by Chester Litvin ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2012
An overly general hypothesis that’s unsupported by scientific evidence in the text.
A psychologist anatomizes an unhealthy, fragmented fictional mind and discusses how to establish a healthy sense of self.
California-based clinical psychologist Litvin (Escape from Kolyma, 2019, etc.) avers that every human psyche pines for a “solid identity,” which he understands as one in which all its diverse parts are harmoniously organized and united. The fracturing of the psyche into incongruent elements can be healthy, he says—such “splitting” can be a worthwhile response to trauma. However, he asserts, the long-term effects are destructive and can be the root cause of chronic anxiety, depression, and a lack of self-esteem. Litvin discusses this fragmentation in inconsistent terms; it often seems to involve compartmentalization, but sometimes, it seems like a sequestering of experience—something more akin to Freudian suppression. The good news, Litvin says, is that one can transform a fractured psyche into a “utopian harmony,” or “balanced identity,” by conducting a dialogue between the disconnected fragments. He constructs a fictional case study that follows the plight of Professor Kryvoruchko, whose family members were murdered by the Nazis; his psyche is “immune to split,” Litvin says, and “represents flexibility, tolerance, and unification.” The content of this book nearly replicates that of Litvin’s Life of the Sailor (2010), which also includes the fictional example of Professor Kryvoruchko. This volume expands upon that book’s idea of sailing as a metaphor for introspective search, and provides a broader account of the nature of individual equilibrium; these concrete illustrations are of great instructional value. However, the author’s prose can be stilted and obscure, offering broad generalizations: “Superficial knowledge of who we are is responsible for the luck of intricacy.” The study also lacks scientifically rigorous investigation; Litvin doesn’t cite any evidence for his theories in the text itself, and although he often discusses chemical processes in the brain, he only does so in vague terms—without even naming the specific chemicals involved.An overly general hypothesis that’s unsupported by scientific evidence in the text.
Pub Date: May 23, 2012
Page Count: 250
Review Posted Online: April 4, 2019
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
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
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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by Glennon Doyle ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2020
Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.
In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.
Pub Date: March 10, 2020
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Dial Books
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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