Archives For Psychology


What Psychology and the Church
Can Teach Each Other About Virtues

A Review of

The Science of Virtue: Why Positive Psychology Matters to the Church
Mark R. McMinn

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Alisa Williams

Author Mark McMinn begins his book The Science of Virtue with a personal anecdote that sets the stage for the following chapters: when he was preparing to leave for graduate school, a concerned couple from his church approached with a dire warning that to pursue a degree in clinical psychology would likely cause him to abandon his faith.

It’s a story that rings familiar to many Christians who have pursued degrees in the sciences, myself included. Even as an undergraduate studying psychology at a Christian college, I was told my chosen degree would lead me away from God.

The Christian church has had a tense relationship with science for centuries (to put it mildly), but McMinn’s intriguing look at positive psychology is an effort to reinforce the delicate bridge between the two.

Continue Reading…


Quiet: The Power of Introverts - Susan CainAgainst the Extravert Ideal

A Review of

Quiet: The Power of Introverts
in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Susan Cain.

Hardback: Crown, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jessica A. Kent

Chances are, you’re probably familiar with the terms “introvert” and “extrovert.”  Our tendency is to think of  shyness and withdrawal when we think of an introvert, and a kind of robust people-person quality when we think of an extrovert.   If you’ve taken any kind of personality test you’ll find yourself placed upon the introvert/extrovert spectrum somewhere.  Or maybe you’ve heard that we each get “recharged” in our own way, some alone and some with others.  In Susan Cain’s new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, she goes about clarifying what we know about the introvert and extrovert personalities, adding cultural substance to the psychological definitions against which we frame ourselves.

Continue Reading…


“Trauma and its Far-Reaching Consequences

A review of
Outsmarting Yourself:
Catching Your Past Invading the Present
and What to Do About It

by Karl Lehman, M.D.

Review by Jasmine Wilson.

Outsmarting Yourself - Karl LehmanOutsmarting Yourself:
Catching Your Past
Invading the Present
and What to Do About It

Karl Lehman, M.D.
Paperback: This JOY! Books, 2011.
Buy now:
[ ]

I had the privilege of meeting Karl Lehman this summer and being mentored by his wife, Charlotte. Being in the community where the two of them work on the methods Dr. Lehman describes in his book, it was apparent to me how influential his theories and practices were in the lives of those in the church community.

Dr. Lehman’s work begins with the notion of trauma, but he explains trauma is not caused just by incidents like hurricanes or military combat. Instead, trauma can be caused even by minor painful experiences. For example, one of Charlotte’s memories from her childhood was when a fifth grade boy kept saying boys are better than girls. Seems like a small thing at the time, but when an experience like that is internalized, it can cause latent trauma that an individual might not even recognize. These internalized experiences can then be “triggered” by present events: “When something in the present triggers a traumatic memory, the unresolved content from the trauma… will come forward as ‘invisible’ implicit memory that feels true and valid in the present.”

As I read Lehman’s book, I began to think back particularly on all the negative interpersonal interactions I’ve had in the past few years, and recognizing how in certain situations I had been triggered, and I was directing my anger and frustration toward a person from my past at the person I was arguing with in the present.

Continue Reading…


A Brief Review of

The Impact of Attachment.
Susan Hart.
Hardback:  W.W. Norton, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Josh Morgan.


Attachment theory is one of the most well-respected psychological theories in the mental health fields. Focusing on the effect of relationships on people’s behaviors, moods, attitudes, thoughts, etc., attachment theory has influenced many professions and subsequent treatment modalities. Rooted in psychoanalytic theory’s history, attachment work tends to be longer-term and less concrete than managed care-friendly modalities, like cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Increasing neuroscience research has focused more efforts on understanding the role of the brain, its structures, neurotransmitters, and hormones on thoughts, moods, and behaviors. With the rising medicalization of mental health and improving psychotropic medications, longer-term and more transformative (rather than symptom-focused) therapies have faced greater challenges and less respect.

Susan Hart, a Danish psychologist, attempts to tackle many of these in her ambitious volume, The Impact of Attachment. This thick text is a comprehensive explanation of attachment theory, particularly connecting it with modern neuroscientific findings. The fundamental thesis of her work is that “a dichotomy of brain/mind, biology/experience, nature/nurture is not very productive, chiefly because it hampers the development of a theory that is capable of fully embracing the complexity that characterizes human psychological development” (xi). As a psychologist, I can attest to the fact that the increasing debate that polarizes qualitative and quantitative like modern American politics is creating more conflict with the mental health fields. Such conflict does not help build better treatments if we were all to work together to bring our unique areas of expertise to elucidate the shadows of the mind.
Continue Reading…


“Shaping and Being Shaped

A Review of
The Shallows:
What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

By Nicholas Carr

Reviewed by Jonathan Schindler.

The Shallows:
What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

By Nicholas Carr
Hardback: W.W. Norton, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

THE SHALLOWS - Nicholas CarrIn The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr fittingly quotes John Culkin: “We shape our tools, and thereafter they shape us” (210). Culkin’s observation and Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” provide the thesis for The Shallows: The Internet is changing us for the worse.

Carr’s argument begins with anecdotal evidence. After frequent Internet use, he suspected that his mind was changing. He could no longer read lengthy articles and books with the same attention he was once able to devote. Was the Internet really causing this?

Carr provides several neurological studies and historical examples to prove the first part of his thesis. The neurological studies were especially fascinating, illustrating “neuroplasticity,” our brain’s ability to adapt to new situations and stimuli. (For example, people who have lost use of one of their senses often have their other senses heightened. The brain rewires itself, forming new connections, so that what was formerly used for the now-dormant sense can be used to boost the other, still-operating senses.) Another aspect of neuroplasticity is that the more an action is performed, the more connections between neurons are formed, and the skill is solidified. Repeated actions form habits, basically. From these more modern studies, Carr moves on to historical examples (the map, clock, and book, as well as others) in which new technologies changed behavior and the way people thought. He paraphrases Marshall McLuhan in saying that “technologies numb the very faculties they amplify. . . . alienation is an inevitable by-product of the use of technology” (212). By becoming used to a tool that makes things easier, we risk losing the skills and relationship with the work that we had before the tool.

Continue Reading…


Excerpt from:

Truth and Lies About Why We Buy.

Martin Lindstrom.

Paperback: Broadway Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Newly released in paperback!!!

Buyology by Martin Lindstrom – Excerpt


“The true goal of the bourgeois life [is] diversion”
A Review of Alain De Botton’s

There is a story about an aged playboy who, when a conversation with a friend is interrupted by a telephone call, asks incredulously: “You mean, when that thing rings, you answer it?” Few people have ever been able to afford to be so insouciant: for nearly everyone, work is a burden from which there is no escape. Still, the playboy’s reaction is not as flippant as it might seem. If most people’s everyday experience is the test, it is the idea that work is the chief route to personal fulfilment that seems frivolous.

It is only in modern times that work has been seen as the definitively human activity. The ancient Greeks believed fulfilment was to be found in leisure, and for that reason would never be achieved by the mass of humanity. The nearly universal rejection of this view today is a consequence of the triumph of the bourgeois notion – notably endorsed by Marx – that happiness is found in work. As Alain de Botton writes, “The bourgeois thinkers turned Aristotle’s formula on its head: satisfactions which the Greek philosopher had identified with leisure were now transposed to the sphere of work, while tasks lacking in any financial reward were drained of all significance and left to the haphazard attentions of decadent dilettantes.” Bourgeois life promises to all the fulfilment that has historically been the privilege of a few. What it offers, however, is not idleness, a life of pleasure of the sort cultivated by leisured minorities in the past. Instead, it is the prospect – or illusion – that labour can be made intrinsically satisfying, a type of self-expression that everyone can enjoy.

Read the full review:

Alain De Botton

(Coming to the US, June 2009)
Hardcover: Pantheon, 2009.
Pre-order now:  [ Amazon ]

The NEW REPUBLIC review of
by George Akerlof

The economics profession has been greatly embarrassed by the economic crisis. The crisis began last September, with the crash of the banking industry (broadly defined, as it should be in this deregulatory era, to include investment banks and other financial intermediaries besides commercial banks), and of the stock market and other financial markets. It has since grown into the first depression since the 1930s, if one may judge from its global sweep, the pervasive anxiety that it has engendered among government officials as well as the business community and the public at large, and the trillions of dollars that nations have desperately committed to fighting it. The economists had assured us that there would never be another depression in the United States, because economics had discovered how to prevent depressions: if economic activity dropped, the Federal Reserve had only to push down interest rates, for this would induce banks to lend and consumers and businessmen to borrow, and the borrowed money would be used to finance consumption and production, restoring output to its level before the crash. Academic and government economists specializing in the business cycle were as surprised by the September collapse and the ensuing downward spiral of the economy as anyone, and were unprepared with plans for arresting it. Six months later they cannot agree on what should be done to recover from it. Not knowing what will work, the government is trying everything.

The idea that monetary policy — raising interest rates (and therefore reducing the amount of money in circulation, because interest is the price of putting money into circulation rather than hoarding it) to check inflation, and lowering interest rates to check economic downturns — holds the key to moderating the business cycle, and therefore to preventing depressions as well as inflations, has been falsified. The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates way down, but the amount of lending has been tepid and economic activity has continued to fall — hence the bailouts of banks and other financial institutions and the $787 billion stimulus package recently enacted by Congress. The stimulus, a program of deficit spending, seeks to replace the loss of private demand, and the resulting decline in economic activity, brought about by the economic crisis. It seeks to do this by public works, such as the construction and repair of highways and other transportation infrastructure, designed to increase employment, and by tax cuts and welfare payments, which are intended to increase incomes directly and by doing so to stimulate spending.

Read the full review:


George Akerlof.

Hardcover: Princeton UP, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ]  [ Amazon ]

THE NY TIMES review of

When Billy Graham went to Flushing Meadows in 2005 for what was billed as the last revival in his 60-year career, he was joined on the platform by his fellow Southerner Bill Clinton. Clinton told the crowd how his Sunday school class had attended a Graham revival in Little Rock, Ark., in 1959. Despite the objections of local leaders, the former president recalled, Graham refused to segregate his services, inviting blacks and whites to worship together at a time when harmony between the races seemed impossible. “I was just a little boy,” Clinton said, “and I never forgot it, and I’ve loved him ever since.”

This is one of the stories that can be told about Billy Graham and the civil rights era — a narrative that portrays the preacher’s role in his native South’s reluctant abandonment of segregation as essentially heroic. Graham’s rise to prominence as an evangelist coincided with the turbulent years between Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the landmark civil rights legislation of 1964, and throughout that decade he wrote and sermonized in favor of racial harmony, staged desegregated rallies in balkanized cities, and counseled obedience to court rulings and legislation that many of his fellow Southerners were determined to resist. As a voice for both Christian conservatism and racial progress, he served as a bridge between the Old South and the New, and as a model for a region struggling to shed its worst baggage without losing its identity.

That’s one story. But there’s another story as well, one that paints Graham as a coward and an apologist for racial backlash. He supported desegregation but took few risks on its behalf; he cultivated a studied moderation in a time that cried out for moral clarity; he was more interested in flattering the white South’s self-regard than in calling his region to true repentance. As a steadfast supporter of Richard Nixon’s career, from the 1950s down through Watergate, he simultaneously enabled and embodied Nixon’s “Southern strategy,” which shut civil rights liberalism out of power and turned the region Republican for a generation.

Read the full reivew:

Steven P. Miller.

Hardcover: University of Penn Press, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $24 ]  [ Amazon ]