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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Diana Marta, BSN, RN (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This is a thought-provoking compilation of articles on evolutionary theory and how it helps us to understand who we are as humans, and why some people suffer various psychopathologies and how professionals might alleviate some of that suffering. Many of the authors go on to discuss how these evolutionary theories might be applied to clinical practice and psychotherapy.
Purpose: With the growth in sociobiology, evolutionary psychology and related disciplines over the last century, this book looks to examine some of the new models and interventions in psychotherapy that may develop based on these ideas and explore the direction future practice may take. It suggests that no matter what school of thought is examined (instinctual, archetypal, biochemical, or pathological), evolutionary theory may actually afford a structure capable of integrating them all.
Audience: The book is aimed mainly at practitioners (therapists and psychoanalysts) and scholars who are interested in the etiology of behavior and thought and what needs to develop when those behaviors fall outside the norm. While it may be a little too complex for the general public, it certainly fits in with the current emphasis on genetics and helps illuminate how psychopathologies are passed on and develop over generations. The authors come from universities and research centers throughout the world, though their individual credentials are not listed.
Features: This book explores both how evolutionary theory relates to each of the major psychoanalytic schools of thought and how the processes of socialization, gender role development, and attachment, for example, can help to explain even modern-day behaviors. Essentially it finds that the origins of behavior may go back further than even primal urges to techniques required for survival of the species. For those who want to explore individual topics further there are references listed at the end of each article, as well as an index by author and by subject at the end of the book.
Assessment: Anything that challenges complacency or offer a fresh perspective on understanding psychopathologies has value. While some of the theories are somewhat convoluted and others perhaps too simplistic, I found myself rethinking and reframing previous encounters with patients. I would have preferred the use of more case studies just to enliven some of the theory. But overall, I found this compilation of articles stimulating and worthwhile.