This month we explore the field of psychology since Freud and our windy path to self-realisation, fulfilment and enlightenment.
The psychology book : from shamanism to cutting-edge neuroscience, 250 milestones in the history of psychology
“A leading historian in his field, Pickren assembles 250 milestones in psychology, from shamanism to the 2013 White House BRAIN Initiative (brain research through advancing innovate neuro-technologies). Each entry has a page of concise description and explanation opposite a portrait, document, or work of art. Milestones include Aristotle’s De Anima; London’s medieval Bedlam (Bethlem Hospital); Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Elizabeth Loftus on misinformation effect and false memories; and Bill Moyers’s “Mind-Body Medicine” on PBS. Some topics and pioneers, such as the brain, soul, tests, medications, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, receive repeat attention. Suggested readings add to the value of this book for readers who wish to delve further into the milestones.” (Syndetics)
Me, myself, and why : searching for the science of self
“Who are we? Who am I? Those are the questions science writer Ouellette (The Calculus Diaries, 2010) tackles in this elegant and very personal inquiry into identity and the science of the self. Ouellette examines the many aspects of the making of a self, including discussions on nature versus nurture. Ouellette leapfrogs through scientific, philosophical, and even pop history, which makes for fun reading as she expresses her views of an array of figures and artifacts, from Gregor Mendel to Francis Galton, John Locke to Kevin Bacon, Harry Potter movies to Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending sci-fi film, Inception. She discusses the so-called Prozac gene, brain scans, the hangover gene, avatars, sexual orientation and gender-atypical behaviours, the persistence and accuracy of memory, consciousness and the soul, and other provocative topics. An entertaining, insightful, and thoughtful reflection on our assumptions about ourselves and the mystery that is at the heart of the human story.” (Syndetics)
The good psychopath’s guide to success
“What is a good psychopath? And how can thinking like one help you to be the best that you can be? Dr Kevin Dutton has spent a lifetime studying psychopaths. He first met SAS hero Andy McNab during a research project. What he found surprised him, McNab is a diagnosed psychopath but he is a GOOD PSYCHOPATH. Unlike a BAD PSYCHOPATH, he is able to dial up or down qualities such as ruthlessness, fearlessness, decisiveness, conscience and empathy to get the very best out of himself – and others – in a wide range of situations. Together, they explore the ways in which a good psychopath thinks differently – and what that could mean for you. The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success gives you an entertaining and thought provoking road-map to self-fulfilment, both in your personal life and in your career.” (Back cover)
How to be alone
“Our fast-paced society does not approve of solitude; being alone is literally anti-social and some even find it sinister. Why is this so when autonomy, personal freedom and individualism are more highly prized than ever before? Sara Maitland answers this question by exploring changing attitudes throughout history. Offering experiments and strategies for overturning our fear of solitude, she helps us to practise it without anxiety and encourages us to see the benefits of spending time by ourselves. By indulging in the experience of being alone, we can be inspired to find our own rewards and ultimately lead more enriched, fuller lives.” (Syndetics)
How to deal with adversity
“No matter how insulated we are by wealth or friends we can all expect to undergo some form of loss, failure or disappointment. The common reaction is to bear it as best we can – some do this better than others – and move on with life. Christopher Hamilton proposes a different response to adversity. Focusing on the arenas of family, love, illness and death, he explores constructive ways to deal with adversity and embrace it to derive unique insight into our condition. Offering examples from history, literature and science, he suggests how we might recognize it as a precious source of enlightenment, shaping our very existence.”(Syndetics)
Constructive wallowing : how to beat bad feelings by letting yourself have them
“If you’ve ever ignored difficult feelings or if your inner critic has been riding you to be constructive every minute of the day, psychotherapist Gilbertson has written a counterintuitive self-help book that offers constructive advice for boosting self-compassion by wallowing in negative feelings. She begins with an easy premise: letting yourself experience both positive and negative emotions allows your body to have a healthy balance, which helps you to make informed, rounded decisions. Alternatively, ignoring healthy wallowing is a recipe for escalating problems as well as sustained depression and unresolved emotions. Although it’s a simple premise, it’s certainly not easy to change ingrained habits.” (Syndetics)
Why mindfulness is better than chocolate : your guide to inner peace, enhanced focus and deep happiness
“Mindfulness practice can help you reduce stress, improve performance, manage pain and increase wellbeing. These are the reasons why elite athletes, performing artists and business leaders are taking up the practice, and why it is being introduced into the world’s most successful companies, banks, business schools – even the US Army…David Michie introduces mindfulness practice and offers innovative solutions to common obstacles. Written with warmth and good humour, Why Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate is the ultimate guide to self-discovery. It will make chocolate taste better too!” (Syndetics)
Calming your angry mind : how mindfulness & compassion can free you from anger & bring peace to your life / Jeffrey Brantley, MD.
“Chronically angry people suffer loneliness, isolation, shame, and regret; experience dysfunctional interpersonal relationships; and are at increased risk for stress-related illnesses. Brantley’s primer recommends meditation based in mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom so those crippled by anger can eventually “enjoy a happier, kinder, life.” Borrowing broadly from Buddhist tradition and modern Zen master Thich Nhat Han, mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zin, emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, and others, the author shows that the best way to learn “to uncouple the ‘thought train’ that carries anger” is to be present in the moment and make a commitment to a daily mindfulness meditation practice. Brantley employs the three basic mindfulness skills of intention, attention, and attitude, and the seven core elements of mindfulness practice-non-judging, non-striving, trust, patience, acceptance, a beginner’s mind, and letting go- as initiation into a personal meditation habit. In time, fear (usually the source of anger) dissipates and self-compassion and understanding emerge. Guided meditations appear throughout, in addition to individual stories, and data from studies on the benefits of mindfulness.” (Syndetics)
Becoming Freud : the making of a psychoanalyst / Adam Phillips.
“Renowned psychoanalyst Phillips (One Way and Another) conjures up a vibrant portrait of Sigmund Freud, examining psychiatry’s most famous figure as it contends with the difficulties of placing his life in biographic form. In contrast to the more popular focus on an older Freud, Phillips introduces us to a younger version: the eldest son of Jewish immigrants, gifted but troubled by childhood trauma, whose future ideas were founded upon these aspects of his upbringing. And so the emergence of psychoanalysis comes at the end of this story, implying that the widely influential school of thought is merely one aspect of Freud’s larger story. Much like psychoanalysis itself, this book does not seek to claim and advance any singular sense of truth; instead, it encourages us to relish in the illuminations, indeed the very uncertainties of the process. As such, it’s a biography that might even have received the approval of Freud himself.” (Syndetics)