Somewhere between a textbook and a coffee table book, The Psychology Book is a surprisingly valuable. Initially drawn to the fun cover and positive reviews of The Philosophy Book, I decided to give this a shot and ordered a copy. My initial reaction was disappointment, it seemed a too textbooky. But as I read and skimmed further (it's a book that I suspect few will read cover to cover), I started to appreciate the helpful effectiveness of what the DK editors have done, allowing one to get important, core ideas quickly.
After presenting the philosophical roots of psychology (think the intersection of philosophy and phsyiology), the book is organized according to different psychological approaches or schools of thought such as behaviorism, psychotherapy, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. There is a timeline and brief history for each school followed by an encapsulated entries of key thinkers in that discipline. Here is where the design and editorial approach shines, as you can peruse the pages and find psychological thinkers who you may know little or nothing about and get the essence of what they focused on quickly. Each heading has a "capture the essence" quote which makes it easy to know whether you want to explore further. My one complaint is the book, just glancingly mention Irv Yalom, who is both a great writer and highly respected psychotherapist. If you haven't read or listened (I loved the audio version, which includes an interview with Yalom) to his master work,
Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy
, I strongly recommend it and have given it as a gift many times. Definitely a must for anyone with a literary bent and an interest in psychology.
Some quotes/outtakes I liked: >"The good life is a process, not a state of being" --Carl Rogers (p.130) >"Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning." --Viktor Frankl (p. 140) >"Compulsive behavior rituals are attempts to control intrusive thoughts." --Paul Salkovskis (p.212)
I especially like this last one, as it's interesting to think of our obsessive thoughts (even if we don't engage in compulsive behavior) as attempts to control or prevent uncomfortable thoughts or emotions instead of just trying to experience them directly, as they are.
There are many nuggets like that in the recommended book.