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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book, an update of the 2002 first edition, discusses the importance of the self, how people see themselves, their thoughts and feelings, and how these factors influence their behavior. This perspective is in contrast to the behaviorist movement, which was prevalent in the 20th century.
Purpose: According to the preface, the second edition adds nine new chapters in "an effort to offer updated reviews of well-established areas of self research and to present coverage of topics that have blossomed since the earlier edition."
Audience: Although the editors do not say specifically identify an audience, the book is appropriate for clinicians and researchers in clinical/counseling psychology, psychiatry, and social work. The two editors are authorities in this area. Mark R. Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, researches emotional self-reflection and psychological well-being, and June Price Tangney, professor of psychology at George Mason University, conducts research on moral emotions among prison inmates. The contributors represent institutions in the U.S., the U.K., and Switzerland.
Features: An introductory chapter examines the various meanings of self and the importance of considering the cultural context. Part I explores how people develop and process information about themselves and discusses self-control and multiple identities in relation to institutional affiliations and social roles. Part II considers motivation and emotion, "hot self-processes" that increase self-focus and can result in self-evaluation that may result in various emotional states including guilt, shame, and/or pride. The authors address cultural issues in part III that involve interpersonal relationships and how the self is affected. Finally, part IV details brain processes and how neuroscientists study concepts such as self-reflection, self-knowledge, and self-regulation. The book is fairly complex, which is to be expected since the subject matter is somewhat esoteric. I found it surprising that there were so few figures and tables.
Assessment: This is a well-written book by influential authors who are experts in this field. They have taken on a topic first discussed by William James in his 1890 book, Principles of Psychology, and added important research. This second edition is needed because of the advances in the 10 years since the first edition. It is an important book for researchers and clinicians.