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House of Cards - Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth Hardcover – March 14, 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Dawes (social and decision sciences, Carnegie Mellon Univ.) presents a strong argument, based on empirical research, that psychotherapy is largely a shill game. He argues that while studies have shown that empathetic therapy is often helpful to people in emotional distress, there is no evidence that licensed psychologists or psychiatrists are any better at performing therapy than minimally trained laypeople. Nor are psychologists or psychiatrists any better at predicting future behavior than the average person--a disturbing conclusion when one contemplates the influence such "experts" have on the U.S. judicial system. While other books have criticized the psychologizing of our society, none has been so sweeping or so convincingly argued. This book raises such important societal issues that all academic and public libraries have a duty to make a permanent place for it on their shelves.
- Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (March 14, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029072050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029072059
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a therapist myself, so I naturally began reading this book with trepidation. But instead of the blanket attack I expected, I found instead a very carefully written book that exposes that deeply flawed foundations to much of current psychotherapy, pop psychology, and professional reputation. I read this book at a time in my own career when a respect for science and the need for verifiable information were re-emerging, and House of Cards has provided me with a number of insights and tools that have helped me to provide therapy that is more effective and that avoids pie-in-the-sky promises or beliefs. Dawes is right: although therapy is not a science itself, it should be founded on scientific knowledge.
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Format: Paperback
House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth by Robyn M. Dawes, critically examines Clinical Psychology and exposes facts that many psychologists would rather have hidden. The author is an Experimental Psychologist and the 1990 winner of the APA William James Award. He is very bold in trying to uphold the truth and convincingly demonstrates what the title suggests.
Perhaps the most striking issue covered in this book is the discussion on studies that evaluate the efficacy of psychotherapy. In 1977, Mary Smith and Gene Glass published an article in American Psychologist which found that on a statistical level, psychotherapy works. Not that everyone improved, or no one got worse from treatment, but on a statistical level people were better off on the measure examined than someone chosen at random. Smith and Glass also found that the therapists' credentials (Ph.D., M.D., or no advanced degree), the therapists' experience, the type of therapy given (with the possible exception of behavioral techniques for well circumscribed behavioral problems), and the length of therapy were unrelated to the effectiveness/success of the therapy.
As Dawes states:
"In the years after the Smith and Glass article was published, many attempts were made to disprove their finding that the training, credentials, and experience of therapists are irrelevant. These attempts failed. (p.55)"
Very few books written by psychologists try to realistically look at psychology's flaws. Although psychology pays lip service to the concept of critically examining its tenants, it is seldom done. Mainstream psychology often dismisses books such as this one in passing as "harsh criticism" and ignores the message they offer.
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Format: Paperback
Robyn Dawes, in the House of Cards, takes great pains to carefully document the most common and dangerous myths that underlie the fields of mental health treatment. The author's writings are firmly grounded in research, and the conceptual integrations are presented in a manner that is easy to understand for both the students of mental health related disciplines, consumers of mental health, and the seasoned mental health professional. In this book, Dawes models one of the central goals of college education; the value of critical analysis. Further, she sets the stage for mental health professionals to behave in a manner that is consistent with the research, and thus finally hold themselves accountable for the work they do with clients. A magnificent book with wide ranging implications for mental health professionals and their consumers. Pay attention, this book is the real truth about the approaches used to alleviate the suffering of clients of mental health professionals. Be accountable!!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robyn Mason Dawes (1936-2010) was an American psychologist with the Oregon Research Institute, who wrote other books such as Rational Choice in an Uncertain World: The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, Everyday Irrationality: How Pseudo- Scientists, Lunatics, And The Rest Of Us Systematically Fail To Think Rationally, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1994 book, "As I argue throughout this book, behavior is influenced by multiple factors. My own decision to write this book has been motivated by two factors in particular: anger, and a sense of social obligation... Why is anger a motivation for writing this book? Because the rapid growth and professionalization of my field, psychology, has led it to abandon a commitment it made at the inception of that growth. That commitment was to establish a mental health profession that would be based on research findings, employing insofar as possible well-validated techniques and principles... Instead of relying on research-based knowledge in their practice, too many mental health professionals rely on 'trained clinical intuition.' ... I am angered when I see my former colleagues make bald assertions based on their 'years of clinical experience' in settings of crucial importance to others' lives---such as in commitment hearings... or about suspected child sexual abuse... I feel a sense of obligation because society has supported my research and has personally supported me sufficiently well that I do not... have to take a vow of semipoverty to pursue my interests." (Pg.
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