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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Psychological Theory

see psychology, Vikor Frankl, Psychotherapy, Carl Jung

Psychological Information: Protecting the Right of Privacy: A Guidebook for Mental Health Clients and Practitioners by Robert Henley Woody (Psychosocial Press) The right to privacy and confidentiality between mental health practitioners and their clients is now under attack from business and both federal and state governments.

What are your Constitutional rights? How can you protect yourself from crippling lawsuits? Who possesses the right to confidentiality and privileged communications? And how do you build a supportive relationship with your clients that will reclaim the right of privacy?

These important questions and many more are answered in Psychological Information‑Protecting the Right to Privacy, an important guidebook created by an expert in both psychology and the law. It is essential reading for psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists‑every professional privy to another person's mental condition.

In the face of mounting government and business incursions into client privacy, Dr. Woody presents chapter after chapter of practical, working guidelines on handling demands for information and minimizing the risk of legal actions.

You'll discover the methods government can use to attack confidentiality, how HMO's and other business interests are threatening individual rights, how to create records and reports that can protect you from liability, how to build a supportive relationship with clients, and a discussion of key state and federal court decisions affecting privacy.

CHAOS AND COMPLEXITY: Implications for Psychological Theory and Practice by Michael R.Butz ($54.95, hardcover, includes bibliographical references, Taylor & Francis; ISBN: 156032418X) PAPERBACK (Taylor & Francis; ISBN: 1560324198)

The text is a treatment of a broad array of subject matter concerned with the social sciences and the notions of chaos, complexity, nonlinearity, and the new physics. As a whole it is meant to serve two very different populations, academicians and clinicians. What for academicians are very large steps, clinicians may find familiar in the daily stretches one makes in applying theory to practice. Clinicians, in fact, may feel the conceptual leaps do not go far enough in describing what they witness in their day to day practice. So, this text is an attempt to bridge the distance between building careful theory and providing a broad overview for a clinical audience.  Further, the treatment of the subject matter waxes metaphoric, empirical, and dynamical. It is dynamical in that modeling, nonlinear dynamic modeling, is one of the new tools chaoticians use to describe the patterns that unfold over time in their phase portraits.
Chaos, complexity, and the new physics are sciences of pattern, visual patterns, and some critical numerical thresholds that reflect these patterns perhaps empirically. As with any new area of scientific exploration, there is still great debate about what these patterns mean and when one has found chaos, just as one might find significance in social science statistics. There are widely varying opinions on this topic. Rather than weigh into this debate, different positions are described that include empirical, metaphoric, and modeling descriptions. When the use of metaphor is applied, it is not intended as a onetime fit with notions about nonlinearity in the physical sciences. The focus is a conceptual holistic, big picture type of experience, supported by hefty citations and alternative resources and, consequently, an effort at striking a balance that should appeal to both the academician and the clinician.
The course of the text is rather straightforward, perhaps even linear. The first chapter describes the basic notions in chaos and complexity theory, and some elemental examples of how to use these ideas in social science are offered. There, Piagetian theory is described in analogous terms to the developmental process emphasized in chaos theory, and the argument of state versus trait is used to describe the difference between linear behavior and nonlinear behavior. With the second chapter, specific disciplines or areas of social science are addressed. This chapter in particular focuses on cognitive theories. Not only is this area of study reviewed but also much of the work done on nonlinear applications to this field is described. Some new ideas are then offered as possibilities for theoretical application and reflection. Chapter 3 emphasizes development from a more psychodynamic point of view, and chapter 4 addresses the issue of whether or not pathology in physiology is a linear or nonlinear dynamic. Chapter 5 addresses some of the core, day-to-day issues in social science, such as personality theory, statistics, and research, perhaps indicating the aspects of linear and nonlinear development that different theoretical orientations best address.
Chapters 6 through 9 describe a continua of individual theory and practice all the way up to a consideration of community dynamics. In this section, not only are new theoretical ideas presented, but also the notion of some loosely universal characteristics is described in the context of human development during the process of change. Notions about energy, time, and coherence are put forward as essential considerations. Ideas about families, organizations, and communities are emphasized, and an appeal is made for a new vision of community. Chapters 10 through 12 indicate possible directions for social science and the larger global community to address the appeal made herein for adaptive communities. In these chapters, chaos is described as an ancient concept that predates both scientific use and attributions made in Europe and the United States. Still, the chaos of myth is described as not far from the chaos of science as an essential, even pivotal, adaptive state that as a concept has been lost over the centuries. An integration is called for in chapter 11 between cognitive and psychodynamic orientations that may enable social scientists to converse with one another in a constructive and adaptive manner. Chapter 12 is both a summary and an invitation for change. Noting the issues described throughout the text, this chapter emphasizes not only our need as a global community to recognize the symbols our cultures produce but also our place in development as a community. It is argued that it is essential to integrate our shadow, reckon with our planet, and muster the courage to take on the work it will require from all of us to adapt to this time in history.

CLINICAL CHAOS: A Therapist's Guide to Nonlinear Dynamics and Therapeutic Change edited by Michael Butz and Linda Chamberlain.($49.95, hardcover, includes bibliographical references and index, Taylor & Francis; ISBN: 1560324430) AUDIOBOOK, (Brunner/Mazel; ISBN: 0876309252); PAPERBACK (Taylor & Francis; ISBN: 0876309260)

These two studies introduce the innovations of chaos theory to psychological clinical practice. The work in creatively integrative and interdisciplinary and should invite these dynamic perspectives to become better known.

Chaos theory, and its newest permutation, complexity theory, offers a new, exciting, and potentially revolutionary leap forward in the evolution of scientific thought. These theories challenge the assumption that traditional scientific reductionism is the only way of systematically and logically understanding complex phenomena. In fact, traditional science has steered away from complex systems largely because the methodology did not fit the dynamics. Especially at the human level, behavior and the variables at work even in simple situations are just too complicated to be accounted for or controlled. As Heinz von Foerster once noted, "the 'hard sciences' are successful because they deal with 'soft problems'; 'soft sciences' have to struggle, since they are dealing with 'hard problems'."

The implications of this new science of chaos and complexity can be startling and somewhat disorienting when those of us trained in empirical methodology first encounter some aspects of the theory. Chaos and complexity challenge the laws of order and predictability. This new paradigm in science rejects many of the assumptions underlying traditional scientific methodology. At last, science can again encompass surprise, transformation, unpredictability, and pattern. The quest for empirical validity that has been such a strong motivating force in psychology and other social sciences is not likely to change without a period of significant disruption. Nor is empiricism something to be abolished in our field. Important information and research will continue to be generated using the established experimental, linear model. Chaos science simply offers a means of looking beyond the confines of empiricism.

This book is intended to introduce social scientists to chaos through paths that are already familiar. The linking of chaos theory with existing psychological theories and established areas of clinical pursuit is a way to emphasize the relevance of this new science in providing a more flexible, useful model for describing and understanding human behavior.

Some of the concepts that you will be asked to suspend (at least temporarily) as you venture into chaos are:

  1. Behavior is predictable (if we get enough data).
  2. Behavior is replicable.
  3. Behavior changes slowly.
  4. It takes a lot of input to get a lot of output.
  5. Events or behaviors can be understood in isolation.
  6. Chaos is destructive, aberrant, avoidable, and unproductive.
  7. Observation can be objective.

The book is divided into four main parts. In Part I, the basics of chaos theory and nonlinear dynamics are described as an introduction to several key concepts that resurface throughout the book. An overview of the implications that chaos theory has for clinicians is also be outlined. In Part II, there is weaving together the familiar territory of various clinical orientations with paradigms from chaos and complexity. Depending on the reader's theoretical foundation, there is a variety of perspectives in this section to provide a starting point for a closer examination of the application of nonlinear dynamics to an understanding of human behavior. Part III focuses on specific applications of chaos theory in clinical research and practice. Issues including substance abuse, family systems, stress management, and psychopharmacology are explored. Finally, in Part IV, special issues including multiculturalism, research methods, and the future of psychotherapy are considered.

The goal of this book is to guide clinicians and others in the behavioral sciences through some of the landscape of chaos. Be prepared for encounters with butterflies, strange attractors, phase space, autopoesis, fractals, and other creatures that inhabit this new paradigm.

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