Category Archives: The Bookshelf

Book Reviews from The Psychology Times

Evolutionary Psychology: The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior by Jack Palmer, PhD and Linda Palmer, MS

Evolutionary Psychology: The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior comes from two very big minds, thinking about big things, in a big way, and at a high level of abstraction. The authors stride quickly through the maze of ideas about the adaptive origins of human behavior, and they do it with a grasp of the big picture that few authors in this area are able to match. All the while it’s as if they’re holding the reader’s hand saying, “There’s more, let’s keep going. It’s all connected.”

With just ten chapters, Ultimate Origins is a “short, broad introduction to evolutionary psychology.” The authors cover every conceivable topic in this complex, fascinating and emerging field, all in 275 pages. They include “Encephalization and the Emergence of Mind,” “Mating and Reproduction,” “Ontogeny,” and “Social Order and Disorder.” Themes tie into current psychological theory with “Personality and Psychopathology,” and flow into Dr. Jack Palmer’s interest in Positive Psychology in “The Creative Impulse,” and “Ancient Mammal in a Brave New World.” The highlights and boxes, called, “Through a Glass Darwinian,” are wonderful.

Readers see how broad the viewfinder is when the authors address our place in the universe, with “From Big Bang to Big Brain.” Jack said, “There are many good books on evolutionary psychology today, but one thing that still makes our book unique is the broad and holistic view that Linda and I take. The study of the evolution of human behavior begins with the “Big Bang,” so we feel that having at least a rudimentary understanding of cosmology and evolutionary biology is enormously helpful for understanding the human mind, behavior, consciousness and our place in the universe. Culture and environment play an essential and significant role, but these can only be completely understood in relation to the greater whole.”

Linda Palmer is Jack’s “beloved wife and best friend of 32 years.” She has a master’s in Experimental Psychology from ULM, is a talented writer, and managing editor for several small publishers. The Palmers have a daughter who works in news and documentary production on the West Coast.

Jack noted his early interest in human origins, reading Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape, at age 15. He completed an undergraduate in zoology at Clemson University, with an emphasis on ethnology, and entered University of Georgia’s biopsychology doctoral program to study primatology. “So,” he noted, “although my Ph.D. is in psychology, my training is grounded in physical anthropology, biology, and psychology. Evolutionary psychology was a natural outgrowth of those interests.”

He decided to write Ultimate Origins when he saw that “Huge strides and discoveries in neuroscience, genetics and evolutionary biology were providing great hope for unlocking the mysteries of human behavior.” After he began teaching physiological psychology and neuropsychology at ULM, he felt the need to “make more of this exciting information available.” So, he designed and began teaching a course on evolutionary psychology. “I wanted to help students understand how the combined effect of genes and environment shape us into what we become. And, how important a positive environment is for the development of children because of how it impacts on the way in which one’s genes express themselves. Human behavior is not the product of just genetics or just environment or a simple combination. The two interact in very complex ways to produce an enormous range and depth of human behavior.”

“It is to ULM’s great credit,” he told me, “that our psychology department has had a strong scientific foundation, more so than most state universities of this size. We have a great faculty and excellent department head, Dr. David Williamson. Both our Psychology Department and our College of Education and Human Development have provided a supportive atmosphere for the science of psychology.”

“At the time I began writing the book, Linda was teaching Physiological Psychology at Louisiana Tech University, and we were enjoying discussing these topics, so that was another motivating factor. The book evolved from our many discussions.” Dr. Palmer is currently working on a new book, Science, Wisdom and the Future: Humanity’s Quest for a Flourishing Earth, due out in 2010. He is both a contributor and the technical editor for the text, with chapters from leaders in physics, business, philosophy, psychology, history, cosmology, religion, and the arts.

Evolutionary Psychology: The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior is available at Barnes & Noble online.

Red Planet Noir by D.B. Grady

Dr. Kelly Ray’s husband, David Brown, just came out with his “hard-boiled detective novel written in the pulp tradition of the 1930’s.” David, writing as DB Grady, calls it a “Raymond Chandler mystery in a Robert Heinlein world…”

“All he wanted was a paycheck to clear some gambling debt. Now Michael is the key figure in a murder conspiracy that’s left a vacuum in the halls of power, with the labor union, mob and military vying for control of Mars.”

Kelly is excited about David’s new book and proud of his many recent publications.

You can find more at www.dbgrady.com.

hornofplenty

Horn of Plenty: Seasons in an Island Wilderness by April Newlin (Dr. April Rieveschl)

From the publisher: “In a series of encounters over seasons and years, Newlin captures the island’s intricate details from the terror of raging wind to the tickle of a snail’s foot. She camps on the edges, hikes the interior, and wades the lagoons, immersed entirely in fourteen rugged miles of woods, ponds, and marsh. In her prose, the island begins to coalesce as an intense and transformative place, a wilderness beyond the grip of mainland sprawl.”

Dr. April Newlin Rieveschl, once resident of New Orleans and graduate of LSU, writes as April Newlin. She is a nature writer. “This is a genre that is non-fiction literature about the natural world,” she explained. “It can include personal essay, natural history, narrative and journal writing. It is interdisciplinary in the sense that nature writers come from many different disciplines – creative writing, biology, ecology, history, astronomy, etc. Some of the better known writers would be Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Rick Bass, and Terry Tempest Williams.”

Horn of Plenty is a work of natural history, combined with personal narrative, about the wilderness island, ten miles off the coast of Mississippi, called Horn Island. With no roadway access, no facilities, no water or electricity, April and her husband traveled by boat to reach this remote site, remaining for days and even a week at a time to research and experience this piece of natural wilderness.

Horn Island was first popularized by the watercolor artist, Walter Anderson whose work hangs in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, at the Walter Anderson Museum, and also has been exhibited at the Smithsonian. For Horn of Plenty, Donald Bradhurn, winner of the Ansel Adams Inaugural Award for conservation photography, contributed his photos to April’s book.

How did she come to write? “I have always had an abiding love of the natural world,” she said, “imprinted from an early age during summers in Waveland, Mississippi and during many family vacations to wondrous landscapes such as Yellowstone.” About 15 years ago, she started reading the nature writers and from there, began her own work. Along the way, she had the help of a very special western writer named Ann Zwinger who became her mentor.

In 1996, April sent in her first submission but never received a response. “Then one day,” she said, “my husband was perusing nature books in a bookstore and came across my essay, in the anthology that had not responded to me, American Nature Writers.”

“In time,” she said, “I became more daring and decided to write a column in the local weekly near our beach house in the Florida panhandle.” While living in New Orleans, running her practice and raising their two sons, she wrote the column Wild Sense, for a full seven years. She has also written for many other venues including magazines such as Audubon and journals such as The Michigan Quarterly Review and Isle, a publication of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. Her latest piece, “Hatch”, will be out next fall, in an anthology of nature writing edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Cohen. She has also become a Master Naturalist in Florida in both Coastal Systems and Wetlands. And, she received a Florida Press Association award for outdoor writing. She and her work are featured in the educational video for the National Seashore Parks along the Gulf Coast.

So, why write? “Because I want to give voice to the beauty and wonder of the natural world, to remind people of their connection to place, and to invite them into that way of being in the world. This is where psychology and nature writing intersect for me. We, as a culture, have become increasingly disconnected from nature and I think that diminishes us. As Thomas Berry said, ‘you can’t have healthy people on a sick planet.’ Theodore Roszak wrote that our relationship with the natural world is but a shrunken vestige, that we have repressed and forgotten the richness and essence of that connection. When place becomes familiar, it becomes part of who we are, it expands our sense of self, it shores up our sense of identity. Heinz Kohut’s concept of self-object works here – the natural world ‘functions’ for the self to shore it up, stabilize it, expand it. I think that it is in our relationship with the other than human world that we discover and realize many more aspects of our own humanity. Have you ever found yourself in the gaze of a wild animal, locked eyes with a bald eagle, come eye-to-eye with a 300 pound loggerhead as she surfaces and breathes? These moments will take you to places within yourself that you cannot get in any other way. Some researchers say that our experience of nature is carried with us after we return to our daily lives, that it enhances our mood and changes how we feel – they call this ‘the wilderness effect’ and it is palpable. Those who live close to the land know their place like an ‘other.’ Knowledge of the birds and their song, of the plants and their seasons brings a familiarity that becomes love. E.O. Wilson calls it ‘biophilia,’ the love of life, of living things. And he says that this is part of who we are, that, you might say, it is instinctual. For me, writing about the natural world couldn’t be a more natural endeavor.”

“I’m listening to the roar of Ida this morning as she swings past on her way inland. I always have a sense of living on the edge here, but never more so than during one of these storms.” (Newlin to Nelson in personal communication.)

Joshua’s Way, by Robert P. Baker

Dr. Robert Baker came to the conclusion that he was going to write Joshua’s Way when he suddenly woke up one night with his “thoughts churning.” He said, “I couldn’t stop it, the whole thing just came to me. I couldn’t get back to sleep until I laid it all out, chapter-by-chapter.”

Dr. Baker, a licensed clinical psychologist in New Orleans, “didn’t do anything practical with the outline for several years,” placing the project on his back burner. But three years later, things changed.

He and his family were driving home at night after Thanksgiving when they found themselves in a terrible thunderstorm. The car began hydroplaning. “Nothing I tried could correct it, nothing worked. We began to spin and spin, around and around. I remember very clearly when we were twirling around, thinking that in the next few seconds we’d all be seriously injured–or die.” But finally the car crashed into the side of the bridge they were on and came to a complete stop– in the middle of the Interstate. Thinking now they’d be hit by oncoming traffic, after somehow surviving this far, he wasn’t sure he could move them out of harm’s way in the damaged vehicle. But luckily Robert was able to start the car and somehow pull over. “Three days later I was on the computer and it was like an egg that cracked, stuff started pouring out of me.” He completed the entire book in only three months.

Joshua’s Way is a mystery, and in the same vein as Celestine Prophecy. Two levels of mystery played out in a story line packed with psychological ideas and spiritual meanings. Bob decided to self-publish, and then went to the major book companies.

“Twelve people gather in a home north of New Orleans for a weekend retreat and are given this promise, “You will likely encounter thoughts, feelings, sensations and intuition beyond anything you’ve ever conceptualized” … “Dr. Joshua Randall plans to share his discoveries that may be key to the next phase of human evolution.” But then he and his wife disappear.

“John Hilliard, private investigator, hired to help solve the mystery of the disappearance of Dr. and Mrs. Randall, finds himself pulled into enigmas far more complicated. What starts as a search for two missing people takes the investigator on a journey to the heart and soul to discover the source of that which we all seek, an answer to the ultimate mystery.”

Fr. Larry Hein, S.J., author of Compassionate Energies Dancing the Cosmic Dance, said, “This is a must for anyone interested in the spiritual journey going beyond the known, …” And Harville Hendrix said, “I could not put it down. It is full of suspense and powerful insights and offers a radical new paradigm for the search for transcendence.”

Up-Coming Events Page 10 Robert said he was inspired by the many intriguing psychological experiments that he has studied along the way in his career, even as far back as graduate school. And Joshua’s Way is rich with these bits and pieces of psychology as well as Louisiana life and landmarks. Somewhat of a Renaissance man, Robert continues to delve into the invisibles, currently exploring quantum physics, hypnosis, power therapeutic modalities and energy healing. He’s still practices some clinical work but is moving more into sports psychology. (See December edition for more on his Master’s Track and Field accomplishments.)

You can purchase the book by email, rbaker1501@aol.com or phone, (504) 834-3393. Or, mail your check for $14.00 (which covers the book and shipping) to Dr. Robert Baker at 1501 Melody Drive, Metairie, LA, 70002.

A Primer of Drug Action

A Primer of Drug Action – Julien, Advokat and Comaty

While not the primary author, contributors Dr. Claire Advokat and Dr. Joseph Comaty are the writing associates for long-time expert Dr. Robert Julien for the 11th edition of the enduring textbook, A Primer of Drug Action.

The first edition was published over 30 years ago, and the work has evolved right along with the science of psychopharmacology, with new discoveries and findings integrated and explained through 21 chapters. Primer continues to be the definitive work on psychopharmacology of drugs and how they impact the mind and behavior of individuals.

Drs. Advokat and Comaty bring their many contributions in the field of psychology and psychopharmacology research to this publication, and provide the second chairs in this indispensable text of biological psychology and neuroscience.

Worth Publishers note that, “With over 40% new research citations, there is no clearer, more current presentation available on the mechanisms of drug action, etiologies of major psychological disorders, rationales for drug treatment, and the uses of psychopharmacology in patient care.” The publisher’s website includes a workbook section where instructors and students can log on to review key concepts, take quizzes, and support the educational experience with a variety of tools

“Once any of it is written,” Claire said, “It goes to Joe or Julien and then back. There are layers and layers in the writing.” Between Claire and Joe, the writing process is “surprisingly smooth.” She said that Joe is a great resource for the work. “I focus on the neuroscience. Bob’s a PhD and MD, but not a psychiatrist or psychologist. Joe’s the clinician, and it’s great to have a spouse so knowledgeable.” Bob Julien has recently asked Claire and Joe if they would complete about 50 percent of the 2011 edition, and they have agreed.

Claire Advokat received her Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology from Rutgers and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Neurobiology and Behavior, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. She came to LSU from the Department of Pharmacology at the U. of Illinois, and here focuses on her primary research interest, Psychopharmacology. “My primary interest is in understanding the clinical effectiveness and the mechanism of action of drugs used in the treatment of mental illness…”

Joseph Comaty is Chief Psychologist/Medical Psychologist, HIPAA Privacy Officer, and Director of the Division of Policy, Standards, and Quality Assurance of the Louisiana State Office of Mental Health. He holds an adjunct faculty appointment at LSU where he collaborates with Claire in research that helps to address why some medications are less effective in practical applications than indicated from results from controlled clinical trials. His primary area of research is clinical psychopharmacology.

A Primer of Drug Action can be purchased at the publishers’ web site: www.worthpublishers.com or at your online bookseller.

My Big Fat Secret: How Jenna Takes Control of Her Emotions and Eating by Dr. Lynn Schechter

“I love to write,” Dr. Lynn Schechter said, explaining that she comes from a long line of literary people, including a grandmother who was one of the first graduates of Wellesley College, English teacher and Dean of a high school. “I’ve always written, whether it was poetry or journaling. I’m a creative person, and I just love to write.”

When her practice in New York and then in Louisiana led her to work with many overweight children, she began to have a growing concern for the struggles of these youngsters. “I saw how they were bullied and teased,” she said, “and how often they were eating out of emotional reasons, turning to food much as adults can.”

She stated that obesity was a multi-factorial problem, and often there are medical issues involved. But her collaborations with pediatricians alerted her to the need for behavioral approaches for these children. And she said, “I saw how often they were eating out of emotional reasons. Many had histories of trauma, anxiety and depression.” Lynn said, “I was motivated by care and a great concern for how these kids are suffering from being overweight.”

But when looking for a children’s book for them, she found “absolutely nothing. There were books for adults about emotional eating. But not one book for children.”

Lynn wrote her book in about an hour and a half, in a flurry of activity. But getting published was a bit different. “It was a journey, a fortuitous and challenging journey,” she said. First, she sent out thirty inquiries and received thirty rejections. Then her book sat for a year until she decided to self-publish. It took another year to find an illustrator, publish, and create sales via a website. But as her work began to be acknowledged and praised, and sales increased, a trip back to APA’s children’s books division, Magination Press, yielded an enthusiastic request from an editor to republish her work.

My Big Fat Secret: How Jenna Takes Control of Her Emotions and Eating is a publication of the American Psychological Association’s children’s book division, Magination Press. It is the featured selection this month and can be purchased at www.maginationpress.com

Dr. Schechter currently works in private practice in Baton Rouge, specializing in psychoeducational assessment and treatment of learning disabilities, attention disorders, developmental and emotional and behavioral problems, emphasizing a culturallysensitive family approach. Her degrees are from Cornell and Columbia University, and she has worked in schools, public clinics, hospitals, and private practice.

In 2007 she presented a paper about experiences as a helper in post 911, post Katrina and Gustav, at APA. It was published in the journal, Traumatology, a Sage Publication.

image

Hypnotically Enhanced Treatment for Addictions by Dr. Joseph Tramontana

Dr. Joseph Tramontana has been a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Louisiana and Mississippi for 38 yrs. He completed a BS degree at the University of New Orleans (then UNO), MA and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Mississippi, and a clinical internship at the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis. He received Certification in Clinical Hypnosis from the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, and is a certified counselor through the National Institute of Sports Professionals. Joe also is a longstanding member of the American, Mississippi, and Louisiana Psychological Associations.

While a mental health administrator, Joe authored and secured a number of federal grants for alcohol and drug abuse treatment. He has been in private practice for the past 31 years; after Hurricane Katrina he moved his office to Baton Rouge. Joe belongs to the Southern Pain Society and the Mississippi Pain Society. One day a week he works at a Pain Management Clinic in the New Orleans area. In addition, once a month he travels to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to see his long-standing, chronic pre-Katrina patients.

Joe has written a comprehensive book for clinicians entitled Hypnotically Enhanced Treatment of Addictions: Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, Gambling, Weight Control, and Smoking Cessation, recently released by Crown House Publishing, Ltd.

The book offers treatment strategies, techniques, and scripts, and also reviews traditional methods of treating addictions in an outpatient population.

According to Bruce Eimer, author of Hypnotize Yourself out of Pain, stated: “This is the book I’ve been waiting for……It is a must read for every conscientious therapist.” Kris Kumar, a faculty member of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, described it as “a truly practitioner-oriented book . . . user friendly with plenty of metaphors, stories, scripts, and techniques.” Dabney Ewin, M.D., former President of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and a highly regarded expert in the hypnosis field, stated ”It is surprising that so little has been written about hypnosis for treating addictions, since it has been so successful in treating other refractory medical and mental disorders. Dr. Tramontana uses it skillfully, and his strategy and scripts are easy to follow.”

Joe is well into writing his next book, Enhancing Peak Performance through Sports Hypnosis.

image

Health Psychology by Dr. Linda Brannon

Dr. Linda Brannon is a Professor of Psychology at McNeese State University, where she teaches a variety of courses in the undergraduate and graduate curricula. Dr. Brannon has been part of the McNeese faculty since she received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She also is a licensed psychologist in the state of Louisiana and the 1998 recipient of the MSU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Professor Award.

Dr. Brannon recently completed the 7th edition of Health Psychology: An Introduction to Behavior and Health, co-authored with Jess Feist. This book, a mainstay in the field of health psychology since the first edition in the 1980s, is known for its scholarship, strong research base, and balanced coverage of cognitive, behavioral, and biological approaches to health psychology. Topics include stress, pain, coping, behavior and chronic disease, and injuries and disease prevention through behavioral modification. Chapters include tips in how to check health risks and how to become healthier. Translations are available in Chinese, Korean, and Spanish.