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Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior Paperback – 2010
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Writing paramilitary fiction, my characters are subjected to traumatic experiences as a matter of course. I have tried numerous books about psychology in an effort to understand how these experiences would affect them, as well as how those trying to help them would act, and came away more confused than ever. Usually because the books were obviously written for those either in the psychology field or studying it--using jargon that made it impossible to know how to use the information without danger of sounding like the non-professional I am.
The Writer's Guide to Psychology, however, is written as obviously for the author dealing with these situations as those other books were written for psychology professionals. It not only gives clear information on what characters suffering from various psychological problems will feel but it also gives useful information on writing the therapist helping those characters.
A wonderful resource for an author who needs to write about a psychology professional/situation without having to go to medical school!
She also describes the seclusion room as always having a gurney, which is then removed when a patient is put in there and the mattress and sheet left behind. In the seclusion room I saw in '94, there was a thin mat on the padded floor and nothing else.
She explains that "in some wards, a hidden whiteboard" in the nurses' station shows patients' privileges. In this hospital, the board was visible to all patients (which obviously was highly unethical in retrospect).
I loved it when she cited the movie "Devil's Advocate" as being wholly wrong in showing Charlize Theron's character locking herself in a room on the psych ward, breaking glass, and slitting her wrists. I love that film, but that scene ALWAYS gets to me because it's ridiculously inaccurate. Sadly, this is true of many, many film and literary depictions of mental illness and treatments, and the author frequently provides sidebars with examples of such inaccuracies--a wonderful feature.
Her descriptions of how the staff handle a patient freaking out is accurate, as is the daily schedule (for the most part). Her descriptions of the psychiatric disorders is vastly helpful if sometimes oversimplified, and they can spark a lot of ideas. In short, I highly recommend this but caution any writers writing about a psychiatric hospital--especially a state hospital or one not entirely modernized--to supplement their research with other sources.
No prior knowledge of psychology is needed: this book will quickly get you up to speed on a wide range of therapy, disorders, and diagnosis. After reading this guide, you will be able to incorporate these elements into your fiction with confidence. The material is presented in a light, easy-to-digest format, without once getting bogged down in minutiae or unusable technical information. Every word is valuable.
I particularly liked the "Don't Let This Happen To You!" sections peppered throughout the book. They point out psychological blunders in popular fiction, many of which are cliches with well-worn paths to lead the unwary writer into a pitfall.
If you want to create convincing characters with the full range of human behavior, buy this book.
I highly recommend it for all authors and readers.