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A New Understanding of Mental Disorders A Theory of Feelings Addictions Memory and the Self"Intimate" Violence against Women1001 Solution-Focused Questions101 Healing Stories101 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Using Hypnosis50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God8 Keys to Body Brain BalanceA Brief History of Modern PsychologyA Conceptual History of PsychologyA Conceptual History of Psychology: Exploring the Tangled Web A Cooperative SpeciesA Guide to Teaching Introductory PsychologyA History of Modern Experimental PsychologyA History of Psychology in AutobiographyA History of Social PsychologyA History of the BrainA History of the MindA Hole in the HeadA Matter of SecurityA Mind of Its OwnA Natural History of Human ThinkingA Place for ConsciousnessA Scientific Search for AltruismA Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in ChildrenA Social History of PsychologyA Stroll With William JamesA System Architecture Approach to the BrainA 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PersonalityOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOn the Origins of Cognitive ScienceOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOnflowOpen MindsOpening Skinner's BoxOrigin of MindOrigins of PsychopathologyOther MindsOut of Our HeadsOut of the WoodsOvercoming Depersonalization DisorderPanpsychism and the Religious AttitudePanpsychism in the WestParenting and the Child's WorldPassionate EnginesPathologies of the WestPatient-Based Approaches to Cognitive NeurosciencePediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople Types and Tiger StripesPerception & CognitionPerception beyond InferencePerception, Hallucination, and IllusionPersonal Development and Clinical PsychologyPerspectives on ImitationPhantoms in the BrainPhenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgePhenomenology and Philosophy of MindPhilosophical Foundations of NeurosciencePhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophy and HappinessPhilosophy of PsychologyPhilosophy, Neuroscience and ConsciousnessPhrenologyPhysical RealizationPhysics in MindPieces of LightPlaying with FirePositive 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TerritoriesPsychopathologyPsychopathyPsychosis and EmotionPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyPutnam CampPutting a Name to ItQuantum Memory PowerQuietRadical DistortionRadical Embodied Cognitive ScienceRadical ExternalismRadical GraceRapeRe-Visioning PsychiatryReal MaterialismReality CheckReconstructing Reason and RepresentationReconstructing the Cognitive WorldRecovery in Mental IllnessRecreative MindsRedirectReducing Adolescent RiskRegulating EmotionsRelational BeingRelational Mental HealthRelational Suicide AssessmentReliability in Cognitive NeuroscienceRemembering HomeRemembering Our ChildhoodResearch Advances in Genetics and GenomicsResearching Children's ExperienceResilience in ChildrenRestoring ResilienceRethinking ADHDRethinking Learning DisabilitiesRethinking Middle YearsRethinking the Western Understanding of the SelfRevolution in PsychologyRoadmap to ResilienceRomance and Sex in Adolescence and Emerging AdulthoodSchadenfreudeSchizophrenia RevealedSchizophrenia, Culture, and SubjectivityScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologyScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond NatureSecond NatureSecond That EmotionSecond-order Change in PsychotherapySecrets of the MindSee What I'm SayingSee What I'm SayingSeeing and VisualizingSeeing RedSelf and SocietySelf Comes to MindSelf Control in Society, Mind, and BrainSelf-Awareness Deficits in Psychiatric PatientsSelf-CompassionSelf-Consciousness and 'Split' BrainsSelf-RegulationSelf-Representational Approaches to ConsciousnessSelfless InsightSelvesSerial KillersSex at DawnSex on the BrainSex, Time and PowerSexual Coercion in Primates and HumansSexual DisordersSexual FluiditySexual ReckoningsSexualized BrainsShame and GuiltShatteredSimulating MindsSisyphus's BoulderSleepyheadSNAPSocial NeuroscienceSocial NeuroscienceSocial NeuroscienceSocial Psychology and DiscourseSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We EatSoul DustSparkSpiral of EntrapmentSplendors and Miseries of the BrainSports Hypnosis in 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ConsciousnessThe Science of EvilThe Science of Intimate RelationshipsThe Science of Shame and its Treatment The Second SelfThe Secret History of EmotionThe Secret Lives of BoysThe Self and Its EmotionsThe Self-Sabotage CycleThe Sense of SelfThe Sensitive SelfThe Shape of ThoughtThe Social AnimalThe Social Nature of Mental IllnessThe Social Neuroscience of EmpathyThe Social Psychology of Good and EvilThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Story of Intellectual DisabilityThe Structure of ThinkingThe Survivors ClubThe Talking ApeThe Teenage BrainThe Tell-Tale BrainThe Temperamental ThreadThe Tender CutThe Tending InstinctThe Time ParadoxThe Trauma MythThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trouble with IllnessThe True PathThe Truth About GriefThe Turing TestThe Uncertain SciencesThe Undoing ProjectThe Unhappy ChildThe Upside of IrrationalityThe Varieties of ConsciousnessThe War for Children's MindsThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the MonsterThe Winner's BrainThe Wisdom in FeelingThe Woman RacketThe World in My Mind, My Mind in the WorldThe Wow ClimaxThe Yipping TigerThemes, Issues and Debates in PsychologyTheoretical Issues in Psychology: An IntroductionTheory of AddictionTheory of MindThings and PlacesThink CatThink Confident, Be ConfidentThinking about AddictionThinking and SeeingThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThought and LanguageThought in a Hostile WorldTo Have and To Hurt:Toward an Evolutionary Biology of LanguageToward Replacement Parts for the BrainTrauma and Human ExistenceTrauma, Tragedy, TherapyTreating Attachment DisordersTreating Self-InjuryTreating Self-Injury: A Practical GuideTrue to Our FeelingsTrusting the Subject?Understanding and Treating Borderline Personality DisorderUnderstanding ConsciousnessUnderstanding ParanoiaUnderstanding PeopleUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the BrainUndoing Perpetual StressUnlock the Genius WithinUnsettled MindsUnstrange MindsUnthinkingUnthoughtUs and ThemViolent PartnersVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVision and MindVisual AgnosiaWarrior's DishonourWe Who Are DarkWednesday Is Indigo BlueWelcome to Your BrainWhat Do Women Want?What Dying People WantWhat Have We DoneWhat Intelligence Tests MissWhat Is an Emotion: Classic and Contemporary ReadingsWhat Is Emotion?What is Intelligence?What Is Mental Illness?What Is Thought?What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite What the Best College Students DoWhat the Dog SawWhat We Know about Emotional IntelligenceWhat We Say MattersWhat's Wrong With Morality?When Boys Become BoysWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen the Impossible HappensWhen Walls Become DoorwaysWho's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWho's in Charge?Why Humans Like to CryWhy Love MattersWhy Lyrics LastWhy People CooperateWhy People Die by SuicideWhy Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human BehaviorWhy Smart People Can Be So StupidWhy the Mind is Not a ComputerWhy Us?Why We LieWhy We LoveWhy We SleepWider than the SkyWilliam James at the BoundariesWilling, Wanting, WaitingWittgenstein And PsychologyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWorking MindsYoga and PsychologyYou Are What You RememberYoung Minds in Social WorldsYour Brain on CubsYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaYour Child in the BalanceZombies and Consciousness
Roland Littlewood is already well known for his
contribution to socially contextualised psychiatric literature, and this book
not only reprises some themes, such as its cultural relativity and social
construction, but takes them further by applying an anthropologist's eye to the
West; this time we (the West) are the exotic, and very peculiar we seem too.
are parts of this book that are quite irresistible. He charts a historical
course drawing out the consistent inconsistencies of psychiatric nosology with
a rather amused tone. "Isn't it all fascinating?" he seems to be saying.
There are great strengths in the ways he blends together insights from other
disciplines to situate psychiatry firmly within the expressions of cultural
values and social mediation that define ourselves to ourselves. From time to
time it might be said that he over-indulges himself, and has an obvious
weakness for a pretty phrase or an obscure word, but that rarely interferes
with the reader's enjoyment.
tackles some particularly significant characteristics of the scope and province of Western psychiatry.
The chapters which deal with incest, and its biological relation, and eating
disorders and body image, and multiple personalities are thought provoking,
well-argued and more than occasionally contentious. His consideration of "genetic
sexual attraction" in incest, particularly apparent in the relations
between birth parents, or sometimes birth siblings, and adopted children
introduces some uncomfortable, but important questions; and some that Western
psychiatry has perhaps sought to avoid. He does not favor psychoanalytic
explanations, and indeed sometimes does not really come to any categorical
conclusions of his own, but he does begin to explore what he terms "a
contingent biological pattern" in such a way that it can neither be denied
nor ignored. His questions always seem to come back to some variant of "Why
should this be like this? What is it about us that makes these things be shown
in these ways?"
consideration of eating disorders is less innovative, but he is again
perceptive and quizzical when he addresses the question of multiple
personalities. Is it a fashion? Are they a reworking of an old diagnosis? Why
do they seem so popular in the media? Think of the cinematic representation and
you would believe they are ten a penny. Where lies their attraction to the
public, the patient and the psychiatrist? It may that final point that raises
some of the most pertinent questions. To what extent does psychiatry foster and
encourage such presentations; to what extent are we seeing universals apparent
in every society and how much is it a pathology of the West itself?
does not discount that patterns of psychopathology emerge in social contexts,
and that different times and cultures will classify the same behaviors in
different ways. But in the case of multiple personality disorder he does not
examine the treating professionals with quite the same rigor as he does the
profession. He makes clear and persuasive arguments about the cultural shifts
in psychiatric norms and concerns, but it seems he does not really interrogate
the personal kudos of the therapist as much as the social kudos. The
psychiatrist as hero is a phenomenon that can develop a reciprocity between the
exotic and the discoverer. If I am so special that only I can understand this
person or this illness, than I may also shape the behavior, reports,
pathologies of those whose special symptoms only I can understand. Can, or do,
psychiatrists encourage certain sorts of symptom reports from their patients?
Perhaps, if Littlewood had considered this point his analysis would have been
even more penetrating than it is.
is an old, but still good, intellectual strategy to ask, "if I was an
anthropologist from Mars, what would I see?" Littlewood does this in an
admirable and engaging way. He would be too modest to be categorical about his
conclusions, and also too grounded to know that this is not just an
intellectual exercise, a good party game and diverting entertainment. As he
says at the end of one chapter, it is "socially compelling because every
now and then a woman dies", and, of course, it could also be said that a
man is devastated or a child suffers. It is a serious subject because it has
crucial, profound, even life-threatening or life-saving consequences. This book
should be recommended for all serious students of psychiatry, and compulsory
for those who are not so serious about their studies.
Mark Welch is
currently a Senior Lecturer and Postgraduate Coordinator in The School of
Nursing at the University of Canberra, Australia. His PhD investigated the
representation of madness in popular film, and his other research interests
include the mental health of refugees and victims of torture, and the history
of psychiatric epistemology.
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