Psychology's Ghosts The Crisis in the Profession and the Way Back Jerome Kagan

Publication date:
03 Apr 2012
320 pages: 210 x 140 x 30mm


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This book is the product of long thought and profound concern about the state of contemporary psychology. Jerome Kagan, a brilliant thinker and leading researcher in the field, examines current popular practices and assumptions among psychologists. He uncovers a variety of problems that, troublingly, are largely ignored by therapists and researchers alike. Yet solutions are available, Kagan maintains, and his reasoned suggestions point the way to better understanding and treatment of mental illness.

Kagan identifies these critical problems in contemporary psychology: the indifference to the setting in which observations are gathered (the assumption is that similar self-reports of well-being by persons from vastly different ages, social classes, ethnicities, and other criteria reflect similar psychological states); the habit of basing inferences on single measures rather than patterns of measures (even though every action, reply, or biological response a researcher measures can result from more than one set of conditions); the defining of mental illnesses by symptom alone, regardless of its origin; and the treatment of mental disorders with drugs and forms of psychotherapy that are nonspecific to the diagnosed illness. The author's candid discussion will inspire debate - exactly what is needed in a field whose promise remains unfulfilled.

Jerome Kagan is Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Harvard University, where he was director of the Mind/Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative. He is the author of nearly 400 papers and numerous books.

"An intellectual tour de force" "Kagan has written a provocative and challenging book. . . . "Psychology's Ghosts" . . . provide[s] a template for students and the profession to carefully consider whether our science matches our clinical practice. This consideration, in turn, provides a moment to determine whether we as psychologists feel a moral obligation to match science to practice for those we so zealously purport to serve."--Robert G. Frank, "PsycCRITIQUES", American Psychological Association--Robert G. Frank "PsycCRITIQUES, American Psychological Association "