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Road to Malpsychia: Humanistic Psychology and Our Discontents Hardcover – Aug 1 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; 1 edition (Aug. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554467
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,551,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
It's easy enough to find fault with this book: it's poorly organized, there is a lot of material in it (on Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, for instance) that does not belong, and there is a lot that belongs but is not in it (many of the lesser lights of the T-group movement, for example). It's very gossipy ways that will offend even those with a prurient interest. Much of what the author claims is not documented. And so forth. But with all that, I found it a valuable book. Its overall story is valuable and persuasive. The T-groups, the Encounter movement, EST, the Esalen crowd, they are all shown for what they are, and convincingly so. The "humanistic psychology" movement was ( is ?) deplorable and a bit of a menace, and Joyce Milton, with all the faults of this book, has shown how and why this is so.
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Format: Hardcover
Having basically grown up in the context of this movement, studied it, I think I am qualified to talk about it. The movement has and had excesses. It also has a lot of twisting and BS that has nothing at all to do with what the founders did, said or thought. That is most of what Joyce attacks.
Fundamentally, the movement was and is about honesty. Honesty about what one is really about and why one does things. Honesty about the reality of relationships. This can be and is abused, no question about it. There are plenty of people who simply use the forms to perform their sadism, manipulations, excuse addictions, what have you.
But so is priestly authority abused. So is political authority of almost every kind. So is the demagogic authority of talk show hosts and TV preachers who take advantage of the uneasiness and fears of others for personal gain.
People are made this way, and it is part of the parcel of life.
This book is full of cheap shots at great people. Everyone has problems in their lives. Einstein was not very nice and liked the ladies. Does that invalidate his physics?
No. It doesn't. Poor scholarship, sloppy thinking, and cheap shots are the primary content of this book. It has some points worth making, but they could be made in a few pages.
The basic thought that people have a responsibility to society as well as to themselves seems to be the theme here. Or that's the underlying thread I got. Real humanism most definitely is in agreement with that.
I have no objections to her attack on idiot pop-psych. But she goes way too far and hurts her argument.
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Format: Hardcover
As a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst I have been exposed to many theories about the human mind. I have had ample opportunity to see which of these theories when applied to a given situation is most likely to be of help. It has been startling to me how many elaborate models of the mind and corresponding therapies are not only obscure but disorganized, unverifiable, and unaccountable. Joyce Milton's fast paced book is clear and concise in examining the parents of Humanistic Psychology and its theories. (I had not known where all that silly stuff about encounter groups,
LSD, etc. came from but now I do.) In examining this movement Ms. Milton suggests origins for many of the cultural and political aberancies which have been so antithetical to the best of American institutions and values.
The Humanistic Psychology Movement seemed to assert that the highest form of human mental activity was the quest for the Ecstacy of Self-Congratulation. Ms. Milton wryly describes the resultant frenetic, self-deluded, and self-serving Flakiness which often passed for Advanced Deep Thought and which justified in the mind of the affected the wholesale overhaul of everything. The ability to discern Nonsense in our culture has been greatly enhanced by this book. Another great part of this lively book is the dark humor to be continuously found in the absurdities of popular Psycholgy. I highly recommend The Road to Malpsychia...
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Format: Hardcover
Ms Milton admits to her anger at humanistic psychology, so she attacks without understanding. She does not seem to grasp even some of the basic concepts of the people's work she denigrates. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is one example. I have spent a great deal pf time studding humanistic psychology and writings. I have had the pleasure of being trained in group therapy with Carl Rogers, and William Coulson as instructors. Any one who really studies these writers will see how bad a job Ms Milton did presenting them. She should have let her anger subside before she wrote the book. Her bias is extreme and obvious. So consider this when reading the book. No doubt Ms Milton will have a new career appearing on the conservative religious programs. I am sure Pat Robinson and Jerry Falwell have or will book her to speak out against the evils of humanistic psychology.
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Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a good history of recent psychology - this isn't it. The author's agenda is clear from the start, but the writing and research is sloppy. Distinguished scientists like Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers get lumped in with misguided idealists like Timothy Leary and con men like Werner Erhard. I remember from college that Carl Rogers' therapy was one of the most thoroughly researched and validated of them all - you wouldn't know that from reading this. There's lots of dirt on private lives, lots of horror stories about insensitivity, but few facts to back up her blame of psychology for narcissism, divorce, feminism, etc.
There might be valid critiques of humanistic psychology in here, but they're hard to separate from the ax-grinding. The author also wrote hatchet jobs on Hillary Clinton and Charlie Chaplin, which explains some of the vitriol. Get this for the Rush Limbaugh fans on your list - people who want a reliable history of humanistic psychology are out of luck.
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