"Psychology cookbooks" - Knowledge the easiest and fastest way
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Life has put me in a wonderful situation. I am volunteering for a charity and I am interacting with a lot of persons who haven't been too lucky: hobos, male and female prostitutes, drug addicts, ex-convicted criminals, alcoholics... you name it, I meet them.
My only job is to serve them food. I don't want to change any of their lives, I don't want to play "saviour" or "hero". At all. They have their dignity to choose their ways in life and I respect that.
I have found though that they really appreciate it when you just hear their stories and feel related. Also known as empathy.
I haven't studied any psychology course or anything at all. But I want to "cheat" in order to understand them better. So I would like you to help me to "cheat".
I consider this a big opportunity to *learn* about the human being and, ultimately, about myself.
I haven't got the time to do a psychology course. But I would like to make the best of my time with them. I would like to extract as much information and teachings from them as I can. I would like to get to know why they have been drawn to that situation. I would like to understand them better, in order to see in them the mirror reflecting our common human nature.
I would like to ask you for some excellent books on human nature, behaviour and psychology. Those full of insights, tips, knowledge and wisdom. In a kind of "cookbook" fashion.
For instance, written in this style:
- "A weak father and strong mother, with an unresolved Oedipus complex will lead to a weak, and then homosexual, son, because the mother has too strong of an image, compared to the weak state of the father. Psychologists argue that this same arrangement would also possibly lead to a stronger son, striving for compensation of his father's weakness."
Yes, I know, nobody can expect to get the equivalent of a PhD education by just reading some dozen books.
But I'm sure you get my point.
You're probably working a lot with people who have alcohol & drug and co-occuring disorders (A&D plus psychological issues), right?
This website has lots of free publications -- they will mail them right to your door at no cost for the materials or postage:
Lots of their materials are directed at professionals, but some are for the layperson. A number of the professional materials may be of interest, too.
For general psych info, you might check out these sites, rather than search for a book -- I think you'd have a hard time finding the kind of book you want...
Hope this helps...
Also, I would recommend you read something about person-centred psychotherapy - I have found the core conditions useful to keep in mind in communicating with other people, even in a non-therapeutic way.
Another book which is useful beyond psychotherapy is The Gift of Therapy by Irvin D. Yalom.
The main thing, though, is to listen and be prepared to share of yourself.
--"Hooked" by Lonny Shavelson (great investigatiion of the drug-rehab system and its limitations)
-"How Can I Help?" by Ram Dass (insightful work on the psychology of service)
Necessary Losses - a nice, lay approach to understanding how people get to where they are. Has a bit of a freudian bent to it, but the book is written in a wonderful prose style that avoids some of the negative connotations of Freudian thought.
Reinventing Your Life - a cognitive therapy based self-help book that is good for understanding different personality types. I have have used this in a variety of contexts and most find it useful. Though you wouldn't be using it for "self help" the information would be useful.
I would offer a caveat - I believe these books would be of help, but I would also advice that you be careful and don't get in over your head. Not in the sense that you may "damage" the person, because it seems you simply want to be a better listener; but, rather, that you don't get too pulled in to the other person's issues. This an be very emotionally draining and, given the population you will be dealing with, can open you up to manipulation and more serious consequences. Be careful.