Human Behavior and Social Environments: A Biopsychosocial Approach

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Human behavior is a subject so vast that it would seem to defy one's ability to comfortably and confidently grasp its varieties, nuances, shapes, and dynamics. But in this wide-ranging and comprehensive survey of the contexts of human behavior, Dennis Saleebey examines the different social science approaches to understanding the way humans react to and are affected by their environment.

Using a biopsychosocial perspective, this book demonstrates that there are many paths of knowledge, many methods of inquiry, and many perspectives that can guide one's understanding of human behavior. Resilience (how we cope with trauma) and meaning-making (how we see and make sense of the world around us) provide the conceptual framework of the book. Saleebey examines a number of specific theories relevant to the biopsychosocial approach: part/whole analysis, psychodynamic theory, ecological theory, cognitive theory, and radical/critical theory. Human development is presented as a continuing interaction between individual, family, community, social institutions, and culture. Pedagogical devices to aid the student include chapter overviews, case studies, and meaning-making dialogues at the end of each chapter that pose questions for further thought.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Clinical Social Work Journal
Saleebey is telling an evocative story of how we "become human" through the lifecycle.

— Michael Hayes

Clinical Social Work Journal - Michael Hayes

Saleebey is telling an evocative story of how we "become human" through the lifecycle.

Saleebey (social welfare, U. of Kansas) writes primarily for graduate students, but hopes that practicing social workers will also be challenged by his ideas. He sets out a framework within which to think about the interaction between people's behavior and the society they live in. Among his topics are meaning-making, families, and maturing and aging in family and community. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Dennis Saleebey is a professor at the School of Social Welfare and chair of the Ph.D. program at the University of Kansas. He is the author of The Strengths Perspective in Social Work Practice, Third Edition.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionPhilosophical principlesConceptual frameworksIntegrative themesParadigms, postmodernism, and possibilitiesM & M dialogueMeaning-makingSelfCultureStory, connection, ritual and mythM & M dialogueStrengths and ResilienceStrengths and resilience: images of altruism and humanityPower in the people: Strengths and hopeM & M dialogueBiopsychosocial UnderstandingHuman nature and the human conditionGenes and experience: The case of temperamentThe brain and behavior: The biopsychosocial viewM & M dialogueNature and Nurture; Neurons and NarrativesNature and nurture: How necessary are parents?NatureNurtureNeurons and narratives: A biopsychosocial understanding of mental illnessM & M dialoguesTheories: Part IThe elements of theoryPart/whole analysis Psychodynamic theoryCritique of psychodynamic theoryM & M dialoguesTheories: Part IIEcological theoryCritique of ecological theoryCognitive theoryCognitive theories and the environmentCritique of cognitive approachesRadical/critical theoryThe terms and conditions of radical/critical theoryCritique of radical/critical theoryConclusionM & M dialoguesFamilies: The Variety of UsThe family and society today: What's up?The family and communityWhat are families for?The care and feeding of infantsSocializationWhat is a family?Nuclear familyA note on social class and familySingle-parent familiesExtended familiesDual earner familiesRemarried familiesCouplesGay and lesbian familiesFamily resilienceConclusionM & M DialogueGrowing Up in the Community and World: Part IA contextual model of family transition and adaptationBecoming partners and being a coupleI love your genesA new human being joins the familyCulture: Africentric childrearingThe early processes that make us humanCulture, againWhere's dad?When things go awryBeing homelessConclusionM & M dialogueGrowing up in the Family and Community: Part IIMiddle childhood: The forgotten yearsMoral developmentPeers and groupsSiblingsSchool and family; play and workMeaning and communityA note on ADHDConclusionM & M dialogueGrowing Up in the Family and Community: Part IIISturm and drang or "the romance of risk"Identity formation: Gender and cultureGender and identitySexualityRisks and resiliency: The family and communityViolence and the neighborhoodAdolescents and communityAdolescents and familyFamily and community and understanding and interveningConclusionM & M dialogueComing of Age and Old Age in Family and CommunityMaturity: Love, work, connection, and closureTheories of the adult development of maturityBorysenkoLevinsonContextual/constructionist viewGenerational differencesSome important moments in adult lifeLeaving homeBoomerang babiesLove and work togetherLove and mating: the coming together of body, mind and cultureWorkBecoming a citizen: family and communityComing of (older) age in AmericaSuccessful agingDying and deathConclusionM & M dialogueReprise, Vision and the Final ConversationRepriseSpiritualityThe ordinariness of everyday lifeMulticulturalismTechnologyThe global villageOrganizations: Culture and behaviorContextSo what is the good life, anyway?The heroic and the commonSome elements of a life worth livingConclusionThe final M & M dialogue

Columbia University Press

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