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Delivers an intriguing look at a fragmented mind; but this serious philosophical and scientific subject needs a more...

A psychologist explores the human psyche’s tendency toward fragmentation and a plan to restore a healthy self. 

In this debut book, Litvin argues that the human psyche tends, often as a response to trauma, to shatter into disjointed parts. This can be a normal and even salutary psychological mechanism, especially when employed to defensively sequester the mind from overwhelming pain. But the mind can overreact to distress, leading to a self so addled with internal fissures that unhappiness, anxiety, confusion, and a deficit of self-esteem can ensue. Fortunately, the author contends, the splintering of one’s self can be remedied by establishing a dialogue between the parts, hence producing a “congruence” that results in the harmony of a “Utopian collective”: “The solid identity is a unique structure of the psyche where the fragments are aligned together in common goals and attitude.” In order to illustrate his chief points, Litvin concocts a fictional case study that chronicles the life of soldier Stepan Kryvoruchko, who fled the authoritarian ideology of the Soviet Union and suffered from a “shattered identity” as a consequence. The author vividly personifies the scattered shards of Stepan’s mind, and the process whereby he heals destructive “splitting” through a reconstructive unification. Litvin compellingly assesses the political dimension of his theory, and the “virus of radicalization” that can infect both individuals as well as body politics. He also includes helpful literary analogies, drawing a connection between his critique of totalitarian collectivism and Dostoyevsky’s novelistic dissection of the issue. The author’s intentions are breathtakingly ambitious: a comprehensive account of the human psyche, replete with a substantive vision of self-actualization. But the book is surprisingly unempirical for a psychological treatise—the author cites no experimental studies in his main text (some are listed in the Bibliography), and offers declarative assertions in place of careful arguments. In addition, the issue of the psyche’s fracturing into warring parts has a long philosophical pedigree as well, a history of thought Litvin mentions only in passing.

Delivers an intriguing look at a fragmented mind; but this serious philosophical and scientific subject needs a more rigorous treatment.

Pub Date: May 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4502-1905-1

Page Count: 228

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2019

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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