Book Reviews

Jung in the city; Freud on coke; positive psychology at work; and more

Jung in the city

Psyche and the City: A Soul’s Guide to the Modern Metropolis

Thomas Singer (Ed.)

Environmental psychology uses the concept of ‘place attachment’ to discuss the feelings that people have for their homes and familiar places; and has borrowed and extended the urban planners’ term ‘image of the city’; the animal behaviourists’ ‘cognitive maps’; and the geographers’ ‘affective maps’ to describe how we think and feel about the city. In interdisciplinary groups we study what makes for ‘liveable cities’ and ‘child-friendly’ cities. What then can analytic psychology bring to the party?

For this intriguing book, Thomas Singer has asked 21 fellow Jungians to consider particular world cities that they know well. What made each city unique, in terms of such hard-to-define qualities as psyche, soul and spirit? What ‘archetypal patterns’ characterise a city? How do the history, geography and what he called the psyches of a city’s past and current inhabitants unite to create each city’s own special identity? His wide guidelines invited each author to blend personal anecdotes with descriptions and in-depth psychological analyses of the city’s collective history, local geography and ethnic and religious composition.

Each chapter reflects its author’s very personal account of their city, from Z through to B: from ‘Searching for soul and Jung in Zurich’ through to ‘Whispers in a bull’s ear: The natural soul of Bangalore’. Eighteen cities are described and analysed vividly and at some length. To sample this range, I first turned to the city I know best from the list: London, and one I know only from world history: Jerusalem.

Christopher Hauke is a Jungian analyst has practised in several characterful quarters of London. He clearly knows the history of the city, and links much of his rather journalistic account to his own moves around the city: but without any striking or overt Jungian themes in the chapter. It is a colourful chapter, with a lot to interest the armchair traveller, but which could have been written by any good popular writer.

Contrast his chapter with that by Eril Shalit on Jerusalem: after a lengthy and balanced account of that city’s turbulent history, we get two pages on ‘Shadow and Self’. Jerusalem apparently reflects ‘prominent aspects of Self and individuation symbolism’. It shows ‘wholeness and the unity of opposites… and the axis between ego and Self’. Evidence for this statement is drawn from a dream about a wounded man and a post office clerk, rather than, as one might have expected, from the preceding historical and religious account of this unique city.

How about an iconic American city? We are told that ‘Like the city itself, the soul of New York is explicit, in your face…’ So far, good, racy journalism. But then it gets mixed with jargon: ‘The soul is the effluence of interest and curiosity… The island of Manhattan is the sigh of a continent… its threshold geography matches its edgy personality and psychology… contemporary Manhattan is a fantasy construct of desire and determination, autonomy and licence.’

Chapters vary in the extent that they have a distinctly analytic flavour; and those that have, fail to convince. ‘The phallic nature of the present Moscow is obvious’ to Elena Pourtova because the city is dominated by street advertising, large cars and grandiose architecture. But why seek a Jungian explanation, when there are good economic and historical accounts available?

For me, talking about the individual’s ‘mystical oneness’ with their city does not advance my understanding of their place attachment: the social scientist in me keeps on asking more analytic (in the other sense) questions. Surely not all inhabitants feel the same strength of attachment, so what factors would predict the differences? Social capital? Strength of cognitive image? Relative values placed on nature versus man-made features?

Weaving together the stories of the city is a complex undertaking, and many of the chapters have made a commendable and readable effort, until they introduce Jungian explanations, which for me are no explanations. A final example: in one of the book’s concluding chapters, the life, work and campaigns of Jane Jacobs are considered by Craig Stephenson. This ‘patron saint’ of cities as he calls her had such empathetic and persuasive accounts of how city districts work (or don’t) that she stopped bulldozing bureaucrats in their tracks. What then does calling Jacobs a modern-day Themis add? Or reinterpreting her clear accounts from a Jungian perspective thus: ‘Living neighbourhoods learned to wrestle consciously with their experience of difference and Otherness and paradoxically at the same time came to value the Eros that unified them with a collective self.’ I rest my case.

- Spring Journal Books; 2010; Pb £27.50

Reviewed by Christopher Spencer who is Emeritus Professor of Environmental Psychology, University of Sheffield

Freud sort of on coke

Freud on Coke

David Cohen

With such a gripping title David Cohen’s book promises to provide insight into the darker side of Freud and his use of cocaine. It delivers, in part. Cohen traces Freud’s cocaine use back to the late 19th century when he used introspective techniques to document its effects in the hope of finding a medical use, and with it fame. Freud’s use of cocaine however may not have had such innocent aims, as his early life was littered with anxieties about his career and lack of success, suggesting his cocaine use stretched beyond introspection. Ever eager to uncover in-depth details about his patients, Freud’s own vulnerabilities and potentially addictive personality were better concealed. Cohen argues that some of the infamous dreams Freud analysed were fuelled by cocaine, calling their significance in psychodynamic theory into question.

As Freud became more famous his documented use of cocaine ceased, as do Cohen’s reflections on its significance in Freud’s life. Cohen’s latter chapters focus much more on the historical development of psychiatric medication, a somewhat unexpected end, given the book’s tantalising title.

- Cutting Edge Press; 2011; Hb £14.99

Reviewed by Léonie McDonald who is a Clinical Psychologist with Suffolk Community Healthcare (NHS Suffolk)

The growing pains of a psychologist

From Tests to Therapy: A Personal History of Clinical Psychology

G. Alan Smith

Since its inception in 1947, the training of clinical psychologists has expanded and undergone a series of changes. The extent of these changes is apparent in From Tests to Therapy, a diary that follows the career of a psychologist, from his training at the Maudsley in 1969, until his retirement in 2000. The contemporary clinician will be struck by certain details of 1970s practice, ranging from droll observations (Smith’s first supervisor has a qualification only in theology) to more harmful ideas and approaches (aversion therapy for homosexuality; drugs used for ‘abreaction’).

Though the book avoids extensive examination of past practices, and the perspectives of patients is rarely touched upon, Smith remains ever sceptical of these approaches and his concern for his patients is ever present. His writing style is informal, and a natural warmth and geniality pervades throughout (the brief entry on his wife’s death is particularly moving). From Tests to Therapy provides an interesting insight into the daily routine of the psychologist, and its accessibility will likely appeal to the non-clinician reader.

- Matador; 2011; Pb £7.99

Reviewed by Jamie Kelly who is a clinical psychologist at St Charles Hospital, London

An accessible walkthrough

Categorical Data Analysis for the Behavioral and Social Sciences

Razia Azen, R. & Cindy M. Walker

There are two perennials in the world of statistics textbooks. Number 1: equations that are nearly, but not quite, within one’s comprehension. Number 2: detailed explanation of very simple models and distributions and a tiny section tucked away at the end with all the models you will actually use in your everyday work.

This book neatly sidesteps both of these issues by being an accessible (with equations!) walkthrough of the world of Bernoulli, Poisson, log-linear, multinomial, logistic, and all things non-interval. The focus is on probability and understanding how these models actually work. Given this, the use of examples with SPSS, while essentially commendable, seems misplaced, and I would have rather seen the more flexible STATA and R used.

I enjoyed reading this book and I will come back to it both as a reference and to digest some of the weightier chapters. It is not a simple how-to guide for those who wish to click through SPSS and not worry about the maths, but what it does do it does very well.

- Routledge; 2011; Hb £39.95

Reviewed by Chris Beeley who is at the Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham

A positive fusion

Positive Psychology at Work

Sarah Lewis

I used to be the Head of Organisation Development in a progressive NHS Trust, where I led a project on measuring and improving employee well-being. It struck me then that the organisation had the opportunity to create a ‘healthy’ work environment where individuals could thrive. Unfortunately, this ambitious proposal did not engage the senior management team at that time!

Sarah Lewis’s new publication aims to shed light on how the fusion of positive psychology and appreciative inquiry can inform the creation of better leadership practices that result in improved satisfaction and higher performance in organisations.

In this work, she makes a good case for the focus on creating and using positivity (positive emotions) as an organisational resource, as well as advocating the benefits of a whole-system approach to working with stakeholders to engage participants to co-create new ways of working together to develop new solutions. The importance of relationships as a social capital is also well represented in the book.

Sarah also illustrates this fusion further by sharing extracts from a range of leaders and practitioners who have successfully applied positive psychology and appreciative inquiry across different workplace cultures and settings.

Overall, I would recommend this book to postgraduate researchers, consultants and senior managers who are serious about wanting to invest the time to learn more about the use of positive psychology and appreciative inquiry to improve organisations.

- Wiley-Blackwell; 2011; Hb £24.99

Reviewed by Norrie W. Silvestro who is an Independent Chartered Psychologist with NWS Assessment & Development

Web-only reviews:

Handbook of Emergent Methods

Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber & Patricia Leavy (Eds.)

With the development of new technologies and new research questions in this ever changing and advancing world, we need to adapt the way in which we approach and carry out research. This may be a case of merging established methods or of designing new ways to advance our knowledge of a new topic.

This handbook provides a unique insight into how it is possible to merge and develop new methods to gain an understanding of our world. The authors do this by exploring the history of methodology, data collection methods, mixed methodology and new technologies involved in research and data collection.

The editors bring together a plethora of expertise; it is informing and engaging equally for those who are new to social science or behavioural research and to those who are experienced. This handbook is a must-have for all those interested in the history and development of research methods as an ongoing process.

- Guildford Press; 2010; Pb £34.95

Reviewed by Laura Wainwright, who is at the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research, Lancaster University

Applied Clinical Neuropsychology: An Introduction

Jan Leslie Holtz

This is an interesting book that provides a simpler introduction to neuropsychological practice than other texts (e.g. Lezak et al., 2004). It would be suitable for undergraduate or MSc students and it is brought alive by the use of case examples.

The author includes comprehensive sections on the science and theory of neuropsychology and on the practicalities of clinical work (down to detailing exactly what a neuropsychologist should wear!). However, I feel that there is insufficient discussion of the experience of the service user. The author’s language conveys an impression of the service user as an objectified ‘patient’ rather than addressing their personhood (Kitwood, 1997). Notably there is a paucity of information regarding the sensitive feedback of results to service users.

One shortcoming for a British readership is the strongly American flavour of the text. The sections on career development and work in the American healthcare system reflect a different experience to training and practice than in Britain. While there are some issues with this book, students may still find it a useful introductory text before moving on to weightier reading.

Springer; 2011; Pb £84.95

Reviewed by Liane Hubbins, who is a clinical psychologist

References

Kitwood, T. (1997). Dementia reconsidered: The person comes first. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Lezak, M., Howieson, D., Loring, D. et al. (2004). Neuropsychological assessment. New York: Oxford University Press.

Critical Community Psychology

Carolyn Kagan, Mark Burton, Paul Duckett, Rebecca Lawthom, & Asiya Siddiquee

Critical Community Psychology is a must-read for anyone who wants to make a difference for people in their everyday lives. It challenges dominant psychological paradigms yet offers meaningful, practical and theoretical alternatives for understanding human behaviour and effecting change.

Helpfully, the book introduces critical community psychology by describing what it has in common with, and where it diverges from, mainstream psychology. Utilising the authors’ local knowledge of Manchester, as well as, drawing from the international community psychology literature, the book is grounded in real-world examples, explaining what it means to take a critical community approach. The book is hopeful, practical and theoretical yet ever mindful of the inherent complexity and inevitable challenges of effecting real change. I enjoyed that the book actively engaged me through its suggestions to reflect upon my own experiences and in doing so challenged some of my assumptions about widely held beliefs. I particularly liked that it didn’t just leave me there, but went on to propose practical ways to plan, act and evaluate.

This book provides a useful insight into critical community psychology for anyone new to this growing area of psychology. It also serves as a practical handbook for anyone wishing to engage with local communities and the wider social issues that affect them.

- BPS Blackwell; 2011; Pb £32.99

Reviewed by Elaine Douglas, who is a member of the interim-committee of the BPS Community Psychology Section

Dynamic Assessment, Measurement and Intelligence
Raegan Murphy

Dynamic assessment is concerned with the relationship between the examiner and the examinee in psychological testing and usually consists of a pre-test, followed by mediation and concluding with a post-test. More specifically, dynamic assessment is concerned the nature of the intervention, the model within which the assessment is carried out (typically in a test-teach-test format), the modification of the learner responses (as opposed to the assessment and categorisation of the learner only) and the content on which assessments are based.

Murphy’s book presents a valuable discussion of measurement issues in psychological assessment in which she evaluates dynamic assessment as a form of seeking change within the measurement process. The first chapter introduces the reader to the general issue of dynamic assessment, intelligence and measurement and gives an overview of these areas in the context of assessment in psychology. This is followed with a discussion of why dynamic assessment has largely failed to enter mainstream psychological assessment.

The second chapter discusses dynamic assessment in the context of the philosophy of science and social science. Chapter three is the most densely written chapter and delves into some measurement detail which is required reading for those practitioners wishing to embark on the use of dynamic assessment in their work. The main message in this chapter is that in order for dynamic assessment to be developed further as a tool in psychological and educational practice, psychologists need a better understanding of the measurement details inherent in these the testing procedures.

The remainder of the book elaborates these themes and provides an excellent analysis of the issues involved in dynamic assessment. The book is recommended for advanced students of psychometrics and measurement.

- Wiley-Blackwell; 2011; Hb £75.00

Reviewed by Davide Piffer, who is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology, University of Durham

 

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