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

3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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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: 16.6 x 3.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,530,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Offering vivid portrayals of the major players in the humanistic psychology movement is Joyce Milton's The Road to Malpsychia: Humanistic Psychology and Our Discontents. This cultural movement which sprouted from an impatience with human limitations and a desire to put the self at the center of the universe had its heyday in the 1960s. Milton (The First Partner: Hilary Rodham Clinton) writes about psychologist Abraham Maslow, the movement's prophet, and of its followers, including Carl Rogers, a Californian who instructed people to get in touch with the dark impulses of their true selves.'
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"Vivid portrayals of the major players in the humanistic psychology movement."

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book for its gossipy quality (did you know, for example, that Ruth Benedict was devastated by her husband's sexual rejection? or that Werner Erhard's license plates said SO WUT?), but I kept wondering, as I read, if Ms. Milton had been *personally* wounded by someone in the human potential movement. Her disdain for everyone connected with it goes far beyond anything like objective analysis in its scattershot skewering of almost all the personalities on her horizon. She comes back again and again to Abraham Maslow. I am not convinced of his centrality in the issues that concern Ms. Milton. A glaring omission is her failure to address the socio-cultural envirnoment that gave birth to some of the excesses that she laments. She seems to yearn for a golden yester-year that, a more careful examination of history would reveal, existed nowhere but in the minds of those who glorify the past at the expense of the present. Many criticisms are leveled, but no solutions are offered beyond a vague hope for a return to "old-fashioned values". As a small step up from tabloid fare, it succeeds quite well; incisive analysis it is not. Still, a bold attempt, and interesting reading.
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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
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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Format: Hardcover
This book reflects on pop culture and the way it developed from the Progressive era of the late 1800's into the 60's. These poisonous theories embrace by humanistic psychology sought to undermine an Anglo-American culture that had made America the greatest and fairest nation in recorded human history. In that vein this book is like "Intellectuals" by Paul Johnson in the way it contrasts the way self anointed guru's of the last half of the 20th century live their own lives versus the way they recommend other's live theirs. By citing pseudo-intellectuals like Abe Maslow, Tim Leary, Carl Rogers, Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Richard Alpert, the author reveals what many of us thought all along, these people are frauds who have perpetrated their absurd theories of human behavior by masquerading them as science. Recall that thousands of intellectuals were gulled into believing that Marxism was scientifically determined and that its conclusions were inevitable. All of it turned out to be nonsense on stilts, but we should use it as a lesson where we never forget that we can never dismiss man's incredible capacity for self-deception.
Joyce Milton outlines the central tenets of her subjects by citing their disdain for the family, religion and private property. It is interesting that Hanna Arendt, in her book "the Origins of Totalitarianism", recounts these themes as ones so destructive to what has made western culture preeminent in human history. Did this all just happen by accident? No. Joshua Muravchik covers this ground well in his book "Heaven on Earth; the decline and fall of socialism".
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