - the limits of madness; lifespan cognition; and more
Counselling Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Clare Draucker & Donna Martsolf London: Sage; 2006 Pb £18.99 (ISBN 1 4129 2239 9) Reviewed by Rebecca Williams Outcome research; the differences and similarities between male and female survivors of sexual abuse; recovered memories; cultural perspectives; practical, illustrated ‘how to’ advice; all are clearly explained within the third edition of this text.

Counselling Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Clare Draucker & Donna Martsolf
London: Sage; 2006
Pb £18.99 (ISBN 1 4129 2239 9)
Reviewed by Rebecca Williams

Outcome research; the differences and similarities between male and female survivors of sexual abuse; recovered memories; cultural perspectives; practical, illustrated ‘how to’ advice; all are clearly explained within the third edition of this text.I was particularly impressed with the emphasis from the outset on recognising the potential differences in outcomes for men and women, given the differences in role socialisation and coping styles, and how this might influence the techniques and directions of therapy. The importance of considering differing perspectives rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach is re-emphasised at the end of the book through reference to multicultural counselling.
Refreshingly, the main text synthesises research into a practical accessible format. Techniques such as preparing for exploration of abuse, managing symptomatology, retrieving repressed memories, restructuring, challenging and confronting, are all clearly explained and often illustrated with session transcript examples. The authors also explore what attitudes or styles the counsellor brings which may influence the therapeutic relationship.
In summary, this is a thorough manual that deserves to be called a handbook; it is well referenced, well thought out, and well illustrated with case examples, and will go a long way towards increasing readers confidence in counselling survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Dr Rebecca Williams works for the Arfon Learning Disabilities Team, North Wales.

 

Emphasising strength

Risk and Resilience: Adaptations in Changing Times
Ingrid Schoon
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2006
Pb £49.00 (ISBN 0 521 54156 5)
Reviewed by John Toland

Resilience is the phenomenon whereby individuals show positive adaptation despite significant life adversities. As an educational psychologist I am very interested in this concept with its emphasis on strengths, and how it can be applied with clients. The fundamental question is: What are the best ways of taking the findings gained from studying naturally occurring resilience and applying these to change the course of development in children who have little chance of resilience without intervention?Much previous work on resilience has been American; it was therefore with great interest that I read this important book based on work done in Britain. It is large-scale, and its conclusions are authoritative and robust. It draws on data collected from the 1958 National Child Development Study which together comprise a sample of 30,000 individuals. The size of the sample and the time periods involved mean that very significant conclusions can be drawn about the nature of resilience. These are then used to inform and guide the development of effective interventions for different at-risk populations of young people. I will find this extremely useful in my own ongoing work to try to promote resilience in looked after and accommodated young people.
This book goes a long way towards answering the fundamental question posed above and I think it is required reading for all psychologists working with children.

John Toland is a Chartered Educational Psychologist with South Lanarkshire Psychological Services.

 

More than medication

Critical Psychiatry:
The Limits of Madness
Duncan Double
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; 2006;
Hb £50.00 (ISBN 10 2300012 89
Reviewed by Amy McKee

If you wish to read a book that gives a comprehensive history of the growth of the critical psychiatry movement combined with present day critiques of the mental health system, then this is an excellent text. Some of the most prominent and influential authors in the field have contributed chapters for example, Lucy Johnstone and Terry Lynch, so there is plenty of thought-provoking, easily accessible reading exploring the ways in which mental illness is constructed in society through the process of diagnosis. As a whole the book seeks to encourage the reader to think about people’s distress within the psycho-social context of an individual’s experience. It comprehensively challenges the view of mental illness as something solely connected with brain pathology, that can be treated with medication. It promotes a collaborative approach to mental health problems, with practitioners working in alliance with those who present with distress.
This is an essential text for all who practice within mental health settings and an interesting read for all who have questioned why medication has historically been seen as a solution to individual distress.

Amy McKee is a trainee clinical psychologist on the Staffordshire & Shropshire course.

 

It ain’t what you do, it’s what you think about doing

Motor Cognition: What Actions Tell the Self
Marc Jeannerod
Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2006; Pb £29.95
(ISBN 0 19 856965 3)
Reviewed by Paul Jenkinson

Does the thought of cycling to work, running in the gym, or doing the vacuuming make you want to lie down and rest? If so, you’ll be as pleased as I was to discover that the explanation might lie (at least in part) in the way actions are handled in the brain. In Motor Cognition: What Actions Tell the Self, Marc Jeannerod explains that imagining an action activates many of the same areas of the brain as performing it – so much so that mentally simulating exercise can lead to an increase in heart rate!The book examines, amongst other things, how our brains represent actions; to what extent we’re aware of our actions and intentions; and how we distinguish self-produced actions from those of others. We also learn how the actions of others are perceived and understood, including to what extent we can mentally simulate observed actions in order to understand intentions. Jeannerod presents a comprehensive, critical evaluation of past and present research, with each chapter building to form a narrative of the cognitive functions activating the motor system, and a final chapter attempting to unify the various aspects of motor cognition.
Approaching the book as a neuropsychology research student, I was delighted to find theoretical and experimental work complemented by examples of clinical studies with patients exhibiting motor pathology. The author’s consideration of how empirical findings may be applied to understanding and rehabilitating various patient groups is another admirable aspect of the book. A radical example raises the possibility of advancing brain–machine interactions, such that the neural activity of imagining a movement is coupled with a prosthetic device to produce movement in paralysed individuals.
I suspect readers with less specialist knowledge of biological psychology may struggle with some of the more neuro-intense sections of the book – I found myself reading some of the more technical sections more than once. I wouldn’t recommend this book to undergraduate students; but this accumulation of findings and ideas by a foremost researcher in the field would undoubtedly be of benefit to postgraduates and academics of the subject.

Paul Jenkinson is a final-year PhD student in the School of Psychology, Keele University.

 

Across the spectrum of cognition

Lifespan Cognition – Mechanisms of Change
Ellen Bialystok & Fergus Craik (Eds.)
New York: Oxford University Press; 2006
Hb £49.00 (ISBN 0 19 516953 0)
Reviewed by Cheryl Amanda Crockett Graham

As a recent graduate, I admit that it is tempting to avoid reading any wider than necessary to pass exams. However, the outcome then is ignorance of research that could gain extra marks. It is the time involved in researching wider reading that puts most of us off.This book provides a quick-fix solution, at least in the case of lifespan cognition, drawing together three research areas within its covers. Rather than the expected cradle-to-the-grave approach, it collates articles from some of the most prolific psychologists in the field and presents their findings like a research paper in a structured yet easily understood format. I was initially bemused by the thought of two editors from opposite ends of the spectrum joining forces, but, they say don’t judge a book by its cover… so I didn’t. I realised quickly how well they have pooled their extensive expertise in cognitive development and cognitive ageing. They convincingly portray the need for tolerance of all disciplines in order to gain the truest insights into all aspects of lifespan cognition, highlighting how researchers can work across age groups.
The material is relatively evenly distributed across three populations (childhood, adulthood and ageing) detailing both widely reported concepts, (e.g. memory and attention) and delving into more complex neural bases of cognition. Chapter by chapter, individual differences are discussed, but more interestingly the commonalities across research in the three populations are addressed with consideration given to whether the same models of cognition apply to each (e.g. Is cognitive decline in old age inevitable, and is it simply a reverse of the development we see in childhood?).
Each chapter is neatly subheaded and has a clear conclusion. Additionally and most helpfully is the reference section at the end of each chapter: exactly like the original research papers, instead of a seemingly endless reference section at the end of the book.

Cheryl Amanda Crockett Graham is a PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Epilepsy
Gill Parkinson & Mike Johnson
London: Continuum; 2006
Pb £8.99; (ISBN 0 8264 8748 3)
Reviewed by Lorraine King

The simple title Epilepsy led me (perhaps naively) to expect to find a wealth of knowledge on causal factors, diagnosis and treatments. Which I did not. Rather, the book is aimed at parents, teachers and educational psychologists, covering practical advice on the social and educational implications of childhood epilepsy. The format was a little haphazard (with advice for parents and institutions mixed in together, and hard to locate), but helpful sections on legal requirements for schools, seizure types and triggers, and effects upon the family make this a reasonably useful read.

Dr Lorraine King is with Sheffield Care Trust.

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber