Book reviews: Online extra

Facing danger in the helping professions, and paranoia in leadership

A practical guide to facing danger

Facing Danger in the Helping Professions: A Skilled Approach

Iain Bourne

If, like me, you feel a bit like a rabbit in the headlights when faced with potential aggression, you may find this book helpful. By taking real examples of dangerous incidents and walking you through them, Iain Bourne immerses the reader in the experience as if they were the professional who encountered them. The examples are gripping, making it an easy read with a considerable payoff: a stimulating explanation of different types of aggression arising from various driving forces and the corresponding skills and approaches for managing them. There is also a very interesting section on how to handle aggression from more than one person.

The book adopts a non-judgemental approach towards the clients and staff in the examples, focusing entirely on increasing the chances of keeping people safe whilst being clear that there are never any guarantees. But when doing nothing isn’t an option, this book provides a theoretically informed alternative. It also places the incidents in context by discussing ways service leaders and individuals can reduce risks in the workplace.

The narrative writing style makes it an accessible read, and the theory and rationale behind the skills are clearly presented. However, although simplicity is emphasised, there is still a lot of ground covered, which is unlikely to be remembered in an emergency. So this book should not be considered a replacement for training, supervision and thorough risk assessment, but I found it a thought-provoking and empowering read, which demystifies aggression and how to handle it.

Open University Press; 2013; Pb £24.99

- Reviewed by Oonagh O’Hare who is an Assistant Psychologist at Pennine NHS

Engaging and well researched

Power, Politics and Paranoia: Why People Are Suspicious of Their Leaders

Jan-Willem Van Prooijen & Paul A.M. Van Lange (Eds.)

Why are people suspicious of their leaders?  It is a question that applies across many contexts in daily modern life, from the wider political stage to within public institutions and private business organisations. This is the question this book attempts to answer, drawing on psychological research that explores the complex interrelations between power, politics and paranoia.

Split into three main sections, focusing on each of the title concepts in turn, this book offers an interesting reflection on modern society and the views that many people hold of their leaders.  It aims to explore the old adage ‘power corrupts’ offering chapters on whether power holders are less trustworthy than less powerful others and whether corrupt individuals are more likely to seek, and attain, power. It also draws attention to the interesting point that people tend to distrust politicians, even though citizens are the ones who grant a great deal of power to their political leaders.

Surprisingly, the book presents evidence that even when their leaders show clear signs of corruption, there have been cases of citizens continuing to support them. The book explores this apparent contradiction and other related studies in an engaging manner with a series of chapters from international scholars. The section on ‘Paranoia’ is especially interesting with its account of conspiracy theories and the paranoid beliefs that people tend to hold of their leaders.

Whilst not the easiest of reads, as many of the chapters contain statistical information that needs to be interpreted, this book is well-researched and would be particularly suited to those who are engaged in research in this area. However, it would also be of interest to anyone who would like to find out more about these concepts – particularly anyone who has ever entertained the idea of a conspiracy theory themselves!

Cambridge University Press; 2014; HB £65

- Reviewed by Laura Oxley, who is a PhD student at the University of York

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