Top critical review
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Take a pill
on September 5, 2008
Why don't textbook publishers understand that students have a lot of things to carry? This book weighs a ton and there is no need for it. It has extremely wide margins (on some pages, half the page is blank!) and lots of unnecessary photos. Perhaps the book's size is an attempt to justify its hefty price.
As an introductory textbook to the science of Psychology, the book has its strong points and its weak ones. It does a fairly good job of giving a general overview and the five major perspectives (neuroscientific, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and humanistic), but I think that there are two major problems with the book. The first is that it is very American-centered. The European roots of Psychology are given short shrift, and even largely pooh-poohed. Freud is regarded as just one of many pioneers and his work is extremely oversimplified and, I would say, misrepresented. The author seems obsessed with the anal stage of development, to the point of neglecting virtually everything else Freud taught. The second problem with the book for me is that the author appears to be a strong proponent of the neuroscientific approach and devotes far too much attention to it, when compared with the other approaches. A large portion of the book is devoted to extremely detailed lessons in anatomy and physiology. The other perspectives are not covered in nearly the same detail. I also felt that there should have been a discussion of the potential abuses of the behavioral approach and the downside of the chemical approach to dealing with disorders. (Do we really want our society dependent upon drugs in order to cope with daily life?)
But the book is commendable on some levels. It is far less propagandistic than most textbooks these days. However, the author appears to bend over backwards to emphasize the importance of women in the field of psychology. He would not have had to do so if he had given more space to the European pioneers. I found it odd that he seems to regard the relatively obscure Leta Stetter Hollingsworth as worthy of almost as much attention as Sigmund Freud. Those sections dealing with sleep and with scientific method were quite well done though.
On the whole, I'd rate the book as worthy of three stars. It's not really bad, but it could be a lot better. I hope that there are better introductory textbooks available. If I were an instructor I'd shop around some more before using this one.