Psychology

Excerpt: Jamie Cohen-Cole’s The Open Mind

January 17, 2014
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Excerpt: Jamie Cohen-Cole’s The Open Mind

Excerpt from The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature by Jamie Cohen-Cole

The Cold War was a time when psychology came into its own as a tool of social analysis. With marked rapidity the structural, institutional, and economic ways of understanding American society that had dominated academic and public discourse in preceding decades gave way to explanations framed in terms of the psyche. Historian Carl Schorski, recalling the intellectual currents of the immediate postwar period, found the “sudden blaze of interest in Sigmund Freud” particularly memorable. “Truly the premises for understanding man and society,” he wrote, “seemed to be shifting from the social-historical to the psychological scene.” The sociologist Daniel Bell observed at the threshold of the 1960s that the previous decade “mark the difference” between “a Marxist analysis of America” and one cast in a “cultural anthropology cum a Jungian and nervous sociological idiom.” So warmly, it seems, had American intellectuals and social critics embraced the psychological idiom that eight years later the political writer Samuel Lubell could write, in the influential political journal Public Interest, “our society seems to have developed a predilection, even craze, for . . .

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The Last Walk: the bioethics of end-of-life care for our companion animals

September 24, 2012
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The Last Walk: the bioethics of end-of-life care for our companion animals

“People ask me how I knew it was time. There was no watershed, but a slow accumulation of miseries. Ody had been in serious decline for six months. Partial paralysis of his laryngeal muscles made it hard for him to breathe, and he would begin to pant at the slightest exertion. His once deep tenor bark had transformed into a raspy Darth Vader croak. The signals from his addled brain often failed to reach his body, so when I walked him he left a Hansel and Gretel trail of pee and poop behind him. His muscles atrophied, and his walk was crab-like and unsteady. He grew increasingly uninterested in food and people, his two great passions. Worst of all, he began falling more and more frequently and was unable to get up by himself.

Toward the end, I would wake in the night to scuffling sounds. I’d search the house and find Ody trapped behind the piano or tangled up in the exercise equipment. It was on the fourth such night that my husband said: ‘It’s time. We can’t do this to Ody anymore.’

Euthanasia is deeply entrenched in the culture . . .

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Marc Bekoff on the sentience of animals

May 9, 2012
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Marc Bekoff on the sentience of animals

Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is an internationally acknowledged expert on animal behavior and cognition. In 2009, the University of Chicago Press published Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, a book he coauthored with Jessica Pierce, which uses cutting-edge developments in psychology, biology, and cognitive science to demonstrate  the broad repertoire of moral behaviors and nuanced emotions exhibited by animals.

Recently, Bekoff was a guest on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, where he contributed to a feature about service veterans reuniting with their companion animals. The juxtaposition of Bekoff’s commentary, which was fed into the segment via video chat, with the documentary footage of dogs greeting their returning owners in backyards, airports, and living rooms, illustrated another angle of Bekoff’s research: animals are sentient, social beings, capable of developing deep bonds—the experience of which clearly transcends even technological mediation.

Bekoff recently commented on Pierce’s forthcoming book The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives, which combines wrenching personal narratives and scientific research to consider a wide range of questions about animal aging, end-of-life care, and death. “Decisions about how to treat an animal . . .

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I thought Don Draper wanted Nixon to win?

November 10, 2010
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I thought Don Draper wanted Nixon to win?

Uh-oh. TV Squad has the contemporary political equivalent of the long-stemming left brain-right brain debate: a chart of the most popular Republican and Democratic television shows (with the opposing party’s strangely proportional tally in parentheses!). Based on a new study by Experian Simmons, the results situate the Grand Old Party on the couch in front of populist-charting favorites such as American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, while the lefties decompress with Law and Order: SVU and Mad Men. Chart toppers? Op-ed news network programming faves Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann, rather unsurprisingly.

Nearly twenty-five years ago, public opinion studies pioneers Shanto Iyengar and Donald R. Kinder first published News that Matters: Television and American Opinion. Just released in an updated edition, the book was the first to document a series of sophisticated and innovative experiments that demonstrated how the order and emphasis of news stories varied in selected television broadcasts. Now hailed as a political science classic, News that Matters, Updated Edition (with a new preface and epilogue, and available as an ebook) shows how and why extended coverage in the national news and broadcast television causes matters to gain or lose credibility, as criteria for everything . . .

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Press Release: Paley, The Boy on the Beach

April 15, 2010
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Press Release: Paley, The Boy on the Beach

Study after study has tackled the question of how young children learn—and for decades Vivian Gussin Paley has argued that if we want the best answers to that question, we simply need to listen to children. In her nearly fifty years as a teacher and writer, Paley has done just that, listening closely as kids, at play and at school, tell stories, invent characters, and imagine situations to help them understand the complicated and surprising world around them.

With The Boy on the Beach, Paley continues her listening, using the stories of young children—recounted in their own words—to help understand how they use play and stories to build community in the classroom, on the playground, and at home. She then follows a kindergarten class through one school year, letting us watch as the children get to know one another and their teacher, and incisively analyzing the role their increasingly shared imaginative lives play in their education and development. Never less than charming, yet rich with ideas and insight, The Boy on the Beach is vintage Vivian Paley, sure to be embraced by teachers and parents alike.

Read the press release.

Also read an excerpt from the book.

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Haiti—What is the lesson here?

January 20, 2010
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Haiti—What is the lesson here?

Kevin Rosario, author of The Culture of Calamity: Disaster and the Making of Modern America has written an insightful piece for the Wall Street Journal on Haiti’s recent tragedy. Drawing on the topic of his book Rosario’s article offers a brief historical account of how Western culture has interpreted similar disasters in the past and details the rise of what he calls a “dominant narrative of disasters as instruments of progress”—a narrative which, in light of recent calamities like Katrina and Haiti, Rosario notes might itself be starting to fall apart.

Navigate to the Wall Street Journal website to read the article, or for a more thorough examination of how disasters have played out in the Western consciousness pick up a copy of The Culture of Calamity, or read an excerpt.

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The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion on WGN’s Extension 720

November 30, 2009
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The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion on WGN’s Extension 720

WGN’s Milton J. Rosenberg recently invited several guests on his radio talk show Extension 720 to discuss the press’s recent publication of The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion—the definitive reference book for parents, social workers, researchers, educators, and others who work with children.

Listen in as editor-in-chief Richard A. Shweder, contributor Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, and house editor Mary Laur, talk about their new book and field questions from callers on the WGN Extension 720 website.

Bringing together contemporary research on children and childhood from pediatrics, child psychology, childhood studies, education, sociology, history, law, anthropology, and other related areas, The Child contains more than 500 articles—all written by experts in their fields and overseen by a panel of distinguished editors led by anthropologist Richard A. Shweder—each providing a concise and accessible synopsis of the topic at hand. In addition to these topical essays, The Child also contains more than forty “Imagining Each Other” essays, which focus on the particular experiences of children in different cultures. Compiled by some of the most distinguished child development researchers in the world, The Child is an essential addition to the current knowledge on children and childhood.

To find out more navigate to this special website for . . .

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Elyn Saks Wins 2009 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship

September 22, 2009
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Elyn Saks Wins 2009 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship

Earlier this morning the Chicago based MacArthur Foundation released a list of its 2009 fellowship recipients including author and legal scholar Elyn Saks. Saks is best known for her work in mental health policy advocacy, addressing legal issues related to those suffering from severe mental illness including involuntary commitment, competency to be executed, proxy consent, and the right to refuse treatment. She has published many books on these issues including Refusing Care: Forced Treatment and the Rights of the Mentally Ill—an insightful exploration of when, if ever, the mentally ill should be treated against their will—and, more recently, a memoir of her own battle with schizophrenia in The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.

The MacArthur Fellowships, also known as “genius grants,” provide each recipient with $500,000 over five years to facilitate subsequent creative work. We are proud to have supported Saks in her past endeavors and look forward to her future contributions to the field of mental health advocacy as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

And as we congratulate her, we add her name to the growing list of Press authors who have received a MacArthur fellowship, including 2008 fellowship recipient and author of Medieval and Early Renaissance . . .

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Obsession: The TV Show

May 27, 2009
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Obsession: The TV Show

Did you catch the premiere Monday night of A&E’s new candid reality show Obsessed? (If you missed it, you can watch full episodes at AETV.) The program follows sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder that, according to the title cards at the beginning of the show, affects 3.3 million Americans. In the first episode, Helen, who suffers panic attacks while driving and must check and recheck her alarm clock before bed, and Scott, a germaphobe who sleeps on his couch because making the bed perfectly every morning would prove too insurmountable, get relief from their debilitating rituals through intensive behavioral therapy. At the end of the episode, viewers learn than Helen can now drive on the freeway and Scott has welcomed a new housemate—a dog.

With this television show’s debut, OCD had entered the living rooms of all cable subscribers. And chances are, many viewers will recognize a bit of themselves in the participants portrayed on their screens. But OCD wasn’t always so prevalent. The psychological disorder was considered very rare—afflicting perhaps one in twenty thousand—only thirty years ago. So how did we go from that to a world where OCD gets its own reality show so quickly?

Lennard . . .

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Who is the Gold Leaf Lady?

April 23, 2009
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Who is the Gold Leaf Lady?

On a slow day in Northampton, Mass., after they had seen the only movie in town, Stephen Braude’s friends convinced him to play “this game called table-up”—or, in other words, to have a seance. Thus began the “sordid and complicated tale” of Braude’s exploration of the paranormal in everyday life—-a story whose most recent chapter is The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations.

In a conversation this week with his colleague Rennie Short—currently airing on the University of Maryland Baltimore County YouTube channel—Braude discusses his evolution from a hard-nosed materialist to a president of the Parapsychological Association. Along the way, he discusses some of the most fascinating case studies from The Gold Leaf Lady—including, of course, the book’s namesake. After watching the video, you can learn even more in this excerpt.

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