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A New Understanding of Mental Disorders A Theory of Feelings Addictions Memory and the Self"Intimate" Violence against Women1001 Solution-Focused Questions101 Healing Stories101 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Using Hypnosis50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God8 Keys to Body Brain BalanceA Brief History of Modern PsychologyA Conceptual History of PsychologyA Conceptual History of Psychology: Exploring the Tangled Web A Cooperative SpeciesA Guide to Teaching Introductory PsychologyA History of Modern Experimental PsychologyA History of Psychology in AutobiographyA History of Social PsychologyA History of the BrainA History of the MindA Hole in the HeadA Matter of SecurityA Mind of Its OwnA Natural History of Human ThinkingA Place for ConsciousnessA Scientific Search for AltruismA Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in ChildrenA Social History of PsychologyA Stroll With William JamesA System Architecture Approach to the BrainA 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PersonalityOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOn the Origins of Cognitive ScienceOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOnflowOpen MindsOpening Skinner's BoxOrigin of MindOrigins of PsychopathologyOther MindsOut of Our HeadsOut of the WoodsOvercoming Depersonalization DisorderPanpsychism and the Religious AttitudePanpsychism in the WestParenting and the Child's WorldPassionate EnginesPathologies of the WestPatient-Based Approaches to Cognitive NeurosciencePediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople Types and Tiger StripesPerception & CognitionPerception beyond InferencePerception, Hallucination, and IllusionPersonal Development and Clinical PsychologyPerspectives on ImitationPhantoms in the BrainPhenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgePhenomenology and Philosophy of MindPhilosophical Foundations of NeurosciencePhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophy and HappinessPhilosophy of PsychologyPhilosophy, Neuroscience and ConsciousnessPhrenologyPhysical RealizationPhysics in MindPieces of LightPlaying with FirePositive 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Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the MonsterThe Winner's BrainThe Wisdom in FeelingThe Woman RacketThe World in My Mind, My Mind in the WorldThe Wow ClimaxThe Yipping TigerThemes, Issues and Debates in PsychologyTheoretical Issues in Psychology: An IntroductionTheory of AddictionTheory of MindThings and PlacesThink CatThink Confident, Be ConfidentThinking about AddictionThinking and SeeingThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThought and LanguageThought in a Hostile WorldTo Have and To Hurt:Toward an Evolutionary Biology of LanguageToward Replacement Parts for the BrainTrauma and Human ExistenceTrauma, Tragedy, TherapyTreating Attachment DisordersTreating Self-InjuryTreating Self-Injury: A Practical GuideTrue to Our FeelingsTrusting the Subject?Understanding and Treating Borderline Personality DisorderUnderstanding ConsciousnessUnderstanding ParanoiaUnderstanding PeopleUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the BrainUndoing Perpetual StressUnlock the Genius WithinUnsettled MindsUnstrange MindsUnthinkingUnthoughtUs and ThemViolent PartnersVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVision and MindVisual AgnosiaWarrior's DishonourWe Who Are DarkWednesday Is Indigo BlueWelcome to Your BrainWhat Do Women Want?What Dying People WantWhat Have We DoneWhat Intelligence Tests MissWhat Is an Emotion: Classic and Contemporary ReadingsWhat Is Emotion?What is Intelligence?What Is Mental Illness?What Is Thought?What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite What the Best College Students DoWhat the Dog SawWhat We Know about Emotional IntelligenceWhat We Say MattersWhat's Wrong With Morality?When Boys Become BoysWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen the Impossible HappensWhen Walls Become DoorwaysWho's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWho's in Charge?Why Humans Like to CryWhy Love MattersWhy Lyrics LastWhy People CooperateWhy People Die by SuicideWhy Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human BehaviorWhy Smart People Can Be So StupidWhy the Mind is Not a ComputerWhy Us?Why We LieWhy We LoveWhy We SleepWider than the SkyWilliam James at the BoundariesWilling, Wanting, WaitingWittgenstein And PsychologyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWorking MindsYoga and PsychologyYou Are What You RememberYoung Minds in Social WorldsYour Brain on CubsYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaYour Child in the BalanceZombies and Consciousness
In an attempt to bridge (if not combine) the relative traditions of Eastern and Western philosophical thinking in order to forge a fuller understanding of, and prepare a better focus for, practitioners of psychotherapy, this volume offers one of the best of its kind. Perhaps doing for psychotherapy and applied neuroscience, what Zukov's (1979) The Dancing Wu Li Master's or Kapra's (1975) The Tao of physics did for the physical sciences, Simpkins and Simpkins also live up to their own claim for their book in providing a useful understanding of the neurological basis of many clinical and pre-clinical presentations of common psychopathology. Presented in two parts, the first outlines several paradigms of modern neuroscience (especially well in their introducing relevant examples of brain damaged patients, the biological 'nuts and bolts' of the brain and functioning nervous system, and issues concerned with neural plasticity. Part two is more concerned with the use of such knowledge in informing practical psychotherapeutic transformation, and the practical enhancement/enrichment of individual presenting clients' mental health, social skills and critical thinking.
Across its 13 chapters, the reader is lead from the philosophical to the biological, and towards practical understandings/resolutions of a variety of clinical out-patient conditions for which psychodynamic therapy and counseling might be sought, some chapters including a series of simple, practical, but effective, psychotherapeutic exercises. As with my criticism(s) of Penrose' The Emperor's New Mind, the current reviewer remains to be convinced concerning the authors' broader claim to have produced 'new ways of thinking [in order] to resolve important questions about brain and mind, and how best to facilitate their unity'. Such a quest requires many assumptions with regards the very problem at heart here, and when we read quite early on in their text that, for example, "... absolutely empty of all thought, we will perceive directly..", or shortly afterwards, that "nothing exists outside the mind", such conclusions beg the very philosophical questions one is perhaps seeking to answer, whilst also inviting the reader to imagine what are essentially tautological, if not oversimplified or linguistically contorted vistas with which to embark upon our adventures with these authors in their introductory chapter.
In exploring the mind-brain relationship and 'Brain-Mind Systems' in the five chapters of Part 1, the Simpkins' deal with dualism, eliminative materialism, and functionalism very well, but all the time require the reader to necessarily assume the dualistic nature of the mind-brain hypothesis when outlining the need for their book to explain how '... it is essential to know how each affects the other', the very question otherwise remaining intractable for investigation. Again, although linguistic anthropomorphisms may confuse rather than enlighten at times (e.g., neurotransmitters do not really 'carry electrical impulses across synapses', nor are negatively charged voltage polarities 'negative responses' as such, relative to common parlance), but the primers concerned with the significance of modern neuroimaging technologies such as PET, fMRI, MEG and TMS are really rather well presented. But perhaps the authors' best link to psychotherapeutics comes in the section concerned with evolving stochastic systems, wherein they state that 'History [by which this reviewer intends them to be referring to the ontological history of the individual patient, as with his/her individual propensity for continuous neural plasticity], is not a determiner of where you are going, only of where you are now. Where you go from here, your future, is an open field of choice.'
The eight chapters of Part 2 comprising the core sections concerned with treatment and therapeutic application of the Dao of Neuroscience, are written from the perspective of developing a better understanding of the etiology (rather than symptomology) of clinically psychological disorder presentations. This is a laudable approach to the current reviewer's mind, and presented with respect to the detection of [certain ?] 'brain-mind patterns of body, behavior and situation'. In general, the authors view psychological disorders as homeostatic irregularities, but it may be unclear to the neuroscience cognicenti what exactly is to be meant by the oft repeated phrase suggesting that 'different brain areas become activated and/or deactivated' as a result/cause of such imbalances in homeostasis with respect to each/any of the particular symptomolgies discussed in the various chapters. It is certainly difficult (and not a failing of the current authors by any means), to use therapeutic language level to make any clear mapping onto the synaptic levels of understanding brain function as previously discussed in the earlier chapters concerned with neuroanatomy and physiology. For example, an opportunity is certainly missed here for the authors' to describe the neural basis of 'bad habits' (a non-optimal pattern of activity, p.246), the reviewer keen to learn from them how such a pattern of activity thereafter benefit from its specific rewiring of either its related short/long pathways, via plasticity, in order to change such 'habits'. However, useful and accurate appraisals are offered in the chapter concerned with providing a clearer rationale for a variety of standard cognitive behavior therapies (including the use of hypnosis and meditation, in 'balancing' either the shortcomings of the affective responses caused by an over-reliance upon the use of reflexive, rather than (executive) frontal lobe neural pathways (or the converse !), in maintaining a deliberate locus of personal control over one's situational disposition(s).
Whether one is interested in helping those with problems concerned more with stress, anxiety, assertiveness, phobias, memory, biological, social or psychosexual disorders, the Simpkins' recipes as provided in their various chapters' concluding exercises sections are well presented. Little novelty is to be found here for the reader familiar with the wider field of psychodynamics, but core staples and a variety of energy-raising (or lowering), body awareness exercises are outlined in simple, ready-to-use forms, together with useful variations and criteria for consideration of the individual therapist to use in their therapy session designs and application, with particular client presentations offered as example cases. Most of the key references to the original literature cited are provided in full for the readers indulgence and further exploration of detail at their leisure, with a clear index of terms and conditions for those wishing to use the book as a reference guide alone. Whether really addressing the core philosophical issues of mind-brain, it will be for each reader to determine,... but this is definitely a must-have volume for any psychotherapist's bookshelf, especially for those requiring a quick and accurate reference to the neurobiological basis of common psychological disorders relevant to providing a clearer rationale for psychotherapeutic practice.
© 2010 Tony Dickinson
Dr. Tony Dickinson. Visiting Professor, Laboratory of Visual Perception Mechanisms, Institute of Neuroscience (Chinese Academy of Sciences), Shanghai.