Book Reviews

trauma; psychology and catholicism; educational psychology; gerontology; and cluttering

A refreshingly open memoir

Trauma. From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds and How We Fight Back

Gordon Turnbull

If anyone has the pedigree to write a book on effects of major trauma, it is Gordon Turnbull.

A psychiatrist who cut his teeth in the military, he established one of the first UK trauma centres at the Princess Alexandra Hospital at RAF Wroughton before going on to lead a trauma team at Ticehurst Hospital. He debriefed the mountain rescue teams who had the unenviable job of scouring the area around Lockerbie after the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. He saw active service in the first Gulf War where he was instrumental in ensuring that returning prisoners of war had proper psychological care. He debriefed the hostages John McCarthy and Terry Waite on their return from Lebanon. He has been one of the major figures in the trauma field for decades, influential in both military and civilian life.

The book is hugely valuable for three reasons. Firstly, because it is written chronologically following Turnbull’s long career, we can see, through his eyes, how military psychiatry struggled to understand people who had been traumatised, in particular the idea that PTSD could be best explained in non-pathological terms (as a normal reaction to an abnormal event). The dominant view was that servicemen and women broke down because of some personality defect or underlying psychopathology. It is to Turnbull’s great credit that he successfully fought hard to dispel that notion. Secondly, the book reveals a fascinating account of how psychiatrists worked at the end of the 20th century. It was largely guesswork, experimentation, ideas sketched on blackboards, half-understood theories and treatments that were essentially empirical (‘winging it’ as Turnbull, a RAF man, appropriately puts it). Thirdly, this is an intensely personal book. Turnbull begins it with his own trauma of the Wee Red Box at Lorne Street School which he returns to at various points in the narrative. Throughout, he discloses his feelings, his hopes and expectations as he makes his way in an uncomprehending and often antagonistic psychiatric world. We rapidly form a picture of the man, curious, determined, prone to outbursts of anger, sensitive, caring, ambitious, always a leader but also very much one of a team.

One of the joys of the book is the casework, detailed and illuminating stories of some of the people he saw over the years. Turnbull learned the value of attentive listening, of meticulous and thorough assessment, of establishing a trusting personal relationship (what he calls the need to ‘click’ with the patient) and of a dogged determination to find new ways of helping traumatised people. Although there is a discussion of some treatment methods towards the end of the book (psychological debriefing, EMDR, prolonged exposure), there is no attempt to summarise the vast research literature or, psychological debriefing apart, enter into the many debates. In an epilogue there is a brief résumé of Chris Brewin’s ideas about different memory systems. But that is about as theoretical as the book gets. In the terms of one of his chapter headings, Turnbull prefers to ‘follow the data, the theory be damned’. By data he means predominantly his own clinical experience.

This is a long book, over 400 pages, and, while it is never heavy going, there is a wealth of detail, certainly too much to take in at one go. Its strengths are also its limitations. This is trauma seen through the eyes of one man. That provides for a strong, coherent narrative, but it is also a selective one. The casework is convincing, but then successes tend to be. The book’s title suggests a general book on trauma, but the perspective is psychiatric and largely military. Yet I strongly recommend the book to anyone working in the trauma field. There are plenty of textbooks on the psychology of trauma and plenty of self-help books too. This is different. It is a memoir. It is refreshingly open. It is engaging to read. It will teach people a great deal about the practicalities of working with traumatised people and it shows how one curious and determined psychiatrist made his mark to the benefit of trauma sufferers everywhere.

- Bantam Press; 2011; Hb £18.99

Reviewed by John Marzillier who is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist based in Oxford

A question of soul

Psychology & Catholicism: Contested Boundaries

Robert Kugelmann

At first glance, this book looks as though it would only appeal to those interested in the relationship between psychology and one particular form of religion. However, behind this façade is an exploration of the history of power struggles between psychology and the Church.

To aid the reader through this convoluted journey, Kugelmann divides the boundary contests into four main categories. A number of debates, dominated by the question of the nature of the soul, weave their way through these categories.

Despite their differences, Kugelmann concludes that all concerned wanted to do justice to a living being with an eternal destiny. He ends with a strong argument for incorporating the soul into the mainstream of psychological thinking.

The author’s great passion for his subject shines throughout this book, and I was certainly enlightened by his clear, detailed account of this very complex subject. However, it is by no means, light ‘bedtime’ reading. It is likely to appeal to students or researchers of the history of science or religion who want something to really get their teeth into!

- Cambridge University Press; 2011; Hb £75.00

Reviewed by Joanne Regan who is Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

A classic text updated

Educational Psychology Casework: A Practice Guide (2nd edn)

Rick Beaver

This classic text, first published in 1996, has been updated to include new material on service evaluation and solution-focused approaches as well as a reworked model for case work practice incorporating a plan- do-review process.

The author presents a coherent theoretical framework and a set of practical tools for educational psychologist (EP) practice. The theory principally draws on ideas from neurolinguistic programming but skilfully integrates approaches and techniques from personal construct psychology and systemic family therapy. The book is particularly strong on skills and techniques for rapport building, interviewing and information gathering and interpreting and making sense of the child’s understanding and perspective. There is a rich compendium of techniques and ideas, which are clearly presented and illustrated by detailed case studies.

I am particularly pleased to be able to review this book as I have a distinct memory of how formative it was as part of my own professional development as a newly qualified EP. This second edition retains this practical and formative quality and should continue to be valuable resource both for newly qualified and practising EPs.

- Jessica Kingsley; 2011; Pb £22.99

Reviewed by Paul Riddick who is a Senior Educational Psychologist in Leicester

Facets of ageing

An Introduction to Gerontology

Ian Stuart-Hamilton (Ed.)

This is indeed a good introduction to the many trends seen in a diverse and growing ageing population. Ian Stuart-Hamilton introduces insights such as why the body becomes more vulnerable to ageing as a result of biological and physiological changes, dipping into psychological, sociological, biological and medical explanations of other aspects of normal and atypical ageing.

I enjoyed contributors’ reminders of the resilience and wisdom often seen in this population, challenging some of the misconceptions of ‘ageing being an inevitable decline’. It is balanced between explanations of studies describing various facets of the ageing process, with references from popular culture to illustrate common societal perceptions.

This text is ideal for those new to working with older people. It also provides enjoyable prompts for those of us more familiar with this group, particularly working in UK services at the present time. Furthermore, it provides interest on a personal level, for those wanting to understand some of the challenges of ageing in relation to older friends, family members, and, if we are very fortunate, ourselves too.

- Cambridge University Press; 2011; Pb £25.99

Reviewed by Sophie Monaghan who is a Clinical Psychologist with South Tyneside Older Adult and Stroke Psychology Services

Glad it’s on my shelf

Cluttering: A Handbook of Research, Intervention and Education

David Ward & Kathleen Scaler Scott

I really enjoyed reading this highly practical guide to cluttering. I recommend it to clinicians and other interested readers alike who may work with or know people who clutter, or indeed clutter themselves.

Despite the lack of a solid definition of cluttering, the book provides practical ways for clinical assessment and value-adding intervention in a person-centred and 'real-world' way. Cluttering, often misdiagnosed for stammering, is a communication disorder that has the potential for far-reaching negative effects in a person’s social and vocational life.

Like many clinicians, I don't frequently work with people who clutter, but when I do I find differential diagnosis and subsequent evidence-based intervention challenging (to put it mildly). A straw poll of my speech therapy colleagues confirmed that many others feel the same.

This book has changed all that. It begins by describing the neurological basis for cluttering in a highly accessible way. Later chapters discuss the (still debated) definition of cluttering and then review the steps to diagnosing cluttering in individuals with frequently co-occurring disorders, including stammering, Down’s syndrome, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. Lots of ideas for intervention follow. Much research is still needed, and the authors are clear when they are basing their comments on evidence or experience.

I'm glad this book is on my shelf – it is an easy-to-read and highly practical guide to working with people who clutter.

- Psychology Press; 2011; Hb 44.95

Reviewed by Richard Cave who is a speech and language therapist at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow

Web-only reviews:

Self-harm and Violence: Towards Best Practice in Managing Risk in Mental Health Services

Richard Whittington & Caroline Logan

An innovative book that presents the voice of service users as a crucial element in understanding and managing self-harm and violence. This book pays equal sincerity to ‘finding meaning’ as it does to ‘risk management’, as well as summarising the latest research in this field in an accessible manner.

The book is carefully structured into four parts: Experience, Evidence, Practice and Implementation, which provides insight, understanding and practical tips on managing self-harm and violence.

This book would appeal to those who are curious about self-harm and violence and for those who work in this field. The language is user-friendly and not overly focused on policies and procedures. The chapter on ‘Formulation in Clinical Risk Assessment and Management’ is a crucial chapter in that it highlights the importance of formulation in mental health services. Formulation is not just a strategy for more effective individual and teamwork but a fundamental challenge to the nature and purpose of biomedical psychiatry and a powerful means of giving a voice to service user’s. It is very refreshing to have chapters dedicated to the user’s experiences and not just professionals. This style sets an example for other books in this field!

Wiley-Blackwell; 2011; Pb £32.99

Reviewed by Amy Morgan, Assistant Psychologist, Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

How Intimate Partner Violence Affects Children: Developmental Research, Case Studies, and Evidence-Based Intervention

Sandra A. Graham-Bermann & Alytia A. Levendosky (Eds.)

For professionals who work with children who have experienced domestic abuse, this is a useful book for both a theoretical perspective and a guide to possible supports and interventions.

With a firm routing in attachment theory, the book outlines, from a child’s perspective, the impact of being a witness to domestic violence. Clear developmental responses in stages such as the toddler years, early childhood, adolescence, etc. are noted. The most challenging research base is that related to the early years. This highlights the disproportionately high level of exposure that these children endure as well as the intricacies of the potential emotional, cognitive and linguistic difficulties that can occur. This said, the book is not deterministic about the effects and looks for ways to mediate the impact of their home environment.

Social learning theory is one of several theories utilised to construct interventions. These are often focused on generating a more securely attached child through supporting the parental needs and facilitating access to key agencies. Importantly, the book also looks at the building of resilience within school-aged children and is useful for those working within the education sector.

- American Psychological Association; 2011; Hb £63.50

Reviewed by Maura Kearney, Senior Educational Psychologist

Handbook of Motivational Counseling

W. Miles Cox & Eric Klinger

In the Handbook of Motivational Counseling Miles Cox and Eric Klinger provide a comprehensive, up-to-date overview of the motivational counselling landscape, particularly focusing on counselling for addiction behaviours reflecting the authors areas of expertise.

The book features contributions from many international experts ensuring a wide coverage of a rapidly expanding field of research and intervention. By introducing theoretical concepts and measurement as a foundation prior to outlining these concepts ‘in action’, this book not only presents a comprehensive but also a systematic and scientifically validated account of the field.

Particular attention is paid to the authors’ own theoretical work and the subsequent application of these principles in their clinical method systematic motivational counselling. Despite such focus, differing approaches and perspectives to motivational counselling are also covered.

This book will form a vital resource for anyone working in the area of motivation research or counselling for substance abuse. The basic concepts and many of the theories and approaches outlined are universal and applicable across different problem areas making the Handbook of Motivational Counseling applicable to anyone interesting in the area.

- Wiley-Blackwell; 2011; Hb £60.00

Reviewed by Stephan U. Dombrowski, who is a Research Associate, Newcastle University

Five Ways of Doing Qualitative Analysis: Phenomenological Psychology, Ground Theory, Discourse Analysis, Narrative Research, and Intuitive Inquiry

Frederick J. Wertz, Kathy Charmaz, Linda M. McMullen, Ruthellen Josselson, Rosemarie Anderson & Emalinda McSpadden

Qualitative research is an area in which interest is growing and the need to delve further than is possible with quantitative research is becoming more evident. The quandary faced however, is what approach to take. This book presents the 5 core approaches to qualitative analysis in such a way that they can be directly compared and enables the reader to make an informed decision as to which would best suit their needs.

The text is easy to read and is arranged in manageable chapters with clear no-nonsense language. Part 1 concentrates on the history of qualitative methods whilst Part 2 introduces the five approaches. This is done in a clear order with an outline of the method and rationale, closely followed by the analysis of a single interview of ‘Teresa’. The analysis is repeated under each approach and finally the authors compare and discuss their methods and findings. A final interesting twist is that the participant was also given the opportunity to comment.

This text reads at time as if you are having a conversation with the authors but manages to convey all the relevant information needed. I would recommend this to readers at all stages in their academic life.

- Guilford Press; 2011; Pb £33.95

Reviewed by Tracy McAteer, who is a final-year psychology PhD student at Oxford Brookes University


Sample titles just in:

Islands of Genius: The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant Darold Treffert

Real to Reel: Psychiatry at the Cinema Ron Roberts

Addiction Dilemmas Jim Orford

The Brain is Wider than the Sky: Why Simple Solutions Don’t Work in a Complex World Bryan Appleyard

For a full list of books available for review and information on reviewing for The Psychologist, see

Send books for potential review to The Psychologist,

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