Psychology

This isn’t mean to be comprehensive, just about what I like / want to study in psychology.

Systems Theory

Attachment Theory

  • Cross-Reference: Marriage & Family Therapy.
  • The Wikipedia article is quite good. R. Chris Fraley has also written an introductory essay on the topic.
  • Developed by John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth carried the theory forward using systematic and quantifiable methods. Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver extended it from child/caregiver relationships to adult romantic relationships (see Wikipedia’s Attachment in Adults) and Kelly Brennan continued this work systematically.
  • Additional important contributors are R. Chris Fraley and Waller (dimensional model), Bartholomew and Horowitz (working models), Baldwin (relational schemas), Overall, Fletcher, and Friesen (hierarchy of working models), Mikulincer, Shaver, and Pereg (relational dynamics), and Collins and Feeney (relationship between attachment and intimacy.
  • The systematic measuring of attachment in children and adults has been attempted via a number of interviews and systems, one can read about them in Wikipedia’s Attachment Measures.
    • R. Chris Fraley has designed a 5 minute online quiz that provides an estimation of one’s attachment style.

Co-Dependence

  • I am particularly fond of Anne Wilson Schaef’s short and somewhat dated work, Co-Dependence: Misunderstood–Mistreated. While it was not Schaef’s intention, I feel this work (from a Christian perspective) is one of the most powerful I have ever read on unveiling the hidden motivations of our hearts (namely those of us who are “good people”) and demonstrating the self-centeredness that often underlies even our “other-centered” and “serving” actions.

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Peter D. Rutter’s book Sex in the Forbidden Zone is essential reading on the nature of cross gender relationships, the role of power dynamics, and the potential for healing when these relationships are utilized correctly.

Nature of Mental Illness

  • Peter Kramer’s Against Depression is a must-read for understanding the physiological underpinnings of at least some mental illnesses and goes far to dispel the notion that mental health does not require similar attention as that we give to physiological health.

Individual Psychologists

  • I enjoy learning not only about psychology but also about the psychologists, I find their lives oftentimes provide significant light into their theories and sometimes biographies are a more accessible means of learning what they thought than their actual theories.
  • Sigmund Freud.
  • Carl G. Jung.
  • Alfred Adler.

Mental Illnesses

  • I’m particularly interested in mental illnesses which directly or indirectly affect me. Either illnesses I have, someone close to me has, or individuals I have provided counsel to has…or maybe if they are just very interesting.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – I have an entire site dedicated to this subject at ocddave.com.
  • Dysthymia – A form of depression, low-level, continuous.
  • Depression – Here I’m speaking primarily of major depressive episodes and I write more extensively on this topic at ocddave.com.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – I’ve begun covering this on ocddave.com.
    • I found Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey’s book Delivered from Distraction (a sequel to Driven to Distraction) fascinating and readable.

Criminal Pathology

  • I’m interested in what makes criminals do what they do. Particularly those who engage in serial crimes – e.g. many pedophiles, rapists, and, of course, serial killers.

Trauma

  • I’m interested in how trauma affects the individual – this includes physical/sexual/emotional abuse, abandonment/neglect, and engagement in violent conflict.
  • I’m also interested in how to effectively assist in recovery from such trauma.

Procrastination

  • What causes procrastination? How do we overcome procrastination? David Allen’s book Getting Things Done has been helpful to me on a practical level.

Marriage & Family Therapy

  • Cross Reference: Attachment Theory, Sexuality, Co-Dependence.
  • Dr. Willard F. Harley Jr. is best known for his book His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, he also runs a fairly extensive and informative website called MarriageBuilders. I haven’t read the book yet, but have read many of the articles on his site and think he provides a good conceptual framework for marital relationships (which, imho, seems to be based in attachment theory) while at the same time being flexible in his consideration of other factors (e.g. personality).
  • Kenneth M. Adams wrote Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners which addresses parentification of children and the creation of surrogate spouses.
  • David Field’s book Marriage Personalities, while becoming a bit dated, is fascinating in that it attempts to explain the common “personalities” of the marriage rather than the individual and how these relationships can work better and what causes them to deteriorate.
  • I’m also interested in the cause and treatment of emotional and physical affairs within a marriage context. Dave Carder’s Torn Asunder is an interesting work from a Christian perspective on this topic and combines both theory of why affairs occur with practical steps to ending/reconciling. James Dobson’s Love Must Be Tough offers an interesting perspective on the best method for the abandoned/betrayed spouse to reconcile the marriage.

Dreams & Subconscious

  • I don’t attribute a ton of meaning to dreams nor do I feel I am driven by unknown desires rooting below the surface. However, I do believe that there are some aspects of these ideas that are true and I have seen that my brain sometimes uses sleep and dreams as a way to process various difficult relationships/situations/concepts I am dealing with.
  • One book I read on the topic which resulted in me having a number of vivid and meaningful dreams (while reading it, not since) is Carl G. Jung’s Man and His Symbols.

Neuroscience

  • At a lay and practical level, Dr. Daniel G. Amen’s book Change Your Brain Change Your Life is fascinating. I’m especially excited about where SPECT scans may lead us both in diagnosis and also treatment of mental illness. Also at the lay level, though from a more controversial, holistic, “functional” perspective is Dr. Mark Hyman’s The UltraMind Solution.

Sexuality

  • I’m interested in various aspects of sexuality – primarily hetero and homosexuality. Especially regarding ethical/moral/religious considerations.
  • John White’s book Eros Defiled is quite fascinating on this topic. He addresses bluntly a number of fairly explicit topics within a Christian framework taking sometimes controversial positions (some of which he will recant in future works). He was a psychiatrist, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and felt same-sex attraction and thus provides fascinating insights from a number of perspectives.

History

  • I’m fascinated by the development of psychological theory across time. The best book I’ve read on the topic thus far is Morton Hunt’s voluminous The Story of Psychology.

Treatment Methods

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This seems to be one of the most popular therapies currently available. Dr. David D. Burns’ Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy is a practical self-help volume that utilizes CBT. It is a bit verbose for my liking and has a significant amount of unnecessary profanity, but is the best book I have read thus far on CBT.
  • Analytical Psychology (Jungian) – C.G. Jung fascinates me, a lot of his ideas seem pretty crazy to me – but he also seems to have been spot on in some areas…so this combination of craziness/genius fascinates me. Also, Peter D. Rutter is Jungian and his book Sex in the Forbidden Zone is a must-read.
  • Nouthetic – This is a form of Christian counseling founded by Jay Adams. Highly controversial it is sometimes called “biblical counseling.” I’ve read Adam’s Competent to Counsel – which was fascinating and far-ranging – but I had a hard time pulling out the overall principles due to its wide-ranging nature.
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) – Formulated by Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg in the 1980’s. Closely tied to attachment theory, is utilized in marital counseling, over a relatively short period of time and shows a high success rate. See the Wikipedia article Emotionally Focused Therapy for a good introduction to the topic and the ICEEFT‘s website for a more extensive and scholarly consideration.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Formulated by Marsha M. Linehan to treat BPD. It combines CBT with meditative practices and seems to be at least moderately successful in treating BPD. It is also showing promise for the treatment of other disorders. See the Wikipedia article Dialectical Behavior Therapy for an introduction to the topic.
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy – Later innovations on Freud’s psychoanalysis.

Addictions

  • I’m interested in all addictions – primarily the underlying causes of addiction (e.g. predisposing genetic/biological, trauma, self-medication, etc.) and their treatment. I also have a significant interest in “soft addictions” (socially acceptable addictions which usually don’t have the same visible or tragic consequences, at least as quickly, as other addictions).
  • I’m interested in issues regarding sexual addiction – particularly the appeal of pornography, the treatment of addiction to pornography, and sexual addictions more generally.

Psychiatric Medications

  • Prozac (fluoxetine) – Used to treat anxiety and depression.
  • Adderall (amphetamine) – Used to treat attention deficit issues.
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion) – Used to treat anxiety and depression.
  • Zoloft – Used to treat anxiety and depression.

Personality Disorders

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Romantic Love

  • Particularly in the factors that draw two individuals together and the process of maturation in the relationship. Also the contrasts between relationships built upon romantic love and those founded via arranged marriages.
  • Individuals who have written on this topic from a psychological perspective include Helen Fisher (Why We Love), John Townsend (What Women Want, What Men Want), Karen Horney, Harold Bessell (The Love Test), Lisa M. Diamond, and Martie Haselton.
  • The Wikipedia article Romance Love is helpful on this topic.

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