email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
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 Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in ChildrenA Social History of PsychologyA Stroll With William JamesA System Architecture Approach to the BrainA Theory of FreedomA Very Bad WizardAbductedAbout FacesAccounts of InnocenceAction, Emotion and WillAdapting MindsAddiction and Self-ControlADHD & MeADHD in AdultsAdieu to GodAdolescence and Body ImageAdult Bipolar DisordersAdvances in Culture and PsychologyAdvances in Identity Theory and ResearchAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAffective MappingAgainst EmpathyAgainst HappinessAges and StagesAll Joy and No FunAll Out!All We Have to FearAlterations of ConsciousnessAmerican Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical NeurosciencesAn Argument for MindAncient Bodies, Modern LivesAnd BreatheAnimal MadnessAnimal Tool BehaviorAnimals in TranslationAnomalous CognitionAping MankindArtificial ConsciousnessAspects of PsychologismAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAssisted Suicide and the Right to DieAttachedAttention is Cognitive UnisonAutism and the Myth of the Person AloneAutopsy of a Suicidal MindBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBehavingBehavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic EraBeing No OneBelievingBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond BlueBeyond BullyingBeyond MadnessBeyond MelancholyBeyond the BrainBeyond the DSM StoryBig DreamsBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar ChildrenBipolar DisorderBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBlind SpotsBlindsight & The Nature of ConsciousnessBlubberlandBlushBodiesBody ConsciousnessBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBody SenseBody WorkBorderline Personality DisorderBorderline Personality Disorder and the Conversational ModelBorn DigitalBorn to Be GoodBorn Together - Reared ApartBounceBoundaries in Human RelationshipsBounded RationalityBozo SapiensBrain and CultureBrain and the GazeBrain Arousal and Information TheoryBrain BugsBrain Change TherapyBrain Circuitry and Signaling in PsychiatryBrain FictionBrain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive ScienceBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-WiseBrainstormBrainstormingBraintrustBrainwashingBrandedBreaking Murphy's LawBright-SidedBuddha's BrainBullying and TeasingBuyologyCan't You Hear Them?CaptureCare of the PsycheCartesian LinguisticsCartographies of the MindCerebrum 2007Cerebrum 2010Cerebrum 2015Cerebrum Anthology 2013Changing the SubjectCharacter Strengths and VirtuesCheating LessonsChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness Chomsky NotebookClinical Psychiatry in Imperial GermanyClinical Psychology in Practice ClosureCognition and PerceptionCognition and the BrainCognitive BiologyCognitive DissonanceCognitive FictionsCognitive Mechanisms of Belief ChangeCognitive PragmaticsCognitive ScienceCognitive ScienceCognitive Systems and the Extended MindCognitive Therapy of Anxiety DisordersCognitive Unconscious and Human RationalityCold-Blooded KindnessComing of Age in Second LifeCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchComprehending ColumbineConfessions of a SociopathConquering Shame and CodependencyConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousness ConsciousnessConsciousness and Its Place in NatureConsciousness and LanguageConsciousness and Mental LifeConsciousness and MindConsciousness and the NovelConsciousness and the Social BrainConsciousness EmergingConsciousness RecoveredConsciousness RevisitedConsciousness, Self-Consciousness, and the Science of Being HumanConstructing PainConsumer NeuroscienceContemporary Debates in Cognitive ScienceConversations on ConsciousnessConviction of the InnocentCooperation and Its EvolutionCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCredit and BlameCritical New Perspectives on Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderCritical PsychologyCritical Thinking About PsychologyCross-Cultural PsychologyCrowdsourcingCrueltyCultural Assessment in Clinical PsychiatryCuriousDamasio's Error and Descartes' TruthDangerous and Severe Personality DisorderDaniel DennettDaughters of MadnessDeafness In MindDeath and ConsciousnessDeath of a ParentDecomposing the WillDeep Brain StimulationDeep ChinaDefining DifferenceDefining Psychopathology in the 21st CenturyDelusion and Self-DeceptionDelusions of GenderDennett and Ricoeur on the Narrative SelfDeparting from DevianceDescartes' BabyDescartes's Changing MindDescribing Inner Experience?Desert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Destructive EmotionsDevelopment of Geocentric Spatial Language and CognitionDevelopment of PsychopathologyDialogues on DifferenceDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Digital HemlockDirty MindsDisgust and Its DisordersDisorders of VolitionDo Apes Read Minds?Do Fish Feel Pain?Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?Doing without ConceptsDrunk Tank PinkEducating People to Be Emotionally IntelligentEffective IntentionsEffective Writing in PsychologyEffortless AttentionEmbodied Minds in ActionEmbracing MindEmbracing UncertaintyEmotion and ConsciousnessEmotion ExperienceEmotion RegulationEmotion, Evolution, And RationalityEmotional IntelligenceEmotionally InvolvedEmotionsEmotionsEmotions and LifeEmotions in Humans and ArtifactsEmotions RevealedEmotions, Aggression, and Morality in ChildrenEmotions, Stress, and HealthEmpathyEnjoymentErotic MoralityEscape Your Own PrisonEssays in Social NeuroscienceEssential Sources in the Scientific Study of ConsciousnessEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthically Challenged ProfessionsEveryday Mind ReadingEvidence for PsiEvidence-Based Mental Health PracticeEvil MenEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and LearningEvolution, Games, and GodEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolutionary Psychology as Maladapted PsychologyExacting BeautyExperiences of DepressionExperimenterExplaining the BrainExplaining the BrainExplorations in Neuroscience, Psychology and ReligionExploring TranssexualismExpression and the InnerExtending Self-Esteem ResearchExtraordinary BeliefsFact and Value in EmotionFaking ItFatigue as a Window to the BrainFavorite Activities for the Teaching of PsychologyFeeling GoodFeeling Pain and Being in PainFeelings and EmotionsFinding Meaning, Facing FearsFitting In Is OverratedFive Constraints on Predicting BehaviorFlourishingFlow: The Psychology of Optimal ExperienceFolk Psychological NarrativesFooling HoudiniForever YoungFormulation in Psychology and PsychotherapyFoucault, Psychology and the Analytics of PowerFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Psychological ThoughtFree Will as an Open Scientific ProblemFreedom And NeurobiologyFreedom EvolvesFrom Axons to IdentityFrom Madness to Mental HealthFrom Neurons to Self-ConsciousnessFrom Passions to EmotionsFrom Philosophy to PsychotherapyFrom Symptom to SynapseFrontiers of ConsciousnessGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGenerosityGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGenetic Nature/CultureGeniusGetting Under the SkinGlued to GamesGoing SaneGot Parts?Group GeniusGrowing Up GirlGuilt, Shame, and AnxietyGut ReactionsHallucinationHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Closeness and IntimacyHandbook of Critical PsychologyHandbook of Emotion RegulationHandbook of EmotionsHandbook of Personality DisordersHandbook of PsychopathyHandbook of Self and IdentityHandbook of Self and IdentityHandbook of Spatial CognitionHappinessHappinessHappinessHappinessHappiness at WorkHappiness Is.Happy at LastHard to GetHardwired BehaviorHatredHealing the SplitHidden ResourcesHope and DespairHot ThoughtHot ThoughtHouse and PsychologyHow Animals Affect UsHow Animals GrieveHow Can the Human Mind Occur in the Physical Universe?How Doctors ThinkHow Enlightenment Changes Your BrainHow Families Still MatterHow History Made the MindHow Infants Know MindsHow Many Friends Does One Person Need?How People ChangeHow Professors ThinkHow The Body Shapes The MindHow the Body Shapes the Way We ThinkHow the Mind Explains BehaviorHow the Mind Uses the BrainHow to Change Someone You LoveHow We ReasonHow We RememberHughes' Outline of Modern PsychiatryHumanHuman BondingHuman Reasoning and Cognitive ScienceHypnotismHysteriaiBrainIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIdentifying the MindiDisorderImagination and the Meaningful BrainImitation and the Social MindImpulse Control DisordersImpulsivityIn an Unspoken VoiceIn Defense of SentimentalityIn DoubtIn Search of HappinessIn the Wake of 9/11Individual and Collective Memory ConsolidationInner Experience and NeuroscienceInner PresenceInside the American CoupleIntegrated Behavioral Health CareIntegrating Evolution and DevelopmentIntegrating Psychotherapy and PharmacotherapyIntegrity and the Fragile SelfIntellectual DisabilityIntelligenceIntelligence, Destiny, and EducationIntentions and IntentionalityInterdependent MindsInterpreting MindsInto the Minds of MadmenIntoxicating MindsIntrospection VindicatedIntuitionInventing PersonalityInvestigating the Psychological WorldIrrationalityIs There Anything Good About Men?Issues for Families, Schools and CommunitiesJane Sexes It UpJoint AttentionJoint AttentionJudgment and Decision MakingJust a DogJust BabiesJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKarl JaspersKey Thinkers in PsychologyKidding OurselvesKids of CharacterKilling MonstersLack of CharacterLanguage OriginsLanguage, Consciousness, CultureLanguage, Vision, and MusicLaw, Mind and BrainLess Than HumanLet Kids Be KidsLet's Talk About DeathLiving NarrativeLiving with Mild Cognitive ImpairmentLonelinessLooking for SpinozaLossLOT 2Love at Goon ParkMachine ConsciousnessMacrocognitionMade for Each OtherMadnessMadness and Modernism: Insanity in the light of modern art, literature, and thought Making a Good Brain GreatMaking Habits, Breaking HabitsMaking Minds and MadnessMaking Up the MindMale SexualityMan and WomanMan's Search for MeaningMan, Beast, and ZombieManic MindsManlinessMapping the MindMarking the MindMarvelous Learning AnimalMasculinity Studies and Feminist TheoryMeaningMeaning, Mortality, and ChoiceMedical MusesMeditating SelflesslyMeetings with a Remarkable ManMemoryMemory and DreamsMemory and EmotionMemory And UnderstandingMental BiologyMental IllnessMental Time TravelMetacognitionMetacognition and Theory of MindMethods in MindMindMindMind and BrainMind and ConsciousnessMind Games:Mind in LifeMind TimeMind to MindMind, Brain and the Elusive SoulMindful AngerMindfulnessMindfulnessMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMinding AnimalsMinding MindsMindreadersMindreading AnimalsMinds, Brains, and LawMindsightMindworldsMirrors in the BrainMistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)Models of MadnessMoodMoral Development and RealityMoral MindsMoral Psychology, Volume 1Moral Psychology, Volume 2Moral Psychology, Volume 3Mothers and OthersMotivation and Cognitive ControlMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMovies and the MindMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultiplicityMuses, Madmen, and ProphetsMy Family AlbumMyths about SuicideNarrative IdentitiesNarrative PsychiatryNarratives in PsychiatryNaturalizing Intention in ActionNature and NarrativeNature Via NurtureNeither Bad nor MadNerveNeurobiology and the Development of Human MoralityNeurochemistry of ConsciousnessNeurodiversityNeuroethicsNeuroLogicNeurological Foundations of Cognitive Neuroscience Neuroscience and PhilosophyNo Child Left DifferentNo Two AlikeNot By Genes AloneNot Much Just Chillin'Not So Abnormal PsychologyNurturing the Older Brain and MindOn AnxietyOn Being an Introvert or Highly Sensitive PersonOn Being HumanOn Being MovedOn Deep History and the BrainOn DesireOn KillingOn Nature and LanguageOn PaedophiliaOn 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 PsychologyPositive PsychologyPostcards from the Brain MuseumPostpsychiatryPosttraumatic Stress DisorderPoverty and Brain Development During ChildhoodPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical Management of Personality DisorderPractical Management of Personality DisorderPredicative MindsPredictably IrrationalPreference, Belief, and SimilarityPrenatal Testosterone in MindPrivileged AccessProcess-Based CBTProcrastinationProust Was a NeuroscientistPsychiatric SlaveryPsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychological AgencyPsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychological Dimensions of the SelfPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychologyPsychologyPsychology and Consumer CulturePsychology and LawPsychology and the Question of AgencyPsychology for ScreenwritersPsychology of Women: A Handbook of Issues and TheoriesPsychology's GhostsPsychology's Interpretive TurnPsychology's 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 AdulthoodSchizophrenia 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-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 BoulderSNAPSocial NeuroscienceSocial NeuroscienceSocial NeuroscienceSocial Psychology and DiscourseSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We EatSoul DustSparkSpiral of EntrapmentSplendors and Miseries of the BrainSports Hypnosis in PracticeStanding at Water's EdgeStich and His CriticsStillpowerStop OverreactingStructure and Agency in Everyday LifeStructures of AgencyStuffStumbling on HappinessSubjectivity and SelfhoodSubstance Abuse and EmotionSupersizing the MindSweet DreamsSynaptic SelfTales from Both Sides of the BrainTalking Oneself SoberTalking to BabiesTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeleological RealismTen Years of Viewing from WithinTestosterone RexThat's DisgustingThe 5 Elements of Effective ThinkingThe Accidental MindThe Age of EmpathyThe Altruism EquationThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Clinical PsychiatryThe Anatomy of BiasThe Anxious BrainThe Archaeology of MindThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Art InstinctThe Art of HypnosisThe Asymmetrical BrainThe Bifurcation of the SelfThe Big Book of ConceptsThe Big DisconnectThe Birth of IntersubjectivityThe Birth of the MindThe Blackwell Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge ManagementThe Blank SlateThe Body Has a Mind of Its OwnThe Bounds of CognitionThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe BrainThe BrainThe Brain and the Meaning of LifeThe Brain SupremacyThe Brain That Changes ItselfThe Brain's Way of HealingThe Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors, and BeliefsThe Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive ScienceThe Cambridge Handbook of Situated CognitionThe Character of ConsciousnessThe Chemistry Between UsThe Choice EffectThe Clinical Science of Suicide PreventionThe Cognitive Approach to Conscious MachinesThe Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step ProgramThe Cognitive NeurosciencesThe Cognitive-Emotional BrainThe College Fear FactorThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe Compass of PleasureThe Compassionate ConnectionThe Concepts of ConsciousnessThe Conscious BrainThe Conscious SelfThe Consuming InstinctThe Creating BrainThe Creative BrainThe Crucible of ConsciousnessThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure WithinThe Dao of NeuroscienceThe Developing MindThe Developing MindThe Development of PsychopathologyThe Disappearance of the Social in American Social PsychologyThe Dissolution of MindThe Duty to ProtectThe Educated ParentThe Ego TunnelThe Elephant in the RoomThe Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human ExperienceThe Emotional Foundations of PersonalityThe Emotional Journey of the Alzheimer's FamilyThe Encultured BrainThe Encyclopedia of StupidityThe Enduring Self in People with Alzheimer'sThe Epidemiology of SchizophreniaThe Essential DifferenceThe Ethical BrainThe Evolution of BeautyThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Evolution of CooperationThe Evolution of LanguageThe Evolution of MindThe Evolving BrainThe Executive BrainThe Faces of TerrorismThe Feeling BrainThe Feeling of What HappensThe First IdeaThe Folly of FoolsThe Folly of FoolsThe Folly of FoolsThe Foundations of Cognitive ArchaeologyThe Fundamentalist MindsetThe GapThe Gender TrapThe Geography of BlissThe Gift of ShynessThe Good LifeThe Good LifeThe Happiness HypothesisThe Happiness of PursuitThe Health Psychology HandbookThe Healthy Aging BrainThe Heart of TraumaThe High Price of MaterialismThe History of PsychologyThe Human FaceThe Human SparkThe Hypomanic EdgeThe Imagery DebateThe Immeasurable MindThe Imprinted BrainThe Incredible Shrinking MindThe Innate MindThe Innate MindThe Integrated SelfThe Intentional BrainThe Language of ThoughtThe Languages of the BrainThe Lexicon of Adlerian PsychologyThe Lie DetectorsThe Lives of the BrainThe Lonely AmericanThe Lust for BloodThe Madness of WomenThe Male BrainThe Man Who Lost His LanguageThe Man Who Shocked the WorldThe Man Who Tasted ShapesThe Man Who Wasn't ThereThe Matter of the MindThe Mature MindThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Meaning of EvilThe Meaning of OthersThe Meaning of the BodyThe Measure of MadnessThe Measure of MindThe Medicalization of Everyday LifeThe Mind and the BrainThe Mind in ContextThe Mind of the ChildThe Mind of the HorseThe Mind's EyeThe Mind, the Body and the WorldThe Mind-Gut ConnectionThe Mindful BrainThe Misleading MindThe Moral MindThe Most Dangerous AnimalThe Most Human HumanThe Mother FactorThe Myth of ChoiceThe Myth of Depression as DiseaseThe Myth of Mirror NeuronsThe Myth of Self HelpThe Myth of Self-EsteemThe Myth of the Spoiled ChildThe Nature of the SelfThe Necessity Of MadnessThe Neuro RevolutionThe Neuron and the MindThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New BrainThe New Science of DreamingThe New Science of the MindThe New UnconsciousThe Normal PersonalityThe Origins of FairnessThe Overflowing BrainThe Oxford Companion to the MindThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of MindThe Paradoxical PrimateThe Perfectionist's HandbookThe Peripheral MindThe Phenomenology ReaderThe Philosopher's Secret FireThe Philosophical BabyThe Political MindThe Politics of HappinessThe Positive Side of Negative EmotionsThe Postnational SelfThe Postpartum EffectThe Power of PlayThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Primate MindThe Prism of GrammarThe Psychobiology of Trauma and Resilience Across the LifespanThe Psychological Construction of EmotionThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe Psychology of HappinessThe Psychology of LifestyleThe Psychology of Religious FundamentalismThe Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific MindThe Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific MindThe Psychology of SpiritualityThe Psychology of StereotypingThe Psychology of SuperheroesThe Psychophysiology of Self-AwarenessThe Pursuit of PerfectThe Quest for Mental HealthThe Rational ImaginationThe Ravenous BrainThe Reasons of LoveThe Righteous MindThe Routledge Companion to Philosophy of PsychologyThe Routledge Companion to Philosophy of PsychologyThe 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 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 TerrorismUndoing 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
Many of us are unhappy because of pressure, both social and self-imposed, to be perfect. Unfortunately, this merely leads to frustration and unhappiness, since perfection is impossible and any shortcoming feels like a catastrophic failure. The way to a happier existence is to accept the limitations of our humanity and not to set ourselves impossible objections. The healthy and happy individual is, therefore, not a perfectionist but an 'optimalist,' someone who strives for the best possible but accepts failures as not only inevitable but opportunities to learn and grow. This, at least, is the argument of Harvard-trained psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar and he should know for, as he freely admits, he's something of a perfectionist himself.
The book is dived into three parts. The first four chapters explain the basic theory; the following three chapters apply this to the areas of education, work and love; and finally there are ten brief meditations focused on helping one to make the transition from perfectionist to optimalist (though there are exercises and moments for reflection strewn throughout -- the author recommends that it is a book to work through, rather than read like a novel).
Being broken up in this way makes the text quite readable, even though (or perhaps in part because) it is sometimes a bit repetitive. A sprinkling of the author's personal experiences, bon mots from the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Abraham Lincoln, and appeals to authority (both psychologists and philosophers) helps to maintain the interest. (I have to say that not all of the author's interpretations of philosophers, particularly Plato and Aristotle, struck me as entirely accurate, but that's not the greatest concern here.)
Ben-Shahar draws a basic contrast between perfectionism (which he uses only to describe a negative or maladaptive trait (p. xx)) and 'optimalism.' The distinction is actually more subtle than he sometimes makes it appear. At times it seems 'black or white' -- the perfectionist fears failure, focuses on their destination rather than their journey, thinks in 'all or nothing' terms, is a fault-finder, overly defensive in response to criticism, inflexible, etc -- and the optimalist the opposite (p. 18). In fact, he acknowledges that these attitudes really lie on a continuum and that most people have a bit of both in their make up (pp. 7, 227). Although he often speaks as if the problem with the perfectionist is setting unrealizable targets, the real contrast between the two attitudes seems to be not the content of their goals but how they go about pursuing them (p. 8). The perfectionist expects, or at least hopes for, a straightforward shortcut to his or her destination, while the optimalist is willing to accept -- and learn from -- setbacks along the way.
This actually raises a number of interesting questions about the theory. While Ben-Shahar is open about his own perfectionist elements, and seemingly thinks that his experience can serve as an example to help others overcome such destructive tendencies, presumably it's possible to approach this process itself in the wrong (perfectionist) way. If the perfectionist realizes that her perfectionism is a barrier to her own success and happiness, then she might aspire to become an optimalist -- yet if she wants to be the 'perfect optimalist,' and seeks a shortcut to this destination, then she has not in fact overcome her perfectionism at all. Sadly, these more complex and interesting issues are not really dealt with, since the book is intended for a wider audience. Perhaps, however, they explain why Ben-Shahar remarks that genuine acceptance cannot be merely instrumental or conditional (p. 44).
Since the purpose of the book is practical, rather than theoretical, it is perhaps on the second section -- Applications -- that it should be judged. The prescriptions here seem sensible and to follow from the theory. For example, on love, Ben-Shahar observes that we're never going to find the 'perfect' partner, like in the movies, and constantly expecting such is only going to lead to disappointment. Instead we have to accept our partner's flaws and take the rough with the smooth, which can lead to a stronger relationship with more positive than negative.
My only cavil would be that good advice is purchased at the cost of triviality -- invoking Aristotle's doctrine of the mean, Ben-Shahar frequently tells us to do something, but not too much. In fairness though, it's unrealistic to expect genuine practical wisdom from a book -- and the message throughout is very much that we need to find our own way through life and learn from our own mistakes (I'm surprised that there is no reference to J. S. Mill's ideal of 'experiments in living' here -- he comes up only in a discussion of sexual equality).
The third part of the book simply consists of reflections and exercises designed to help one change. There are moments of insight here -- for example, we find it hardest to change those negative aspects of our personality that we actually value under a different description, e.g. we find it hard to give up our rigidity because we associate it with the virtue of consistency (pp. 169-70). Nonetheless, for the most part I didn't find this section too interesting.
Although I've been somewhat critical in my comments, as a self-help book much of this struck true. I certainly recognize perfectionist traits in myself and many of those that I know. It's easy to see how this causes problems like writer's block, because one thinks that whatever one writes must be perfect and consequently regards anything one does write as not good enough. This book may not be perfect, but that is its message: nothing is, but often it is good enough. This is one that I think we should take to heart and it is a book that I would recommend for anyone battling their own perfectionism and seeking genuine acceptance, success and happiness.
© 2009 Ben Saunders
Dr Ben Saunders, Departmental Lecturer in Philosophy, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.