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The editors of this state of the art volume on emotion regulation with its fifteen excellent chapters are Associate Professor Ad Vingerhoets, Professor Johan Denollet, and Assistant Professor Ivan Nyklíček. All three of them work in the Department of Medical Psychology at Tilburg University. This book represents the key contributions of a conference on emotions, emotion regulation and health research held at Tilburg University in 2003. It is divided into two parts -- part I dealing with conceptual and neurobiological issues comprising chapters one to seven and part II covering clinical perspectives and interventions in chapters eight to fifteen. The book itself is not aimed at students or at newcomers to the field, but it is mainly directed at researchers, clinicians, and graduate students coming from such diverse fields as psychiatry, psychosomatics, behavioral medicine, health psychology, clinical psychology, and medical psychology, who have already considerable insight into the subject matter. Yet, it is written in such a way that it is understandable by everyone.
The book covers such diverse areas as coping, crying, emotional intelligence, depression, anxiety disorders, trauma-related affect dysregulation, the connection between emotions and eating disorders, emotional competence and health in children, the connection between expressive writing and emotional health, and alexithymia. Alexithymia can be characterized by a "reduced ability to differentiate between emotional feelings", a "reduced ability to fantasize", a "reduced ability to verbalize emotional experiences", "a reduced ability to experience emotional feelings", and "a reduced tendency to reflect upon emotions", this volume p. 27). Although so many different areas are covered, the contributions to this volume go considerably into depth and detail, so that one gains considerable knowledge and is not left with the feeling that one hasn't got a thorough overview with regard to these cutting edge research topics.
As it is only possible to cover so much in one volume, certain areas of research with regard to the emotions, emotion regulation, and health are left out, such as phobias (specific phobias, such as spider phobia, claustrophobia, etc. and social phobias) and bipolar disorders. As a further shortcoming -- with the exception of depression -- not so much is said about moods as a general category. Although it seems very worthwhile to devote two chapters to Pennebaker's well known writing on disclosure intervention, especially if one considers the low cost of this procedure, this is not representative of the whole range of possible psychotherapeutic interventions, such as rational emotive therapy, behavior therapy, psychoanalysis, etc. and leaves quite a gap here.
After having given an overall evaluation of the book, here is an overview of the respective chapters of this volume: Chapter one gives a short introduction to the book written by J. Denollet, I. Nyklíček, and A. Vingerhoets. In my opinion this introduction which consists of two parts, namely a short introduction into the subject matter followed by a description of the contents of this volume, has the shortcoming that the first introduction to a certain extent appears unconnected to the description of the contents of the volume, so that I would recommend to skip the whole first chapter.
In chapter two J. Koolhaas and S. de Boer discuss different coping styles, namely a proactive and a reactive one, with respect to aggression in rodents. The title of chapter three is "New Avenues in Alexithymia Research: The Creation of Alexithymia Types" and is written by P. Moormann, B. Bermond, H. Vorst, A. Bloemendaal, S. Tejn, and L. Rood. In particular, the authors advance that there are two alexithymia types where the first very much resembles a schizoid personality disorder and the second a borderline personality disorder. Chapter four connects with the previous one by dealing with alexithymia and its relation to physical health problems. Its authors are M. Lumley, J. Beyer, and A. Radcliffe. In chapter five L. Myers, J. Burns, N. Derakshan, E. Elfant, M. Eysenck, and S. Phipps deal with repressive coping and health issues. Chapter six has the title "Why Crying Improves Our Well-being: An Attachment-Theory Perspective on the Functions of Adult Crying" and is written by M. Hendriks, J. Nelson, R. Cornelius, and A. Vingerhoets. The first part of the volume ends with chapter seven on emotional intelligence and its relationships to stress, health, and well-being. Its authors are G. van Heck and B. den Oudsten.
The second part of the volume begins with a chapter on emotion expression in depression, claiming that people who are depressed are emotion context-insensitive. This hypothesis is defended by J. Rottenberg and C. Vaughan. Chapter nine written by T. Rodebaugh and R. Heimberg has the title "Emotion Regulation and the Anxiety Disorders: Adopting a Self-Regulation Perspective". In chapter ten the topic of trauma-related self and affect dysregulation and its clinical assessment and treatment is discussed by A. van Dijke. Chapter eleven deals with the connection between emotional inhibition, gender, and eating disorders and is written by M. Bekker and S. Spoor. The title of chapter twelve is "Emotional Competence and Health in Children". Its authors are C. Rieffe, M. Terwogt and F. Jellesma. In chapter thirteen J. Nelson distinguishes between different kinds of crying behavior and how these are related to attachment styles of the patient in psychotherapy. The last two chapters concentrate on expressive writing. While chapter fourteen written by J. Smyth, D. Nazarian, and D. Arigo focuses on expressive writing in the clinical context, chapter fifteen written by L. Solano, M. Bonadies, and M. Di Trani argue for the view that the effectiveness of expressive writing depends on specific characteristics of patients and their situation.
© 2008 Marion Ledwig
Marion Ledwig is currently visiting assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Konstanz, Germany. She is the author of "Reid's Philosophy of Psychology" (2005), "Emotions: Their Rationality and Consistency" (2006), "Common Sense: Its History, Method, and Applicability" (2007), and "God's Rational Warriors: The Rationality of Faith Considered" (2008).
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