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Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence Paperback – August 22, 2000
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From Library Journal
Noted as the founder of cognitive psychotherapy, Beck (emeritus, Pennsylvania State Univ.) here applies his work to greater social problems, from domestic violence to bigotry, crime, and war. Focusing on involuntary and usually unnoticed thought patterns, Beck's therapy emphasizes relearning. He wants patientsAand, now, everyone from gang members to world leadersAto examine their cognitions rationally with a view to decreasing hostility. Beck's approach is so sweeping that economic, geographic, and racial issues all can be subsumed under it, and he makes a strong case. However, he oversimplifies when he argues that anger, hate, and hostility are the same whether the conflict is between spouses or nations. Unfortunately, he gives short shrift to the constructive aspects of anger and chooses to ignore the psychology of nonviolence, though his approach is consistent with Gandhi's and King's. Still, Beck's broad scope; valuable summaries on prejudice, altruism, and political psychology; and optimistic, humane, and rational treatment of a vital subject recommend this for lay and professional readers.AE. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A reflective consideration of the dysfunctional thinking that results in acts ranging from verbal abuse on the personal level to mass murder on the societal level, as well as suggestions for remedying these problems. Known as the father of cognitive therapy, Beck, professor emeritus of psychology at the Univ. of Penn. School of Medicine, finds parallels between violent reactions of troubled individuals to presumed wrongs, bombings by extremist militant groups, and acts of genocide perpetrated by states. In his psychotherapeutic work with patients, he observed a pattern of thinking that he describes as ``hostile framing,'' that is, perceiving the person one is in conflict with as dangerous and evil and the self as right and good. Such thinking locks the mind in a ``prison of hate'' in which a false image is mistaken for the real person. Beck calls such cognitive distortion ``primal thinking'' because it occurs in the earliest stage of information processing and also in the early developmental stage of children. When primal thinking pigeonholes adversaries as evil, even subhuman, creatures who deserve to be punished, the moral code against killing is weakened. Beck demonstrates how such cognitive errors have led to wife-beating, group rape, the Salem witch trials, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Holocaust, and genocide in Cambodia, Turkey, and the Soviet Union. The cognitive distortions that led to WWI get special attention. There is hope, however, says Beck, who argues that war is not inevitable and asserts that humans have an innate capacity for altruistic behavior to override hostile tendencies and for rational thinking to correct cognitive distortions. He argues that an understanding of individual psychology can provide the tools for developing corrective political and social programs, and he describes how these might operate in preventing child and spousal abuse, juvenile delinquency, and ethnopolitical violence. A provocative and most timely report in this era of ethnic cleansing abroad and high school shootings at home. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
Reading this book allowed me to delve into the inner workings of the violent nature that was nurtured by his untreated personality disorder. He was like two people. One was the person I fell in love with and the other was an angry, irrational and violent human being who terrorized my daughter and I. When he was arrested for domestic battery by strangulation I was left alone, feeling lost and helpless. I had been abused to the point I truly believe I would never be able to survive without him. I was so very wrong.
I began researching and reading on my own after speaking with the jail psychiatrist. Along with my own therapy I discovered answers that put my fears to rest – I was NOT crazy. This book in particular spoke of many other people’s accounts of dealing with these types of behavioral issues in spouses, children and siblings. It helped me get over the self-loathing and realize the issues were with him. I encourage anyone who is dealing with violence to research. Gaining more knowledge into a situation only helps you grasp how you can alleviate yourself from the guilt and shame you become accustomed to carrying.
The book, however, easily kept my interest and used many examples to beautifully illustrate the process that Beck explains. And he does provide some direction for helping to combat anger, hostility, and violence.
Anyone interested in this book may benefit from the following notes that I made:
1. I would like to have seen some information about the duration of the benefits from the cognitive studies that Beck refers to.
2. If you're looking for credible evidence to support a belief (that I would love to have) that we're likely to find ways to significantly prevent or eradicate hate by groups of people, you won't find it in this book.
3. While Beck provides thorough explanations of anger, hostility, and violence, you'll find far more useful tools to combat these patterns in both David Burns' "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy" (Burns has worked with Beck for more than 15 years) and Albert Ellis' classic "A Guide to Rational Living."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Helps understand where the anger and hate comes from.