My shelfie… Dr Mark Griffiths
Excessive Appetites: A Psychological View of Addictions
One of the most influential books on my whole career is Jim Orford’s seminal book Excessive Appetites, which explored many different behavioural addictions including gambling, sex, and eating (i.e. addictions that don’t involve the ingestion of psychoactive substances). Orford’s books are always worth a read, and he writes in an engaging style that I have always admired. It was by chance that I did my PhD at the University of Exeter (1987–1990) where Orford was working at the time, and since 2005 we have published many co-authored papers together. While we can agree to disagree on some aspects of how and why people become addicted, Jim will continue to be remembered as a pioneer in the field of behavioural addiction.
The Psychology of Gambling
If there’s one book I’d wish I had written myself, it is this one. I did my PhD on slot machine addiction in adolescence, but this book was published shortly after I’d finished and beautifully summarises all the main theories and perspectives on gambling psychology. My PhD would have been a whole lot easier if this book had been published when I first started my research career! I got to know Michael quite well before his untimely death in December 2009 (and he was external PhD examiner to some of my PhD students), and one of my enduring images of him was walking around at gambling conferences with his book clutched in his hand. Some of my colleagues found that a little strange, but if I had written a book that good I’d have it with me at such events all the time!
Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People For Change
William R. Miller & Stephen Rollnick
I reviewed this book for the British Journal of Clinical Psychology (BJCP) back in the early 1990s and concluded by saying that it is a book that should be read by all therapists because its content can be applied to nearly all clinical situations and not just to those individuals with addictive behaviour problems. Motivational interviewing (MI) borrows strategies from cognitive therapy, client-centred counselling, systems theory and the social psychology of persuasion, and the underlying theme of the book is the issue of ambivalence, and how the therapist can use MI to resolve it and allow the client to build commitment and reach a decision to change. In my most recent research I’ve used the basic tenets of MI in designing personalised messages to give to gamblers while they are gambling online in real time. I’ve now come to the conclusion 25 years after writing my BJCP review that anyone interested in enabling behaviour change should apply the tenets in this book to their work.
The Myth of Addiction
John B. Davies
Even though this book was published back in 1992, I still tell my current students that this is a ‘must read’ book. Davies takes a much-researched area of social psychology (attribution theory) and applies it to addiction. The basic message of the book is that people take drugs because they want to and not because they are physiologically addicted. The whole book is written in a non-technical manner and is highly readable and thought-provoking. I often use Davies’s term ‘functional attribution’ from this book in my teaching and writings on sex addiction, and apply it to celebrities who use the excuse of ‘sex addiction’ to justify their infidelities.
Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices
Anyone that reads my blog will know that when it comes to the more bizarre side of sexual activity, my ‘go to’ book is Dr Aggrawal’s book on unusual sexual practices. Others in the sexology field often look down their noses at this book, but it is both enjoyable and informative and the kind of book that once you start reading you find hard to put down again. A lot of academic books on sexual behaviour can be boring and/or impenetrable but this one is the polar opposite. The book also kick-started some of my own recently published research on sexual fetishes and paraphilias.
During my PhD I remember watching the 1988 adaptation of David Lodge’s novel Small World. At the time, I had never heard of David Lodge but I went out and bought the book and was totally hooked. I then discovered that Small World was the second part of a ‘campus trilogy’ (preceded by Changing Places and followed by Nice Work). Since then I have bought every novel Lodge has ever published and he’s my favourite fiction writer (and I’ve bought and read some of his academic books on literary criticism). I love campus novels and through Lodge have devoured other university-based novels (including Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man, Howard Jacobson’s Coming from Behind, and Ann Oakley’s The Men’s Room among my favourites).
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