Book reviews

A Guide to Teaching Research Methods in Psychology
Bryan K. Saville

Blackwell; 2008; Pb £19.99
Reviewed by Helen Henshaw, who is a PhD candidate at Nottingham Trent University

Guide to Teaching Research Methods in Psychology covers all aspects of research methods teaching, from course preparation, to material content and delivery. Saville’s straightforward writing style does not overcomplicate issues, but provides clear delivery of information in an easy-to-read format.

Although this book generously covers the basics of teaching research methods – such as psychology as a science, ethics, reliability and validity – it also extends past these required elements and provides practical ideas for the classroom or lab. Many of the chapters include ‘Hands-on Tips’ boxes, with suggestions for activities to enlighten students in the methods being introduced. This provides teachers with innovative tools for learning and also allows the reader to fully engage with the authors’ intentions throughout the book itself, with insights into how the techniques will work in practice.

Saville devotes a whole chapter to the importance of self-reflection. This chapter highlights the need for continually reviewing one’s own teaching methods in order to identify areas for development and ultimately maximise our own professional practice; a technique central to the current PGCHE qualification.

For me, as a PhD student undertaking teaching for the first time, this book offered practical and realistic information to aid the teaching of research methods at a university level. Nevertheless, this would also suit the more experienced teacher wishing to develop their approach to student learning by introducing innovative teaching and learning techniques. Overall, this book should prove to be a valuable resource for research methods instructors of all levels of expertise.


In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims
Aaron Ben-Ze’ev & Ruhama Goussinsky

Oxford University Press; 2008; Hb £19.95
Reviewed by Hannah Fawcett

Love is generally considered a moral, altruistic, and well-intentioned emotion; but, as Ben-Ze’ev and Goussinsky point out, this idealised notion of love is far from realistic. In this book they provide a broad and varied insight into how people cope with this disparity between idealised and experienced love.

Innovatively titling each chapter with romantic song lyrics contextualises this largely theoretical book, creating a lively and relatable read. Chapters such as ‘What have I got to do to make you love me’ are instantly recognisable to the reader and make for easy navigation through the text

The general philosophical psychological perspective adopted throughout the book may, however, leave some readers desiring more research evidence and less supposition and hypothesising. Despite this, the authors have successfully created a work that is sufficiently detailed and yet pitched at an appropriate level for novices.

In summary the fresh perspective and innovative format adopted by Ben-Ze’ev and Goussinsky means In the Name of Love is an excellent starting point for those beginning research in this area.

Revivifying actualities
Fatal Lies, Frank Tallis
Century; 2008; Hb £12.99
Reviewed by Georgine Carter 

To paraphrase Emperor Joseph II in Peter Schaffer’s play Amadeus: Too many words, Herr Tallis, too many words. Tallis’s style of writing is verbose and flowery – he can never let a cloud go by when it can be substituted by nimbostratus.

He is obsessive in his descriptive detail, and, like one of his characters who tried to swallow a kidney but didn’t quite have the stomach for it, I didn’t quite have the stomach for the language.However, Tallis’s obsessive attention to detail does show itself in his historical research on Viennese life at the turn of the century, on classical music, psychoanalysis, the origins of Rorschach’s famous inkblots in a Swiss children’s game and Viennese pastries.

The novel itself was reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes turned psychoanalytic in Vienna. The plot was clever and gripping with its many unexpected twists. There were also some fine examples of psychoanalytic techniques being applied to solve the mysteries. The book increased my vocabulary and, combined with a search on the internet, my historical knowledge of psychoanalysis.

I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy Sherlock Holmes. [Editor’s note:?And if you do, see p.858.]

The A–Z Guide to Good Mental Health: You Don’t Have to Be Famous to Have Manic Depression
Jeremy Thomas & Tony Hughes

Penguin; 2008; Pb £10.00
Reviewed by K. Joan Fraser

This book evolved from the TV documentary Stephen Fry – The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. The foreword is by Stephen Fry, which, with Simon Pearsall’s illustrations, demonstrates the lighter perspective taken to the topic compared with most books.

It begins with a conversation between Jeremy Thomas and his doctor Tony Hughes. This dialogue highlights the value of routine and regular lithium to maintaining a normal lifestyle.

The importance of pharmacological and psychological input is repeated in the eight personal histories in the second part of this book. These stories give a colourful and varied perspective on the success and suffering associated with manic depression.

The final A–Z section promotes good mental health by giving sanguine pointers to self-help interspersed unexpectedly with the histories of musicians suffering from mental illness. Throughout this alphabetic guide there are pertinent contacts and websites making this a useful and informative reference document.

Marvelous Minds: The Discovery of What Children Know
Michael Siegal

Oxford University Press; 2008; Hb £24.95Reviewed by Christopher Boyle

This book attempts to explore just how much knowledge children are able to attain through their developmental cycle. Siegal, who has an extensive research publication record in the area of developmental psychology, explores the topic through some imaginative chapters and associations such as ‘Astronomy and geography’ and ‘Biology, food and hygiene’. These chapters were not what I was expecting vis-à-vis this type of book, but it worked very well and provided an interesting perspective on just how much potential there is for children to understand the world around them. Siegal provides interesting slants that give evidence to back-up his assertions that children are potentially much more knowledgeable about their surroundings than had hitherto been supposed. Siegal highlights inherent dangers in some beliefs that are impressed by adults upon children, for example developing a beliefthat illness is God’s punishment (which, worryingly, is still believed by some adults).

Overall, this is a useful and enlightening publication that adds to the literature in the area of the development of children’s knowledge and understanding.

What is Mental Disorder? An Essay in Philosophy, Science, and Values Derek Bolton
Oxford University Press; 2008; Pb £29.95
Reviewed by Louise Birkett-wan

This book provides an excellent discussion and philosophical critique of the use of the term ‘mental disorder’. It attempts to define what a mental disorder is and explores the etymology along with how meaningful a term it is. The exploration of meaning is an area requiring much greater emphasis throughout the field of mental health and particularly within clinical psychology. There can often be an over-reliance on diagnosis without a full understanding of its causes and symptoms or the impact on an individual.

The book discusses some of the problems associated with traditional definitions of mental disorder. It highlights the difficulties in defining what is mental disorder and how mental disorder is different from
the normal continuum of experiences, if in fact it is different at all. It goes on to discuss the term through an examination of evolutionary and social perspectives. Alongside this, there is recognition of many of the
other factors associated with the determination that there can be a need for obtaining clear diagnosis.

The book is cogent and well written. It is easily accessible and does not presuppose knowledge or education. Examples are given where needed, for example, DSM-IV diagnostic categories are shown in an appendix for those unfamiliar with the use of psychiatric diagnosis. This book will be useful to the inquiring mind that seeks to understand metal disorder from a wider perspective.

Just In

Living with a Black Dog Matthew Johnstone & Ainsley Johnston.

Research Methods for Social Psychology Dana Dunn Explaining the Breakdown of Ethnic Relations V. Esses & R. Vernon.

Supervision in Clinical Practice Joyce Scaif.

Creativity, Mental Illness and Crime Russell Eisenman

The Changing Realities of Work and Family,  Amy Marcus-Newhall, Diane F. Halpern & Sherylle J. Ta

Social Cognition Tricia Striano & Vincent Reid
A Crash Course in SPSS for Windows A. Coleman & B. Pulford

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