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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon one of Tom's 50 CLASSICS books while doing an internet search one day, and I was so excited about the concept! For a person like me-- who loves books related to self-help, success, spirituality, and psychology and yet struggles to find time to read the many that are out there, this concept is absolutely ideal. In this busy and information-overloaded world, it's impossible for most of us to read all of the books that Tom has read for each 50 CLASSICS, much less retain the information in each. Thankfully, Tom has done the challenging and time-consuming work to make this important information more accessible for all of us. He has identified some of the most influential authors in each area and summarized their work in a clear and well-organized manner. Furthermore, in the introduction to each of his books, Tom includes a well-written overview of all the authors and books included in each 50 CLASSICS. In these overviews, he further summarizes the books and themes in ways that make the information easy-to-understand and remember. All of this gives the reader extremely helpful and educational information in a clear, concise format-- and in one book that easily can be reviewed often. I believe that's what it takes to have any hope of truly retaining the main ideas of so many excellent books and truly applying them to make positive changes in one's life. Furthermore, Tom's identification of such interesting authors and books, some of which I hadn't heard of before, has helped me identify some titles that I want to read in their entirety (when I can find the time, of course)--and thankfully, Tom's summaries will always be helpful reminders of the main points. 50 PSYCHOLOGY CLASSICS is an excellent addition to the 50 CLASSICS collection, and I believe it's very helpful for psychology professionals (my mom is one and greatly appreciates this book too), interested amateurs (as I am), and students as well. Thank you, Tom! I hope there will be more 50 CLASSICS in the near future!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Following on from Tom Butler-Bowdon's previous volumes in the "50 Classics" series, this first class collection of summaries of key psychology books and authors continues in the same broad, accessible, but also in-depth, style.

As the sub-title says, psychology is all about who we are, how we think, what we do. In other words, what it means to be human. Topics covered include the unconscious mind, happiness and mental health, the study of personality, motivation, love, creativity and relationships.

With key "in a nutshell" comments, the author cuts to the essential message of each writer, while addressing more complex subtleties in the accompanying text. As with Tom's other books, there is a very wide range of carefully chosen authors. I had come across several here in an academic context, but in general the emphasis is on popular psychology, "Psychology for nonpsychologists" as the jacket puts it. The range includes RD Laing, Oliver Sacks, Fritz Perls, Ivan Pavlov, Eric Berne, to pick a few random names. The founding fathers such as William James and Sigmund Freud are covered, alongside over a century's worth of contributions right up to Malcolm Gladwell with his 2005 bestseller on the importance of first impressions and split-second judgment.

There is a huge amount of psychological and self-development literature available these days. It can be difficult to know where to begin but each volume in the "50 Classics" is an excellent starting point. "50 Psychology Classics" is another winner in the series and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Kings who sent out explorers would eagerly await the gems, riches, and exotica with which the explorers returned. We all live like relative kings now, and our explorer, Tom Butler-Bowdon has returned once again, this time with rich insights into the human mind.

What determines our personality? Is it our genetics, our environment, or circumstantial conditioning? What about our primary motivation? Is it sexual, our will to power, sheer survival, or our desire to close our personal existential gap? Since your mind was already focused on sex, how does our sex affect the way our minds work, and how is the way our minds feel about sex affected by our sex to begin with? And what is going on in the minds of others and how do we best communicate with them?

For lifelong learners, this book is another joy. We have the same time leverage provided by 50 Self-Help Classics, 50 Success Classics, and 50 Spiritual Classics. For each work, Tom gives us his consistent format of introductory quotes, the main idea in one sentence, related chapters, the distillation of the work, final comments, and relevant author biographical information. These books have raised the content level of my professional speaking and training faster than any other series. This is high density mind food!

Unlike the kings of old, we can easily experience the explorer's destinations by using Butler-Bowdon's book as a travel guide. When you do follow up by reading his chosen classics you will be impressed by his accuracy in crystallizing the essence of the works he has studied. Be the beneficiary of his intellectual journey!

ATTENTION: IF YOU ARE A COLLEGE STUDENT TAKING LOW LEVEL PSYCH COURSES, BUY AND READ THIS BOOK. IT WILL GIVE YOU AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE IN LECTURES, ON TESTS, AND WRITING PAPERS.

You will grow intellectually. You will grow personally. Your insights as you interact with others around you will increase.

Maybe you'll come to the conclusion that even the possibility of our exchange of ideas is only because of the convenient fiction of personality produced by the mechanisms of our mind. Quick, read another chapter!

Get the whole set of 50 Classics. They are also a great listen in audio book format!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's fun to be reminded, for example, of the "games people play" (Eric Berne) and, finally, I've learned how to pronounce the last name of flow theorist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ("Chick-sent-me-hi"). But I don't consider Malcolm Gladwell, however smart and entertaining and interesting he is, to be on a par with Carl Jung and Karen Horney. I only recommend this book if you're looking for a Reader's Digest approach to psychology.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As a psychology instructor, I found 50 Psychology Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon to be a well-written, informative treasure trove of information about the theories, concepts, and lives of some of psychology's greatest. In fact, for weeks I've been sharing so many tidbits of information (like Erik Erikson changing his name after he became a United States citizen) with my students that many are probably getting tired of hearing about this awesome book. As expected, the BIG names such as Freud, Skinner, Watson, Erikson, and Maslow are included, and so were some lesser known people whose work I admire. Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences, Gail Sheehy and her passages of adult life, and Daniel Coleman and his concept of emotional intelligence are but a few of the psychologists included.

My personal favorites include Fritz Perls, noted Gestalt psychologist of yesteryear, and Daniel Seligman, cognitive psychologist. I had forgotten about Perls and his original way of thinking and of dealing with patients. His admonition to "lose your mind and come to your senses" is a concept that I've thought about many times since reading this passage. Perls felt that people think too much, and that with their tendency to overanalyze and fret about things, they fail to truly experience life and its richness. The summary of how Seligman gained insight into his grouchiness at age 50 was quite interesting, and I was fascinated by how he turned this insight into research about the cognitive elements of happiness.

Well-organized and easy to read, each of the 50 classics begins with a few famous quotes from the psychologist before proceeding to "in a nutshell," an overview of the psychologist's work, and a brief biographical sketch. It's reassuring to see this reference book on my shelf, and I'm thinking of buying some for gifts. Yes, it's that good.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Previously, I read and reviewed Tom Butler-Bowdon's 50 Self-Help Classics and 50 Success Classics and was not surprised to find that his most recently published volume in the "50 Classics" series is their equal in terms of the quality and value of the material provided. Butler-Bowdon employs essentially the same format for the three volumes: brief background on each source, major insights, final comments, and mini-bio of author. The "great thinkers" he discusses in 50 Psychology Classics are also organized in alphabetical order, although I would have preferred (one man's opinion) that they had been organized within discrete thematic clusters, and not in alphabetical order but in terms of sequence of influence. Sigmund Freud followed by Carl Jung and Alfred Adler and then Anna Freud followed by B.F. Skinner, for example. Frankly, as I checked out the table of contents, I was initially surprised to see Edward de Bono, Howard Gardner, Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Goleman, Steven Pinker, Gail Sheehy, and William Styron among the "iconic figures" listed so I read their segments first and, sure enough, Butler-Bowdon explains the inclusion of each.

In the Introduction, he provides an overview on the development of modern psychology as a field of study, once "early titans" (e.g. Williams James, Sigmund Freud, Jung, and Adler) had written books that the general public could understand. Within the Introduction, he also suggests seven themes that offer different perspectives on "who we are, how we think, and what we do" and assigns to each a cluster of relevant commentaries. Readers can then decide which themes are of greatest interest to them, and, on which selections to focus. For example, five sources are suggested for "Tapping the unconscious mind: Wisdom of a different kind." They are:

The Gift of Fear (Gavin de Becker)
My Voice Will Go With You (Milton Erickson by Sidney Rosen)
The Interpretation of Dreams (Sigmund Freud)
Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)
The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Carl Jung)

I read some books cover-to-cover sequentially; with others, I hop around back and forth in random fashion; with still others, I read strategically after checking out the table of contents, as I did with this one. My guess (only a guess) is the latter approach will work best for most readers and many may decide what to read and in what order after reviewing the seven thematic clusters in the Introduction. For those who feel overwhelmed by the number of books in print and need help selecting what will be of greatest interest to them, the volumes in the "50 Classics" series will be especially valuable.

I view Butler-Bowdon is an erudite "travel agent" for readers, but also as an enthusiastic "tour guide" who then accompanies them from one "landmark" to the next. One of this book's several value-added benefits is that Butler-Bowdon discusses several authors and works of which many (if not most) of his readers may have been previously unaware. He also does a skillful job of comparing and contrasting perspectives on a specific subject as in this volume, for example, when noting that a "central idea in Adlerian psychology is that individuals are always striving toward a goal. Whereas Freud saw us as driven by what was in our past, Adler had a teleological view - they we are driven by our goals, whether they are conscious or not."

Those who share my regard for this book are urged to check out the other volumes in the "50 Classics" series. To those in business, I also highly recommend several volumes in the Capstone reference series written by Des Dearlove, notably The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2009
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I purchased this on audio and feel it needed more discussion on subject matter in the books. It seemed like there was about an equal amount of time listing "books in a simiar vein" and not enough time discussing what the point of that particular book was. Felt kind of like reading the credits of a movie that were an hour long but the movie was only 20 minutes.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book offers an engaging overview of 50, for the most part, widely popular psychology books as well as short biographies of their authors. Knowing the backgrounds of these psychologists helps to understand where they are coming from and what motivated them to explore a particular area of human mind, or behavior and arrive at particular conclusions.

Some of the authors covered are William James, Sigmund Freud, Karl Gustav Jung, Abraham Maslow, Dr. Milton Erickson (as a hypnotherapist, I was thrilled that he was mentioned here), Robert Cialdini, David Burns, and many others who have contributed not only to the greater understanding of human mind and behavior, but also to creating methods and techniques some appropriate for use within therapeutic environment and others designed to help people to use on their own to cope better with life's challenges, to feel better and to live more satisfying lives.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
It's a nice book, but just an annotaded bibliography. Moreover, I thought it was a book that discussed psychology thoughts by psychologists or therapists, but the author presents summaries of books and/or ideas written by people who were not psychologists!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2014
Format: Audio CD
An interesting and informative CD providing a precis of many of the most influential psychology texts of the last 100 years. The books discussed include:
Fritz Perls The Gestalt Approach
Jean Piaget The Language and Thought of the Child, …
Carl Rogers On Becoming a Person
BF Skinner Beyond Freedom & Dignity
Alfred Adler Understanding Human Nature
Victor Frankel Man's Search for Meaning
Anna Freud The Ego and the Mechanisms of Self Defence
Robert B. Cialdini Influence: the Psychology of Persuation
Martin E. P. Seligman Authentic Happiness
Steven Pinker The Blank Slate
Susan Forward Emotional Blackmail
David Burns Feeling Good
Louann Brizendine The Female Brain
Howard Gardner Frames of Mind
Robert Thayler The Origin of Everyday Moods
Barry Schwartz The Paradox of Choice
V. S. Ramachandran Phantoms in the Brain
Daniel Gilbert Stumbling on Happiness
Daniel Goleman Working with Emtional Intelligence
Malcolm Gladwell Blink
Douglas Stone Difficult Conversations
Eric Berne Games People Play
Gavin de Becker The Gift of Fear
Edward DeBono Lateral Thinking
Oliver Sacks The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
Gail Sheehy Passages
Robert Bolton People Skills
Nathaniel Brandeis The Psychology of Self-Esteem
John Gottman The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
Eric Berne Transactional Analysis

for those looking for an overview of the different branches of psychology these CDs provide a great introduction. Listeners are then able to delve further into their areas of interest by purchasing the the books of interest. I would note though that most, but not all, of the books are older, dating from the 1900's to the 1980s. I assume that there were copyright issues in in using more recent books but this is just a guess.
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